Best Bets for 2020/21 Premier League Season: Title Picks, Longshots, Props and More
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin de Bruyne and Man City
Believe it or not, the 2020/21 Premier League season is upon us.
Manchester City is once again the odds-on title favorite at -122 with Liverpool as the clear second choice at +225, but the top of the board is much more inclusive this season than it was in the previous two. Chelsea have single-digit odds at +900 and Manchester United are not without a chance at +1400.
Two newly-promoted sides, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, are even-money favorites to be relegated with Aston Villa (+175), Crystal Palace (+225), Newcastle (+225) and Burnley (+350) not too far behind.
In our season preview, we touch on our favorite bets for:
- Premier League Title
- Golden Boot Winner
- Season Points Totals
- Other European League Winners
Premier League Title Bets
Give me anything plus-money on the Reds to defend their Premier League crown. Liverpool should be no less than +140 to repeat in my opinion, so I think this number is a true gift for the club’s backers.
Manchester City and Chelsea can spend all the money they want, but you can’t put a price on coaching and unity in this league, which Liverpool more of both than anyone else. Manager Jurgen Klopp is arguably the best gaffer in the world and not being favored to win the championship is just going to generate more fuel for the Liverpool fire.
Chelsea spent a lot of money this summer. While some of the Blues signings may offer diminishing returns at positions where they have plenty of talent already, their signings all walk into and improve the first team.
Underlying attacking numbers suggest Chelsea was about as good as Liverpool was going forward. That was before Chelsea added German wunderkind Kai Havertz and world class striker Timo Werner. With Chelsea, the issues lie in defense. But by adding left back Ben Chillwell, center back Thiago Silva and replacing league-worst keeper Kepa Arrizablaga, Chelsea’s improved defense puts them into the clear top-3 entering the 2020 season.
Werner playing up top alongside two elite chance creators in Hakim Ziyech and the ever-improving Christian Pulisic make for a team that should score goals for fun. Chelsea could draw the inside straight and win the Premier League.
DraftKings is also offering a Chelsea -112 to finish above Manchester United and that is my favorite Premier League future bet. In a season where fixtures will come fast and furious, Chelsea is the only team in the top-8 that can compete with Manchester City’s depth.
Manchester United (+1600)
The Red Devils were the second-best team in terms of expected points (18.89) during the restart last season. The reason for that was the emergence of Bruno Fernendes, who scored six goals and dealt out four assists in only nine appearances.
For most of the season Paul Pogba and Fernandes weren’t able to play alongside each other due to injury and the restart showed us how good United can be with those two in the middle of their 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Red Devils added depth to their midfield in the form of Danny Van de Beek. The talented Dutchman starred in his time at Ajax, scoring 66 goals and providing 55 assists in 251 appearances, and should fit really well into United’s 4-2-3-1 system.
There are no real concerns for United defensively, either, as they only allowed 1.00 expected goals per game (third in the Premier League) and were able to hold on to their entire defensive unit over the offseason.
Liverpool and Man City are the obvious favorites to win the league, but don’t provide enough value for me. Chelsea made big splashes in the transfer market, but I worry about all of those pieces fitting together in a short amount of time.
Right now, outside of Man City and Liverpool, the Red Devils look like the most complete team in the Premier League and should be in the title race all season long if they can continue their level of play they showed after the restart.
I like the +1600 price for a team that I have priced around +800 going into the season.
Exact Order of Finish: 1. Man City, 2 Liverpool (+225)
The title is Man City’s to lose this season.
Man City generated an xG differential of 1.72 per game last season, which was far superior to Liverpool’s 0.94/game. The Reds depended on pulling ahead late in games. I think it was a glorious run, but I’m not sure it’s sustainable. On top of that, Liverpool brought in very little in reinforcements, so I could see them be a little more stagnant/complacent.
Chelsea are loading up with firepower, bringing in two of the most exciting young weapons in the Bundesliga. However, they still have issues in goal, at the back, and have a very inexperienced manager.
Man United have not shown consistency and I don’t see them making a real run at this either.
I like getting the +225 on this prop at DraftKings more than laying -122 to bet Manchester City. Liverpool will drop back a bit, but are still far and above higher quality than anyone outside of Man City.
Crystal Palace (+225)
Crystal Palace had the fewest xG in the entire Premier League last season with 34.5. That is almost three full goals less than Norwich, who were the bottom-dwellers by a wide margin. The Eagles also allowed the eighth-most xGA in the EPL last season.
Their defense held steady in most games, and depended on supreme finishing from Wilfried Zaha and others. I just see a little reversion to the mean because 34.5 xG is a relegation squad.
