Manchester City took just 47 days to turn their Premier League title price from a generous 9/4 to a ‘we think it’s all over’ 1/20.
In the process, they have turned a seasonal low price for current holders Liverpool of 19/20 on Christmas Day to a huge 33/1.
The 12-match form guide for the division – which includes beating Liverpool 4-1 away on Sunday – illustrates how City have turned on the afterburners to streak past their title rivals, taking 32 points from a possible 36. Liverpool have scooped a modest 16 over the same period, a total that is bettered by 10 other teams.
Pep Guardiola’s team have also shown incredible defensive steel in that time, conceding just one goal for every 360 minutes of action. Even in a season as strange as this one, it would take a monumental trough at the other side of this peak to give any other team a glimmer of hope.
That said, it’s interesting to note that, of their remaining games, Liverpool only face sides in the current top eight four times – including this coming weekend at Leicester City – while Man City have already played seven of the bottom eight sides at home.
It’s arguable that Liverpool have the easier run-in and might (at the very least) shorten the 10-point gap currently showing in the table, although the distance between the two sides on the pitch was magnified at Anfield on Sunday.
City welcome United to the Etihad in early March. A home win would probably mean a market shut-down.
Separating those sides in the market, we have new second-favourites, if only in name, with Manchester United still being quoted at 25/1. City are five points and a game in hand ahead of their Manchester rivals and welcome them to the Etihad in early March. If it’s not already over by then, a home win would certainly make it look that way with a probable market shut-down.
If the title market is on its last legs, then at least there’s been some lively action in the top-four market, revived from looking almost over when City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham seemed set to give us a four-way title race just a few weeks ago.
Champions League places await those who achieve the feat, with several managers under pressure to achieve it.
Manchester United have recently sacked both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal in the days following their failure to finish in the top four, so it would be fair to suggest that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is one of those with this as a minimum objective.
The Norwegian will be quite happy, then, to see United priced at 1/5 to grab one of those spots – particularly following their drift to an alarming 9/4 after their home defeat to Arsenal in November.
The Gunners reached a low of 13/8 after that game at Old Trafford. Their form since reads: P16 W5 D4 L7 for a points haul of 19. In the same period, United’s reads: P17 W11 D5 L1 and a huge 38 points. It’s probably fair to say that the market had an uncharacteristic, though not unheard of, overreaction to just one game.
Arsenal are now considered big outsiders to play a hand in this market at 16/1, but ahead of them it’s very competitive. Despite a mini-blip in form, West Ham United will see it as a massive achievement to be in front of their London rivals at just 11/1.
Everton and Aston Villa, both at 8/1, are still occasionally adding a streak of good form to the decent base they created at the start of the season.
With Liverpool at 1/4 (from a low of 1/20) looking slightly vulnerable, it’s that fourth spot that clubs just behind them in the market will be targeting. Chelsea at 10/11, Leicester at 21/20 and Tottenham at 7/2 look like an intriguing trio. They will be battling for that last spot while collectively hoping that Liverpool allow another one of them into the mix.
The relegation market is now looking even more set than it was a few weeks into the season.
The odds-compilers had declared that Fulham, West Brom and a shockingly out-of-form Sheffield United were deserving of odds-on quotes by the end of November. The market now shows West Brom and Sheffield United to be as good as back in the Championship at 1/20 and 1/14 respectively. Fulham have an outside hope of overturning odds of 30/100.
Of the clubs that Scott Parker’s side should be trying to catch, Newcastle at 7/2 and Burnley at 9/2 look most vulnerable. The Cottagers’ game away at Burnley next week is absolutely vital. They’ll be around 2/1 to win it.
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