2015-07-31

The following is a team-by-team preview for the 2015-16 English Premier League season.

Chelsea will be looking for back-to-back titles for the first time since 2005-06, while Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United will try to close the gap. Liverpool have been active in the transfer window so they too might fancy their title chances.

At the other end of the spectrum, the new broadcasting deal is due to set in next season, which will see TV rights increase by 70% on the current deal. Relegation-threatened clubs will be desperate to stay in the league to reap the huge financial rewards in the 2016/17 season.

Futures Betting Tips

It’s hard to look past Chelsea at 2.68 (Betfair) to win the title, however most pundits expect a closer title race than last year, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United providing the primary threats. Man Utd have a very manageable schedule over the first four weeks so it might be worth considering backing them now at 6.40 (Betfair) and laying them in a month’s time.

The relegation market is far more interesting, with fourteen teams currently listed at odds of 40.00 or below. Only Southampton have relegation odds below 100.00 and title odds below 1,000.00. West Brom may be worth laying (i.e. betting that they will stay up) at 5.90 with Betfair, given Tony Pulis’ record of keeping teams up. Leicester might be worth a shout at 4.30 (Betfair) to go down after pulling off a great escape last season. Given six of their first eight fixtures are against sides who finished in the top eight last season, you might also want to consider backing Newcastle for relegation at 6.20 (Betfair) now and then hedge after gameweek eight. Aston Villa at 3.80 (Betfair) are also worth looking at. They only scored 31 goals last season and have lost Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out our 2015-16 English Premier League betting resources.

Team-By-Team Guide

Note that the arrivals and departures include loaned players.

Some of these details will be updated periodically leading up to the start of the season.



Chelsea

Last Season Placing: 1st with 87 points and a 26-9-3 record.

Last Season’s goals: 73 for (36 at home 37 on the road) and 32 against (9 at home 23 on the road)

Title Odds: 2.68 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 1st1, 1st2

Notable Arrivals: Radamel Falcao, Asmir Begović

Notable Depratures: Petr Cech, Didier Drogba

What’s to Like: Consistency, especially at Stamford Bridge where under Jose Mourinho they have only lost 1 league match in 2 seasons. Chelsea are incredibly difficult to beat, having lost only three league games all of last season. Chelsea’s title win last season was based on their stingy defence, which let in only 0.8 goals on average. Chelsea boast an astute manager and arguably the best squad in the competition.

What’s Not to Like: Haven’t been as active in the transfer market as main rivals. Diego Costa struggles to stay fit. Mourinho doesn’t have a strong reputation for player rotation (Chelsea used fewer players than any other EPL side last season), which can lead to fatigue if they go far in the Champions League.

Main Questions: Can Jose Mourinho bring out the best in Colombian striker Radamel Falcao after he failed to impress at Man Utd? Can Diego Costa stay fit? Will Chelsea sign John Stones?



Manchester City

Last Season Placing: 2nd with 79 points and a 24-7-7 record.

Last Season’s goals: 83 for (44 at home 39 on the road) and 38 against (14 at home 24 on the road)

Title Odds: 4.1 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 3rd1, 4th2

Notable Arrivals: Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph

Notable Depratures: James Milner, Micah Richards

What’s to Like: Have strengthened through the acquisitions of Sterling and Delph. Boasted the best offensive record in 2014/15, scoring ten more goals than Chelsea.

What’s Not to Like: Were inconsistent least season. In the 2014/15 campaign when the now departed Milner was playing Manchester City averaged 2.35 GPG, compared to 1.86 when he was absent (source: Matchbook).

Main Questions: Will Raheem Sterling live up to his high price tag? Will this turn out to be Manuel Pellegrini’s final year in charge? Can they reach the Champions League final eight?



Arsenal

Last Season Placing: 3rd with 75 points and a 22-9-7 record.

Last Season’s goals: 71 for (41 at home 30 on the road) and 36 against (14 at home 22 on the road)

Title Odds: 5.3 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 2nd1, 3rd2

Notable Arrivals: Petr Cech

Notable Depratures: Lukas Podolski

What’s to Like: Finished last season with 13 wins from 18 games. Petr Cech looks to be a good signing.