They haven’t upgraded their striker, their sale fell through, and Zaha still doesn’t want to be there. Of the clubs in +200 and higher, I think Palace are the bet here.
Crystal Palace (+225)
Crystal Palace finished the 2019-20 Premier League season in 14th place and nine points clear of the relegation zone even after winning none of their final eight games.
A look under the hood at some of Palace’s underlying numbers raises immediate red flags. Palace somehow managed 43 points on just 31 goals scored, and generated 34.45 expected goals. The last team to stay up with fewer than 32 goals in a season was Huddersfield Town in 2017-18.
I've been looking at squad ages across European leagues and younger players getting game time. Had 3 or 4 ideas about how I wanted to visualise this, but sometimes a simple bar chart is enough. pic.twitter.com/373JCfLn4e
— Peter McKeever (@petermckeever) June 25, 2020
They were relegated a year later with 16 points. Palace also has an older squad with many of its first XI aging beyond their peak years at the same time. For a team desperately needing younger talent, they’ll roll out a very similar XI that ended the season scoring three goals in its final eight games. The chart below shows just how many players are past peak age. If that causes Palace’s defensive numbers to regress, they’ll go down.
Golden Boot Winner
Player to score the most goals in the 2020/21 Premier League season.
Timo Werner, Chelsea (+900)
I think the number is right on the German star, who arrived at Stamford Bridge via a massive transfer from Bundesliga powerhouse RB Leipzig. The standout forward, who recorded 32 goals in 42 matches across all competitions for the Champions League semifinalist, should get plenty of opportunities in the penalty area with United States international Christian Pulisic, N’Golo Kante and Kai Havertz should generate plenty of scoring opportunities for the rising star.
Gabriel Jesus, Man City (+1600)
Normally, I’d never take a player to win the Golden Boot if they aren’t the primary penalty taker for their team. In this longshot case, I’m willing to make an exception. Jesus led the PL in xG even when accounting for penalties in 2019-20 with 21.02 xG. Poor finishing let down the Brazilian, as he finished with 14 goals.
Historically, xG under and over performance is a stat prone to regression. If Jesus takes over as City’s primary striker over Sergio Aguero, he’ll be positioned as the top goal scorer on the league’s best attack.
At 18-1, he’s got value if he improves his finishing, which history says he should.
Gabriel Jesus (+1800)
My strategy for this bet is to focus on the team that I believe will score the most goals and I think Man City will probably tally 20 more goals than anyone else, so I want to pick an attacker from their side.
Maybe Sergio Aguero bounces back, but he is getting up there in age, and I see Pep Guardiola being more strategic potentially with him. Kevin De Bruyne is more of a playmaker and don’t see him as a threat for the Golden Boot. Raheem Sterling could do it, but a large number of his goals are tap-in type goals.
That leaves us with Gabriel Jesus. If he ever figures out how to finish on an elite level, this is his award. He scored 14 goals last season, but had an xG of 21, which did lead the Premier League.
He should get more minutes as Aguero ages. 18-1 is superb value, with the advanced data saying he should be no more than 10-1.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton (+8000)
Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks well-positioned to be a break-out star in the Premier League. DCL ranked 11th in the Premier League in expected goals and xG per 90 on an Everton team that struggled to create anything offensively, especially out of the midfield. Calvert-Lewin and his striking partner, Richarlison, were basically on their own and still managed to each net 13 goals.
Everton’s two young strikers should be set up for much more success in 2020/21 as the Toffees have severely upgraded their midfield, most notably by bringing in James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
With James and Lucas Digne providing service, I expect Calvert-Lewin to threaten the 20-goal mark in 2020/21.
Like any longshot bet you need a lot to go right for Calvert-Lewin to win this bet, but I’ll gladly have a flutter on one of the league’s best up-and-comers now that he’s in a much better goal-scoring environment.
Props and Point Totals
Tottenham Over 62.5 & Top 4 +300
I think this is a great buy-low spot for Tottenham.
The club put up 59 points last season, 13 fewer than it amassed in 2018/19. Spurs sacked their beloved manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and Jose Mourinho was brought in to fix things. The style is not fun to watch, but Spurs tallied the fourth-most points in the Premier League after the hiatus.
Tottenham’s season point total is 10 points lower than it was prior to last season, which is a bit of an overreaction for a team with talented players, a proven (if not maniacal) manager and a recent history of success in the Premier League.
I can see Manchester United or Chelsea stumbling, leaving the gate open for Spurs to sneak back into the top-4. I think +300 is good value for that to happen.
