Thirteen games in and an exciting race to win the 2016/17 Premier League title is already shaping up, with four teams threatening to pull away from the chasing bunch. The odds have been jumping all over the place, but there are now some established favourites, and bookmakers are offering free bets to tempt fans into wagering on them. Here we run through the leading contenders, their odds and their prospects:
The big news for Man City is the return to the team of Yaya Toure, who was left out of City’s Champions League group and hadn’t featured all season after his agent criticised manager Pep Guardiola, who sold him to City from Barcelona several years ago. That tiff is now water under the bridge and he returned to the starting 11 to score both goals as they beat Crystal Palace 2-1. He featured again as City held on to beat a resilient Burnley at the weekend and they are now third, a point below leaders Chelsea and behind second placed Liverpool on goal difference alone. They are 2/1 title favourites, however, as they have big game players like Toure, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany – who needs to return from injury – who have won the Premiership before, a boss in Guardiola who has won the league in six out of seven seasons as a manager, and a wealth of expensive young talent such as Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and John Stones. They have not looked convincing for a while, however, and 2/1 looks a short price and a bit of a risk.
The Blues are the form team of the league, having won seven in a row. After losing 3-0 to Arsenal back in September it was all doom and gloom, but manager Antonio Conte changed the system to his preferred three at the back and they have since been unstoppable. They won six games without conceding a goal before facing unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, and while they went behind to a Cristian Eriksen strike they showed great resilience to score twice and earn a hard fought win. They have a fantastic balance in their side and Eden Hazard and Diego Costa look back to their best, and they deserve to be top of the table. They could invest further in January and still have Kurt Zouma and John Terry to return from injury, so the 9/4 on offer for them to win the league looks a great shout for any free bets offers floating about.
Like Chelsea, Liverpool have a great advantage in that they are not in Europe this season and can focus solely on the league, while Man City and Arsenal slog it out in the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp has proved to be a superb coach and his side is playing with great intensity, energy and dynamism at the moment. They are ferocious in pressing and harrying their opponents all over the pitch, often winning the ball in the final third, and they have been incisive in attack. They have scored more than any other team this season, but a weak defence could let them down in the long run and the 10/3 available on them looks a bit stingy given their defensive frailties.
Arsenal are two points behind Liverpool and City, and three behind Chelsea, but there is plenty of cause for optimism after they comfortably beat Bournemouth at the weekend. They never do well in November and they have negotiated a tricky period and now have some easier games to look forward to. Alexis Sanchez is in superb form up front, and the defence is looking extremely tough. They have not lost in any competition since the opening day of the season, and that was when Laurent Koscielny was absent and Shkodran Mustafi had not yet been signed. Those two have formed a great partnership. Arsenal seem to do well in odd calendar years: they got more points than anyone in 2013 and 2015. If they are in touching distance at the turn of the year and repeat such a feat in 2017, it could finally end Arsene Wenger’s long period of hurt, and the 8/1 on Arsenal looks interesting for any free bets deals, particularly if you go each way and back them to finish in the top two, as they did last season, when they finished ahead of City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Champions Leicester are already 18 points off the pace and have no chance. Man Utd have made their worse start to a season since 1989 and are several players short, so a young and exciting Tottenham look the most interesting out of the rest at 28/1 as they are only six points off the top and full of quality.