After their strong start to the season, Manchester City have been priced up at 16/1 to break Chelsea’s record of 15 goals conceded in a Premier League campaign.
Jose Mourinho’s Blues were utterly imperious during his first year in England, conceding one goal in their first eight games, going on to keep 25 clean sheets across the whole of the season.
The back line of Paulo Ferreira, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and William Gallas, playing in front of the world class Petr Cech, made for the most resolute defence in Premier League history.
But with two clean sheets to start the season, could Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City break that record?
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “Mourinho maybe isn’t as ‘special’ as he used to be, but his 2004/05 side containing the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Claude Makelele was an incredibly tough one to break down and the record of conceding just 15 over a 38-game period will take some beating.
“Manchester City under Pep have threatened to get near to that tally before falling away, but they’ve made the perfect start, conceding just two shots on target in the process, and could easily reach the first international break without conceding with Sheffield United and Fulham up next.”
We’ve seen City dismantle countless teams with devastating force under Guardiola, but last year, despite the addition of Erling Haaland, who provided the devastation all on his own, the champions adapted to a different style over the course of the campaign.
Guardiola acknowledged that he needed more defensive robustness, often utilising four centre backs and allowing the rest of the team to provide the attacking output, moving away from the reliance on the likes of Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo flying up the wings. Over the last 19 games of the season, City conceded just 13 goals, all the while competing on three fronts.
And if the start of this season is anything to go by, they’ll be extremely tough to break down.
Last season, Burnley did to half of the Championship what City do to the Premier League, but the Clarets came up well short on their return to the top flight. Admittedly, it was always going to be a tough assignment for the new boys, but Guardiola’s men had things all their own way at Turf Moor, and Newcastle offered little at the weekend.
The champions face relegation candidates Sheffield United and Fulham in their next two games, neither of whom look to have any goals in them against ordinary Premier League sides, never mind the cream of the crop.
Sterner tests await City, but they don’t face another ‘big seven’ rival until October when they travel to Arsenal and it’s not out of the question they keep clean sheets in each of their first seven games, at which point the current 16/1 on them breaking Chelsea’s record will start looking rather generous.
Manchester City’s upcoming fixtures:
|Sheffield United (a)
|2pm, Sun 27th August
|3pm, Sat 2nd September
|West Ham (a)
|3pm, Sat 16th September
|Nottingham Forest (h)
|3pm, Sat 23rd September
|3pm, Sat 30th September
Originally published 8th August 2023.
After Julen Lopetegui parted company with Wolverhampton Wanderers on the eve of the new Premier League season, we've priced up Wolves at 9/1 to lose their first four league games.
The Molineux side have been well backed for relegation and are now third favourites for the drop at 9/4 (were 11/2) and 8/1 to finish bottom.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: "Julen Lopetegui joined a select number of managers who have guided their club to safety having been bottom of the Premier League at Christmas with Wolves producing some excellent results at home to finish in 13th.
“However, the Spaniard has been pretty vocal in his short spell in the Midlands, so much so that we’ve seen their odds for the drop tumble from 11/2 into 9/4, making them third favourites for relegation behind Luton and Sheffield United with almost 20% of bets on this market being for Wolves.”
Gary O’Neil makes a swift return to the dugout after being sacked as Bournemouth manager over the summer.
"Gary O’Neil was a number of people’s choice for Manager of the Season, such was the job he did at Bournemouth, and it came as a surprise to many that he was replaced by Andoni Iraola after steering the relegation favourites to safety," said Freeth.
"At this stage, the Molineux faithful will take a repeat of that."
Wolves spent in excess of £150m last season, with their signings having varying degrees of success, but none setting the world alight.
The likes of Nathan Collins, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez and Joao Moutinho have all left Molineux, and while something of an overhaul has been needed, the lack of quality replacements could see Wolves facing a long, hard season.
Their season gets underway with a tricky trip to Old Trafford to face a resurgent Manchester United before hosting Brighton, looking to build on their excellent season under Roberto De Zerbi.
Two away fixtures follow against potential relegation rivals Everton and Crystal Palace and four straight defeats isn't beyond the realms of possibility.
Wolves points from first four games: