Commodore's EPL Picks

Okay. The winter chill is thawing now. We can relax and get back to the things that really matter. Like football, and betting. It’s been a meager couple months for yours truly, surviving on the scraps thrust forth by the transfer market and the odd international flavoured friendly. What can we read into those results? Nothing, really. There’s not a damned thing that can prepare a 22-year-old kid from the Basque region of Spain for the cold, hard realities of Premier League football. For if it is to be believed, this is the pinnacle of world football. The Best League in the World. After last season’s dreary domination by Mourinho’s Blues, I’m skeptical. Manchester United threw the cash in a bid to reclaim former glories – it largely failed. Arsenal were off the pace from the get-go. While Liverpool and Manchester City failed to deliver on the previous season’s promises. Sound familiar?

Saturday 8th August

Man United 11/20 | Draw 3/1 | Tottenham 9/2

If it does, that’s because nothing much changes in the world of English football. At least not too swiftly. United are still dolling out the dollars, although this time they seem to have bought some actual quality. Th ey’re still short on a quality centre back pairing and a back-up striker, but they’ll be there and thereabout this season. Their opening day opponents, Spurs, won’t be. Mauricio Pochettino has cast out the deadwood from the Gareth Bale debacle, while shoring up his defence. Will any of this make Spurs a better side? Not particularly. United handled Spurs easily in the corresponding fixture last season, and should have no problem getting our season off to a winning start at 11/20.

Bournemouth 19/20 | Draw 24/10 | Aston Villa 29/10

Randy Lerner, the billionaire owner of Aston Villa enjoys the finer things in life. Unfortunately for Villa supporters and “Tactics” Tim Sherwood, that doesn’t include a mid-table English football side situated in the Midlands. He’s long since lost interest in this plaything. Benteke is gone, as is the club captain Fabian Delph. In their place, an unproven Championship striker and a bunch of players from the backwaters of Ligue 1. Money not so well spent. Sherwood opens his first full season in charge in front of roughly 12,000 baying Bournemouth supporters. I’m excited as hell to see what the new boys can do. They weren’t short of goals in the Championship and I expect them to get up on the opening day. There’s value in a home win at 19/20.

Everton 7/10 | Draw 11/4 | Watford 36/10

Watford are an interesting anomaly. They cycled through three managers on their way to the Premier League via the Championship title and start the season with yet another man in charge. Throw in a new cast of 10 foreign faces with varying degrees of ability in football and English and you’ve got what some would call a recipe for disaster. Somehow, they’ve made it work. They start life in the big time against Everton, who are dealing with the realisation they’re no longer a “big club”, despite Roberto Martinez’s assertions. They will be better this season – especially if they can hold onto James McCarthy and John Stones – and should start the season with three points.

Leicester City 9/10 | Draw 24/10 | Sunderland 3/1

Will this year finally be the year that Sunderland go down? God, I hope so. It’s been many years since I enjoyed a Sunderland display, probably not since Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips perfected the big’un, little’un combination. Their opening day opponents on the other hand – Leicester – now there’s a side I can get behind. Even without Nigel Pearson and his ostrich analogies I fancy these Foxes. Claudio Ranieri has done the rounds since being left out of the Abramovich Revolution at Chelsea and certainly has the pedigree to keep them up. There’s no doubt it will be a struggle, but in a straight duel with the Black Cats, I fancy the Foxes to come out on top. Another home win, this one at 9/10.

Norwich 29/20 | Draw 21/10 | Crystal Palace 19/10

I’m a big fan of Crystal Palace, even if my feelings over Alan Pardew are decidedly less enthusiastic. Having only been in the league for two seasons, they’re already assembling a squad capable of a top-half finish, and perhaps even more. Yohan Cabaye is a fine footballer and a great signing for the South London club. His vision and laser-guided passing should release the best in Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha. They’re a side built for counter-attacking assaults, and Norwich will feel their wrath on opening day. The Canaries still very much resemble the side that went down just 18 months ago. Their signings have been uninspiring (Youssouf Mulumbu and Graham Dorrans anyone), while their manager is out of his depth. The Eagles look one of the bets of the weekend at 19/10.

