The “Noisy Neighbours” continue to rule Manchester at the moment, and they’re ready to go a historic step further than their eternal rivals.
Manchester City begins its bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League title Friday at newly promoted Burnley, entering the 2023-24 season as the team to beat both domestically and on the continent. Pep Guardiola’s side was an irrepressible juggernaut from mid-February forward, with its lone loss in the final 29 matches (22-6-1) a meaningless 1-0 defeat to Brentford City after securing a Premier League three-peat.
City joined Manchester United as the only teams to win three consecutive domestic titles in the Premier League era that started in 1992 and also equaled United’s historic treble from 1999-2000 by winning a long-sought UEFA Champions League title and FA Cup. The “Cityzens” had achieved a domestic treble in 2019 winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup titles.
Manchester City is the sixth side to win three straight titles in English top-flight soccer and third in the Premier League era — but all those that came before failed in their attempts for a fourth straight. Manchester United was thwarted in 2002 and 2010, finishing third to Arsenal the first time and runner-up to Chelsea the second. Other teams to fall short were Huddersfield Town in 1927 (second), Arsenal in 1936 (sixth), and Liverpool in 1985 (second).
Oddsmakers have made rightfully made City a strong favorite to pull off this accomplishment, with the usual suspects of Arsenal, Liverpool, and United expected to give the strongest challenges. But there are plenty of sports wagering options to consider both with and without City as the world’s most popular domestic soccer league opens its 125th season.
Can Haaland be even better in Year 2 with City?
Remember all the hand-wringing after Erling Haaland missed a sitter and was relatively anonymous in last year’s Community Shield for his City debut? Yeah, that seemed pretty quaint after the Norway international rewrote the Premier League record books and racked up 36 goals in 35 matches, part of a sensational season in which he finished with 52 goals in all competitions.
Haaland is an overwhelming favorite to repeat as Golden Boot winner, with the best value currently available at PointsBet (-125), followed by BetMGM and DraftKings (-135) and BetRivers (-139). And in a case of history potentially repeating itself, Haaland was again underwhelming in Sunday’s Community Shield loss to Arsenal on penalties (recall he then scored nine goals in his five August league matches in 2022-23).
Remember when Erling Haaland was written off as a fraudulent flop after one semi-competitive game at the King Power? Fun times. Here he is among six dodgy Community Shield debutants…https://t.co/E7fDnn2Z7I
— Football365 (@F365) August 4, 2023
It is a long way to the oddsmakers’ consensus second-choice option, Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. PENN Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook that will soon be rebranded ESPN BET has the best listing at +900, followed by FanDuel at +850, but this pick is not without risk. German powerhouse Bayern Munich has been actively courting the England talisman, and while Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has yet to see a valuation to his liking, the Aug. 31 transfer deadline means it will be a nervous three weeks for those hoping he continues to chase Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League record of 260 goals.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah is the clear-cut third option for most sportsbooks, though he is a joint second with Kane at Barstool and DraftKings (+750). The Egypt international and 2018 Golden Boot winner can still be grabbed at +1000 at FanDuel, but the year-over-year growth of teammate Darwin Nunez — expected to fill the spot created by Roberto Firmino’s departure — will go a long way in Salah notching a fifth 30-goal season in his last seven.
Speaking of Nunez, he is the top of the second tier, with offerings ranging from +1600 at BetMGM, bet365, and PointsBet to +2200 at Caesars Sportsbook. He had nine goals in 29 league appearances for the Reds, and while his scoring output should increase, an entirely overhauled Liverpool midfield means it may take longer for him to adjust than Salah and teammate Diogo Jota.
For sleeper options, Sweden international Alexander Isak may be worth a flyer. The 23-year-old Isak, available at +3500 at DraftKings and +3300 at multiple books including BetRivers, had 10 goals in 22 league matches in 2022-23 and is part of a formidable duo with Callum Wilson at Newcastle United. The challenge for Isak is handling the rigors of Champions League play — it will be the first time the Magpies are playing top-flight soccer since 2002-03.
Well-defined top four, with City and Arsenal 1-2
This is your chance to see our treble of trophies in the flesh! 🏆🔍
Come down to the City store, @manarndale! 📍
📆 10th August
⏰ 10:00-17:00 (UK) pic.twitter.com/vKy1wRha0q
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 9, 2023
Oddsmakers are envisioning a top-table finish similar to last season with City on top and Arsenal runner-up. The best value available for Guardiola’s side to win the title is -125 at BetRivers and DraftKings, followed by -130 at WynnBET and -135 at PointsBet. Those who think Man City and Arsenal will repeat a 1-2 finish can grab that at +500 at FanDuel.
FanDuel also has intriguing markets for City’s trophy haul for the upcoming season. An unprecedented four-bagger of all three domestic titles plus repeating as Champions League winners is a +8500 option, while a domestic treble is listed at +2900. Any combination of three trophies can be had for +650, while any two trophies is a -105 play.
The Gunners, who led the Premier League for a good portion of last season under Guardiola protégé Mikael Arteta, are a unanimous No. 2 for sportsbooks, with the best title value +500 at Betfred, FanDuel, BetRivers, and Barstool. Those backing the North London side can also grab Gabriel Jesus or Bukayo Saka at high value picks for the Golden Boot, with Jesus available at +4400 at FanDuel and Saka a +5000 option at Hard Rock Bet, FanDuel, and Barstool.
Liverpool and Manchester United are also consensus third- and fourth-choice picks to lift the trophy. The top play for the Merseysiders is +800 at BetMGM, Betfred, BetRivers, and Barstool, while United can be had at +1200 at WynnBET to topple their Noisy Neighbours and prevent a four-peat.
It is a considerable leap to Chelsea and Newcastle United, with the Blues perhaps overvalued as Mauricio Pochettino’s familiarity with the Premier League will help shorten the learning curve of an overhauled roster. Chelsea’s most common offering is +1600, though WynnBET is listing the Pensioners at +2000. The Toon Army may have to be content with European nights considering Newcastle ranges anywhere from +1200 at WynnBET to +2500 at PointsBet for title hopes.
One top-four option worth a flyer may be United to finish in the top four of the table, with BetMGM’s offering of -120 notably better than any other sportsbook. Oddsmakers are somewhat bullish on Pochettino revamping Chelsea for a top-four spot, with BetRivers the top play at +163.
And at the other end of the table …
Ross Barkley 🤝 Luton Town
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 9, 2023
Though there was a title race for most of last season, the real drama in 2022-23 came in the battle to avoid relegation, with the 15th- through 18th-place teams separated by five points. Fairy-tale 2016 champion Leicester City, Leeds United, and Southampton dropped to the Championship, while Luton Town, Sheffield United, and Bournemouth gained top-flight status.
Luton Town is an overwhelming favorite to yo-yo back to the Championship — FanDuel’s -270 is the best relegation market offering for the Hatters there. Sheffield United, back in the Premier League after a two-year absence, is also expected to drop once more, with PointsBet and Barstool offering the best play at -150.
A group of four teams among Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton, and Everton are the top draws to be the third team relegated, all at notable plus-money. Interestingly, PointsBet is bullish on Burnley having a one-year stint in the top flight, with the Clarets listed at +195.
The Toffees provide the most intrigue again, having barely survived last season in 17th place. Liverpool’s eternal rivals on the Merseyside are a +300 play at multiple books. One other option to consider for the drop is Fulham, which finished 10th last season. The Cottagers, though, have done little to improve a defense that shipped 53 goals, and their margin for error offensively could be greatly reduced if wantaway striker Aleksander Mitrovic — who had 14 goals last season — leaves before the transfer deadline.