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Market Movers: Aston Villa, Wolves and Dominic Solanke

As we head into 2024, we look at some of the biggest Market Movers from the last few weeks.

Villans vying for Champions League

A 5-1 humbling at the hands of Newcastle was hardly the ideal start for a Villa side that had finished the last campaign like a train, but the Lions got back on track pretty quickly under Unai Emery and they might be looking at more than just a Top 4 finish in 2024.

After that defeat on the opening weekend, Villa were out to 9/1 to for the Top 5 before being cut to 5/1 after wins over Everton and Burnley.

A 3-0 defeat at Anfield saw a drift out to 8/1 for a coveted Top 4 finish but it’s the home form that has impressed the most.

We had no qualms about sticking out 100/1 on Villa going unbeaten at Villa Park throughout the Premier League campaign but having dispatched both Manchester City and Arsenal in style in early December, those several hundred bets at the three-figure price now look great judgement with Emery’s side trading at just 6/1 to go through 23/24 without tasting a top flight defeat in B6. The final home game against Liverpool could be a big game!

Villa had been 3/1 for the Top 4 before the double header against Arsenal and Manchester City, but that was trimmed into Evens after six points and although they have stuttered a bit of late, that victory over Burnley saw them sign off 2023 with a remarkable 53 points at home, the best in the Premier League, and are odds-on at 8/11 for the Top 4. 

If they can continue that in the second part of the season then the good times will be well and truly back in the second city – just don’t expect me to be celebrating!

Wolves for top half?

I think it’s fair to say that the appointment of Gary O’Neil didn’t get too many pulses racing. After what seemed like months of ‘will he?, won’t he?’, Julen Lopetegui did eventually leave Molineux, just before the season was about to start. 

His departure saw Wolves being one of the best backed clubs for relegation when trading at 9/4 for the drop and 1/3 to avoid the trapdoor to the Championship.

In truth, Wolves haven’t had too many worries under O’Neil. They haven’t traded shorter than 9/4 for relegation and the three wins over Christmas have seen them shorten from 8/1 into 10/3 for a top half finish. 

The better news for Wolves fans is that Pedro Neto is getting back up to speed and some might be expecting more than just a spot in the Top 10. 

A third 7th placed finish in six years might be beyond them but with their Top 6 odds tumbling from 500/1 into 50/1, the appointment of Gary O’Neil looks to be a shrewd one.

Super Solanke eying England place

I’d probably lazily pigeon-holed Dominic Solanke as a striker that had yet to fulfil his Premier League potential before the start of this season. Yes, he had a fine campaign in the Championship prior to the last campaign, but he’d consistently under-performed on the xG front wherever he’d been.

His opening Premier League Top Goalscorer price of 200/1 more or less stayed the same over the first three months, hitting a high of 250/1 in October as the Cherries took an eternity to get their first win after a wretched set of opening fixtures.

But then it was all systems go in December with the striker hitting six goals and the odds compilers finally showing the 26-year-old some respect. He went from 100/1 into 40/1 in the Outright after his hat-trick at Nottingham Forest and having been 66/1 in the ‘Without Haaland’ market at the beginning of the month, he starts the New Year as an 8/1 poke.

He may not have scored in the final game of 2023, but you couldn’t fault his effort having a whopping nine attempts at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

Having represented his country at all levels, his England career has stalled after his solitary cap against Brazil in 2017. However, his form has caught the eye of punters with his Euro 2024 squad price shortening from 33/1 into 7/2.   



As we head into the second international break of the season, we’re looking at some of the biggest Market Movers from the campaign so far.

Jude Bellingham top goalscorer

Is Jude Bellingham the greatest midfielder to have donned the #5 shirt for Real Madrid? Okay, it’s perhaps too soon for such lofty comparisons, but there’s no taking away from just how superlative Bellingham has been this season.

Last month we spoke about the 20-year-old’s impact in Spain as the former Birmingham City graduate was cut from 100/1 to 12/1 for top goalscorer with five goals in his first four games. He’s since continued his terrific form to take his tally for the season to eight; three clear of his nearest rivals, and is 5/2 second favourite to be La Liga Top Goalscorer.

He’s now 1/12 for 15 or more goals (was 20/1), and was 6/4 for 10 or more, a tally he looks to be one game away from reaching.

