Original article published 29 August 2022
With Arsenal maintaining their perfect start to the season and Reading and Barrow continuing to defy expectations, we’re looking at this week’s Market Movers.
Although their fixture list didn’t present them with an overly challenging start, there’s not an Arsenal fan in the land who wouldn’t have snapped your hand off to be top of the table after four games having scored 11 goals.
The opening day trip to Selhurst Park could’ve tripped the Gunners up after a summer of optimism, which saw their price for the title cut from 50/1 to 28/1, and their price for the top four cut from 2/1 to 6/4 before a ball was kicked, but Mikel Arteta’s men navigated the clash well, with debutants Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko both impressing.
Top-four rivals Manchester United suffered back-to-back losses with the humiliation at Brentford while Arsenal put four past Leicester, going odds on at 10/11 to finish in the Champions League places.
And with – dare I say it – title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool picking up just one point between them from trips to St James’ Park and Old Trafford, and the Gunners putting Bournemouth to the sword, their price for the title was cut further, to 14/1.
Now 12/1 after the late win against Fulham, a title challenge isn’t quite on the horizon just yet with tougher tests to come, but at 1/2 for a place in the top four, Champions League football may well be returning to the Emirates for the first time since 2017.
Not many would have predicted Reading to be top of the Championship before a ball was kicked, let alone after a 4-0 thumping in South Yorkshire on Matchday Three, but that’s where they sit after three wins to nil under the guidance of Paul Ince.
The Royals were amongst the pre-season favourites for relegation at 15/8, shorter still at 6/4 after the opening day defeat to Blackpool.
The win against Cardiff was offset by the thumping at Rotherham, with Ince’s men 13/8 to go down, and out from 9/1 for a Top 6 Finish to 16/1.
But an impressive 3-0 win against then-table-topping Blackburn was followed up by a strong rear-guard performance to keep Middlesbrough at bay, with the weekend’s trip to Millwall making it three on the bounce.
Tipped by many to struggle (hello), I didn’t fancy Barrow’s chances this season after having a look at them against Fleetwood in pre-season with the Holker Street outfit starting the campaign as 11/4 favourites for relegation.
Pete Wild also had to deal with an opening day trip to the talking horses of League Two, Stockport County (hello again). Not only did Barrow leave Edgeley Park with all three points, finding themselves out to 9/2 to go down, but they’ve continued to shine under Wild currently sitting second after their latest victory at the weekend.
In fact, they’ve suffered just one defeat and that was a controversial one away at Sutton. Wild has already talked about being written off by bookmakers in pre-season – Peter, pal, I’ve wiped the egg off my face because your side are hot right now.
The last couple of years have seen newly-promoted sides in Harrogate and Sutton quickly take to life in League Two, and Barrow, now 20/1 for the drop, look equally at home.
Whether this will continue is open to debate, but right now I’m doffing my cap to Barrow.