The English Premier League, which got underway last weekend, is by far the most competitive domestic league in European football. Heading into the early part of the 2015-16 season, only two or three teams look built to win the title; but any given weekend can see the favorites stumble, no matter who the opponent.
Over the last 11 seasons, only three teams have managed to take the EPL crown: Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City. This season doesn’t look any different, though Arsene Wenger and Arsenal would beg to differ.
Let’s have a look at the early odds to take home the title.
Manchester City (7/4): Manchester City paid Liverpool an obscene amount of money (£49 million) to get striker Raheem Sterling. Sterling only scored 18 goals in three seasons during his time with the Reds, yet the Citizens were ready to break the bank for the speedster, who knows he’ll have his work cut out for him.
“It’s going to be a really tough season,” the 20-year-old told the club’s website. “Everyone has strengthened their squads and the Premier League is always hard to second guess.”
With investments like this one, Manchester City is the team to beat in the Premier League. Manager Manuel Pellegrini has the team playing an offensive style that is perhaps the most attractive to watch in the EPL. The City fans are hoping for a deep run in the UEFA Champions League, but a win in the local tournament will be good enough to consider it a great season.
Chelsea (2/1): Chelsea is the only team that looks built to compete with City over the course of a whole season. The defending champs let go of either players in the offseason, including veterans Petr Cech and Didier Drogba. But they re-loaded with talent including the likes of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao .
The Chelsea roster might not quite be on par with City this year, but they likely have the advantage in the coaching department; you can never underestimate a team that has Jose Mourinho at the helm, especially when Pellegrini is his main competition. “Mou” has always had Pellegrini’s number, winning seven of 12 meetings, while drawing three, and losing only twice.
Mourinho is downplaying the disparity between Chelsea and City, on the one hand, and the rest of the league, on the other. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think fewer points will win the title,” said the coach to ESPN FC. “You have a minimum of five title contenders and the other teams get stronger and stronger.”
Arsenal (9/2): The last time Arsenal won the league title was back in 2003-04 when they finished unbeaten; since then, they have failed miserably at putting together a title contender.
Manager Arsene Wenger has gotten used to finishing the year third or fourth in the table and has blamed the lackluster results on not having enough money to compete with Chelsea and Man City. However, the reality is that Arsenal is loaded with talent on every line this season, and Wenger knows it. Another third or fourth-place finish won’t be good enough come season’s end.
“We had much more pressure before when I knew I had at least to be in the top four and we had not necessarily the potential to do it,” Wenger said to ESPN FC. “The pressure is really on you when you know you are just on the border of achieving what is absolutely requested.”
Man United (11/2): After a fourth-place finish last season, United manager Louis Van Gaal needs to prove to fans that he can still be one of the best in the business. However, the Dutchman will have to do it with a substantially different roster than last season. The team let go of Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao upfront and are trying to sell goalkeeper David De Gea to Real Madrid. Playmaker Memphis Depay has been brought in and Javier Chicharito Hernandez has been retained (after rumors he’d be transferred, as well). But those two – along with main striker Wayne Rooney – might not be able to muster enough offense to seriously challenge for the EPL title.
Liverpool (20/1): Liverpool had a decent chance to win the Premier League trophy … two years ago. A lot has changed since then. Captain Steven Gerrard is no longer on the team, and manager Brendan Rodgers is on the hot seat. The Reds haven’t invested enough to be a top-four team, but a Europa League ticket for next season could be enough to keep Rodgers employed for at least one more season.
- Tottenham 150/1
- Southampton 300/1
- Everton 400/1
- West Ham 1000/1
- Stoke City 1250/1
- Crystal Palace 1500/1
- Leicester City 1500/1
- Swansea 1500/1
- Aston Villa 2000/1
- West Brom 2000/1
- Newcastle 2500/1
- Sunderland 5000/1
- Watford 5000/1
- Bournemouth 7500/1
- Norwich 7500/1