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Premier League: Betting stories of the season

Manchester City may have – as many expected – won the league, and Erling Haaland – as many expected – may have finished as top goalscorer, but this season has been far from routine, certainly not from a betting perspective.

Of the traditional big six, Newcastle have finished above three clubs, with one of them battling for European football and another not even finishing in the top half.

All three promoted teams safely avoided the drop, with 2016 champions Leicester relegated.

With that in mind, we’re looking at some of the biggest betting stories of the season.

66/1 - Chelsea to finish bottom half

We couldn’t discuss the biggest stories of the season without devoting a little time to Chelsea. It doesn’t feel like eight months ago since Thomas Tuchel was in the dugout, but since then they’ve also sacked Graham Potter, with the Frank Lampard spell an unmitigated disaster. 

The start of the season wasn’t that bad; Chelsea were sixth when Tuchel was sacked, and were still in the top four towards the end of October. 

In the 15 games from 19th October to 26 February, Chelsea won twice. In the 24 games from 19th October to 2nd May, Chelsea won four times. 

It’s been an atrocious campaign and the seemingly impossible of Chelsea finishing in the bottom half was confirmed before the season had even finished, something that was priced up at 66/1 in October after Chelsea had beaten Wolves 3-0 under their new manager.

33/1 - Manchester City/Arsenal forecast

It’s funny to think that last summer there were punters who fancied Arsenal not just to make the top four, but the top two, in itself a fanciful suggestion, only to worry that they might have actually underestimated the Gunners.

For a spell, Arsenal were odds-on favourites for the title as City faltered, but Pep Guardiola’s side, as they always do, came good in the end, and the 33/1 forecast on Manchester City 1st/Arsenal 2nd has landed.

28/1 - David de Gea most clean sheets

It was perhaps a surprise to many to see David de Gea topping the clean sheet standings, especially considering Manchester United had conceded just four goals fewer than beleaguered Chelsea.

But despite shipping 13 of those goals in two games at Manchester City and Liverpool, United have actually been quite defensively sound, albeit largely thanks to the partnership of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.

Strangely, the two leading contenders for the Golden Glove, Alisson and Ederson, have struggled to keep clean sheets, and it’s 28/1 shot De Gea who has prevailed on top. 

Ederson has only kept 11 clean sheets, good enough for a tie for fifth in league, while Alisson is on 14, someway behind De Gea.

20/1 - Leicester to be relegated

It’s been an agonising season for Leicester. A 20/1 shot shouldn’t be getting relegated, but having lost Kasper Schmeichel, with Wesley Fofana wanting out and no significant recruits coming in, the Foxes have steadily tumbled down the table all season. 

That Brendan Rodgers publicly spoke out about the club’s transfer policy while the window was still open was concerning enough, and punters took the 20/1, with Leicester backed in to 14/1 by the time the season started.

16/1 - Newcastle to finish top four

Going into the season, the thinking was that Liverpool would again push City for the title, with the Reds likely occupying one of the top two spots, and the reigning champions occupying the other. 

But Liverpool, like a number of clubs this season, have underachieved, and with Arsenal snatching second, it was an unlikely contender who has finished as the best of the rest.

Newcastle have been remarkably consistent throughout a campaign marred with two lengthy dry spells.

They won just one of their first seven games of the season, winning one in eight at the halfway point. But they’ve also had runs of eight wins in nine on two occasions, ensuring they’d play Champions League football for the first time in 20 years.

At the start of the season, it was an optimistic call, even more so after their poor start to the season, at which point they were as big as 16/1 to finish in the top four.

14/1 - Southampton to finish bottom

It’s not just been at the top of the table where we’ve seen surprises throughout the season. All three promoted clubs have stayed up – two quite comfortably, with the other securing survival before the final day.

Southampton getting relegated in itself wasn’t a huge shock. The club haven’t been running as smoothly as they have for much of the last decade, which saw them signing – and selling – the likes of Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Luke Shaw and several others to the Premier League’s big boys, and relegation has been on the cards all season.

However few expected them to finish bottom, priced in pre-season at 14/1. Remember, there was yo-yo club Fulham, a seemingly ill-equipped Bournemouth and the mish-mash Nottingham Forest all new to the league and Southampton shouldn’t have finished below any of them, let alone all of them, and the rest of the division.

10/1 - Fulham to finish above Chelsea

Although the season has ended fairly poorly with 13 points from 13 games, Fulham fans need only to look back on the summer to when they were once again being written off as relegation candidates.

Understandably so, too, considering the recent yo-yo history of the club, but at no point have they looked in any danger, and they’ve not just secured a top-half finish, which was 5/1 in October after shipping seven goals in back-to-back defeats to Newcastle and then West Ham.

They can also boast they’ve finished above their West London rivals Chelsea for the first time in 40 years, which was 10/1 in January.

5/1 - Brighton to finish top six

The constantly improving Brighton have reached a point where European football doesn’t feel like a shock at all. Indeed, they were only as big as 5/1 back in October for the top six after going five without a win as the squad acclimated themselves to Roberto De Zerbi’s methods.

It didn’t take much longer, however, with the Italian rightly being nominated for Manager of the Season, with the Seagulls securing European football for the first time in their history before even reaching the final day.

10/3 - Nottingham Forest to stay up

300 Spartans fought in the Battle of Thermopylae, with Steve Cooper recruiting nearly 10% of that total for Nottingham Forest’s quest to survive in the Premier League.

As such, it made it hard to properly assess Forest’s survival chances. The quality was there, and if the squad quickly gelled, a mid-table finish wasn’t beyond them. But a squad so hastily put together was always likely to struggle to gel, and the season has been one long battle against relegation. 

At no point in the season did Forest ever look safe, even with a strong mid-season, which was followed with a winless run of three points in 11 games, after which they were as short as 1/5 to go down, and 10/3 to stay up.

With those around them picking up wins and securing their own Premier League status, it was becoming hard to see where Forest would stop the rot.

But wins over Brentford, Southampton and Arsenal ensured a second straight season in England’s top flight.

10/3 - Aston Villa top half

Go back to October when Aston Villa had just two wins from the first 12 games, kept out of the relegation zone thanks to the inadequacies of those around them, and survival became Villa’s main priority. 

Although they’ve fallen just short of the top six – as big as 66/1 when Unai Emery took over – Villa have comfortably finished in the top half – 10/3 when Emery took over – can look forward to next season in the Europa Conference League with a top-class manager in the dugout and should be targeting a top-half finish again at the minimum.

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