Bookmakers have released odds for the 2017-18 season and remarkably Chelsea are not the favourites, despite storming to the title this season. Instead the favourites are Pep Guardiola`s Man City, who finished well behind the Blues this season and ended the campaign trophyless.
Chelsea are not even second favourites. That honour goes to Man Utd, who have finished sixth this season, more than 20 points behind Antonio Conte`s men.
A trawl through websites shows that Man City are the outright favourites at 9/4, followed by Man Utd at 11/4 and then Chelsea at 3/1. Tottenham, the only team that ever looked like catching Chelsea this season, are all the way out at 9/1, followed by Liverpool at 11/1 and Arsenal at 14/1. It shows what confidence the bookmakers have in the abilities of Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to turn things around in Manchester.
City started the 2016-17 season as favourites and Man Utd were the second favourites, but they made a mockery of that by putting in some disastrous performances. Man Utd have been poor going forwards, and Man City have been terrible at the back. Both teams need to be seriously overhauled in the summer, and it seems that is what the bookies are counting on.
Last summer Man Utd broke the world transfer record to bring in Paul Pogba, while they also spent a tonne of money on Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, and gave free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic an outrageous contract to snap him up. Mourinho is expected to go on another spending spree this summer.
His charges have been dogged defensively this term and every bit as well-organised as you would expect from a Mourinho team, but they have struggled to find the net and that has cost them, resulting in a league high number of draws. Mourinho may well break the world transfer record again to sign Antoine Griezmann this summer, and he is certainly likely to improve them.
Man City also broke the bank to sign John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Sadio Mane, Claudio Bravo, Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan, and those signings were not entirely successful. Mane has looked good, while Gabriel is full of promise, but Nolito has barely registered and Gundogan has been unfortunate with injury, while serious improvement is required from Stones.
Guardiola needs to bolster his defence and sign a new keeper as Bravo has been a disaster. They will spend big once again and should kick on next season.
But the 3/1 on Chelsea looks a fantastic bet right now. The Blues swept to victory, and while they will have the Champions League to distract them next season, they too will improve in the summer.
Conte has done a magnificent job with the team he inherited, but he can do a better job when he puts more of his stamp on the side.
Defensive reinforcements are likely, as are attackers, but they already have a strong squad full of winners, the league`s best midfielder in N`Golo Kante and its most devastating forward in Eden Hazard.
They taught the Manchester clubs a footballing lesson this season and could well do so again next time around. A small stake on Spurs at 11/1 might not be a bad idea either, as they finished third last season and second this time around, and their young stars are constantly improving.