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Odds and Ends

Premier League Top Half Derivative Best Bets

by Nick Hennion
Updated On: July 22, 2021, 10:36 am ET

Before I get all negative and tell you which teams are going to fail this Premier League season, let’s break down arguably the most open futures section. 

Today, we’re talking about the odds to finish in the top half of the table. 

According to the odds at PointsBet Sportsbook, you have six teams battling for (realistically) three spots. 

Barring a shock campaign from one of the Big Six clubs or Leicester, the odds say spots eight through ten will belong to three of the following teams: Everton, Leeds, West Ham, Aston Villa, Brighton and Wolves. 

So which teams will find themselves above the fold come May? Here are the plays I’m targeting for this market. All odds reflective of time of writing. 

Top Half Play #1 - Leeds (-139)

Following a top-half finish in their return to the top flight last year, Leeds should be the dictionary definition of a mid-table side this year. 

One should expect both positive and negative regression on certain metrics -- Leeds likely won’t go unbeaten against the Big Six at home while simultaneously losing nine games against bottom half sides -- and there are enough additions I’m willing to lay this price. 

Júnior Firpo arrives from Barcelona, a player I would argue is an upgrade over Ezgjan Alioski at left back. Plus, Jack Harrison completes a permanent move from Man City after three successful loan spells with Leeds. 

Beyond the Alioski departure, Leeds return a virtually identical squad that won five straight matches to finish the season. 

Additionally, from Matchday 28 through the end of the season, Leeds posted the third best record in the entirety of the league. 

The key issue with Leeds bettors will be looking for improvement over last season is the start of the campaign. After the first 12 matches of the season, Leeds found themselves 14th in the table.  

What gives me confidence that Leeds will be in the top half is that all their key matches - specifically, against teams challenging them for top half spots - come at home in the first half of the season. 

Marcelo Bielsa’s squad should be able to accumulate points early and get results against inferior squads late to ensure they finish no worse than 10th. 

Top Half Play #2 - Wolves (+200)

I’ll keep this section short, because I’ve already outlined the case for a successful Wolves campaign in my top six market analysis

What I failed to mention in the previous piece is that this team had -- on paper -- a very successful transfer window. 

The arrival of Francisco Trincao on loan from Barcelona gives the Wolves attack a definite boost, while José Sá is a solid replacement for Rui Patrício in goal. 

If 10/1 is an intriguing price for a top six finish, +200 to finish in the top half is downright insulting. 

I personally have this team power rated ahead of Everton, West Ham, Brighton and even Arsenal, who are -589 to be a top half team. 

Because I would have this price closer to +100, I’m more than happy to take this price with a Wolves team that, barring injury, could finish as high as 6th or 7th in my opinion. 

Top Half Play #3 - Burnley (+500)

Much like Wolves to finish in the top six, this is strictly a price play with a few key reasons behind it. 

First, I simply don’t trust Everton (-176) or West Ham (-139) enough to lay a price. 

The former lost an outstanding manager in Carlo Ancelotti and replaced him with an inferior one in Rafa Benitez. 

The latter enter this EPL season having qualified for the Europa League, which I believe will put incredible strain on a side whose offensive strategy revolves around Michail Antonio

Additionally, what happens to Villa’s odds (+110) if Jack Graelish is sold? Finally, I believe Brighton is wildly mispriced and is a prime relegation candidate. 

Should those four teams falter, that leaves a spot for one of Burnley, Newcastle or Southampton. 

This isn’t the most sophisticated analysis you’ll ever read, but Burnley seem to follow this odd trend of performing well every other season. 

Plus, the Clarets should be able to improve on a 4-6-9 home record with fans in the stands. Expect Sean Dyche’s squad to positively regress on nine losses by a single goal and failing to win until Matchday Eight. 

There are enough talented pieces on this side to at least convince me to take the ride at +500. I expect it will be West Ham that rounds out the top half, but as referenced earlier, the price doesn’t justify a play. 

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Nick Hennion

Nick Hennion serves as a soccer betting contributor for NBC Sports EDGE. Previously, he served as a social media and television producer at the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSIN) after earning his master’s degree in sports journalism at Northwestern University. You can find him on Twitter @NickHennion.