This summer may have seen a Copa America, a CONCACAF Gold Cup, a European Under-21 Championship and a FIFA Under-20 World Cup, but to many supporters of Premier League teams, it will feel like a long period without football.
Some 76 days after Newcastle ended their rut of nine defeats in 10 games with a victory over West Ham to confirm their survival and Chelsea completed their title-winning campaign with a 26th triumph, the new season is almost back around.
The usual barrage of summer transfer activity has taken place to spice up the new term further with Memphis Depay, Raheem Sterling and Bastian Schweinsteiger among the more high-profile movers and these have had a bearing on numerous season-long betting markets. Here are how some of the more popular ones look:
The Premier League title hasn’t been successfully defended since Manchester United lifted the trophy for the third year on the bounce in 2009. So how will Chelsea need to start the campaign if ending this particular seven-year hoodoo?
Well, the Red Devils are the only team to have been crowned champions having lost on the opening weekend and they have overcome this early setback on three separate occasions.
The latter was certainly a season Alan Hanson will never forget after making his name in the punditry world with a bold assessment that the Red Devils wouldn’t be winning any trophies without new signings.
Louis van Gaal has not been so reluctant to delve into the transfer market ahead of the 2015/16 season, with Man Utd hosting Tottenham on the opening weekend.
It is 33/1 for premier league betting odds that for the fourth time in Premier League history, United lose their first game of the season but still emerge as champions.
Back to Chelsea and there are four good reasons that suggest they will kick off their Premier League title defence by avoiding defeat at home to Swansea.
The first is that the reigning title holders have never opened a new season with a defeat, with 20 of the previous 23 champions beginning with three points.
Second is the impressive record of current manager Jose Mourinho, which was highlighted by Infostrada Live after Chelsea defeated Burnley on the opening weekend of last season.
Burnley 1-3 Chelsea (FT). Mourinho remains unbeaten in league opening matches (8 wins, 6 draws) and has won all 6 PL opening day matches.
— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) August 18, 2014
Up next, in seven of the last eight seasons the eventual champions have played their opening game on home soil (which is also good news for Man Utd), while finally the Blues have collected more points across the opening weekend than any other team in Premier League history.
This is one of the features of the following graphic, which has a focus towards what the results have told us from the previous 23 Premier League seasons:
Southampton, West Ham and West Brom are the other interesting top-flight clubs when assessing the opening weekend table. The Saints have lost exactly half of their 16 openers, winning just two. This bodes well for Steve McClaren in his first Premier League game as Newcastle manager and the Toon can be backed at 8/15 in the double-chance market to avoid defeat at St James’ Park.
Regardless of the result, all eyes will probably be on the post-match press conference to see which of McClaren or Southampton manager Ronald Koeman speaks in the best Dutch accent. Here is what McClaren may sound like:
Meanwhile, West Ham are the only team to have reached double figures in terms of the number of opening-weekend defeats they have racked up. The Hammers may have been the first visiting team to win a Premier League game at the Emirates, but even so a London derby at Arsenal is hardly an ideal fixture if the aim is to put points on the board from the first gameweek of action.
New Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is confident based on the fact his team will have a fitness edge after returning to training early to prepare for the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, while this statistic from OptaJoe may bring additional assurance:
6 – Arsenal have been shown more opening day red cards than any other Premier League side (6). Overzealous.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 15, 2015
Arsenal are 1/3 in the betting to extend West Ham’s opening-weekend defeat tally to 11 and are due a victory, having triumphed in just one of their last five season starters. As for West Brom, one win from nine attempts in Premier League gameweek one is a poor record and they would sit in the relegation places if the table was ranked based on how many points they average per game. This is promising news for Manchester City, who travel to the Baggies first in what will be the maiden Monday Night Football edition of the campaign. What may also prove significant for this pair, but especially Manuel Pellegrini’s men for obvious reasons, is another OptaJoe statistic: https://twitter.com/OptaJoe/status/616942533545992192 Manchester United started this sequence in 2010/11 with a 3-0 win over Newcastle, Manchester City beat Swansea 4-0 the following year, the Red Devils lost to Everton 1-0 in 2012/13, City defeated Newcastle 4-0 two Augusts ago and then Chelsea beat Burnley in the last campaign. Therefore, not only are the Citizens logical title winners if this trend is to continue, but also a 4-0 triumph over West Brom is on the cards, which is available at 22/1. What the graphic also shows is that teams that are eventually relegated at the end of the season often begin their struggles on the opening weekend. In fact, between the 2002/03 and 2007/08 seasons, not a single relegated team managed to collect three points on the opening weekend.
Somewhat strangely, Derby did manage to start with a draw at Portsmouth in the latter of these six seasons when setting a record low Premier League points tally of 11.
However, in more recent times, a lot more false optimism has gone to supporters of relegated clubs. At least one has triumphed on the opening day in four of the last five seasons. Blackpool fall into this category more than anyone after this memorable victory over Wigan to kick-off the 2010/11 season.
So, who are the most likely teams to start the 2015/16 season with a three-point haul, but also end up in the bottom three after 38 matches? Crystal Palace average less than a point from their Premier League openers and travel to Norwich first, who are understandably among the favourites to make an immediate return to the Championship following their victory over Middlesbrough in the play-offs. It is 9/2 that Norwich beat Crystal Palace but are still relegated. Alternatively, fellow newcomers Bournemouth could fall into this group in their maiden Premier League season, especially given this OptaJoe statistic ahead of their game with Aston Villa: https://twitter.com/OptaJoe/status/611091385060597760
Bournemouth are 4/1 to beat Aston Villa in their first Premier League game but still end the season in the bottom three.
