Thu, Aug 28, 2:22pm by Dominic Ciconte
WE’RE only two weeks into the 2014/15 English Premier League season, but the punters have already decided it’s a two horse race between glamour clubs Chelsea and Manchester City.
Both sides are undefeated and both play tantalising football. They play football that has the fans begging for more. And, most importantly, they play football that has the punters prepared to splurge their hard-earned on their title hopes.
AustralianGambling chose Manchester City to win the title at the start of the season and they’ve done nothing to suggest they can’t make it two in two years.
A tasty $3.40 with Sportsbet.com.au before Match Day 1, you now won’t find much better than the $2.90 at Sportingbet.com.au with the bookies.
City accounted for the first big scalp of the season, disposing of Liverpool, 3-1 on Tuesday morning, after raiding Newcastle, 2-0, at St James’ Park in the season-opener.
A healthy Stevan Jovetic has so far been akin to a new signing for City, his double against Liverpool on the weekend underlining just how important he will be to the Sky Blues’ quest for back to back titles.
Jovetic’s availability in two straight games, after he spent most of last season injured, has warmed the heart of manager Manuel Pellegrini, even if he isn’t surprised about how well he is playing.
“Jovetic couldn’t play two or three games in a row last season, due to injury, but I knew him before that and I am sure he is a very important player for us,” Pellegrini said of the Montenegrin star.
The manager is also pleased his side has made it through the first two weeks with a clean slate, after a less than ideal preparation, due to injuries and many of his stars having FIFA World Cup campaigns in Brazil.
“We had a very difficult start to the season, part of the squad not 100 per cent fit, so it was very important to win six points from the first two games, especially away Newcastle, which is a very difficult place to play away,” he said.
“And (against Liverpool) we were playing against a very strong team that did well last year, so to beat them 3-1 was very important for us.”
A plus for City’s tight transfer sanctions is that there has been very little overhaul to a team that won last year’s title – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But City are not the favourites to take home England’s most prized trophy. That honour belongs to the mighty Chelsea, with a swag of elite recruits that has produced some titillating football to start the season.
Skinny at $2.90 with Sportingbet.com.au before a ball was kicked, the punters have come hard for The Pensioners, most of our recommended bookmakers forced to tighten them in to $2.30.
Although it’s been a far easier ride for Chelsea to kick-off the year – a pair of wins over newly promoted Burnley and Leicester City – it’s little wonder why there is so much love.
Barca acquisition Cesc Fabregas might be the best midfielder in the Premier League – although the bloke next to him, Eden Hazard, would probably have something to say about that. And Diego Costa has been a monster. If you didn’t get on him for the golden boot when we tipped him at $8 with Sportingbet.com.au you’ll be kicking yourself – he’s now in to $5 after goals in both fixtures.
Captain John Terry is all over his new front man.
“I did not realise how good Diego Costa was, even after playing against him in the Champions League,” Terry said.
“You will see that once the full fitness comes. There is still more to come from him. He has been unbelievable.
“When they hand the bibs out in training, you want him to be on your side.
“He looks ready made for the Premier League.
“We will all be surprised at just how good he is. He is quick, powerful and more importantly, can score goals.”
The gorgeous, fast-passing flair of Chelsea is going nowhere, according to Mourinho, and that’s why the money has come for the Blue Lions.
Arsenal ($9 with Sportsbet.com.au) has sputtered, scraping over the line against Crystal Palace and then coming back from 2-0 down to draw with Everton. Its key signing Alexis Sanchez having a tough start to Premier League life and Olivier Giroud’s foot injury sparking rumours Arsene Wenger will launch an audacious bid for Paris St Germain star Edinson Cavani.
Tottenham is the biggest mover, slashed from $51 to $29 with Sportingbet.com.au, although you can still get $41 at Sportsbet.com.au.
It’s had a pair of wins and sits atop the Premier League, having not conceded a goal.
Much maligned Erik Lamela appears to have finally settled in to the Premier League after a miserable 2013/14 season and he could be the key that unlocks Champions League football at White Hart Lane.
Maybe it wasn’t all David Moyes’ fault at Manchester United?
Louis Van Gaal’s start as manager has been anything but auspicious, the Red Devils dropping their opening day clash with Swansea at Old Trafford and then sputtering to a 1-1 draw at lowly Sunderland.
He’ll be hoping Argentine Angel Di Maria’s $109 million move from Real Madrid will go toward fixing their woes, but the silky midfielder can’t really remedy the lack of leadership down back.
Manchester United’s odds have doubled on the back of its woeful start, from $6 with Sportingbet.com.au to $12. The Red Devils could be worth a tiny drink if they keep spending big and sign a centre back and a striker who can run quicker than a broken down car.
Liverpool ($12 out to $17 with Sportsbet.com.au) has signed a lunatic to replace a lunatic after beating Southampton (Liverpool A) on opening day and then falling to City.
Polarising figure Mario Balotelli will wear red, replacing cannibalistic star striker Luis Suarez.
If anyone can go near replacing the 31 goals the Uruguayan slotted last year, it’s Super Mario, but can he keep his head on the pitch?
Everton ($151 with TomWaterhouse.com) has also been busy, signing former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o on a free transfer. The Toffees have looked pretty dangerous up front, Gary Naismith chief in that, but only managed a pair of draws to start the year.
Swansea is the early surprise packet, its mighty win over United on match day one, coupled with a 1-0 result over Burnley putting it right in the Champions League firing line, fourth.
Sportingbet.com.au has knocked a whopping $500 off its quote, the Swans in to $1001 from $1501.
*Provided by Tomwaterhouse.com
Manchester City $2.90
Manchester United $12
All others $2001 or above
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