What’s Not to Like: Poor away record against top six sides. Quiet so far in the transfer window.

Main Questions: Can Arsenal improve on its record against the top six sides?

Other Comments: Pay attention to the HT/FT betting for Arsenal fixtures because defensively they are generally a stronger first half team. Last season they conceded 13 first half goals compared to 23 in the second half. Last campaign they conceded just one goal in the first 15 minutes of a fixture, compared to 11 in the final 15 minutes.

Manchester United

Last Season Placing: 4th with 70 points and a 20-10-8 record.

Last Season’s goals: 62 for (41 at home 21 on the road) and 37 against (15 at home 22 on the road)

Title Odds: 6.2 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 4th1

Notable Arrivals: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay

Notable Depratures: Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, Nani, Ángel Di María (likely, but not confirmed)

What’s to Like: Finished 4th last year despite a slow start under then new manager Louis van Gaal. Have acquired strong talent in the off-season.

What’s Not to Like: Will be under pressure to at least replicate last season’s 4th place despite the added distraction of the UEFA Champions League. Only managed to win six away games last season.

Main Questions: Can Memphis Depay make up for the loss in strike power up front after the departure of van Persie? How will the big new signings fit in?

Other Comments: Have an easier start to the season than main rivals, so may be worth backing now and laying after a few weeks.

Tottenham

Last Season Placing: 5th with 64 points and a 19-7-12 record.

Last Season’s goals: 58 for (31 at home 27 on the road) and 53 against (24 at home 29 on the road)

Title Odds: 150 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 7th1

Notable Arrivals: Toby Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier, Alex Pritchard (back from loan)

Notable Depratures: Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiricheș

What’s to Like: Strong on the road, winning nine games away from White Hart Lane last season.

What’s Not to Like: Lost too many home games last season for a side with their aspirations. Will be heavily reliant on Harry Kane to have another strong season. Conceded too many (53) goals last season.

Main Questions: Can Tottenham score enough goals to challenge for a UEFA Champions League spot? Can their new signings tidy up their leaky defence?

Liverpool

Last Season Placing: 6th with 62 points and a 18-8-12 record.

Last Season’s goals: 52 for (30 at home 22 on the road) and 48 against (20 at home 28 on the road)

Title Odds: 32 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 5th1, 5th2

Notable Arrivals: Christian Benteke, Roberto Frimino, James Milner, Danny Ings, Nathaniel Clyne

Notable Depratures: Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson

What’s to Like: Daniel Sturridge returns from injury. Over the past 2 seasons, when Sturridge has played Liverpool have averaged 2.33 GPG as opposed to only 1.60 when he was absent. Liverpool have also made quality off-season signings, including the dependable James Milner, who takes over Gerrard’s No. 7 jersey. Liverpool averaged 1.92 points per game (GPG) and when Sterling played they averaged 1.88 GPG (source: Matchbook), suggesting his departure isn’t the end of the world.

What’s Not to Like: Ended last season in poor form.

Main Questions: Can Daniel Sturridge get (and stay) fit? Can the new signings settle in quickly? Can the side fill the leadership hole left by Gerrard?

Other Comments: This season is a bit of a reset for Liverpool, who sacked assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first-team coach Mike Marsh during the off-season. Sterling and Gerrard have departed, with Firmino, Benteke and Milner among seven players coming in.

Southampton

Last Season Placing: 7th with 60 points and a 18-6-14 record.

Last Season’s goals: 54 for (37 at home 17 on the road) and 33 against (13 at home 20 on the road)

Title Odds: 640 (Betfair)

Relegation Odds: 34 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 11th1

Notable Arrivals: Cedric Soares, Jordy Clasie, Juanmi, Maarten Stekelenburg, Steven Caulker

Notable Depratures: Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, Toby Alderweireld

What’s to Like: Excellent defensive record last year. Only Chelsea conceded fewer goals. Have a great development system to call on. Jay Rodriguez is back after missing all of last year with injury – he scored 15 EPL goals in the 2013/14 season.

What’s Not to Like: Schneiderlin, Clyne and Alderweireld have departed. When the Schneiderlin was playing last season they averaged 1.72 GPG, compared to 1.09 GPG when he was absent (source: Matchbook). Southampton also have the distraction of the Europa League this year.

