Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
Even though it feels like the new season kicked off just yesterday, we’ve passed the half way point of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign already, giving us the perfect opportunity to revisit the betting markets to search for some mid-season outright value.
Having already detailed our top goalscorer predictions and relegation battle betting tips for the rest of the season, we’re turning our attentions to developments further up the table this time around.
The race to secure a top four finish and with it the financial rewards and prestige of competing in the Champions League is a tense perennial slugfest.
This year, the Premier League’s current top three, Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester City have already all but secured their position as the division’s top three finishers for the season, though the fourth and final Champions League spot is still up for grabs.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the leading candidates to snatch that potentially money-spinning league position, along with an outsider pick that we think is well worth considering.
Check out our mid-season Premier League Top 4 predictions below.
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Current Standing: 4th (36 points)
Top Scorer: Tammy Abraham (12 goals)
Last Season: 3rd
With a five-point buffer between Chelsea in 4th and Manchester United in 5th, the Blues have understandably been made odds-on favourites to secure Champions League football ahead of their antagonists this season – however, Chelsea’s performances have been erratic enough this term to suggest that a top four finish is far from certain.
Under the direction of new manager Frank Lampard, Chelsea have hit numerous peaks and troughs already this season – an apprehensible by-product of the change in cultural direction the club has taken under their former player.
Hit with a summer transfer ban, Lampard put his faith in Chelsea’s younger players this term, and after an unflattering 0-4 battering at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season, the Blues’ youthful side started to flourish.
However, a run of three wins, one draw and five defeats from nine top-flight fixtures between the end of November and the start of the New Year has left Chelsea looking decidedly ropey and in need of January reinforcements.
The goals have noticeably dried up for Chelsea in recent months too, and the Blues have averaged just 1.18 goals per 90 minutes since the last time they scored more than twice in a game at Burnley on October 26th.
The inconsistency that has plagued Chelsea’s performance is a problem that’s also infecting their nearest rivals however, leaving the bookies’ favourites as the prime candidates to keep hold of fourth.
Current Standing: 5th (31 points)
Top Scorer: Marcus Rashford (12 goals)
Last Season: 6th
While Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been lampooned, blasted from pillar to post and repeatedly pilloried this season, their hopes of finishing in the top four this season look far from extinguished.
United are just five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth with 17 games left to contest, though midfield injuries are threatening to derail the Red Devils’ crusade for Champions League qualification.
Already operating with a paper-thin squad, Solskjaer will have to cope without key players Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba until late February at the earliest, and with a taxing run of fixtures over the next four to six weeks, the picture could look very bleak for United before their midfield duo return.
United’s track record of pulling out surprise results against the odds is well established however, and if they keep themselves within striking distance of fourth, their final charge Champions League football late in the season could be aided by the return of the aforementioned big-hitting injured players.
Current Standing: 6th (30 points)
Top Scorer: Harry Kane (11 goals)
Last Season: 4th
2019/20 has largely been a season to forget for last season’s beaten Champions League finalists Tottenham, however, despite their disappointing performances and managerial upheaval, a top four finish could still be within reach.
Spurs are just six points shy Chelsea after 21 games, and with the teams in and around them matching each other stride for stride in the inconsistency stakes, you get the feeling that any club that puts even a semi-decent run together could snatch fourth ahead of the rest.
Tottenham certainly have the talent at their disposal to put something together, however, new coach Jose Mourinho is in the process of changing Spurs’ football to a more direct style of play, and it remains to be seen if it’s a strategy that can bring the best out of the club’s technically gifted personnel.
A recent long-term injury picked up by the talismanic Harry Kane is also a major spanner in the works for Tottenham, who look desperately short of cutting edge in the England international’s absence.
Spurs play Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea inside their next six Premier League fixtures, and poor results in reach could see their quest for Champions League football end before March.
FST’s Outsider Pick
Current Standing: 7th (30 points)
Top Scorer: Raul Jimenez (8 goals)
Last Season: 7th
With the teams above them flitting wildly between opposite ends of the performance spectrum, the door could be ajar enough for Nuno Espirito Santo’s impressive Wolves outfit to squeeze into the top four this season at their rivals’ expense.
Despite defeats in their last two Premier League outings at Liverpool and Watford respectively, Wanderers have lost fewer total matches than Chelsea, Man Utd and Tottenham so far this season, though they will need to shake their drawing habit if they are to capitalise on any further slip ups by those currently above them in the standings.
Wolves were beaten just three times in their last 16 Premier League fixtures overall since early-September, though six draws during that period means their points haul isn’t quite as high as it could and probably should have been.
Wanderers still have to travel to Old Trafford, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Stamford Bridge before the season is out, though their record against the division’s more illustrious teams since their promotion suggests that winning at each venue isn’t beyond them.
Wolves went 11-Premier League fixtures unbeaten between September 14th and December 8th earlier this season, and a similar run (of which they are fully capable) could put them in a brilliant position by the time they travel to London to take on Chelsea on what could be a pivotal final fixture.
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