As the new Premier League season dawns, we take a look at three outside bets worth considering.
Everton to finish fourth – 9/1 (Paddy Power)
As the new campaign kicks off, much of the spotlight is on the ‘will he/won’t he’ Philippe Coutinho saga, Jose Mourinho’s ever growing shopping list and Antonio Conte’s much-publicised frustration about his activity or lack thereof in the transfer market.
Nobody is really paying much attention to Everton. Ronald Koeman is one of the best managers in the league as evidenced by how he transformed Everton in the post-Roberto Martínez era and by how he helped Southampton achieve European football in the previous season. The Dutchman is building something special in the blue half of Liverpool and has made some smart signings including Gerard Deulofeu, Davy Klaassen and Michael Keane, decent signings one and all.
Given the aforementioned trouble with Conte and the red half of Merseyside as well Tottenham’s laisse faire recruitment policy and the fact that Arsenal are still well, Arsenal, there is a very strong likelihood that if they get off to a strong start and take points off the sides around them that Everton could sneak into fourth place.
Antonio Conte the first manager to leave 7/1 (Sky Bet)
All does not appear to be well at Stamford Bridge. Reports surfaced earlier this summer that Conte is growing frustrated with the lack of signings at Chelsea. The Blues have spent in excess of £135million on new recruits so far but have missed out on top targets Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci, and Romelu Lukaku.
Chelsea’s lack of strength and depth has been well covered in the media in recent times and seeing that Diego Costa is being frozen out combined with a lack of defensive cover and a general lack of investment (granted €80 million was spent on Morata but he was a second choice signing) does not bode well for the Blues. Given Abramovich has a patchy at best track record with managers, the chances of Conte making it as far as November seem in doubt.
Wayne Rooney to score seven or fewer goals – 2/1 (Paddy Power)
Home is the hero. In 2004 a teenage Wayne Rooney left Everton for Man Utd. Since then he has won every trophy possible at club level both domestically and in Europe.
Despite this and the fact he has scored 198 Premier league goals, there is still a feeling that he never quite fulfilled his obvious potential and reached the dizzy heights of his more illustrious contemporaries, Messi and Ronaldo.
In the past two seasons, Rooney has reached five and eight league goals respectively, quite a drop off considering he scored 27 in the 11/12 season. If this trend continues, the chances of him reaching double figures seem improbable and he could well finish under the not so lucky seven.