England’s Premier League soccer season kicked off with a shock today as the fairytale champions of last season, Leicester City, were beaten by the relegation favorites, Hull City.
There has been much interest in the Leicester City story in the USA, including talks of a Hollywood film, and all the offshore sportsbooks have reported increased handle on England’s Premier League from their American client base.
After Leicester’s giant-killing exploits, and they defied sportsbooks’ odds of 5000/1 to win the league last season, it was a case of the biter getting bitten. Beleaguered Hull, who are manager-less, deservedly won by the margin of 2-1. The underdogs were favorites for relegation, just as Leicester had been one year ago but they ‘did a Leicester’ on the unlikely champions.
Hull’s supporters stayed away from the game in their droves, as a protest at the club’s rudderless management and the lack of financial investment by its owners in a depleted squad. Many fans will be regretting that decision after they missed an unheralded but famous victory by a team that was driven by Leicester-like team spirit.
It was an ironic and ominous start for manager Claudio Ranieri’s men, especially when you consider they only lost two matches in the whole of last season. European teams will hardly be quaking in their collective boots at the prospect of meeting Leicester in the Champions League.
The Foxes’ odds to win the Premier League are out to 80/1, and there will not be too many takers after this fairly abject performance. It was one in which star striker Jamie Vardy looked out of form, missing a couple of gilt-edged chances, including an embarrassing air-shot.
Vardy was recently in Hollywood talking to film producers, who are planning to document the striker’s rise from non-league obscurity to hero of British soccer. But, if Leicester prove to be little more than one-season wonders, the momentum behind such grandiose projects might just falter.
Leicester’s odds for relegation (the bottom three teams go down at the end of the season) have shortened from what had been an already fairly insulting 14/1 to just 8/1 in places. The sportsbooks are taking no chances with Hull and still have them at odds-on for the drop.
It is a long season and possibly too early to write off the champions just yet, but some pundits will be arguing that the wheels have come off the Leicester bandwagon. With new managers for both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, most will expect a return to form for the more traditional powerhouse teams of the EPL.
Arsenal are still managed by Arsene Wenger, who is desperately seeking a striker, and has been linked with Leicester’s star midfielder Riyad Mahrez. The window for transfers closes at the end of August so there is still plenty of time for that deal to be done. Mahrez, who failed to shine in the Hull debacle, may not fancy the prospect of going down with the Leicester ship.
Liverpool are another team who might get involved in the dog-fight for Premier League honors. Unlike last year, Jurgen Klopp has had the benefit of pre-season to hone his side into a better unit than last season but he will need to.
If you are one of the many Americans who have turned their attention to the English soccer scene as a new source of betting opportunity, then you will not be short of offshore sportsbooks to choose from. All the top online US- facing bookies listed on this site now have comprehensive coverage of the English Premier League betting lines for both outright winner and game markets and that includes plenty more than just the moneyline odds.