Main Questions: Southampton thrived last year despite the loss of five key players during the summer. Can they do the same this year after Schneiderlin’s departure? Can they avoid regressing after six years of progress?

Swansea

Last Season Placing: 8th with 56 points and a 16-8-14 record.

Last Season’s goals: 46 for (27 at home 19 on the road) and 49 against (22 at home 27 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 11.5 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 9th1

Notable Arrivals: Eder, Andre Ayew, Franck Tabanou, Kristoffer Nordfeldt

Notable Depratures: Jazz Richards

What’s to Like: Continued to fare well last season after the departure of Wilfried Bony. Strengthened during the off-season.

What’s Not to Like: Had a nasty habit of conceding late goals last season.

Main Questions: Can Swansea make the leap from top half finisher to Europa League qualifier?

Other Comments: Look well placed for another strong season.

Stoke City

Last Season Placing: 9th with 54 points and a 15-9-14 record.

Last Season’s goals: 48 for (32 at home 16 on the road) and 45 against (22 at home 23 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 15 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 10th1

Notable Arrivals: Joselu, Glen Johnson, Marco van Ginkel, Ibrahim Affelay, Philipp Wollscheid, Jakob Haugaard

Notable Depratures: Asmir Begović, Steven Nzonzi

What’s to Like: Finished 9th in the league last season despite Bojan Krkic and Peter Odemwingie’s long absences due to injury.

What’s Not to Like: Will have a hard time filling the shoes of their excellent departed goalkeeper, Asmir Begović. Were inconsistent at times last season, occasionally losing at home to weaker sides that they should have beaten.

Main Questions: How high can Stoke City go if their strikers stay fit this season?

Other Comments: Have the potential to finish as high as 7th if everything goes their way this season.

Crystal Palace

Last Season Placing: 10th with 48 points and a 13-9-16 record.

Last Season’s goals: 47 for (21 at home 26 on the road) and 51 against (27 at home 24 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 8.6 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 8th1, 11th2

Notable Arrivals: Yohan Cabaye, Patrick Bamford, Alex McCarthy, Connor Wickham (not confirmed)

Notable Depratures: Jerome Thomas

What’s to Like: Strong away record. Have excellent counter attacking pace and have bolstered their midfield by signing Yohan Cabaye, while maintaining the nucleus of last year’s squad. For the first time since entering the EPL, Crystal Palace have some semblance of stability at the manager position, with Alan Pardew back at the helm after joining them mid-way through last season. Palace were in the relegation zone when he arrived and would have finished higher than 10th if you extrapolated their form under him for the entire season.

What’s Not to Like: Lacked a consistent striker last year. Loan signing Patrick Bamford is promising but unproven in the top flight. Lost 10 home games last season, which was the most in the league.

Main Questions: Can Palace go an entire season without any manager dramas? Can they hold onto key players like Yannick Bolasie? Can Patrick Bamford provide them with the threat they need up front?

Everton

Last Season Placing: 11th with 47 points and a 12-11-15 record.

Last Season’s goals: 48 for (27 at home 21 on the road) and 50 against (21 at home 29 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 20 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 6th1, 8th2

Notable Arrivals: Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu

Notable Depratures: Sylvain Distin

What’s to Like: Won’t have the distraction of the Europa League like they did last year.

What’s Not to Like: Had a disappointing season in Roberto Martinez’s second year in charge. They only won 7 home league games last season, compared to 13 the previous campaign. Have been relatively quiet so far in the transfer window.

Main Questions: Will 2015/16 resemble Everton’s strong 2013/14 campaign now that they’re free of European football? Or will they endure another disappointing season? Can they keep John Stones?

Other Comments: Pay attention to the HT/FT betting for Everton fixtures because they are generally a stronger first half team. Last season they conceded 19 first half goals compared to 31 in the second half.

West Ham

Last Season Placing: 12th with 47 points and a 12-11-15 record.

