Premier League: 3 Futures Bets You Need to Make
The Premier League campaign gets started two weeks from today, and the futures market is up in full force on EPL odds.
Using my simulations as a guide, here are three futures bets I'm zeroing in on.
Burnley to Get Relegated (+220)
Sean Dyche has done an amazing job at Burnley, and this will be the Clarets sixth straight year in the top flight. But their first-division run may come to an end this year.
While Burnley did just enough last campaign to avoid the drop, it was their worst season since their promotion back to the EPL for 2016-17. Their 39 points were the fewest in that span -- as were their 33 goals.
They finished 17th in points, 17th in expected goal (xG) differential, 17th in xG scored, and 17th in xG allowed, per FBRef. I guess they were the 17th-best team in the league. No matter how you slice it, the Clarets were one of the worst sides in the EPL last year.
The newly-promoted teams are almost always going to be the most likely to go down, and that's the case this year, per FanDuel Sportsbook, as Watford (-135), Norwich (-115), and Brentford (-105) are the favorites to be in the Championship for 2022-23. Of the teams that were in the EPL last year, Crystal Palace (+150), Burnley (+220) and Newcastle (+270) are by far the biggest relegation candidates -- with a huge gap between that trio and Wolves (+500).
Per my simulations, things are tight between those six clubs -- the three newbies along with Palace, Burnley and Watford -- as all six have relegation odds between 26% and 32%. My numbers have Norwich (32%) and Watford (30%) as the most likely to suffer the drop, and the other four are all at 26% or 27% to be relegated.
Burnley and Newcastle are the sides most worth a roll of the dice since they're at the biggest numbers of those four. I lean toward the Clarets.
Liverpool to Make the Top 2 (+135)
Last year was a nightmare campaign for Liverpool. After two seasons of incredible performances nearly every single week domestically and in Europe, the Reds collapsed and needed to rally down the stretch to make the top four.
Jurgen Klopp's men should be much better this season, and oddsmakers are expecting just that, listing them at +135 to finish in the top two, the second-best mark in the league. This is priced as a battle between Chelsea and Liverpool for the second spot, as Man City are -430 for a top-two finish while the Reds (+135) and Blues (+145) are nearly even. Manchester United (+230) are next up.
I like Liverpool and think they can get back to being in the mix for the title like they were the two years before last. There's just no way they can suffer as much bad luck as they did last season -- right?
Virgil van Dijk, the Reds' world-class rock at the back, should be ready to roll after an ACL injury cost him much of last year. Liverpool should be better at the other center-back spot, as well. In addition to Joel Matip and Joe Gomez returning from injuries, new signing Ibrahima Konate should be a key cog. At the other end of the pitch, a full season from forward Diogo Jota, who scored nine league goals despite making only 12 starts due to injury, would be a huge boon.
Bad injury luck wasn't the only kind of misfortune the Reds endured in 2020-21; their finishing was uncharacteristically bad, too. In the previous three seasons before last -- the time since Mohamed Salah joined the fray -- Liverpool averaged 86 goals per year on 73.0 xG. Last season, their xG was right in line with that, at 72.6, yet they netted just 68 goals. Yikes.
Was that bad luck or bad finishing? Probably some of both. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were the biggest culprits, combining for only 20 goals from 27.8 xG. The two years prior, that duo teamed up for 27 goals on 27.3 xG and 34 goals on 30.5 xG.
Improved health will surely be a big factor, but in some ways, betting on the Reds to bounce back is a bet on Mane and Firmino to return to the level they'd shown previously. I'm willing to make that bet. Plus, even with everything that went wrong last year for Liverpool -- and it's a long list -- the Reds still finished third and were just five points behind second-place Manchester United.
My model projects Liverpool to post 83.3 points, the second-most in the league and 2.1 more than Chelsea.
Brighton to Finish in the Top 10 (+105)
At first glance, a +105 number here for Brighton -- a side that finished with 41 points last season and flirted with relegation -- seems off. Oddsmakers know what they're doing, though, and I like Brighton to be in the top 10 a little more than they do.
Brighton's inability to score goals despite creating a lot of chances became a running joke last season. They were the xG kings but amassed only 40 goals from 51.6 xG. They had some painful scorelines in matches in which they played pretty well. They put up no goals from 2.2 xG in a 1-0 loss to Sheffield United, got shut out by West Brom despite recording 2.6 xG and couldn't make the net bulge versus Fulham in spite of 2.0 xG.
You get the idea.
Obviously, it's not all bad luck, especially when it keeps happening over and over. Brighton's attackers didn't finish chances well enough, particularly Neal Maupay, who ended the year with 8 goals on 13.0 xG.
Brighton have already brought in three forwards this transfer window, and they now have an influx of cash after selling Ben White to Arsenal for $64.35 million. Losing White will hurt Brighton's defense, but if they use the coin to improve their attack, this will be a case of dealing from an area of strength to help their biggest weakness.
After all, Brighton's defense was legit as heck last season, conceding just 37.7 xG, the third-fewest in the league. And the Seagulls have been able to keep hold of manager Graham Potter, which is a big plus for their outlook.
My simulations project Brighton to finish exactly 10th, and I like their chances to finish in the top half even if they don't use the White money to land a stud striker. But if they do get a difference-making goal-scorer, it would be a big help as that is their missing piece as of now.