WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO MENTION ARSENAL?
Here’s how the betting markets see the outcome of the Premier League season, using the “more-or-less” score from the Sporting Index as the projected total number of points:
Projected number of points
1. Manchester City: 91 points
2. Arsenal: 82.
3. Liverpool: 71.
4. Tottenham: 68
5-6. Chelsea and Manchester United: 67
7. Newcastle: 66
For a team currently in first place with a two-point lead, falling nine points behind could be a disappointing result. For a team that has not reached the Champions League since 2015, a comfortable second place is a huge success.
With Gabriel Jesus in attack and William Saliba in defense adding to the team’s young and gaining core, the Canaries look like they are back among the best teams in the world.
But, as we have seen over the past five years, simply being one of the best teams in the world is rarely enough to compete with the truly best team in the world for a season of 38 games.
WILL LIVERPOOL BE ABLE TO PULL THEMSELVES TOGETHER?
Based on the above predictions, the market is still clinging to Liverpool’s past results, remembering how they almost won the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Champions League Cup in one season.
Well, uh… they’re only eighth in points, fifth in goals, and seventh in fewest goals this season, and that’s not because they’re just unlucky: their xG expected goals per game ratio is still only the sixth highest in the league.
But all this ignores the fact that Liverpool scored 15 of their 18 points in the group stage of the Champions League – only Bayern has more – and that they have shown a difference of plus 5.5 xG (second only to City, Napoli, Bayern and Real Madrid) in those six games.
They were one of the best teams in the Champions League and a team just above average in the Premier League.
Put it all together, and the base level of the team looks much better than their position in the APL table.
Then add to all that injuries – only two field players, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, have played at least 80% of the available minutes in the league – and you can imagine how this team will take off in the second half of the season.
WILL JUDE BELLINGHAM STAY PUT?
You can almost be sure that Bellingham is the next real superstar to come on the market, so where will he go?
Well, it seems that Bellingham’s move to Liverpool has been one of soccer’s worst-kept secrets in the last year or so.
The only thing Liverpool seemed to lack last season was a versatile third midfielder who could cover territory behind Salah and up to defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, as well as make leaps forward to score goals, create chances and put defenses out of action.
They could wait, but the longer you wait, the more soccer games happen, the more things change, and the more other teams may appear on the horizon.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NEWCASTLE?
No one expected Newcastle to do so well and so quickly. After 14 games, Newcastle is in third place – and that’s no fluke. They also have the third best goal difference and xG ratio in the league.
Nevertheless, it seems that this combination of youth and veterans is not enough to turn Newcastle into one of the best teams in the league so early on, and betting market predictions do suggest that they will cool down a bit during the remainder of the season. Their lack of midweek European Cup games has certainly helped them as well.
But despite the fact that Newcastle is not claiming superstars and has not completely changed its starting lineup, it is already a legitimate contender for a place in the Champions League.
Given that the club now has more buying power than any sports team on planet Earth, this is a frightening thought for everyone else in England and Europe.