The Premier League handicap is always a difficult puzzle to solve.
You’re basically looking for a team who will outperform expectations but the problem is even if they deliver, others could do even better.
The good news is the rewards can be plentiful – PlanetSportBet go 14/1 the field in their 2021/22 season handicap market.
Certainly of the title fancies, they’d be the one I’d be happiest backing. They get a 10-point start.
However, as is often the case, the better bets in this market look to involve the supposedly smaller teams.
Crystal Palace can perform above expectation
Crystal Palace are getting a 49-point start and that’s a position which certainly has potential.
There’s no doubt there’s the possibility that things go badly wrong at Selhurst Park this season.
The Eagles have swapped a steady managerial hand in Roy Hodgson for Patrick Vieira, a man yet to take charge of a Premier League game.
They’ve also had a massive clear-out on the playing staff.
However, it’s also not that hard to envisage them performing above expectation.
Vieira may not yet have managed in the Premier League but he was a hugely successful player in the competition and until fairly recently was part of the backroom team at Manchester City. This isn’t Frank de Boer.
There’s also promise in terms of signings and, let’s face it, last season’s squad was a pretty uninspiring one.
Youth looks set to be given its chance with Chelsea loanees Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi both looking decent signings. The pair impressed on loan last season, Gallagher being one of West Brom’s better players, while Guehi almost helped Swansea into the Premier League.
Reading teenager Michael Olise has the potential to be an exciting attacking option, while adding experience is Joachim Andersen. The centre-back, part of Denmark‘s Euro 2020 squad, was hardly the reason Fulham were relegated last season.
Wilfried Zaha remains, Christian Benteke looked rejuvenated at the back end of last season and Palace look set to attack more under Vieira than during Hodgson’s safety-first reign.
That will be welcomed by the vociferous Palace faithful, who will be back in situ, making Selhurst one of the more intimidating grounds to visit.
Clearly they have more to beat in this market than City but add 49 points to Palace’s total of 44 last season and they finished seven points clear of the champions.
The market looks too negative about Palace here and while I understand why a trader might take that view, I also think there’s potential for a decent upside with the Eagles. If that happens, they may be able to win this.
Newcastle can shrug off the doom-mongers
The other side I like from the lower reaches of the market are Newcastle. Yes, I know. Hear me out.
The perception of Newcastle as a club these days is all centred on owner Mike Ashley, the man who supposedly doesn’t care and won’t spend enough. That’s led to fan unrest and a general malaise which means Steve Bruce hasn’t been given hardly any credit for the job he’s done.
While I’m hardly calling for him to be knighted, Bruce hasn’t done badly with the tools at his disposal.
Last season he led Newcastle to 12th place with a total of 45 points and that despite a miserable time with injuries.
Callum Wilson was proving an excellent signing when he tweaked a hamstring in February. He started only two more games but still finished the season with 12 Premier League goals.
Allan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle’s most creative player, also missed a big chunk of the campaign. He returned for the last nine games and it’s no coincidence that the Magpies accumulated 17 points in that end-of-season spell.
If both stay fit, Newcastle should cause teams problems.
They will need to tighten up a bit too (62 goals were conceded last season) but Fabian Schar was another who suffered a lot with injury last term. The Swiss international should help on that front.
Some new faces will surely be added in the coming weeks with last season’s loan star Joe Willock among those being sought.
All things considered, there’s potential for Newcastle to shrug off the doom-mongers and perform above expectation.
They get a 46-point start on the handicap, one which may be too big from the layers’ perspective.