Premier League Betting: The pick of the Season Match Bets

What a signing! Everton's Nikica Jelavic

It's not just about who wins the Premier League and who gets relegated, there are plenty of Season Match Bets on offer if you fancy Everton to finish above Liverpool for example, says Mike Norman.

"Nikica Jelavic was a tremendous January Transfer Window signing for them last year, and if he can continue to score goals then Everton are more than capable of keeping tabs with their city rivals, before coming strong after Christmas."


Everton 3.412/5 v Liverpool 1.351/3*

For years, actually make that decades, we've been led to believe that this will be the season that Liverpool challenge for the title. Even I was convinced 12 months ago that the Reds were about to return to the big time domestically, but 38 league games later they found themselves a massive 37 points behind champions Manchester City and saw fit to terminate the contract of club legend Kenny Dalglish.

Now with a new manager - former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers - at the helm similar noises are coming out of the red side of Merseyside. Ok, no fan wants to hear their own club - especially when it's a huge club - talk down their chances of success, but a bit of realism from time to time wouldn't go amiss.

With only Fabio Borini added to the squad of any significance Liverpool are in no position to challenge for the title, and nor are they likely to finish in the Top 4 - for which they can be backed at 3.7511/4. Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United are all stronger, so too are Tottenham in all probability, and at the Season Match Bet odds, I fancy Everton to again finish above their Merseyside rivals.

Everton haven't been active in the transfer market either, but what's new there? Season after season they start poorly, finish strongly, and usually finish in and around the top six. You can set your clock by them in other words. Nikica Jelavic was a tremendous January Transfer Window signing for them last year, and if he can continue to score goals then Everton are more than capable of keeping tabs with their city rivals, before coming strong after Christmas.

Prediction: Back the Toffees to leave Liverpool in another sticky situation


Chelsea 3.02/1 v Manchester United 1.51/2*

This time two years ago Chelsea would probably have started favourite for this Match Bet, but because of their recent poor league finishes including a pretty dismal sixth place finish last season, United are strong favourites to finish above the Blues.

But the last time I looked Chelsea were the European champions, defeating the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their way to that memorable success just three months ago.

Since then Chelsea have appointed Roberto Di Matteo on a permanent basis, and a quality-looking trio of players - Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, and Oscar - have joined the club for in excess of £50m. Success breeds success they say, and Chelsea will be strong contenders for the Premier League title this season (currently available to back at 6.25/1) now that they have secured Roman Abramovich's holy grail.

United will be a tough not to crack without question. They'll be desperate to wrestle the title away from their city rivals and they appear to have signed an outstanding player in Shinji Kagawa. But despite having some excellent youngsters within their ranks United's squad is an ageing one with just a few tweaks to it in the last few seasons. We know what to expect now and they might just fall short of the very best.

Selection: Expect a big improvement in the league from Chelsea as they, and not United, challenge Man City for the title.


Newcastle 1.68/13 v Sunderland 2.56/4*

To most followers of these two great clubs finishing above each other is the only outcome that matters in the north-east. Or at least that used to be the case, and I'm pretty sure still is the case for Black Cats' fans. But for Newcastle they have their sights set firmly higher these days.

Alan Pardew's men enjoyed a quite brilliant campaign last season, continuously defying their detractors - myself being one of them - who believed their bubble would burst at some point. It didn't, and the Magpies finished fifth thanks to some inspirational signings, most notably Demba Ba and the brilliant Papiss Cisse.

There's absolutely no reason why Newcastle won't enjoy a similar season this time around. True, Europa League football could prove to be a distractions, and whilst I don't expect them to finish the season in the Top 4 (for which they can be backed at 15.5) they could easily finish 'best of the rest' - which would mean sixth or seventh and well ahead of Sunderland.

Selection: Newcastle all the way for me, in fact they rate a Season Match Bet banker!


*Odds are close to what are available now on Betfair, but are what should be available once markets receive more liquidity and the start of the season approaches


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