Sky Sports first live match of the 2008/9 Premier League season will be between Arsenal and newly promoted West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 16th August at the Emirates stadium. Arsenal of course will be amongst the favourites to win the league this season, while only a bleak season can be envisaged for the ‘Baggies’. It is a sad indictment of soccer today when even before the first ball is kicked, everyone one who follows football know who is likely to be on top and who is likely to be at the bottom.
West Bromwich were a joy to watch during the Championship last year, under Tony Mowbray they have developed a good passing style, not to dissimilar to Arsenal, unfortunately while the playing style is similar the difference in class is a universe apart.
It is sad for any neutral football fan to witness the effort a Championship team put into gaining promotion only to find out that they may have to do it all over again in two season’s time. It is not that I think WBA will be relegated necessarily, but at the outset of the season they are certainly already one of the candidates, as will be their promoted rivals, Stoke City and Hull City.
The big four in the Premier League will remain the big four this season, of that there is little doubt. Those in behind them will strive earnestly to replace them but by Christmas the die will have already been cast and the big four will begin ‘sharpening their knives’ to play out the season with Europe in mind for the next.
Certainly teams like Everton, Tottenham, Portsmouth and Man City will be teams that will make challenges, but as usual at the end of the season, they will be congratulating themselves if they finish 5th, that is the secret target of most other clubs these days. The same thing has been going on in the SPL for decades. It is always either Rangers or Celtic; success for the also-rans is measured in final position rather than silverware.
One might therefore ask themselves what is the point of playing? Is it in hope, is it in expectation, or is it simply for the pleasure of playing; maybe it is it because teams thrive on disappointment and relegation more so than challenging for the top. Do teams really want to play if their success is measured by how close they finish to the top or how far they finish above the bottom?
The football betting fraternity will do well this season however. It does not take great perception to back the top four sides in the league nor does it take great perception to back the three likely relegation candidates.
Therefore match betting throughout the season could and should prove profitable, particularly when matches like Arsenal vs West Brom take place take place at the Emirates. Surely there is only one winner here!
Rod Rowley is a tennis and golf journalist who has worked for many large UK media publications.