The relegation battles in the Premier League are often more intense and exciting that what goes on at the top end of the table. At the closing of the 2012/13 Premier League season, the top flight lost Reading, QPR and, after eight seasons, the plucky Wigan, whose survival skills finally evaded them. Replacing them in England’s top flight for next season will be Championship winners Cardiff, runners up Hull and play-off final winners Crystal Palace. So those three will be taking on the might of the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, while scrapping it out, no doubt against the likes of Norwich and Stoke for valuable survival points. Without too much surprise it is all three of the newly promoted clubs who are favourites to take the drop back down.
To some people’s surprise, it is Crystal Palace who are favourites to get relegated. Ian Holloway’s men battled their way past favourites Watford in the Championship Play Off Final at Wembley. It is perceived that Palace will have a harder time staying up in the Premier League than they had actually getting there. Given the fact that they only won one of their last ten matches in the regular Championship season and their history in the Premier League isn’t great, it is a little understandable. Each of their four previous promotions to the Premier League lasted just one season. Despite receiving a huge windfall in cash to help their transition, it may be invested more in a new ground than overhauling the squad.
Hull City are second favourites with bookmakers to go straight back down as well. The Tigers fought hard and grabbed a hold of second place where other promotion candidates were tripping up. They hung on in there in the end and now a massive challenge awaits them as well. Will they have the kind of resources necessary for life in the Premier League? The same question perhaps can be asked of Cardiff, but the Welsh club will likely have a deeper well of resources to call upon to help them stay afloat. They are the only ones of the three newly promoted sides to actually be at positive odds in the 2013/14 Premier League relegation betting.
A lot more interest and value will come from figuring out which ones of the established top flight clubs could have a bad season. Sunderland and Newcastle don’t look that likely to get drawn into relegation worries, and Aston Villa showed a lot of promise towards the back end of last term. Stoke, now without Tony Pulis, who was by and large their whole identity, could struggle to keep a grip on their usual mid table security. Norwich do have limited funds to invest in their squad and are probable relegation candidates. The unpredictable Fulham, another end of season strugglers, too have been starting to gain a little more interest in the relegation market. But in the early market showing, the three newly promoted clubs are clear favourites.
With Manchester United and Manchester City looking front runners, along with Chelsea to muscle their way to the 2013/14 Premier League title next season, perhaps some better value in can be found in your Top Four Finish betting. While this may not immediately jump out as a valid category for picking up value in, but given the tight running in the 2012/13 season it could well be. Essentially, as many will be predicting again, it will be a case of trying to fit five pegs into four holes. They aren’t all going to fit, plus you never know who else may spring a surprise on the season.
Naturally everyone will be expecting the two Manchester clubs to be occupying half of the top four spots in next season’s Premier League. Chelsea, with a strong finish to last season, along with some deep pockets should be in high enough favour, but that didn’t help them just two seasons ago when they finished sixth. Still, they have the core of a very good team there and should be a solid candidate to land a top four finish. But behind those three, things could start to look a little grey and shaded. You have the options of Arsenal and Tottenham who will, projectively, be battling it out for the remaining top four spot.
Of course the importance of landing a top four spot is huge, as it means a place, and a lucrative one at that, in the Champions League. So there is a tremendous amount to play for, even if a genuine shot at the Premier League title flies out of the window. The Gunners look pretty decent value ahead of their North London rivals, as the situation turned out in their favour again in the 2012/13 EPL season. But Tottenham weren’t far behind, and arguably the destiny of Spurs could all be in the hands of Gareth Bale and whether he is there for the duration of the season. A Bale inspired Tottenham could push hard again, but they are naturally trading a little bit larger than Arsenal in this market.
But perhaps a lot of punters will be tempted by Liverpool in 2013/14 Premier League Top Four finish betting. Hard not to be, one supposes. They have been laying claims that they are good enough to get back into the big four, and there were patches during the 2012/13 season that Brendan Rodgers had the Anfield club going in the right direction. Like Spurs, it could be important for them to hold on to their best player, Luis Suarez. Add a few important pieces and they could make a very decent force of themselves. With Everton losing David Moyes to Manchester United, the Toffees have drifted far from the top four picture for next season.
The summer of 2013, sandwiched in between European Championship and World Cup years, will at least get some international football to be enjoyed. This will come in the form of the FIFA Confederations Cup, which pulls together the continental champions from across the world. The action will be taking place in Brazil, so it will be a good tester ahead of next summer’s FIFA World Cup at least. Because of the varying weight of challengers coming in from the around the world, the eight nation competition may not be that hard to predict. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value around.
As the next World Cup hosts, Brazil get their place at the tournament and they are also the defending champions. The Selecao have won the FIFA Confederations Cup more times than any other nation, three times before, as they head to the ninth edition. As hosts of the next World Cup, Brazil’s competitive action has been very limited, and the international friendlies which they have been playing hasn’t produced the kind of results and powerful winning touch that they have come to be associated with. The pressure is going to be on to get things right here in what could be their most important warm up ahead of Brazil 2014. They are trading as 11/8 favourites to win the tournament, helped by home soil.
Group A: Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Italy
Group B: Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti, Nigeria
But the challenge of European and World Champions Spain, probably won’t be far behind them. Vicente del Bosque’s squad is still packed with talent, and they arguably have something that the current Brazilian squad don’t, and that is a proven winning mentality. That may make a huge difference at the end of the day. Spain have tweaked their system to cope with aging legs over time, but still they find a way to get things done, as proven at the 2012 European Championships, where many thought they would be a spent force. Trading at 13/8 second favourites in 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup betting and with all of the focus and pressure on Brazil, who would put it past Spain to sneak home?
The format of the competition is two groups of four for the first round with the top two sides from each group moving ahead to the knockout semi finals. So there is group betting to look at as well, again Spain and Brazil being favourites in their respective pools.
The rest of field is made up by AFC Asian Cup winners Japan, CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, Copa America holders Uruguay, OFC Nations Cup winners Tahiti, Africa Cup of Nations winners Nigeria and Italy. Italy are there because Spain hold both the European Championship and World Cup titles and winners of both competitions earn spots in the FIFA Confederations Cup. With Spain holding both titles, the extra spot was given to Italy as Euro 2012 runners up.
The Azzurri though perhaps are the best value shot behind Brazil and Spain, as they have good experience and are in good form themselves. They do have it in them to turn up and frustrate the other nations and they aren’t in bad shape. They will perhaps take precedence over the fading force that is Uruguay. Sadly Uruguay have failed to build on their fantastic 2011 Copa America win despite having an exciting and talented squad. They aren’t firing at their best. The rest of the field look to be a long way short of the big guns in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
You can find Confederations Cup Football Betting Odds here