When looking at the balance between the number of home and away victories across the opening weekend, there were a few notable observations.
Chief among them was regarding away victories. In 2006/07 not a single side playing on the road opened with three points, despite Tottenham travelling to Bolton and Liverpool having an obvious winnable game at eventually-relegated Sheffield United.
Also noted has been the surge in away victories in recent seasons to the point where it has been the most common opening-weekend result in each of the last two campaigns.
The 2014/15 Premier League season even went one stage further with all of the 10 teams away from home finding the scoresheet. This was the first time in almost 70 years that this had occurred on the first weekend in the top flight.
Like London buses, it is 40/1 for all 10 Premier League fixtures to witness the away team scoring for the second season in succession, after such a long wait.
But, how likely really is a repeat in 2015/16? Much could hinge on whether Petr Cech makes his Premier League debut for Arsenal against West Ham.
No goalkeeper can topple the former Chelsea stopper for shut outs on the opening day.
Cech’s accomplishments are even better considering his seven clean sheets have come from just nine appearances. Mikael Forssell and Olivier Kapo netted past him a 3-2 Chelsea success against Birmingham in August 2007 and Stephen Hunt gave Hull a surprise lead in 2009 before the Blues came back to win 2-1.
In terms of goalkeepers to make the most opening-weekend Premier League appearances, David James and Mark Schwarzer have both made 14.
4/5 is the price that Arsenal keep a clean sheet against West Ham, with Cech highly likely to be between the sticks.
Another goalkeeper to make the list is Joe Hart, who has kept the opposition at bay on four of the past five opening days since ousting Shay Given as the Manchester City number one.
This sequence started with a memorable display at White Hart Lane against Tottenham in 2010:
It is 5/4 that Man City fail to concede a goal to West Brom on the opening day.
The other factor that bodes well for this particular bet is the strugglesthat the Baggies have had in breaching their opposition on previous top-flight opening weekends.
From this graphic it can be seen that West Brom are one of only four teams, along with Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland, that average less than a goal per game based on past weekends.
This is noteworthy for Sunderland, who have previously opened a season three times against Leicester and have won none.
With the Foxes only netted nine goals in as many games too, a 1-0 debut win for Claudio Ranieri looks ripe for the pickings at 11/2.
Among the most consistent elements is exactly how many goals have been scored across previous opening weekends, with at least 20 notched every season barring one since three goalless draws made for an exciting Match of the Day in 2005/06.
And the one anomaly arrived in the 2011/12 season when only nine matches graced the opening weekend because of the London riots, which caused Tottenham’s game with Everton to be rearranged.
So how many goals can we expect on this opening weekend? Here is the breakdown of odds:
17 or less – 18/1
18 to 21 – 3/1
22 to 25 – 7/4
26 to 29 – 6/4
30 or more – 18/5
What shouldn’t be expected is that more than seven goals will arrive from any one game, as this is record on the opening day and this has happened on four previous occasions.
The Tottenham victory is worth remembering in greater detail for the memorable debut and celebration of a certain overseas striker.
If there is to be a high-scoring game on the opening day this season, Tottenham could be involved again, based on the goal-scoring antics of Wayne Rooney.
Rooney has previously netted six times in curtain raisers, including in the 2-1 defeat against Swansea last term.
It’s 6/5 that the England striker scores in the 90 minutes against Spurs and 20/1 that he helps himself to a hat-trick, which would see him surpass Alan Shearer as the highest scorer of opening-day goals in Premier League history.
Rooney hasn’t claimed a Premier League match ball since Man Utd beat Bolton in 2011, while the last scored on an opening day was the year prior to that, when Didier Drogba’s treble helped Chelsea thrash West Brom 6-0.
In total, there has only even been seven hat-tricks scored on the opening day, with one of the more famous being scored by another overseas Premier League debutant to follow Klinsmann. Fabrizio Ravanelli had scored in the Champions League final in the previous season in Juventus’ victory over Ajax before his treble on a first Middlesbrough appearance.
Meanwhile, if Rooney does score against Tottenham, this must be considered a major boost towards his prospects of ending the campaign as the Premier League’s top scorer.
In the previous 23 seasons, 15 Golden Boot winners have got off the mark in the first gameweek of action. The Manchester United striker is 20/1 to end the season as top scorer.
What is generally guaranteed with matches in which a player scores a hat-trick is that the total goals in the match is high. This is helpful to know when considering the both teams to score or over 2.5 goals in the game markets, which can be popular from a punting perspective.
Here is a better breakdown of how this season’s 20 Premier League teams fare in these markets:
Starting with the information on matches when both teams score, the sides worth paying closer attention to are West Ham and Everton.
In their last six seasons, which includes one in the Championship, the Hammers have consistently been involved in opening-day matches in which both teams haven’t scored. 4/6 is the price about both parties failing to bag when when West Ham travel to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Everton have been involved in consecutive 2-2 draws, away at both Norwich and then Leicester in the last campaign.
Like Leicester then, Watford are new to the Premier League for the forthcoming campaign and 27/2 may prove a popular price on Everton racking up a hat-trick of 2-2 draws.
The Hornets haven’t lost on the opening weekend since 2006/07 either, which happened to be their last in the top flight and was a 2-1 defeat against Everton.
If you're a certain age you'll have looked at the opening day's Premier League Fixtures and instantly thought of the 1984 FA Cup final.
— Hywel Davis (@brokenbra) June 17, 2015
Hopefully, we all now have all of the ammunition needed to make some profitable opening-weekend bets. If successful, the feeling may be like David Beckham after this moment of magic 19 years ago: