Sunderland achieved a 13th-place finish last term, but a vast improvement both in terms of performances and results was evident since Martin O’Neill’s arrival.
After garnering 11 points from 14 games under Steve Bruce, O’Neill steered the Mackems to 45 points, and a top-half finish looks well within reach this term at 11/10.
Punters should consider O’Neill’s highly successful Aston Villa tenure for a point of encouragement regarding this bet.
In four full seasons as manager at Villa Park, O’Neill achieved top-half finishes at a 100 per cent rate, with three consecutive top-six standings emanating from his reign too.
Now taking charge on Wearside for his first full campaign, it looks wise to side with O’Neill and company to break the top ten once again.
What also bodes well for the Black Cats is their capability to dispatch the lesser sides in the Premier League.
Last season, only the eventual top six possessed a better record than Sunderland against sides that finished in the lower half of the table, which is a highly encouraging statistic.
Elsewhere, another side appearing to offer immense value to finish in the top ten is Fulham, who are afforded an 11/8 price to crack the top half.
Like Sunderland, the Cottagers benefit from the stewardship of a manager who has enjoyed consistent impressive league finishes in England’s top flight, in Dutch coach Martin Jol.
Former Tottenham boss Jol guided Spurs to three consecutive top-half finishes during his spell at White Hart Lane, including two fifth-place standings in succession.
He also enjoyed a very healthy first campaign in charge of Fulham last season, having a ninth-place finish to show for his efforts with a limited budget.
The much-touted departures of star performers Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey have failed to materialise as of yet too, which could prove of great benefit to the Craven Cottage outfit.
With such performers remaining in the ranks, and such a capable boss at the helm, Fulham look good to extend Jol’s perfect record of top-half Premier League finishes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.