The 2022/23 Premier League season kicks off this evening as Crystal Palace host Arsenal, and pundits are predicting that the title race and battle for top four will be one of the most fiercely contested yet.
A couple of weeks prior to the big kick off, bet365 published figures into customer betting trends on various outright markets, revealing that some punters are putting their confidence in some unorthodox choices.
Notably, the most backed team to win the Premier League was Manchester United as The Red Devils put their faith in Erik ten Hag to turn things around at the dormant giant, whilst Leeds United are most likely to go down according to the Stoke bookie’s bettors.
To gain more insights from across the board on pre-season punts, SBC reached out to Harry Aitkenhead, Coral PR Executive; Chad Yeomans, Head of Communications PR at Betway and Will Christophers, Sports Broker at Fitzdares.
Who claims the crown?
Customers of bet365 are not the only ones to back Manchester United to emerge from the post-Fergie wilderness to regain their historical footing, and according to some betslips Tottenham Hotspur are due to end their 60 year first division title drought.
At Coral, Aitkenhead observed that the sportsbook is “seeing a lot of punters back big clubs across the leagues, possibly due to their fans getting behind them”.
“Premier League betting shows that punters are happy to seek out value and take on outsiders in the market, particularly with Tottenham and Manchester United who are under new managers, more recently United than Spurs, styles and players,” he explained.
“There are a lot of unknowns about the two sides but value in the market if they can hit the ground running.”
This mirrored developments at Betway, where Yeomans observed both Manchester United and Tottenham have been backed as the ‘outsiders’ to win the tournament due to offering greater value to customers than heavy favourites and 2022 champions Manchester City.
“Obviously, there are short in the outright betting market, so punters are looking elsewhere for value. Both Spurs and Man Utd have been supported,” he added.
“Spurs have done very well in the transfer market and have serial winner Conte at the helm, whereas Man Utd’s pre-season results have given punters and supporters cause for optimism as their reign under Erik ten Hag has started very well.”
Lastly, Christophers also observed that the Red Devils and Spurs are a popular punt this year, coming in at 25/1 and 14/1 respectively.
However, Fitzdates have also seen money going on Newcastle United – who bet365 bettors are have been backing to secure top four.
“An impressive end to last season for Antonio Conte’s side has seen Tottenham take three times more business in the Title market than any other team,” Christophers continued.
“A combined 56 goal contributions last season for Kane and Son, as well as new summer recruits, such as Richarlison, Bissouma and Perisic, has left the 14/1 too good a prospect to turn down for many. Manchester United’s 25/1 to win the title has also proved popular, with ten Hag’s side the second most backed for the title.
“However, the 11/8 about ten Hag securing Champions League football in his first season has not caught attention, suggesting United could be in for an all or nothing season. The 8/1 for the newly wealthy Newcastle United to finish in the top four has seen double the number of bets as the Red Devils so far.”
Life on Mars
For some observers – perhaps of the more pessimistic, or some may say realistic, sporting outlook – a glance at two teams’ place in punters preferences might make them consider the possibility they were in a coma or had somehow returned to the 1970s.
Nottingham Forest are the fifth most backed to win the League among bet365 customers, and the second most backed to secure a top four finish after ending their 23 year exile from the Premier League.
Over at Betway, Forest was joined by fellow Midlands side Aston Villa – who last won the old First Division in 1981 and haven’t secured any major trophy since the League Cup in 1996.
Yeomans continued: “Once we get into the bigger odds – it doesn’t take much to rack up huge liabilities when some clubs are massive prices, but we’ve seen support for Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.
“While the obvious contenders will always be popular in multiples, we have seen support for Nottingham Forest. People are seeing something in them and they are dreaming big!”
Meanwhile, over at Coral, Aitkenhead observed that now the club is ‘back to the big time’, Forest have been backed by many to finish in the top 10.
The firm also found this trend replicated further down the football pyramid, with clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and Bradford City chosen for promotion from the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.
