In the end, the oddsmakers were right. Liverpool began the season as outsiders in the title race – you could find Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and even in some places Tottenham Hotspur more favoured to win the title.
Bookies on the hunt
Who, then, may surprise fans looking for a bet for a higher than expected top four finish next season? Looking at Betfair, the worlds biggest betting exchange, Liverpool themselves don’t look like a bad bet, with Man City, Chelsea and Man United all riding higher. Same goes for other bookies such as Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Betfred.
Outside the top spot Liverpool ended the season, but not without giving the Premier League table quite a shake-up. Liverpool’s fierce attack powered in 101 goals, only bested by one goal by the team that pipped them by one point to the title: Manchester City. A phenomenal home record – 16 games out of 19 won – was the key to Liverpool’s resurgence, masterminded by Brendan Rodgers and driven by the brilliance of Suarez, Sterling and Gerrard.
Other Outsiders for the Title
Could the efficiency of Arsenal click into higher gear – finally! – and see them challenge for the title once again? It has been a “frustrating” season according to Arsene Wenger, now 64 years old but still hungry for success. One or two more signings and a bit of luck could see the Gunners ride the rails to challenge next season.
Their North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, of course are perennial nearly men: almost challenging, but not quite. Managerial upheavals contrast them from Wenger’s core consistency, but there’s plenty of talent – and perhaps more importantly, money – behind Spurs. If Liverpool can find another level and bring back memories of pre-Premier League glory, perhaps Spurs can too, and roll things back all the way back back back to 1961.
Maybe, though, for a true new dark horse to compete at the top of the table we ought to look closer to Liverpool – in fact, just up the street at Goodison Park. While David Moyes’ departure brought misery to his new home in Manchester, Everton kept swimming along under the smooth tutelage of Roberto Martinez. Like Arsenal, a consistent quality defines the club, albeit one almost always just on the outside of the Champions League spots. A few key signings could be the push Everton need to roll back to their glory days of the 1980s.
Outside the likes of Spurs, Everton and Arsenal it is difficult to see another dark horse contender rise up – unless we’ve already got such low hopes for Manchester United that their likely return to the role of contender can count!
Looking elsewhere around the table, Southampton – with perhaps the strongest youth academy in the country – stand out as a talented group likely to compete, but it’s hard to see them rising much higher than eighth. The same goes for Newcastle, who crashed and burned this year, let alone Aston Villa, Stoke or Swansea. The quality gaps are just too great to be bridged in the forseeable future for those teams.
House (almost) always wins
In conclusion, then, Liverpool’s run this year should perhaps be seen as an anomaly. But it is one which betting odds have somehow forgotten to take into account, flooding the betting market with relatively low odds for a team that was clearly marked an unlikely contender at the start of the season. Good news for early punters, but terrible news for the rest of us regular last-minute gamblers.