4 Transfer Gambles Taken by Premier League Clubs This Summer

Another summer of big spending in the Premier League means inevitably means there will be transfer successes and flops.

As teams try to improve their lot or replace players that have left for new pastures, there are always risks attached with bringing in fresh faces. Some new arrivals may start out well and then tail off or take a while to bed in.
Which clubs look to have done risky deals and who are the players they have taken a punt on? We look at four examples as the 2018/19 season kicks off…

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

You might think describing a former PFA Player of the Year in Riyad Mahrez as a risky signing for reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, who are hot football betting favourites to retain their title at 4/6 with bet365, is bold. Ask yourself this, though; was it worth paying £60 million for the Algeria international when it’s going to take a lot for him just to break into the Etihad XI?

Money is no object for the mega-rich Middle Eastern owners of City, so Pep Guardiola has extra depth in attacking areas where there is already so much talent at his disposal. Mahrez may regret leaving Leicester City – who are certainly weakened without him – especially if he ends up on the bench at his new club, because the likes of Kevin De Buryne, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Raheem Sterling continue to perform.

Max Meyer( Crystal Palace)

As a highly-rated Schalke academy graduate, Max Meyer let his contract expire at the Gelsenkirchen club and left the Bundesliga this summer joining Crystal Palace on a free. Reports claim Meyer is on massive wages of £170,000 per week for his three-year contract at Selhurst Park which, although good for him and seemingly a coup for Roy Hodgson, is worth closer inspection.

Why haven’t the top clubs around Europe signed this midfield player who has been so promising since breaking through as a teenager ar Schalke? Meyer has scored just one Bundesliga goal in the last two seasons and made three assists, so should we believe the hype? It’s actually a monster gamble from the Eagles and veteran manager Hodgson.

Richarlison (Everton)

There’s no doubt new Everton boss Marco Silva brought the best out of top Brazilian prospect Richarlison in his debut Premier League campaign last season before Watford sacked him. The Toffees’ interest in the Portuguese coach seem to destabilise everything at Vicarage Road, however, when Ronald Koeman was axed on Merseyside last autumn.

Richarlison played every league game for the Hornets, but scored all five of his league goals (and made all but one of as many assists) in the first 13 matches of the season. That means he simply wasn’t doing it on the pitch for two-thirds of the campaign and Everton, who signed him in a deal potentially worth £50,000,000 and are chasing a top-six finish at 7/2, cannot afford to carry passengers on the wing.

Jack Wilshere (West Ham)

Anyone who has paid attention to the Premier League in recent years knows why this is risky. Jack Wilshere’s career has been hampered by injuries; so, even though he left Arsenal for London rivals West Ham on a free transfer, he’ll always have fitness question marks hanging over him.

What new Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini has to do is get the England midfielder to put a run of games together. If he can keep Wilshere off the treatment table and in his XI, then this could be a great signing, but doing that is far easier said than done, so this is a definite gamble.

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Wolves Are Heading To The Premier League With Big Ambitions

Wolverhampton Wanderers are on their way back to the Premier League, with Nuno Espirito Santo delivering promotion in his first year in English football. The Molineux outfit blitzed their way to the Championship title with three games to spare and are now gearing themselves up for a return to the top flight.

There is certainly a different feel around Molineux when compared to other promoted teams, with Wolves’ ambitious owners, Fosun, Nuno and his magnificent playing squad seeing the sky as the limit. Unlike many that earn promotion to the Premier League, survival will not be Wolves’ biggest aim – they will be aiming for the top half, with European football even on some people’s agenda.

That belief has come right from the top, with Wolves’ owners and the controversial Jorge Mendes, getting some of Europe’s finest young talent in alongside an inspiring young coach in Nuno.

The squad assembled at Molineux is perhaps the best the Championship has ever seen, with some experienced players like John Ruddy, Ryan Bennett and Danny Batth brought to a different level by the likes of Willy Boly, Helder Costa, Diogo Jota and, most of all, Ruben Neves.

Neves is the key that holds Wolves together, as he has shown all season. The 21-year-old midfielder, who cost Wolves a staggering £15.8m last summer, is going to be itching to get amongst the Premier League’s best and show his qualities, hopefully on the back of a successful World Cup.

Such is Neves’ talent, the likelihood is we will see him featuring in Portugal’s squad in Russia this summer, with the midfielder looking to help Cristiano Ronaldo and co, currently priced at 25/1 to win the World Cup with bet365’s international football betting market, back up the Euro 2016 they collected against the odds.

