With the new Premier League season kicking off in less than a month (thank God for that), we here at howtobet4free have been hard at work analysing the moves that have been made so far in the transfer market and swotting up on each club and their squad for the season ahead.
Within the next few weeks we will be releasing our handy guides to the 2013/14 season, and finding you the best odds with which to win some money to collect before next year’s holiday.
As ever, we’re going to start from the bottom and work our way up (cheeky):
Manager: Steve Bruce
First six fixtures: Sun 18th Aug: Chelsea (A)
Sat 24th Aug: Norwich (H)
Sat 31st Aug: Man City (A)
Sat 14th Sep: Cardiff (H)
Sat 21st Sep: Newcastle (A)
Sat 28th Sep: West Ham (H)
Sorry Hull fans, but this don’t look like it’s gonna be your year. A first return for the Tigers since their relegation in 2010 and the club are already odds-on for relegation, at 8/13 with Bet365.
While Bruce has made some shrewd additions to his playing squad by bringing in veteran shot-stopper Steve Harper on a free and Danny Graham on-loan from Sunderland, Hull will face an almighty battle to stay up against an ever-improving Premier League elite.
Key Player: Danny Graham
Predicted position: 20th
Top Tip: Hull to finish bottom – 7/2 with Coral
Manager: Ian Holloway
First six fixtures: Sun 18th Aug: Spurs (H)
Sat 24th Aug: Stoke (A)
Sat 31st Aug: Sunderland (H)
Sat 14th Sep: Man Utd (A)
Sat 21st Sep: Swansea (H)
Sat 28th Sep: Southampton (H)
As much as we love Ian Holloway at howtobet4free (who doesn’t?) we fancy his Crystal Palace side to struggle next term as well. While Holloway has added former-loanee Stephen Dobbie to the ranks and Jerome Thomas on a free the squad still looks short of the quality that Premier League safety requires, especially after Wilfried Zaha’s move to Manchester United.
Kevin Phillips has also recently signed a new deal, but at 40 years-old, he might just find the Premier League too much in what surely must be his final season as a player.
Key Player: Yannick Bolasie
Predicted position: 19th
Top Tip: Crystal Palace total points exactly between 29 and 31 - 11/2 with Bet365
Manager: Malky Mackay
First six fixtures: Sat 17th Aug: West Ham (A)
Sun 25th Aug: Man City (H)
Sat 31st Aug: Everton (H)
Sat 14th Sep: Hull (A)
Sat 21st Sep: Spurs: (H)
Sat 28th Sep: Fulham (A)
Finishing as champions of the Championship last season, the Bluebirds (or should we call them Redbirds now? Sorry, low blow) look to stand the best chance of survival in the Premier League if they have their wits about them. But… we still see them facing relegation as well.
In fact we reckon this could only be the second season in the history of the Premier League in which all promoted clubs go straight back down: the only other one being 1997-98 in which Crystal Palace, Bolton, and Barnsley were the unlucky three.
While the club have splashed out £7.5 million on Andreas Cornelius, the young Danish forward, they may find survival a step too far without some more investment.
Key player: Craig Bellamy
Predicted position: 18th
Top Tip: Cardiff to finish as top promoted team – 10/11 with BetVictor
Manager: Mark Hughes
First six fixtures: Sat 17th Aug: Liverpool (A)
Sat 24th Aug: Crystal Palace (H)
Sat 31st Aug: West Ham (A)
Sat 14th Sep: Man City (H)
Sun 22nd Sep: Arsenal (A)
Sun 29th Sep: Norwich (H)
The end is surely nigh for Stoke. What was meant to look like an act of progression in hiring Mark Hughes after Tony Pulis’s departure is really a desperate throw of the dice for a club that wish to shed the skin of pragmatism whilst staying in the Premier League.
Considering Hughes mucked up (and that’s putting it nicely) at QPR, Stoke fans should be worried: it seems that brief sojourn at free-spending Manchester City went to his head. Having said that, Stoke do have the potential to escape the drop, just barely. They have signed former Barcelona starlet Marc Muniesa and the Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters and hopefully for the Potters their youthful enthusiasm and raw talent will aid the squad.
Key player: Ryan Shawcross
Predicted position: 17th
Top Tip: Mark Hughes not to take charge of Stoke’s last Premier League game of season – 5/2 with Stan James
Manager: Chris Hughton
First six fixtures: Sat 17th Aug: Everton (H)
Sat 24th Aug: Hull (A)
Sat 31st Aug: Southampton (H)
Sat 14th Sep: Spurs (A)
Sat 21st Sep: Aston Villa (H)
Sun 29th Sep: Stoke (A)
While we believe Norwich will be safe next season, that’s not to say they won’t be engaging in a spot of ‘squeaky bum-time’ come next May.
Hughton has been busy in the transfer market, and his new signings do look to have a lot of quality to add to the squad; it just may take a season for them to gel together and establish Norwich as a more-than-safe Premier League side.
Of the recent additions, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper look like they could grab some goals, while Javier Garrido brings experience of the Premier League with him from his time at Manchester City and loan spell at Carrow Road last year.
Key player: John Ruddy
Predicted position: 16th
Top Tip: (it’s nothing to do with Norwich, but it’s a good ‘un anyway) All three promoted clubs to be relegated – 9/2 with Stan James
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Sam publishes regular feature and tips pieces for Howtobet4free. He has a blog, crackingjabulanis.blogspot.co.uk, and can be found on Twitter by following @Gaytski.