Sky Sports, still the dominant voice behind Premier League football, despite rivalry from BT and, lately, Amazon, is not shy about trumpeting the virtues of English football. Week after week we are told about superlative Super Sundays, the hyperbole of the ‘best league in the world’, where ‘anything can happen.’
Of course, the Premier League has given us many special moments down the years. From Sergio Aguero’s final day, final minute winner to seal the title to Leicester City’s 5,000/1 triumph in 2016, does suggest that, in a way, anything can happen.
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Title Effectively Wrapped Up by Christmas
However, despite some wonderful football played last season, we can say it was a disappointment from an excitement point of view. Mathematically, Manchester City had the title wrapped up in April, but, in reality, we knew where it was going before Christmas. The ‘Top 4’ was also decided very early. Indeed, the final day had no issues to sort out, unless you counted the remote possibility of Swansea overturning a massive goal difference swing to avoid relegation. They didn’t.
The point is that last season suggested there might be a bit of a shift in the Premier League and its anything can happen mantra. No team has retained the Premier League since Manchester United in 2008/09 and there has always been lively debate as to who the favourites are in preseason. However, a few weeks before kick-off, all major bookmakers have put Manchester City as odds-on to win the title, with the highest odds just 4/6 with BetBright.
City’s 100 Points May Have Tipped the Balance For Bookmakers
City’s odds make a massive statement in a league where there is supposed to be half a dozen teams with a serious chance of winning. Of course, nobody is dismissing Liverpool (5/1), Manchester United (6/1), nor Chelsea and Spurs (11/1), but it looks less likely that City will have a serious rival. In fact, if you are backing anyone but City, you should take a look at these easy to claim free bets to negate the risk.
The problem we are faced with now is that City join Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in being odds-on for the title in their respective leagues. Yes, obviously Barcelona will face competition from Real Madrid (priced at 6/5 to Barcelona’s 5/6, Paddy Power), but that still leaves six teams for five titles across Europe’s biggest leagues.
Shocks Feel Less Likely
Defenders of the status quo will point to Monaco, Atlético Madrid and Leicester City upsetting the balance in recent seasons. But those were outliers, exceptions to the dominant, rule. Perhaps Napoli will go one better this season, and not fall away after a missed opportunity last year? Maybe RB Leipzig will upset the 33/1 odds and take down a Bayern Munich team that has become a bit complacent after six successive title wins? It is, however, unlikely.
Going back to Sky Sports and their coverage of the Premier League. To this day, they still show clips of the ‘Aguero’ moment to showcase the Premier League and its delivery of spontaneous drama. But the reality is that it was over six years ago. None of this is a criticism of the league, nor its protagonists. Indeed, the Premier League has arguably better players and teams than ever before. They only fear is that one day, the Premier League and the rest of Europe’s top football leagues will no longer offer what made us fall us love with them in the first place – compelling competition.