There is no doubt that Neves, formerly of Porto, has what it takes to play in an elite Premier League side, along with a number of his other teammates. They have shown an expansive style in the Championship this season, which has been combined with some gutsy defensive displays, notably when down to nine-men against Middlesbrough over the Easter period.

It is that mix of performances that will allow Wolves to compete in the Premier League, and also their ambitious owners, who it is impossible not to mention again. Over the last 18 months, they have gone big in the transfer window, bringing the likes of Neves, Helder Costa and Diogo Jota in, and it is likely we will see more big money spent in the coming summer.

Wolves are enjoying their moment, and rightly so, with the 2017/18 season one to remember. But now, focus will be slowly turning to the Premier League and an exciting journey that lies ahead.

Some of next season’s rivals will already be looking to get to that famous 40-point mark and guarantee safety, but that won’t be the case at Molineux. We might not have any real indication of the makeup of Wolves’ squad heading into the 2018/19 campaign, but one thing can be guaranteed, Nuno’s side will not be settling for 17th – they will want to make a lasting impression on the top flight.

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The 2018 Championship promotion race is on!

Having lost just three league encounters during the 2017-18 campaign so far, Wolverhampton Wanderers have already made a positive start to 2018, opening the New Year with a convincing 3-0 victory against Brentford at the Molineux Stadium. Extending their lead at the top of the Championship to an impressive 12 points, the side managed by Nuno Espirito Santo are beginning to run away with the title race.

After extending their unbeaten run to twelve games, ahead of the fixture away at Barnsley on 13th January, it’s no wonder that that Championship betting odds mark Wolves as 1/20 favourites for the title, and 1/200 certainties for promotion to the Premier League. Boasting a much greater goal difference than any other team in the English second tier with +30 already, they practically have one hand on the Championship trophy already.


Nevertheless, there remains fierce competition amongst the chasing pack, in the battle for second position and automatic promotion, with Derby County mounting a serious charge to reach the Premier League this season, having finished the 2016-17 campaign in a disappointing 9th position. Gary Rowett’s side were unbeaten throughout December 2017 and started 2018 with a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United on New Year’s Day.

One of the early season favourites for promotion, Cardiff City struggled in December 2017 and slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat in their first Championship fixture of 2018, suffering a 2-1 away defeat at QPR. Their boss Neil Warnock will need to use every ounce of his vast managerial experience to turn things around, and quickly, if his side are to avoid missing out on promotion again, because their current position in the play-off zone is by no means guaranteed.


Riding high in the Championship table and exceeding all expectations are Bristol City, who have also been exceptional in the EFL Cup this season in their march to the semi-finals, eliminating several Premier League sides along the way; including a stunning victory against Manchester United. However, cup success may have also taken their eye off the ball in the league, having ended 2017 with a home defeat against Championship leaders, Wolves, then opening 2018 with a dismal 5-0 thrashing suffered away at Aston Villa.

Indeed, that convincing win for Aston Villa was an important return to form for the side managed by Steve Bruce, pushing them back into the play-off zone and restoring much needed faith in the bid to bounce straight back to the Premier League. December 2017 was a month to forget, with just one win in six games, and if they’re to achieve their objective, improved consistency will be required in the second half of the campaign.


Holding out in 6th position and the final play-off spot at the start of 2018, are Leeds United, who started the campaign superbly with a run of seven games unbeaten, but hit a disastrous run of form through between the end of September and the start of November, with seven defeats in nine encounters. December was positive, with four wins on the spin, but once again the doubts have returned, especially after the embarrassing 2-1 FA Cup defeat against Newport County, who are struggling for survival in League Two.

Outside the play-off zone, there are plenty of teams ready to pounce. Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Preston, and even Fulham in 10th position at the start of 2018, are all within a couple of wins of rising amongst the top-six teams in the Championship. Indeed, between Derby County in 2nd position and Fulham, there’s only a difference of 10 points. That might seem like a wide margin at first glance, but with 60 points still to play for, the race for promotion remains completely wide open.

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Real Madrid Facing the Unthinkable

While they’ve not always claimed their domestic league title on a regular basis, we’ve become accustomed to seeing Real Madrid dominate in Europe, taking three Champions League trophies in four seasons. They’re still in the mix for European glory in 2017/18 but issues in La Liga means that the unthinkable may become a reality.

Could Real miss out on qualification for the Champions League next season? As they returned from the Spanish winter break in fourth place, there is much work to be done to book their customary place amongst Europe’s elite.

Dominant

Attention among the football betting community is starting to turn to the World Cup, with odds comparison site Oddschecker listing a number of free bet options for Russia 2018. Before that main event, there is much to be decided in Spain and in other domestic leagues around the world.