Last Season’s goals: 44 for (25 at home 19 on the road) and 47 against (18 at home 29 on the road)

Managerial Change: Sam Allardyce -> Slaven Bilić

Relegation Odds: 7.8 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 14th1

Notable Arrivals: Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang and Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini

Notable Depratures: Stewart Downing

What’s to Like: Have been active in the transfer market during the off-season.

What’s Not to Like: Have the distraction of the Europa League this year. Poor away record last season.

Main Questions: Will the grass turn out to be greener on the other side without Sam Allardyce?

West Brom

Last Season Placing: 13th with 44 points and a 11-11-16 record.

Last Season’s goals: 38 for (24 at home 14 on the road) and 51 against (26 at home 25 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 5.9 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 13th1

Notable Arrivals: James McClean

Notable Depratures: Youssouf Mulumbu

What’s to Like: Excellent manager in Tony Pulis, who steered them to safety last season after joining the club in January.

What’s Not to Like: Have been distracted by a protracted takeover of the club, which fell through a week ago. Have been relatively quiet in the transfer market. Will start the season without goalkeeper Ben Foster, who is still recovering from injury. Might be too reliant on Berahino for goals.

Main Questions: Can striker Saido Berahino continue to improve after his breakout 2014/15 season?

Other Comments: I can’t see West Brom getting relegated under the guile of manager Tony Pulis.

Leicester City

Last Season Placing: 14th with 41 points and a 11-8-19 record.

Last Season’s goals: 46 for (28 at home 18 on the road) and 55 against (22 at home 33 on the road)

Managerial Change: Nigel Pearson -> Claudio Ranieri

Relegation Odds: 4.3 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 20th1, 19th2

Notable Arrivals: Shinji Okazaki, Christian Fuchs

Notable Depratures: Esteban Cambiasso

What’s to Like: Striker Shinji Okazaki could turn out to be an astute signing. Claudio Ranieri is a vastly experienced manager. Leicester City have signed Robert Huth permanently after picking him up on loan in February.

What’s Not to Like: Pulled off a great escape last year, but they start with a new manager after Pearson’s sacking. Their player of the year last season, Esteban Cambiasso, turned down a new contract while Matty James isn’t expected back from injury until Christmas.

Main Questions: What will the team spirit be like under quite a different managerial style? Can Leicester replicate the end of season form that saved their EPL season? Or will we see more of what put them at the bottom of the table for most of the previous campaign?

Newcastle

Last Season Placing: 15th with 39 points and a 10-9-19 record.

Last Season’s goals: 40 for (26 at home 14 on the road) and 63 against (27 at home 36 on the road)

Managerial Change: John Carver -> Steve McClaren

Relegation Odds: 6.2 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 12th1

Notable Arrivals: Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba (awaiting visa)

Notable Depratures: Sammy Ameobi (loan), Jonas Gutierrez

What’s to Like: Things can only improve after the terrible run under John Carver. Owner Mike Ashley seems to be finally showing a willingness to spend. Have a number of quality players in the squad.

What’s Not to Like: Terrible defensive record last season. Poor away form as well. New manager Steve McClaren has a patchy record. After initially improving on Derby’s fortunes, the club flat-lined late last season, going from Championship title contenders to missing out on the playoffs.

Main Questions: Can Steve McClaren turn the club’s fortunes around from their terrible run after Pardew’s departure? How will the Newcastle fans treat him if they don’t get off to a good start?

Other Comments: Six of their first eight fixtures are against sides who finished in the top eight last season. You might want to consider backing them for relegation now and then hedging after week eight.

Sunderland

Last Season Placing: 16th with 38 points and a 7-17-14 record.

Last Season’s goals: 31 for (16 at home 15 on the road) and 53 against (27 at home 26 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 3.2 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 15th1

Notable Arrivals: Jeremain Lens, Younes Kaboul, Adam Matthews

Notable Depratures: Connor Wickham

What’s to Like: Form picked up after manager Dick Advocaat joined the side in March.

What’s Not to Like: Only managed to score 31 goals all of last season. The Stadium of Light is hardly a fortress for them. They only won four home games all of last season.

Main Questions: Can marquee signing Jeremain Lens turn around Sunderland’s goal scoring woes? Can the club make progress under manager Dick Advocaat, who joined the side in March?