Crystal Palace Under 37.5 Points
Palace had the fewest xG in all of the Premier League last season with 34.5. Their defending was strong to help matters. However, they haven’t brought in additional help in attack, and I think this next year we see a decline in where they sit in the table.
They really slid in project restart, losing seven of their last eight. I think this should be set closer to 34 points, so I will be on the under. I would shop around on this one. I have seen anywhere between 37 and 40 on this one. I obviously like it much more closer to 40 than 37.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Over 57.5
This pick is assuming they hold onto Raul Jimenez. If they sell him, this would be a non-bet from me.
Wolves put up 59 points last season, and came inches away from making it inside the top-6. They did lose Matt Doherty to Spurs, but they should be able to recover from that. Their manager, Nuno Espirito Santo is the most underrated coach in the Premier League. He’s fantastic. His players love him, he is smart tactically, and Wolves always play the top-6 sides really tough. I expect them to hit at least 60 points this year.
Between your dark horses for the top 6 between Leicester and Wolves, I think Wolves will be the stronger side this year.
Leicester City Under 57.5
I think Leicester might struggle this year, after their glorious run last year. Pains me to say it, because I am a fan.
To start, they are in the Europa League. So they will be far busier than they were last year, and depth has not improved. Last year, Leicester had a really strong starting XI, but had really weak bench depth. That caused them to fade very strongly over the last 10-15 games.
They now have lost Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, who is a big loss for the club. They have brought in a replacement in Timothy Castagne from Atalanta. He is attack-minded, but has issues defensively. So couple that downgrade with the fact that the bench has not improved and that Jamie Vardy is another year older, and I see closer to 50 points than 60 points for this squad.
Other European League Futures
Inter Milan (+175) to win Serie A
I like Inter Milan to win the Scudetto next season for a few reasons. One being the underlying data, where they actually had a better xG differential than Juventus last season. Antonio Conte is back for another year, and will be desperate to win some silverware. I really like the Achraf Hakimi addition at full-back.
Juventus are vulnerable. They brought in Andrea Pirlo to manage the squad, who basically has zero experience. Ronaldo is another year older. Outside of the Arthur for Pjanic swap, they didn’t bring in a ton of new players.
I see this as more of a pick em, so +170 is value for me here with Inter.
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Atalanta (+1100) to win Serie A
Atalanta’s magical ride into the quarterfinals of the Champions League surprised many in the soccer world, but anyone looking at the underlying numbers of the Bergamo side would know how good they have been the last two seasons. Two straight years, Atalanta led Serie A in non-penalty expected goal difference. Even as Juventus outlasted its title foes twice to lift the trophy, Atalanta have proven they can not only compete with the top tier teams, but throttle the bottom of Serie A with their relentless pressing and attacking play. This isn’t to say I think Atalanta will win the Scudetto, but I’m getting a huge discount because of the name when the stats say they’ve generated the most xGF in two consecutive seasons and actually improved significantly defensively in 2019-20.
Most of the core will return for the 2020 campaign, and after 86 league xG and 98 actual goals, I have no issues taking a flier on the boys from Bergamo.
PSV Eindhoven (+275) to win Eredivisie (Netherlands)
I am going to take a swing on the perennial Dutch and European juggernaut to regain the form it saw when it won three of the last six Eredivisie titles. Eindhoven finished a disappointing fourth place last season, finding itself behind champion Ajax, AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord on the table. The Eredivisie opted to not restart its season due to the global pandemic, with each club playing between eight and nine matches less than the standard 34 contests. Trailing Ajax by only seven points at completion, who knows what could have happened down the stretch.
Granada Top-4 Finish (+3300) in La Liga
Granada was one of the best stories in La Liga last season, going from newly promoted to Europa League qualification. They got there by taking care of business against the teams they should beat.
Granada went 13-5-4 against bottom-10 teams and outscored their opponents 33-14. They also finished the season in good form and boasted a +3.07 xG differential after the restart.
The key for teams like Granada to take the next step is to hang on to their most talented players and add as much talent as their budget allows. They were able to hold onto their entire starting XI and add talented players like young talented winger Kenedy on loan from Chelsea and experienced defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons from Roma.
With the top-3 spots in La Liga pretty much set in stone with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, the fourth spot is wide open if Sevilla underperform this year.
Granada is being priced currently with teams like Celta Vigo and Osasuna, when they should be priced with teams like Athletic Bilbao, Getafe, and Real Betis.
Their 1000-1 price to win the La Liga title isn’t realistic, so I’d rather take the +3300 price of finishing in the top 4, when they should be around half that price.