Chelsea 7/20 | Draw 36/10 | Swansea 7/1

I was spot on last season with my pre-season wager on Chelsea to take home the title. In the end they crossed the line at a canter, and were comfortably the best side in the land. However, a summer that has included only the capture of Radamel Falcao (on loan) and Stoke ‘keeper Asmir Begovic has failed to strengthen their position. Throw in the loss of Peter Cech to Arsenal and it’s fair to suggest they’re in a worse off position than they were 12 months ago. They were undercooked in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal and were largely anonymous in the final third without the influential Diego Costa. Swansea showed last season they have the grind to go with the guile in away victories at The Emirates and Old Trafford. Under 2.5 goals at evens seems the way to go here, while the draw is available at a tasty 36/10.

Sunday 9th August

Arsenal 1/4 | Draw  9/2 | West Ham 97/10

Arsenal can win the title this year. The signing of Petr Cech can be as influential as that of Edwin van der Sar at Manchester United, who went on to win league and European titles in his later years. Arsene Wenger’s first victory over Jose Mourinho at his 14th attempt showed just what a difference he could make. Arsenal of old would’ve capitulated under the second half pressure. Cech was unflappable and those around him seemed to stand just a little taller, a little firmer. If they can start the new season the way they ended the old, the 4/1 on offer for them to be champions won’t last very long. West Ham should provide little challenge on Sunday, especially given their poor recent record against their London rivals. Arsenal on the halftime-fulltime Double Chance is the way to go here at 15/20. 

Newcastle 19/10 | Draw 21/10 | Southampton 29/20

New season, new hope. It’s the same old story at St James’ Park. Gone is John Carver, the self-proclaimed “best coach in the Premier League”. In his place, the Wally with the Brolly. They sure know how to pick’em up north. Steve McLaren has brought in some seemingly talented footballers from the Eredivisie, but we all know that’s a bit of a hit-and-miss endeavour. One man who got it right is Southampton coach Ronald Koeman, who’ll be in the opposition dugout on Sunday. Koeman masterminded a revolution after last season’s clear-out sale and has been busy again following the sales of Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin. The Saints did the double over Newcastle last term, making the away win a decent wager at 29/20.

Stoke City 21/10 | Draw 9/4 | Liverpool 5/4

Arguably the pick of the opening weekend’s fixtures sees Liverpool return to the scene of last season’s disastrous conclusion. Five-nil down at half-time, the Reds went on to lose 6-1 in Steven Gerrard’s final appearance for the club. It was a shameful performance and one that very nearly cost Brendan Rodgers his job. The goodwill of the previous season’s title challenge spared him, but good will is at an all-time low. It was business as usual in the summer. Sell a star player and hope to offset the loss with a host of up-and-comers. Because this time it will work, according to the eternally optimistic Rodgers. It better, or he’ll be out of a job come November. He’s favourite to win the sack race, and rightfully so, especially after they go down to Stoke on Sunday.

Monday 10th August

West Brom 4/1 | Draw 28/10 | Man City 13/20 

Manchester City were a major disappointment last term, relinquishing their title without much in the way of resistance. Vincent Kompany struggled for form and fitness, while Yaya Toure showed that he is indeed human afterall. The capture of Raheem Sterling, while promising, isn’t likely to lift the quality of their squad from the outset. There is still an over reliance on Sergio Aguero, which could come back to haunt them. It’s a Monday night start for them, with a trip to the Hawthorns. Tony Pulis has done what Tony Pulis does and transformed West Brom into a solid, uncompromising outfit who take pride in the suffering of opposition. Just good old-fashioned English football. It could well be enough to earn them a draw, which can be found at 28/10.

When all is said and done, it is the opening weekend of the season and pretty much anything can happen. Who knows? That is what gambling is all about. Ho ho ho. The early season is a time for rash predictions and long-term bets. So why not throw some cash around? I’ve already lumped on Arsenal for the title. Call me crazy, but I think it’s their year. Elsewhere, Liverpool will miss out on Champions League qualification and Falcao will score less than five league goals. I’ll leave you with that. We’ve still got plenty more to come. Sala Kahle. 

Written by Commodore Vegas
Follow him on Twitter here!

EPL Picks
Man United WIN 11/20
Bournemouth WIN 19/20
Everton WIN 7/10
Leicester WIN 9/10
Crystal Palace WIN 19/10
Chelsea UNDER 2.5 GOALS 1/1
Arsenal HT-FT WIN 15/20
Southampton WIN 29/20
Stoke City WIN 21/10
West Brom DRAW 28/10