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Premier League: Favorites & Underdogs

The first half of the current Premier League season has been quite the exciting journey. At first, Tottenham Hotspur’s sterling performances hinted at a potential shot at the title, surprising both fans and pundits alike nationwide. But in traditional Spurs fashion – to channel our inner Giorgio Chiellini – they’ve begun to struggle, dimming the prospects of a long-lasting fight.

In a similar vein to their North London rivals, Arsenal had grand ambitions this term, determined to expand on their previous successes and finally quench their monumental twenty-year top-flight thirst. Much to the disappointment of the Gunners fanbase, a recent spell of poor form has seen the team lose three of their last four fixtures, falling five points behind the league leaders.

As such, in recent weeks, the London clubs have relinquished their hold over the top spots with the usual suspects of Manchester City and Liverpool – two teams who have traded victories in their fierce title battles – returning to the summit. Throughout the period of 2018 to 2022, these two juggernauts locked horns multiple times, resulting in nail-biting finales – with Pep Guardiola’s Blues narrowly clinching the title by just one point on two separate occasions.

As the current season unfolds, the question on everyone’s mind is, who will emerge victorious this time around? Odds and offers comparison site Oddschecker.com makes the reigning champions the favourites, adding even more spice to the betting market by bringing together promo codes and sign-up offers from popular bookmakers like William Hill.

It’s clear that City are the favorites, but let’s dissect the performance of the league’s giants and make our predictions for this year’s title race.

Favourite – Manchester City

Photo: IMAGO

Man City, having wrestled the top spot from Arsenal, secured their third consecutive English Premier League title last season. Their victory lap included the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club’s history, fulfilling the hefty ambitions set by the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners when they took over back in 2008. The monumental achievement mirrors Manchester United’s treble success in 1999 and sets the stage for City to defend their trophies in the current campaign.

The Etihad side has showcased their brilliance on all fronts once again this term, although their formidable reputation has wavered somewhat in comparison to years gone by. They’ve secured 12 wins out of 19 matches and currently occupy a solid second place, trailing the league leaders by a mere five points with a game in hand.

And, if that wasn’t enough, City have received a significant boost in recent weeks with the highly anticipated return of their captain and talisman, Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian star netted on his return against Newcastle before a sublime assist allowed Rico Lewis to net a last-minute winner and continue their all-out assault on the Premier League’s summit.

Second Favourite – Liverpool

Photo: IMAGO

Liverpool has charted an epic journey of success in recent years, reviving the glories they once knew in the ’80s. Their long-awaited Premier League triumph in 2020 hailed the end of a three-decade drought, achieving what their passionate fanbase had yearned for since the side’s golden era. Preceding this was the club’s remarkable sixth European Cup victory in 2019, when a decisive 2-0 win against Spurs in Madrid marked The Reds’ enviable resurgence on the continental stage.

While their current season showcases renewed prowess, the team has had to navigate through rough waters due to the overhaul of their attack. And with the recent announcement that their maverick manager Jurgen Klopp will be leaving at the end of the campaign after one of the greatest stints in football history, the Anfield side will be hoping to send the German out of Merseyside with a second league title under his belt.

After facing stalemates at home, the squad recently roared back with successive wins against Newcastle and Burnley. The formidable trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino is no more, with just the former of those three remaining alongside promising newcomers Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz, and Cody Gakpo. While these talents bring new skills, there is still uncertainty about their readiness for the demands of a title chase.

Underdogs

Photo IMAGO

Arsenal’s recent streak is a far cry from their heyday a month or so ago when they looked set to be a real threat for the second straight campaign. Just two wins in their last six, including three straight losses, have undoubtedly placed a dent in their contender status. Even though their squad is stacked, it’s hard to overlook Arsenal’s proneness to collapse and one has to wonder whether they can stay the course throughout a rigorous 38-game season.

Towards the end of last season, Mikel Arteta’s squad enjoyed an eight-point lead over second-placed Manchester City and had one hand on the trophy. Unfortunately, their edge began to crumble as they squandered two-goal advantages against Liverpool and West Ham in back-to-back games. The descent was then compounded with a crushing 4-1 loss to their closest competitors, effectively putting an end to their championship aspirations.

As well as the Gunners, Aston Villa have witnessed an extraordinary surge in their standing under Unai Emery. Currently seated in fourth place in the league table, the Villans are proving to be formidable contenders. While the team’s aim is a top-six finish and a shot at the Europa Conference League trophy, achieving anything more would be a testament to just how far they have come.

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