The Handicap was taken apart by Leicester last year, who won the title by 10 points and made a mockery of a head start of 45 to win with a start of over 100. This year the competitiveness of the title race is underlined not only by the prices, but also the starts given by the bookmakers. Just eight points separate Manchester City (scr) to Liverpool (+9) which is going to make life tough for those at the top of the table in this mark whilst letting others in.
The gap between the middle-tier and relegation contenders in the eyes of the market seem to be constitutionally underestimated by the market and that can lead to some serious value to be had with teams fliting with the bottom three.
Bournemouth may well have finished a lot higher than 16th last year had it not been for a glut of injuries that hit many of their best men and the summer signings they’ve made are In the same mould of player that Eddie Howe has done so well with in the end, especially Jordan Ibe from Liverpool although Lewis Cook has also impressed in his time with Leeds and Lys Mousset is just the kind of player that Le Havre have made go big in the past and that’s an illustrious list.
More important however, is potentially keeping those players who made such an impressive start to last season fit, including Callum Wilson who looked set to make at least double figures in the early part of the season. Bournemouth were 11th with five games to go and will surely be smarter this season so the 36 point start they get from Bet365 has to be of interest this time around in what’s a tightly contested race.
Promoted sides have the most potential markups so all three have to be looked at. However Burnley have not invested in what is essentially the same squad that went down two seasons ago whilst Hull are in turmoil. Middlesbrough would make the most appeal anyway of those three but their new signings show the intent to be more than just bottom half bit players and the experience from those additions really is telling.
Alvaro Negredo, Marten De Roon, Gaston Ramirez, Victor Valdes, Viktor Fischer and Bernardo Espinosa all have top flight experience in one way or another and it’s worth taking a chance on Aitor Karanka having the right mix of Premier League experience and quality in the Championship to do more than just stay up and it wouldn’t take more than 50 points for them to be competitive given the start they’ve had and that’s just three more wins than the market expects.
1 pt each/way Bournemouth +36 (15/1 Bet365)
1 pt each/way Middlesbrough +42 (15/1 Betfred, Betway)