The start of a new season puts a fire in the belly of even the most jaded, world-weary football fan. Barely three months have gone by since another year’s hopes were finally dashed, but the thought of it all kicking off again in August makes optimists of us all. This optimism can be a dangerous thing, particularly when it makes us confuse a speculative bet on our club’s title prospects with a good idea. Gambling and hope are rarely a good combination, so if you must gamble, gamble wisely. To help, we’ve put together 10 bets that we think stand a decent chance of making some money. Hopefully a few quid will help soften the blow come next May when Everton disappoint us again.
1. 18/1 Eden Hazard Top Premier League Assists (Boylesports)
The Belgian winger has been hot property in European football for a while now, though if his first stuttering performance in the Community Shield is anything to go by, he might need a bit of time to adapt to the English game. Still, with 16 assists for Lille last season this looks a decent bet on an exciting new addition to the league.
2. 90/1 Treble: Swansea, Reading and WBA to go down (Stan James)
West Brom will struggle with life after Hodgson, though the loan signing of Lukaku could provide the firepower to save them. Newly-promoted Reading don’t look to have the quality to keep many clean sheets against the premiership’s finest. The surprise in this trio is probably Swansea, who put in some great performances last year but might not be the same side without Rodgers at the helm.
3. 7/1 Sam Allardyce next manager to be sacked (Various)
Despite achieving promotion, Allardyce regularly faced disgruntled fans last season. Chants of “We’re West Ham United, we play on the floor” rang out in response to Big Sam’s patented long-ball football, and anything but success this season will see the fans calling for his head.
4. 25/1 Papiss Cisse (Paddy Power)
Cisse made an impressive impact for Newcastle last season, netting 13 goals in 14 games after joining from Freiburg in January. Maintaining that kind of form will be a big ask, but long odds like these make Cisse a decent bet for the Golden Boot.
5. 25/1 Marvin Sordell top championship goalscorer (Bet365)
Bolton are favourites to top the Championship this year, and many expect the newly signed Sordell to fire them to success. Much may depend on his ability to nail down a regular starting spot, Sordell is still only 19 after all.
6. 40/1 Nuno Gomes top championship goalscorer (Coral)
Despite a great goalscoring pedigree, these long odds are the result of the fact that the 35-year old former Portuguese international hasn’t managed 20 games in any of his last three seasons. The romantic in us fancies experience to conquer youth, and Gomes to defy expectations and score for fun at Blackburn.
7. 4/1 Rotherham to win League 2 (Ladbrokes)
Life in the lower leagues is said to be much more unpredictable than we’re used to in the premiership, but it’s hard to see past Rotherham to win League 2. A big injection of cash sees them start the season with a host of new faces and a new £20 million stadium.
8 13/2 Top 3 Premiership Tricast Man City, Manchester Utd, Chelsea (Skybet)
Despite a poor league performance last season, we expect Chelsea to be competing with the two halves of Manchester for the title this season. The additions of Hazard and Oscar mean they have an incredibly exciting midfield, and there are promising signs that Torres can return to scoring ways.
9. 14/1 Leeds Utd to win championship
These are decent odds for a side that is expected by many to be in the mix at the business end of the season. If they can find goals in the absence of last season’s top scorer Robert Snodgrass they might well surprise a few people and nick the title.
10. 54/1 Cardiff, Notts County and Fleetwood to get promoted (William Hill)
The recent signing of Craig Bellamy looks to be a major boon for Cardiff, while there are short odds on Fleetwood achieving back-to-back promotion despite losing a few players. Notts County may be the weak link in this trio, but if new signing Francois Zoko can replicate his form at Carlisle last year they could well hold be set for a successful season.
By Joseph Weir