Chelsea are favourites to retain the crown

Raheem Sterling has been the subject of the biggest transfer of the summer so far and his new club, Manchester City, are expected to challenge for the title next season
Raheem Sterling has been the subject of the biggest transfer of the summer so far and his new club, Manchester City, are expected to challenge for the title next season

Some huge transfers have been completed, including Raheem Sterling’s £49m switch to Manchester City, and many teams are currently in far off lands playing out pedestrian friendly fixtures in heavily sponsored but loosely termed ‘cup competitions’.

So it can only mean one thing; the start of the new season is only a few weeks away.

Champions Chelsea haven’t done too much business to date, the capture of Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao on loan their most notable acquisition, nevertheless the Blues are 13/8 favourites via Paddy Power to retain the title with Manchester City, at 11/4 (Stan James) again expected to be their nearest challengers.

Manchester United have been busy, bringing in several big-money signings but bookies don’t seem convinced that Louis Van Gaal’s charges will improve on last season’s fourth place, so they’re a 5/1 shot at BetVictor to clinch the Premier League crown, the same odds that Ladbrokes post against Arsenal.

Punters expecting the status quo to be maintained, meanwhile, can tackle Skybet’s 16/1 about the top four finishing in exactly the same order as they did last time around.

Aiming to break up that quartet and get back into contention for a Champions League place, Liverpool have overhauled their squad, securing the services of the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino.

At 28/1 (Skybet) though, the Anfield outfit aren’t considered title challengers and betway rate them at as high as 11/4 to end up in fourth or better.

Indeed, after last season’s disappointment, the pressure will be on Brendan Rodgers to improve things and BetVictor subsequently consider the Reds boss their 5/1 jolly to be the next manager to leave his post.

At the other end, the three promoted teams are all tipped to find the going tough.

Ladbrokes chalk Watford up at just 3/4 to head straight back down to the Championship, bet365 price Norwich at 11/10 to be relegated and Bournemouth are 6/5 (Skybet) for the drop.

However, having replaced manager Nigel Pearson with Claudio Ranieri, despite Pearson steering them to safety last term, Leicester could find themselves in trouble and they appear overpriced at 4/1 courtesy of Stan James to end up in the bottom three.

Elsewhere, Sergio Aguero heads the top scorer market at 3/1 with BetVictor, ahead of Chelsea’s Diego Costa (11/2, William Hill) although bet365’s 25/1 chance Christian Benteke might be worth an each-way interest.

Aguero can also be backed at 8s (BetVictor) to be named player of the year, although Eden Hazard, is Paddy Power’s 4/1 favourite in that market.

Finally, the incoming transfers at Stoke lend appeal to Ladbrokes’s 6/5 about them securing a top-10 finish, Skybet’s 8/11 about Spurs ending up in the top six looks a banker and in bet365’s betting without the ‘big six’, Everton catch the eye at 3/1.

Phil Taylor simply loves Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Indeed, ‘The Power’ has won darts’ World Matchplay tournament there seven times on the spin and on 15 occasions in total so he’ll certainly fancy his chances of taking home the lion’s share of the £450,000 prize fund in this year’s renewal.

Nevertheless, Taylor is only the second favourite, at 10/3 with BetVictor, to emerge triumphant this time around as bet365’s 15/8 chance Michael van Gerwen, last year’s beaten finalist, heads the betting.

The Dutchman has been in stunning form in 2015, counting the Masters and UK Open amongst his tournament victories so he’s hard to overlook, although if anyone can run him close it’s Taylor, or Scot Gary Anderson (6/1, BetVictor), who saw off van Gerwen in the final of the Premier League.

There’s a huge night of boxing on Saturday as a trio of British fighters go in search of world titles.

In Manchester, Anthony Crolla, who thought he would never box again after suffering head injuries when confronting burglars at his neighbours’ house, is 13/8 at bet365 to overcome Colombian Darleys Perez and unbeaten Scott Quigg (1/4, betway) should retain his WBA super bantamweight strap at the expense of Kiko Martinez.

In the same weight division, meanwhile, Carl Frampton is just 2/9 (Stan James) to KO unheralded Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in Texas.

Bet of the week: Leicester to be relegated – 4/1 (Stan James).

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