Premier League: Arsenal top four finish – 1.50
Despite narrowly missing out on the title, Arsenal enjoyed an excellent 2022-23 season and will be back in the Champions League for the first time since 2017. The Gunners amassed 15 more points than they did in 21-22; however fell away at the end under the pressure of the Manchester City juggernaut.
They will fancy their chances of running City close again and although we believe they will just miss out again on the title, a second consecutive top four finish looks a good bet.
Squad depth at the Emirates has improved, meaning the likes of Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber will be rotated into the side rather than Fabio Vieria and Rob Holding, both of whom struggled last term. The marquee addition thus far though is Declan Rice and the former West Ham United captain could be the man that takes the Gunners to the next level.
Arsenal had the second youngest squad in the Premier League last term and the experience of going close in a title race should put them in good stead going forward. The attacking trio of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard are all 24 or younger and they will all look to build on their best individual campaigns to date.
Most of Arsenal’s rivals for a top four spot have fresh issues they will need to overcome going into the new season.
Chelsea and Tottenham go into the new campaign without European football which could help their cause; however both have new managers and time will be needed to adjust to new philosophies. Liverpool should be stronger than last term, but could see a whole new midfield which again won’t click overnight, whilst Newcastle United will need to adjust to playing two games a week next term.
Championship: Southampton top six finish – 1.72
Southampton were desperately poor last season, comfortably finishing bottom of the Premier League and a return to the second tier for the first time since 2012.
Russell Martin has been entrusted with getting them back into the Premier League at the first time of asking. He has had good moments in his fledgling managerial career without really excelling; however Southampton have got a manager in with a clear philosophy and expect the Saints to top the possession table.
It’s probable both Romeo Lavia and James Ward-Prowse will depart the club before the season starts; however should either remain then they have a midfield option far too good for the level they’d be playing at.
Southampton scored just 36 goals last season; however they have some attacking options who should excel in the second tier. Kamaldeen Sulemana and Paul Onuachu were surprisingly under used having joined in January and I’d expect Martin to deploy them more. Adam Armstrong and Che Adams both struggled for goals in the Premier League; however have very good records when playing in the league below.
Leicester City are perhaps the most likely side to secure a top six spot; however Southampton are better value and we are expecting at least a play-off position.
League One: Bolton Wanderers top six finish – 1.83
In the third tier, Bolton Wanderers are our pick to secure a play-off spot and we expect them to get in and around their 81 returns of last term.
They have lost an excellent goalkeeper in James Trafford, whose performances for Bolton and the England Under-21 national team, means it’s probable he’ll get a Premier League gig. Defensively they were excellent last season, with only Ipswich Town conceding fewer goals and even with a change of keepers they should remain solid.
Josh Dacres-Cogley and Dan Nlundulu are the main additions so far, with the former excelling at League Two level with Tranmere Rovers.
Perhaps the best thing Bolton have going for them this season, is that the division is much weaker this time around. Promoted sides Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich got 101 and 98 points respectively, whilst Sheffield Wednesday, who won the play-offs, had a record return for a side that didn’t finish in the top two.
Barnsley who finished fourth are weaker on paper this season, whilst Peterborough, another play-off side last term, have lost key personnel to Championship sides. This combined with the fact relegated Wigan Athletic will start the new season with an eight point deduction, whilst Reading are another club in turmoil off the pitch.
Manager Ian Evatt has been with the club since 2020 and has already led the club to one promotion in his tenure. We can’t guarantee they’ll be a Championship side come 2024-25, but they look best placed to finish in the top six.
League Two: Stockport County top seven finish – 1.57
Only a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out denied Stockport County back to back promotions as they were beaten in the League Two play-off final last season.
None of their key personnel have departed the club and their squad has improved if anything with the addition of Nick Powell the stand out signing. Powell was a good player at Championship level last term and would be playing at that level or even higher were it not due to injuries. Should he remain fit, he should be far too good for the fourth tier.
Key striker Kyle Wootton missed the run in for Stockport due to injury and his return ahead of the new season will be a big boost. Paddy Madden’s form dropped off significantly towards the end of the previous campaign, but should he re-find his best then he’s another player who shouldn’t be this low in the football pyramid.
Wrexham and Notts County’s return to the football league increases the quality of League Two significantly this season, but we still see Stockport as favourites.
Fourfold pays 7.46