Aston Villa

Last Season Placing: 17th with 38 points and a 10-8-20 record.

Last Season’s goals: 31 for (18 at home 13 on the road) and 57 against (25 at home 32 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 4.1 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 17th1, 16th2

Notable Arrivals: Micah Richards, Jordan Amavi, Idrissa Gueye, Scott Sinclair

Notable Depratures: Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph, Ron Vlaar, Tom Cleverley

What’s to Like: Aston Villa’s form picked up (22 points from 16 games) after the arrival of Tim Sherwood in February.

What’s Not to Like: Christian Benteke’s departure will hurt, especially given Aston Villa only scored 31 goals last season. Delph and Cleverley’s departures will also hurt.

Main Questions: Can Aston Villa’s new signings make up for the departures? Can Aston Villa stay in the EPL after spending the last four seasons flirting with relegation?

Other Comments: For in-play betting, keep in mind that last year Aston Villa came undone by late defensive lapses, conceding 18 goals in the last 15 minutes of their matches.

Bournemouth

Last Season Placing: 1st (FLC) with 90 points and a 26-12-8 record.

Last Season’s goals: 98 for (48 at home 50 on the road) and 45 against (25 at home 20 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 2.36 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 19th1, 17th2

Notable Arrivals: Sylvain Distin, Tyrone Mings

Notable Depratures:

What’s to Like: Manager Eddie Howe is popular among the players and highly rated. Having barely avoided relegation from League 2 in 2009, Bournemouth have arguably over-achieved by reaching the lofty heights of the EPL. They will get a lot of support from neutrals and can play without any burden of expectation.

What’s Not to Like: Entering the top flight for the first time. Lacking EPL experience apart from Sylvain Distin. Have signed numerous players, which can upset the balance of the team.

Main Questions: Bournemouth scored a total of 98 goals from 46 league fixtures last season. Will they try to maintain an attacking mindset and persist with two strikers? Or will they eventually go into their shells and play more conservatively?

Watford

Last Season Placing: 2nd (FLC) with 89 points and a 27-8-11 record.

Last Season’s goals: 91 for (48 at home 43 on the road) and 50 against (22 at home 28 on the road)

Managerial Change: Slaviša Jokanović -> Quique Flores

Relegation Odds: 1.78 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 16th1

Notable Arrivals: Etienne Capoue, Valon Behrami, Allan Nyom, Jose Holebas

Notable Depratures: Carlos Cuellar

What’s to Like: New manager Quique Flores is vastly experienced, having previously won the UEFA Europa League. On paper have a pretty good squad considering they were in the Championship last season. Have been very active in the transfer market.

What’s Not to Like: Start the season with a different manager to the one who got them promoted. New manager Quique Flores has no previous playing or managerial experience in England. While they dominated the weaker teams, Watford had mixed results against the strongest sides in the Championship last season.

Main Questions: How well will the ten new signings integrate into the squad?

Norwich

Last Season Placing: 3rd (FLC) with 86 points and a 25-11-10 record.

Last Season’s goals: 88 for (50 at home 38 on the road) and 48 against (24 at home 24 on the road)

Relegation Odds: 2.22 (Betfair)

Season Predictions: 18th1

Notable Arrivals: Youssouf Mulumbu, Robbie Brady

Notable Depratures:

What’s to Like: Have recent EPL experience. Finished last season strongly after Alex Neil was appointed as manager in January, winning 17 of their last 25 fixtures. Not overly reliant on any individual to score goals, maintained the nucleus of last year’s squad.

What’s Not to Like: Only managed a 2-3-14 away record the last time they were in the EPL (2013/14). Conceded 62 goals in their last EPL campaign, with their defensive squad on paper not much better than it was two seasons ago. Haven’t yet made many moves in the transfer market.

Main Questions: Can Cameron Jerome finally replicate his goal Championship scoring form in the EPL? Can Norwich avoid becoming a yo-yo team and gain a long-term foothold in the top flight?

Notes & Sources

1http://www.thenational.ae/sport/football/the-nationals-201516-english-premier-league-preview-series

2http://www.theguardian.com/football/premier-league-2015-16-previews

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