Because less players equal more space to pass and move

Will Spurs be the surprise package?

Most years in the Premier League see a surprise package; one or two teams punching a long way above or below their expected weight in actuality – compared with the pre-season expectations.

At the top of the table, the season in prospect looks like a fascinating contest to be scrapped out by the big five, Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal – all of whom have made very significant moves in the transfer market already – with surely more to come.

This season, however, we don’t have as many managerial changes within those sides – with only Louis van Gaal making his debut at Old Trafford. Van Gaal is also to play catch-up with his peers in the transfer stakes, having had the distraction of the Dutch World Cup challenge to deal with first.

As things stand, the market sees the main contest being fought out between Chelsea and Man City. The gambling exchange Betfair has Chelsea just pipping City – with odds of around 2/1 and 9/4 respectively. There’s then a gap to Man United at around 5-1, who will be a different prospect under their new boss and are a bit of an unknown quantity.

Then Arsenal, bolstered by their big-name signing Alexis Sanchez, are 6/1, whilst Liverpool are out to 10/1, despite signing a number of new players themselves, due to the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

No other team is given a realistic chance by the market. The sixth favourites currently are Spurs at a whopping 70/1 with Betfair. This looks far too big a price; Spurs will be an entirely different proposition under Mauricio Pochettino who worked wonders at Southampton.

Spurs have a strong squad with some big names and you can bet your bottom dollar that Pochettino will get them playing very differently. Don’t forget to bear in mind that Tottenham finished a respectable sixth in any case last season.

Caption – The mood in the Tottenham’s camp will no doubt be positive thanks to the news that French shot-stopper Hugo Lloris has signed a new five-year deal at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have strength in depth
So we don’t know exactly what we’ll get at White Hart Lane, but it will be different and exciting – and will probably be exactly what the Spurs fans are longing for. They will surely spring a few surprises and could be the team that really out-performs this year.

Of course, the great thing about making a shrewd punt on the Premier League with Betfair is that your team doesn’t actually have to win anything – which is the whole point here. If Spurs do better than the market expects (let’s say for example that they were fourth around Christmas, playing well, and five points off the leaders) then the odds would be, perhaps, 20-1.

In this case, you could either lay the value of your own stake back so you lose nothing – letting the remainder ride to see what happens, or you could lay more or all of the bet back to ensure a profit regardless of where Tottenham end the season. What’s more, the new look Betfair site displays these options very clearly for you.

Spurs will almost certainly surprise a few people one way or another. The Spurs fans and Board aren’t exactly renowned for their patience with managers as Tim Sherwood would no doubt be able to testify. So Pochettino will know that his team really have to hit the ground running to help make sure he’s not one of the inevitable early casualties in the Premier League Managers’ sack race.

Pochettino is currently around 20-1 with Betfair for that particular ignominious award, whilst West Brom’s boss Alan Irvine currently leads the market at around 4/1, followed by Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce. Of these, Alan Pardew looks the best value at around 7/1 with Betfair (the odds are shifting continually of course).

It wouldn’t take much for the pressure from the Newcastle fans to become too great for owner Mike Ashley to bear. The Magpies finished very weakly last season, and Pardew has made a number of moves in the transfer market already. But he isn’t universally well-respected by the St James’ Park faithful and anything less than a very solid start to the season may not be tolerated – despite the whopping eight-year deal he signed back in 2012.

Overall then – the surprise package on the positive side looks likely to be Tottenham – with Newcastle doing the opposite.