The 2015/16 Premier League season kicked off last weekend and it was an opening set of fixtures that provided a few shock results including Chelsea dropping points at home to Swansea City.
Chelsea come into this new Premier League campaign as the reigning champions and the weight of expectation is on their shoulders as they look to win back-to-back league titles for the first time since 2006.
The Stamford Bridge club had started the campaign as the hot favourites to win the title this season but their opening day set back against the Swans in a 2-2 draw with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois being sent off combined with Manchester City tearing apart West Brom 3-0 away has seen Chelsea slip to second favourites with bookmakers.
As it stands, City are the 15/8 favourites with most bookmakers with punters flocking to back Manuel Pellegrini’s side as they appear to have started this season continuing the fine form that they ended last season in.
Chelsea have dropped to being 2/1 second favourites with punters doubting their credentials after they laboured to a score draw at home to last season’s mid-table Swansea. The fact that they are set to be without the suspended Courtois for their crucial early season clash with Manchester City this weekend has added backing to this doubt.
Jose Mourinho will be keen to play down the speculation that his side do not have the mentality to retain their title. No team has retained the Premier League title since Manchester United, then under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, won their third title in a row in 2009.
However, Mourinho has an impressive record of retaining titles in his management career. He won the Primeira Liga in Portugal with Porto in 2003 and 2004. He then won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006. He then went on to win the Serie A with Inter Milan in 2009/2010. Real Madrid is the only club he has failed to win back-to-back titles with and even then he still won La Liga in 2012 with them.
Another market that is showing signs of Chelsea losing ground is the top goalscorer market. Last season, Chelsea had two players in the top 10 scorers in the Premier League. Diego Costa finished 2nd with 21 goals and Eden Hazard finished 6th with 14 goals. However, no-one could come close to Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero who ended up with 26 goals.
Bookmakers could not separate Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero before the season started but despite both players failing to hit the back of the net in their opening matches, Aguero is now the 3/1 clear favourite to finish as the season’s top scorer ahead of Costa who is available at just 8/1 with some bookmakers. Hazard is even further back at odds of just 28/1.
There is still a long way to go yet and other markets being offered by bookmakers suggest that Chelsea are not being written off just yet. A Premier League title win and top scorer double of Chelsea and Diego Costa is available at just 10/1. The price on a Chelsea win with Aguero as top scorer is 14/1. There is also Chelsea to win with Rooney as top scorer at 33/1.
Bookmakers are also still showing faith in a Chelsea win. Firstly, there is a market being offered without Chelsea. There is not such a market for Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, or any other Premier League rivals. There are also odds being offered on a top 2 finish and Chelsea are being firmly backed to manage that at odds of 8/15. That shows that bookmakers still believe they will finish in the top two positions suggesting they think Chelsea will push their rivals right until the end even if they don’t win the league title.
The Premier League is always one of the most tightly contested leagues in the world. There are so many twists and turns along the way. It is no surprise that Chelsea’s odds of winning the title slumped after that opening day draw with Swansea. It will also be no surprise if they go on and beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to completely flip those odds on their head. That is the unpredictable nature of the Premier League. It could be argued that Chelsea did well to get a point against Swansea after going down to 10 men. A victory against Pellegrini’s side will well and truly re-establish Mourinho’s side as the team to beat. That is until the next round of Premier League fixtures when anything could once again happen.