Such was his passing ability, physical stature, composure and reading of the game, a place in the heart of midfield seemed like the best place for Bellingham and it’s largely where he was deployed throughout his stay at Dortmund as well as in the majority of his 26 England appearances.

It turns out his also got the touch, the guile and the finishing to play in a more advanced role and we’re scratching our heads wondering why he hasn’t played there all along. 

Even in the Champions League, he laid on the assist for Vinicius Jr’s equaliser against Napoli before giving Real the lead with his second goal in the competition this season as Carlo Ancelotti’s men ran out 3-2 winners in Naples, and Bellingham is 20/1 (was 40/1) to be Champions League Top Goalscorer.

Girona top four

Jude Bellingham might be stealing the headlines in La Liga, but Girona’s start to the season shouldn’t be overlooked.

2017/18 was both Girona’s first-ever season in Spain’s top flight and their first season under the ownership of City Football Group. Though their stay in La Liga only lasted two seasons, they remained competitive in the Segunda Division, winning promotion at the third time of asking before securing a steady 10th-place finish in 2022/23.

Michel is now in his third season in Catalonia and things couldn’t be going any better.

After drawing 1-1 with Real Sociedad, Girona won six on the bounce before running into Real Madrid, but they bounced back with a 1-0 win over Cadiz to go into the international break five points clear of fifth-place Athletic Club.

Nobody is suggesting Girona could challenge Real Madrid or Barcelona for the title, but they’re in from 150/1 to 8/1 joint second favourites in the Without Barcelona and Real Madrid market and in from 40/1 to 11/4 to finish in the top four.

Ipswich to be promoted

Since the Premier League was founded in 1992, how many teams have won back-to-back promotions to England’s top flight? The answer is three (*spoiler: the teams are at the bottom of the page), and it’s 4/5 (was 6/1) that Ipswich become the fourth.

Kieran McKenna won plenty of admirers for the way his side went about their promotion-winning campaign last season, and they’ve picked up where they left off this term. 

McKenna has had to adapt somewhat, no longer getting the lion’s share of possession every game like they did in League One, but he’s found a way to keep his side competitive with the Tractor Boys picking up 28 points from a possible 33. 

Conor Chaplin – last season’s top scorer with 26 – and January signing Nathan Broadhead both have five goals to their name while Vaclav Hladky has kept five clean sheets so far and looks to be keeping the gloves from Christian Walton.

It’s been a superb effort so far from McKenna’s men, and while Leicester are likely to have too much for everyone, Ipswich look like the best of the rest.

*Watford – 1999
Norwich – 2011
Southampton – 2012


It's the first Market Movers of the season, and Steve Freeth has taken a look at some of the price changes from the first few weeks of the campaign.

Tottenham top four

Losing Harry Kane saw Tottenham drift from 10/3 to 5/1 for the top four, but with the potential contenders dropping points in the early going, Tottenham look in a very strong position.

Granted, they've not been dealt the toughest hand in terms of opening fixtures, but took a point at Brentford and beat Manchester United and second in the table.

There's a long way to go, but Ange Postecoglou has ticked a lot of boxes so far, and Spurs are into 7/4 to finish in the top four.

James Maddison most assists

Perhaps the biggest factor in Tottenham's excellent early season form is the addition of James Maddison.

Despite not having Harry Kane to finish the chances he's creating, Maddison has had no trouble creating goals in North London.

He might have missed an opportunity to add to his two from the opening weekend against Brentford as Spurs put five past Burnley, but Tottenham look to be well in for bags of goals this season, and Maddison - in from 25/1 to 8/1 - is sure to be creating them.

In amongst the furore around Maddison's start at Tottenham, there's a player going slightly under the radar somewhat. As big as 100/1 pre-season, Phil Foden currently tops the assist charts with three and is 7/1 joint-favourite to be top at the end of the season,

Jude Bellingham top goalscorer

There was a slight question mark around how Jude Bellingham would fit in at Real Madrid, with the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric and Aurelian Tchouameni, not to mention the departure of Karim Benzema as the central striker.

Of course, we've seen English players move to Spain in the past and struggle, but that was less of a concern considering his rise to stardom in Germany.

But Bellingham has surpassed all expectations so far with his start at Real Madrid, scoring five goals in four games, leaving his two clear of the chasing pack, and the former Birmingham man is in from 100/1 to 12/1 to finish as La Liga top goalscorer.

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