Premier League Relegation Battle Betting Odds
This might be the closest title race we have seen in years – but at the other end of the table, there’s also a fascinating relegation battle taking place.
Amazingly, just six points separate 10th and 20th, and the fact five of these 11 clubs have replaced their manager this season brings further unpredictability to the scrap. Here’s a look at each relegation candidate, assessing their strengths and weaknesses.
Strength: Steve Bruce’s side have a superb home record – the sixth best in the Premier League this season. They’ve convincingly defeated sides around them in the table, recently thrashing Fulham 6-0, as well as making life difficult for the big boys. Few sides are relishing a trip to the KC Stadium.
Weakness: With Yannick Sagbo managing just two Premier League goals and Danny Graham’s woeful run of form continuing, Hull lack a reliable centre-forward. The imminent signing of Nikica Jelavic might help, but he’s a confidence player who can go through poor spells.
Best relegation odds: 7/1 from SkyBet – better value elsewhere, considering Hull’s good results this season
Strength: Villa have been in fine form on the road – they’re eighth in the ‘away’ league table, with only the usual suspects ahead of them. Paul Lambert’s reactive nature, combined with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann’s pace on the break, means they’re better away from Villa Park.
Weakness: Christian Benteke’s goals kept Villa up last season, but his header against Arsenal on Monday was his first goal in 17 matches. They desperately need the Belgian to find form, or else they’re relying on surprise loanee Grant Holt for goals.
Best relegation odds: 8/1 from Ladbrokes – overpriced given Aston Villa’s lack of experience, although they should be safe
Strength: Mark Hughes might have attempted to change Stoke’s style of play this season, but they still specialise in the air. They win 61% of their aerial duels, 6% more than their closest challengers, Chelsea.
Weakness: Stoke have the worst home record in the Premier League. Visiting the Britannia has always been a difficult task, but more than ever, Stoke are reliant on their home form to stay in the division.
Best relegation odds: 10/1 from BetVictor – other bookmakers have Stoke at just 7/1, and 10/1 looks a good back-to-lay bet considering Stoke have Manchester United, Swansea and Arsenal in their next three home matches, and are very poor away from home.
Strength: Swansea can control matches like no-one else – they’re averaging 60% of possession in the Premier League, by far the most of the twenty teams.
Weakness: Michu has suffered from injuries, and isn’t scoring at the same rate as last season, although at least Wilfried Bony’s form has picked up in recent weeks. However, Swansea are on an extremely poor run of form, with no wins in seven, and are still in both the Europa League and the FA Cup – their league efforts could suffer as a result.
Best relegation odds: 18/1 from Ladbrokes – an amazing price considering Swansea’s poor form and cup distractions.
Strength: West Brom have arguably the most solid defensive base amongst the Premier League clubs. Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley are an excellent centre-back pairing, while Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob are a tough-tackling partnership ahead.
Weakness: Pepe Mel, while clearly a bright, talented coach, is completely unfamiliar with the Premier League. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a period of adjustment under the new manager, and with West Brom just three points off the relegation zone, the Baggies can’t afford this.
Best relegation odds: 17/2 from Ladbrokes – Mel should have a positive impact overall, and there’s much better value elsewhere
Strength: If Norwich can get all their midfielders fit, they have some excellent footballers in that zone – Alex Tettey is a strong, powerful holding midfielder, Leroy Fer an energetic box-to-box midfielder and Jonny Howson an intelligent user of the ball.
Weakness: Norwich’s run-in is a nightmare – they face Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final four matches. At this rate, all four will be battling for points in the final weeks.
Best relegation odds: – Norwich aren’t a great side, but in a season with lots of poor teams, there will be three worse
Strength: On their day, Adel Taarabt and Dimitar Berbatov is the most talented forward duo in the bottom half of the league – Berbatov’s touch and technique is fantastic, while Taarabt is highly creative and can drive forward powerfully.
Weakness: The most goals conceded in the Premier League, and the fewest clean sheets. Rene Meulensteen isn’t sure of his best centre-back combination, and the imminent return of Brede Hangeland might not solve the problem. Also a concern is Fulham’s record against the top ten – they haven’t managed a single point against a current top-half side.
Best relegation odds: 11/10 from BetFred – a decent back-to-lay bet, considering Fulham can’t collect points against the top half, and four of their next five matches are against top half sides. They could be bottom this time next month.
Strength: Despite the problems at centre-back in recent weeks, the Hammers have collected nine clean sheets this season, the joint-most in the Premier League alongside Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.
Weakness: Goalscoring has been a problem in the absence of Andy Carroll, and he might not be the saviour Sam Allardyce is expecting. Carlton Cole impressed on his short-term deal and has been rewarded with an extension, but West Ham’s attacking is one-dimensional and based around unreliable forwards.
Best relegation odds: 5/2 from Ladbrokes – when everyone is fit, West Ham can keep clean sheets and score goals, and Allardyce’s style will ensure they collect enough points
Strength: On their day, Cardiff can play some sparkling football – they mix patient, intelligent midfield distribution with some pace and penetration upfront. They also have the best disciplinary record in the division.
Weakness: They consistently start games terribly. Taking a ‘first half’ table, Cardiff have scored just four goals and won once – by far the worst record in the division. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, meanwhile, is inexperienced at this level, and with a club in this position in the table – he’s gambling upon new signings to get Cardiff out of danger.
Best relegation odds: 11/10 from Coral – They’re certainly in danger of going down, but this isn’t a favourable price
Strength: A surprisingly good record against the best sides in the league. In matches against the current top ten, Sunderland have the best record of all the relegation candidates, and they seem to have a knack of picking up unexpected victories. They also have a good midfield triangle, with Swansea loanee Ki Sung-Yueng bringing great control to the side.
Weakness: A tendency to concede cheap goals, especially late in matches, and also a habit of collecting unnecessary red cards. There are also few attackers who guarantee good performances – the likes of Adam Johnson, Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini have always been highly inconsistent, which isn’t ideal in a relegation battle.
Best relegation odds: 7/5 from Boylesports – not particularly great value for a side with potential
Strength: They have a simple, easily identifiable plan under Tony Pulis – and while his long ball tactics might not be aesthetically pleasing, he has a consistent track record of keeping Stoke in the Premier League. His new charges have adapted well to the approach.
Weakness: Crystal Palace have scored the fewest goals in the division – although they’ve improved since Pulis took charge. They also have, put simply, the weakest squad in the division – some players are of mid-table Championship standard.
Best relegation odds: 11/20 from Betway – too short to consider, considering Palace’s improvement under Pulis.
January 15th, 2014 by Michael Cox