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Right now it is the dog days of summer, especially for soccer fans. The club season is in the rearview mirror and even most international competitions, like the Nations League, have concluded. Now, we are left grasping at transfer rumors and trying to live vicariously through our favorite players on holiday in Ibiza.
So, we are going to do what any sensible Premier League fan would do and start thinking about next year. It is a hard thing to not speculate on given the levels of competition and plethora of talent in England’s top flight.
Two future picks in the PointsBet sportsbook have caught my eye. These might be “way too early” predictions, but I see significant value in placing these before the table starts moving.
Outright Premier League Winner
My first play is going to be a little bit of a hot take for some. Manchester City are the two-time defending title holders, have a genius as their gaffer and just signed a generational striker in Erling Haaland. With that being said, I do not think they complete the three-peat in the Premier League.
For one, their future odds are way too juicy at -164. Secondly, it is extremely difficult to win three titles in a row, especially when you really have your eyes set on the Champions League. Do not forget, the Citizens won two in a row back in 2017/18 and 2018/19, before getting bucked by Liverpool the following year.
I favor Liverpool to do the same this year, and their +225 odds make this worthwhile. If we use their last title triumph as studying material, you will notice that Liverpool make small leaps. The Reds finished fourth in 2017/18 and lost the league by a mere point in 2018/19, prior to their victory in 2019/20. Now, in the last two seasons, Jurgen Klopp and company finished third and once again lost the league by a one-point margin.
Klopp’s bread and butter is manifesting responses out of his team. He is a culture wizard, and some might sulk after losing the Premier League and Champions League final in heartbreaking fashion. Instead, he did the opposite. A Carlsberg soaked, Calvin Harris DJ set on The Strand in Liverpool proved to me this team has the mentality to go again.
Furthermore, they have replenished their side nicely with some keen, young talent. In particular, Darwin Núñez gives Liverpool an out-and-out attacking option that will help mitigate the loss of Sadio Mané. The Uruguayan scored 32 goals last season in the Primeira Liga and Champions League, while he was only expected to score 21.74. He also spends a majority of his time in the left-central attacking third, which gives Trent Alexander-Arnold a Fernando Torres-esque target to aim for.
Overall, this title race will probably be split by a hair’s length once again. Still, it seems as though Liverpool have kept up the pace long enough to be rewarded next spring.
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Top Half Finish
Aston Villa (-121)
My second and final play is for Aston Villa to finish in the top half of the table. Of course, last year was a hectic one for the Villans. Dean Smith was sacked, Steven Gerrard was brought in from Rangers and the club invested heavily in on-field talent. In spite of that, Villa finished in 14th place, ten points below their finish in 2020/21.
Some of this can be attributed to the loss of Jack Grealish. Whenever you lose a player of that caliber, it can be hard to find that same rhythm of play. At the same time, it makes others stand up and take hold of that responsibility. Aston Villa still have one of the younger starting lineups in the league, and it was those youngsters who grabbed the reins.
Jacob Ramsay is a star in Gerrard’s midfield and Ollie Watkins will hopefully keep building his annual goal tally. Add Emi Buendía and Philippe Coutinho to the mix and you have an offense that inflicts serious damage.
But my gripe with Villa has always been over their defense. It is so inconsistent and Tyrone Mings specifically is so apt to individual errors. This seems like a rather obvious problem given they signed Diego Carlos from Sevilla, practically before the season even ended.
They also added Boubacar Kamara in a splash summer signing from Marseille. The 22 year-old is a versatile center-half and holding midfield hybrid that will strengthen their spine significantly. Aston Villa addressed their weaknesses which is enough for me to see them finish in the top half.
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