The 2020/21 Premier League season is one of the most compelling in recent memory. The shortened break between last season’s points-domination by Liverpool and the start of this year’s activity has led to a flurry of transfers for most of the top league’s twenty clubs. The resurrection of Leeds United as a top flight team and the reappearance of previous Premier League stalwarts in Fulham and West Brom has added an interesting narrative to the season. Manchester City will be looking to close the points gap and maintain their xG goals supremacy over the rest of the league. European bookmakers and Pinnacle Sports both make Manchester City strong favourites to take the title at around 1.7, with Liverpool next best in the market at anywhere from 2.7 in Asia to 3.6 with Betfair exchange. The over/under line for total points predicts a significant gap between the top two teams and the rest of the league, with Manchester City predicted 90.5 points, Liverpool 85.5 points and Manchester United a distant third on 72.5 points. No other club is anticipated to go above 70.
The points spread figures and outright betting markets closely mirror both the previous season’s xG and the total market value of each team’s players. Manchester City and Liverpool have a healthy lead over the rest of the league according to that metric with both clubs valued in the £920m to £960m range, depending on the data source. Chelsea are next-best, though the historic positive adjustment for UK-based players over their European counterparts may be inflating the valuation data when trying to use this figure to infer the squad’s quality. However, when compared to Manchester United, who have a similar depth of UK talent, Chelsea’s squad is almost 15% more valuable, possibly suggesting that the betting markets are underestimating Frank Lampard’s men. With the arrival of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and their pursuit of Kai Havertz, the Chelsea squad could be one of serious quality by the time the 2020 season finally kicks off. The market only expects them to beat their 2019 points total by 3.5 points which would be 4 points less than their points-by-xG figure from last season.
The ‘top four’ market is dominated by a small number of teams. Chelsea, the worst-priced of the big four is no larger than 1.65 across the entire betting market, with Arsenal the fifth most likely team to grab a top-four place, best-price around 4.0. Outside of the top 6, the best-of-the-rest market is a three-way race between Everton, Wolves and Leicester who would have finished 8th, 6th and 5th respectively if points from xG was the sorting metric in 2019/20. Leicester and Everton have similar valued teams at the £375m mark, with Wolves lagging behind in ninth with a market value of £280m, possibly suggesting that the work of Nuno Espírito Santo and Brendan Rodgers in 2019 compensated for the teams’ value-gap compared to those surrounding them in the league table.
The most significant differences between the market’s points prediction and the points-by-xG rating from 2019 belong to Tottenham (17 points), Arsenal (14 points), Liverpool (10 points) and Everton (minus 7 points). This suggests that the market believes there will be a significant improvement in on-field performance by Tottenham and Arsenal, while Liverpool will maintain their points dominance despite the performances not necessarily matching the final league standings. It seems that there is significant potential value in Everton who are anticipated to be in the running for best of the rest, have a valuable squad, under performed xG in 2019 and are predicted a low points total of 48.5 by Pinnacle, which would have seen them finish in 13th last season.
As expected, the league’s newest clubs have the three lowest squad values with the top two teams boasting 9 players that are individually more valuable than West Brom’s entire squad (£64m). The magnitude of West Brom’s task is made even clearer by the fact that their most valuable player, Matheus Pereira, would not currently be in the most valuable 11 players of their close neighbour, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Exchange markets, Asian betting markets and European bookmakers all have West Brom as favourites for the drop, joined by Fulham, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. Newcastle’s position as one of the relegation favourites is unsurprising, given their significant over performance relative to xG in the 2019/20 season, as explored in a previous post. Leeds United, the third of the promoted teams are 26.0 in the market to plummet straight back down, with fans and pundits alike believing in their ability to harness the Bielsa effect and retain their status as one of the twenty elite clubs in England. Since 2016, 35 points has ensured safety in the Premier League. Only West Brom are predicted to finish with less than 35 points (34.5) suggesting that there may be some betting opportunities in the unders market for the relegation candidates.
The season is opened on Saturday, September 12th by Fulham (6.0) and Arsenal (1.7) at 12:30 UK time. The most compelling game of the opening weekend sees newly promoted Leeds travel to Liverpool who are favourites on the 1.5 goal Asian handicap line and 1.85 in the half-time/full-time market with the European bookmakers. Regardless of your opinion on the relative strengths of the teams in this season’s Premier League, there is only one place to bet and that is with Bookielink.