“Fans love to place wagers on their teams achieving success even if they don’t really believe it might happen – Leicester the most extreme example – and that is definitely the case again this season,” he added.
Fitzdares customers, on the other hand, threw a curveball into the mix with a choice of Leeds United – a divergent punt for reasons which will soon become clear.
“The surprise package has been Leeds United, with backers unworried about the loss of Phillips and Raphinha,” said Chrsitophers.
“The 50/1 shot to get in the top four has seen more bets taken than West Ham, Leicester and Wolves combined in the same market.”
A game of two halves
Football and by extension betting are, of course, not all stories of wins. Like any sport, someone has to lose, and this is where Fitzdares’ punters appeared rather ruthless in their choices.
Christophers’ laid bare how bettors believe the party will soon be over for Brentford, whilst Steven Gerrard’s Villa have also been singled out for disappointment and Frank Lampard is predicted to bring an end to Everton’s seven decade top-flight tenure.
“Punters are hoping it will be blues for the Bees, with Brentford a generous 5/2 to be relegated,” he continued. “This has attracted more bets than the less popular odds-on Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest.
“Aston Villa and Everton have also been backed to go down more times than any of the newly promoted teams at 12/1 and 5/1 respectively. It seems Gerrard and Lampard could be even less successful in management than they were in a midfield duo for England.”
Betway and bet365 both experienced an opposing trend to Fitzdares with regards to Leeds prospects – it appears customers at these sites have been phased by Phillips and Raphinha’s departure from The Whites.
Leeds were the most backed for relegation with bet365 – strangely followed by Manchester United, the customers’ number one pick as outright winner – and this was mirrored at Betway, with one notable addition.
Yeomans detailed: “All of the teams towards the head of the betting (newly promoted + Leeds and Everton) are obviously popular but surprisingly, Newcastle has seen some support in the past seven days.”
The individual element
As well as a game of winners and losers, football is also of course a game of individuals, and stats such as top goalscorers make for exciting markets for bettors as each season plays out.
One baller in particular has been catching attention in betting shops and websites like this year – Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, playing for title favourites Manchester City.
“In the betting for the top goalscorer in the Premier League, it has all been about one player,” Aitkenhead commented.
“Erling Haaland is the firm favourite for that now, cut from 4/1 to 5/2, and we will be paying healthily to punters if he justifies that support and starts racking up the goals.”
Norway’s wonderkid has also taken Fitzdares by storm according to Christophers, leading the pack at 31 – far ahead of second and third place contenders Gabriel Jesus and Darwin Nunez at 16/1 and 14/1.
Haaland also took more bets than Mo Salah and Son Heung Min, last season’s joint Golden Boot winners, but yet again a certain West Yorkshire contingent seemed present among Fitzdares customer base.
“Jack Harrison has also been surprisingly well-backed at 200/1. Perhaps there is a slight Leeds United bias evident from our early betting,” Christophers quipped.
Meanwhile, back at Betway, Haaland again dominated proceedings, with Yeomans noting that his form at former club Borussia Dortmund was ‘nothing short of exceptional’, and so many bettors are expecting similar results following his arrival in Northwest England.
On other stats betting markets, Raheem Sterling and Aleksandar Mitrović are predicted to succeed upon arrival in West London – at Chelsea and Fulham respectively.
Meanwhile, a familiar face in West London and two newcomers to Liverpool have appeared on more than a few betting slips for top assists this season.
“Haaland is now 11/4 for Top Scorer, having been backed by the Betway punters at all sorts of fancy prices,” Yeomans continued.
“Top Shots on Target – Mitrovic and Sterling have been very popular in this market. Mitrovic scores for fun and is a handful for any defender whereas Sterling’s stats speak for themself. He’ll likely be Chelsea’s biggest catalyst for chances this season.
“Top assists – Dejan Kulusevski, Luis Diaz and Reece James have all been incredibly popular. Kulsevski and Diaz both had great starts in the Premier League and are clearly fancied to continue to flourish.”