Ed Chamberlin on Sky Bet's Premier League markets for new season
Ed Chamberlin says Southampton and Aston Villa might surprise a few people this year.
Last Updated: 15/08/13 10:51am
Sky Bet now have Wayne Rooney at 5/2 to join Chelsea in this transfer window, Gareth Bale at 4/6 to leave Spurs and Luis Suarez drifting all the time to 9/4 to leave Liverpool.
The odds on all three leaving their respective clubs have in fact drifted this week but the prices are likely to change dramatically as the brinkmanship intensifies with deadline day looming.
Now though, it's time for the football to take over and what a weekend it's going to be on Sky Sports.
The three new managers at last season's top three clubs all feature in our live shows. Our first of 116 live games this season is Swansea v Manchester United on the new Saturday Night Football show. David Jones will host the programme alongside Jamie Redknapp in front of a live audience and it's going to be fast and furious from 5pm on Saturday.
Then I will be at Stamford Bridge for Super Sunday and the return of Jose Mourinho. What an occasion this promises to be and I expect the Bridge to be absolutely buzzing.
Before Chelsea's game against the Hull City 'Tigers', we've got another of the Premier League's new boys, Crystal Palace, up against Tottenham. We start at the new time of 12.30pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Then we round off a brilliant first weekend with the new-look Monday Night Football - Manchester City against Newcastle. I will present/referee alongside Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville and there's bound to be plenty to look back on and discuss as well as the fascinating game at the Etihad and a first competitive outing for Manuel Pellegrini and his four new signings.
Before all of that I'll be at a school in East London first thing on Thursday morning to host the official launch of the 2013/14 Premier League season live on Sky Sports News. Lots of big names from four Premier League clubs will be there and I'll be interviewing Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore.
The event will also feature Under-18 Kicks teams from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur - refereed by Andre Marriner and receiving a half time team talk from Nemanja Vidic and Michael Dawson, so it should be an entertaining morning.
It's all building up to the most eagerly anticipated title race in years. Manchester City have been backed in to joint favourites now at 9/4 alongside Chelsea, with Manchester United at 5/2 and Arsenal at 10s. I think it's very hard to have a strong opinion on the title winners until Jim White and Big Ben declare the transfer window closed on September 2.
Sky Bet have hundreds of other markets to explore on the new season.
This time last year I had my fingers burned in this column backing Aston Villa to finish in the top half of the Premier League table. As it turned out they were in the thick of the relegation scrap all season. However, I'm tempted to go in again at 15/8 this time around as I can see Paul Lambert and his side having a much more successful campaign.
The two key factors this summer have been the retaining of Christian Benteke and the capture of Jores Okore. Benteke should guarantee goals, while Okore can help stiffen a defence that was shambolic at times last season.
Nordsjelland had a tough baptism in the Champions League last season but Okore stood out a mile at the back and is a tower of strength. He caught the eye of many a big European club so Villa have pulled off quite a coup by signing him.
Another side that can surprise people is Southampton, who are 6/4 to finish in the top ten and also tempting at even money in a season match bet with Newcastle.
Saints were even worse than Villa at the back at times, especially in the first ten games of the season but put things right under Mauricio Pochettino and have signed Dejan Lovren in their troublesome position of centre half.
Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne should both thrive at full-back with a Premier League season under their belt. In front of them Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin were outstanding last season.
I was honoured to award Schneiderlin the club's player of the year award at the end of the season and at the time thought Southampton would do well to hold on to him. Not only did they do that but they've signed him up on long-term deal, as they have all the other key players in the squad.
Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese is a canny operator. He also made a major show of intent by signing Victor Wanyama from Celtic for £12.5m and he will add power alongside the energy of Cork and guile of Schneiderlin.
Saints also have plenty of attacking threat with Adam Lallana, Jason Puncheon and Gaston Ramires, who has taken time to find his feet but can improve massively in his second season.
Rickie Lambert guarantees goals while the rapidly improving Jay Rodriguez could be a decent bet to one day join Lambert in an England squad. These are exciting times on the South coast.
Enjoy the opening Premier League weekend. Hope to see you at the Bridge on Sunday.