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Guest Author: Michael B. Howell

It’s been a while since the EPL season felt spoken for quite this early in the New Year. By early February people were already looking at when Manchester City could mathematically seal the deal, which is really rather absurd, (though delightful for plenty of City supporters, no doubt). One could be easily forgiven for calling it something of a bummer for what’s supposed to be one of the most competitive sporting leagues on the planet.

Man City’s presumed title, (the club would essentially have to fall off the face of the Earth to avoid winning outright at this point), makes you wonder what else there really is to watch for in the EPL. Sure, there’s always the relegation battle, but for fans in Manchester or those who zero-in on the top of the table, this isn’t actually that compelling. It’s more interesting to look at after the fact, in some cases.

Instead, we might actually take some inspiration from the betting markets, where competitions within the larger league battle are the name of the game. As one platform puts it, online betting can cover anything that one could reasonably place bets on, which is to say sports betting doesn’t follow the basic league competition necessarily. We need only think smaller, and look at those games within the game, so to speak, to figure out what’s worth paying close attention to. This is what you can quickly come up with.

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Mo Salah – Hoping to win the Golden Boot with Liverpool

The Golden Boot – Well, this one ought to be obvious, not only because it’s quite a prestigious honour, but because this year’s race is actually extraordinarily compelling. Harry Kane leads by a slim margin and is beginning to be considered as possibly Europe’s deadliest striker; he and Mohamed Salah are both looking to end the trend of the leading scorer as of Christmas not finishing on top; Salah stands to up his profile astronomically with a surprise win; and Sergio Agüero is right in the hunt. Watching how all this plays out over the last 10 matches or so will be a legitimate thrill, (and will doubtless inspire plenty of betting activity as well).

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Kevin De Bruyne – The assist king

Kevin De Bruyne’s Assists – If you’re specifically a City supporter, the thing to keep an eye on aside from Agüero’s Golden Boot chase is Kevin De Bruyne’s assist total. Now firmly entrenched as the EPL’s best facilitator, he needs just four more assists to equal his impressive total of 18 from a year ago. Reaching that number twice in a row would make quite a statement.

Top Four – Naturally the top four matters about as much as the title to the teams near the top and while City’s first place finish is all but decided, the top four remains wide open. If the season were over today, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea would join City in qualifying for the Champion’s League. But Tottenham Hotspur isn’t out of it, and Arsenal still has a puncher’s chance, though it will need a strong finish and a bit of luck.

Top Six – Here too European qualifying is at play, though things look somewhat less compelling. As the sixth club mentioned regarding the race for the top four, Arsenal is actually nine points clear of Burnley at sixth in the table. Still, it’s not mathematically clinched yet, and these Gunners do appear capable of a late season swoon. That could open the door for Burnley or Leicester City.

These aren’t huge surprises, grant you, but they’re the sort of things that can keep the season interesting in a year like this. In particular, the Golden Boot and the race for the top four should actually make the remainder of the action quite compelling.

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Comments
  1. Bernard Kroczek says:

    For those of us who simply love the beautiful game, as well as supporting our own particular team, there is nothing quite like the Premier League. Although some of the European leagues may have the best players in teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern or PSG, I would much prefer to watch the PL every week. So City have all but won the Premiership, it doesn’t take away from the cut and thrust and often, unpredictability of the PL.

    Like

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