In La Liga, Barca started January with a 16-point lead over Real in what has been a dominant campaign so far for the Catalans. Real are a general 14/1 shot to win the title this season, but perhaps Barca are more concerned about the challenges from Atletico Madrid and Valencia, who sit in second and third respectively.

Meanwhile, fourth place would be enough to take Real Madrid into the early stages of the Champions League but they cannot afford to be complacent. Sevilla, Villarreal and Eibar all sit within five points of Zinedine Zidane’s men and harbour genuine ambitions of claiming that fourth slot.

Crucial Fixtures

A home defeat to Barcelona just before Christmas has rather summed up Real’s season so far as they went down 3-0 to their rivals while having Dani Carvajal sent off in the 63rd minute. If they are to stay in the top four, Zidane’s men simply must pick up points against the teams around them and January sees the side face crucial fixtures against Villarreal and Valencia.

Of course, the club can get back into the Champions League by winning it for the third time in succession. That would be an unprecedented event and Madrid’s form in the group phase makes that far from certain. Real were taken apart by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, failed to finish top of their group and as a result face a tough tie against high-flying Paris St Germain in the last 16.

As a club known for a lack of patience, it’s a surprise to some that Zidane is still in the manager’s chair after such a poor start to the 2017/18 campaign. As one of Real Madrid’s greatest ever players, ‘Zizou’ is perhaps being given more time to resolve these issues than others may have been afforded.

Naturally, there is enough time to turn things around but with a successful defence of their La Liga title now looking doomed, the club simply must focus on their remaining games as the Champions League just wouldn’t be the same without Real Madrid.

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Conte’s Chelsea in Driving Seat for Premier League Title Triumph

Simply put, Chelsea have been outstanding so far this season. Antonio Conte’s Italian revolution is well and truly underway at Stamford Bridge and the Blues are reaping rewards from his varied and extensive skillset in the dugout.

Since taking over at the helm, Conte has taken this Chelsea side from the brink of disaster to eleven consecutive Premier League wins. The Blues are now eyeing up Arsenal’s all-time top-flight record of successive victories and a fifth Premier League title could follow.

It is easy to forget that this is Conte’s first season in charge of a major club side outside of his native Italy – and that is testament to his ability to adapt and tweak his system and style to suit the English game.

Ultimately, Conte has managed to maintain his Italian principles of solid, consistent defending but has incorporated Premier League traditions of playing attacking, free-flowing football. This unique blend has confused their rivals and the Blues, who have now 11 on the spin, are looking unbeatable.

Chelsea’s recent run has been sensational to say the least but it is the manner of these wins that make them all the more impressive. Conte’s men have scored 25 goals during this spell whilst conceding just two – keeping nine clean sheets in the process.

If the former Italy boss can keep his players focused on the task at hand, the title race could be all but over by mid-April. The Blues have already built a six-point lead over nearest rivals Liverpool and both Manchester City and Arsenal are already feeling the heat.

As of December 22nd, Conte’s men are priced at 10/11 to win the title with Betway and plenty of neutrals will be backing Chelsea after their solid start to the campaign. The Blues have lost just once so far this season and that 3-0 defeat to Arsenal was the catalyst for Conte’s revolution to begin.

Prior to that defeat, the Italian was following English football’s tradition of playing four at the back but Chelsea have now reverted to a brand new 3-4-3 system and the rest of the Premier League just cannot figure out how to play against it.

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Eventually, teams will grow accustomed to Chelsea’s system but the Blues have enough quality in their ranks to adapt if needs be. Conte has managed to take Victor Moses, a player who made just one solitary performance for the club last season, and transform him into a reliable wing-back in the space of just three months.

By the same token, former Bolton Wanderers star Marcos Alonso is holding his own on a weekly basis. While he was touted as a superb prospect for the future, nobody expected Conte to get this much out of the Spaniard in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

But without beating about the bush, it would be fair to state that the biggest difference-maker has been Diego Costa. The Spain star has always played with vigour and determination and his new manager has channelled that aggression into goals – and Chelsea fans are now back on the Costa wagon after a hit-and-miss 2015/16 campaign.

Costa has already notched 13 league goals this season; more than anybody else in the top flight. The Golden Boot is well within his sights but a Premier League triumph is the main objective; Conte has got him playing for the shirt rather than for his own glory…

Chelsea still have plenty of work to do in the second half of the season but Conte will be ready for the title push. He has been there and done it all during his stints with Juventus and Italy but a Premier League crown in his first year in England would certainly send out a statement of intent. At 47 years old, Conte is here for the long run and an early title triumph could signal the start of an era of Blues dominance.

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