Premier League Season Preview: Cherries can finish in top half

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe's Bournemouth can make the top 10 again
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Dave Tindall looks at the top 10 market in this season's Premier League and says Leicester and Bournemouth can make the top half.

"The Cherries actually took 28 points from their last 19 games and that was just one less than Arsenal. Have they really gone backwards?"

3pts Bournemouth to finish in Top 10 at [3.65]

A first question to ask when looking at the Top 10 market is what sort of points tally is required?

This is how many the 10th-placed team racked up in the last 10 seasons:

2017/18 Newcastle 44pts
2016/17 West Brom 45pts
2015/16 Chelsea 50pts
2014/15 Crystal Palace 48pts
2013/14 Newcastle 49pts
2012/13 West Ham 46pts
2011/12 West Brom 47pts
2010/11 Sunderland 47pts
2009/10 Blackburn 50pts
2008/09 Man City 50pts

Firstly, I don't think it's a surprise that the two lowest tallies have come in the last two years. More than ever, the Premier League has become a top six and a best of the rest, with seventh-placed Burnley finishing nine points behind sixth-placed Arsenal last season and Everton (7th) eight points adrift of Manchester United (6th) in 2016/17.

It means an asking requirement of 44/45pts is within the realms of more clubs than it used to be and you can virtually throw a blanket over the teams from around eighth to 15th/16th.

An initial thought this year is that two of the promoted sides - Wolves and Fulham - can make an impression.

Wolves are [2.06] for a Top 10 finish while Fulham are a potential value bet at [5.0].

History is a worry though as it says sides coming up from the Championship struggle to make the transition to a top-half Premier League side.

2017/18 Newcastle 10th, Brighton 15th, Huddersfield 16th
2016/17 Burnley 16th, Hull 18th, Middlesbrough 19th
2015/16 Watford 13th, Bournemouth 16th, Norwich 19th
2014/15 Burnley 19th, Leicester 14th, QPR 20th
2013/14 Cardiff 20th, Hull 16th, Crystal Palace 11th
2012/13 Reading 19th, Southampton 14th, West Ham 10th
2011/12 QPR 17th, Norwich 12th, Swansea 11th
2010/11 Newcastle 12th, West Brom 11th, Blackpool 19th
2009/10 Wolves 15th, Birmingham 9th, Burnley 18th
2008/09 West Brom 20th, Stoke 12th, Hull 17th

That's fairly grim reading.

There have been some near misses but, of the 30 teams promoted in the last 10 years, only three have gone on to finish in the top 10.

Burnley are certainly worth a look at [4.1] given that they were seventh and just about always on target for seventh last season when finishing with 54 points.

The big 'if' is whether they can cope with a European campaign alongside scrapping for every last morsel in the Premier League. Plenty of others in their position have failed.

West Ham are a hard side to trust even though some potentially good things have happened over the summer. The [2.1] looks about right.

Newcastle, at [3.1], will have to seriously punch above their weight again to sneak a top 10 while the [1.41] for Everton is too short to get involved in even though they should have enough in the tank.

However, there are two teams that make appeal.

Cherries can pick off rivals

They're being dismissed this season and offered up as potential relegation candidates but Bournemouth finished ninth in 2016/17 and only missed out on a top 10 finish on goal difference in the last campaign.

What's interesting is that they secured more points in the second half of last season than supposed fast finishers Crystal Palace.

The Cherries actually took 28 points from their last 19 games and that was just one less than Arsenal. Have they really gone backwards?

This is a team who recovered 21 points from losing positions last season and there is still quality (Nathan Ake, Lewis Cook) to go with the positive attitude Eddie Howe instils.

Another potential plus point is a favourable early fixture list. Bournemouth have been slow starters in the past but they open with a home game against Cardiff and face a Big Six side just once in their first 10 matches.

If a platform can be built, the South Coast side can get to the 44/45-point total that could well prove enough.

I'll play them at [3.65].

Foxes have enough class

At [2.02], Leicester look a good bet to make the top 10. Let's remind ourselves of their last few seasons:

2014/15 14th - Bottom at Christmas but took eighth highest points total in the second half of season. A seed had been planted.

2015/16 1st - That the seed grew into a shiny Premier League trophy still remains the most remarkable thing in the history of the competition.

2016/17 12th - An inevitable let-down after the title season but finished just a point behind 10th-placed West Brom.

2017/2018 9th - Another top 10 finish although didn't finish the season well.

While the last two seasons look underwhelming, that's due to the obvious unfavourable comparison with the title-winning campaign.

Riyad Mahrez has gone but he hardly helped unity in the camp towards the end and they still have one of those rare animals - a 20-goal-a-season striker in Jamie Vardy.

New signing James Maddison and the improving Demarai Gray can feed the England striker as well as chipping in with goals of their own and Wilfred Ndidi and Harry Maguire (if he stays) offer quality down the spine. New right-back Ricardo Pereira is an exciting addition from Porto.

There really isn't that much to beat outside the top six and Leicester look better than 50:50 to make the top half again.

Some negativity surrounds boss Claude Puel but, if it doesn't work out early, the owners won't mess about and a new man is still perfectly capable of guiding this squad to a top 10 finish.

As for other markets, I'd be staggered if the Big Six aren't the Top Six while Arsenal could offer a touch of value at [2.88] to return to the top four with Unai Emery giving them the backbone and organisation on the road to potentially pick off two of United, Chelsea and Spurs.


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