After a summer spent salivating at the prospect of a five-team Premier League title race this season, it was a little dispiriting to see Chelsea and Manchester City look so much better than the rest in the first round of games.
The Citizens bested a Newcastle side chockfull of impressive summer signings 2-0 at St James’ Park, while Chelsea’s new Spanish duo Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas dismantled Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor.
Meanwhile erstwhile contenders Arsenal and Liverpool both laboured to home wins against Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively, while a supposedly rejuvenated Manchester United slumped to a 2-1 loss to Swansea at Old Trafford.
However, while the Sky and regular Blues might be too strong for the rest in the title stakes, there is an interesting bet available in the market without Man City and Chelsea based on the opening weekend’s action.
Tottenham Hotspur are 11/1 to win the league minus the two favourites, and after beating West Ham 1-0 at the Boleyn Ground in their first match, they look closer to Arsenal and Liverpool than many would have expected.
Spurs played much of the game with 10-men after Kyle Naughton was sent off the 29th-minute, but held firm and struck late on after their hosts had a man dismissed themselves.
Although the attacking football Mauricio Pochettino is expected to bring was not much in evidence, Spurs fans will be delighted at their improved defensive resilience.
Last term the Lilywhites made more errors leading to goals than any other side in Europe’s major five leagues with 21, six more than second-place Sochaux, who were relegated from Ligue 1.
Match-winner Eric Dier looks a fine recruit able to play at either centre-back or right-back, while both new signing Ben Davies and Jan Vertonghen will be fighting for a starting spot against QPR.
If Pochettino can also sign compatriot Mateo Musacchio form Villarreal, Spurs’ defence might actually become a key strength, especially with flying Frenchman Hugo Lloris rounding off the back five.
A sturdy backline, coupled with an exciting young attack, might give Spurs a real chance of topping the league without City and Chelsea, while their 7/2 price to make the top four for a third time in six seasons also looks temptingly long.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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