Home Sports Football Premier League Foxes and Wolves hunt top-six charge
Foxes and Wolves hunt top-six charge

Foxes and Wolves hunt top-six charge

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All eyes are on the big boys as they try and put the pieces into place to compete for one of the Premier League‘s four coveted Champions League spots but what of those behind?

The money being spent by clubs means the English top flight continues to be flooded with endless talent and with that filtering down the league, everyone appears to be getting stronger.

Every season seems to produce a surprise package and while another Leicester of 2015-16 is unlikely, there are a number of sides who could well find themselves knocking on the door of the European places.

Leicester to finish in the top six @ 15/2

If we are going to look for a team to make a break for the European spots, why not start with the aforementioned Foxes? Their famous exploits of three seasons ago almost seem in the past now and although much of that team has gone, they still have something special at the King Power.

Defender Jonny Evans appears a shrewd acquisition to partner Harry Maguire, while Ricardo Pereira will add thrust down the right. James Maddison may take time to settle into the Premier League and although a different player to Riyah Mahrez, is certainly talented.

Much will depend on their ability to keep hold of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel but a spine including Schmeichel, Evans, Maguire, Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy is as good as any when looking at the teams under the big boys.

They also have Claude Puel in the dugout, a coach who both the English fans and media seem to have little time for. The Frenchman may not be overtly charismatic but having excelled in going under the radar at Nice, could well do the same here.

A tough start against Manchester United could prove challenging but the Foxes look to have a decent run of fixtures after that and they know more than anyone how key momentum can be.

Everton to finish in the top six @ 11/2

After a busy summer, the Toffees endured a sticky campaign last time around and despite finishing safely in eighth, the quicker 2017-18 is forgotten the better.

A new season brings a new manager to Goodison Park, with Marco Silva, the man the club tracked before having to settle for Sam Allardyce, brought into the role.

The Portuguese has earned credit for his work at Hull and Watford but is yet to complete a full season in the Premier League and perhaps has a point to prove.

If Silva has aspirations of going on to manage bigger clubs then he has to get it right at Goodison Park and has both the young talent and experience in his squad to do plenty of good on Merseyside.

A few signings are required to add depth but the right man in the right place, as Roberto Martinez showed during his first year at Everton, can be a very good mix for the Toffees.

Opening fixtures against Wolves, Southampton, Bournemouth, Huddersfield and West Ham could set the tone for a strong campaign but a poor start like last year could again see the knives out for the boss.

West Ham to finish in the top six @ 11/1

It is all change again at West Ham and Manuel Pellegrini is the latest manager to be tasked with delivering the European football the Hammers’ demanding owners crave.  The Chilean’s reign at Manchester City was characterised by his calming influence and he could well prove the perfect antidote to the more fevered approaches of Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

Pellegrini clearly took the job on the proviso that the board would spend big and they have delivered so far, with record buy Felipe Anderson and England midfielder Jack Wilshere arguably the most eye-catching of the seven new arrivals.

Trips to Liverpool and Arsenal in two of their opening three games are unlikely to produce too much joy but could this be the season West Ham finally come to terms with life at the London Stadium?

The move to Stratford has yet to bear fruit but the talent on the field, most notably the pace added this summer, could help remedy that.

Things cannot get lower than fans coming onto the pitch to protest, as was seen against Burnley in March but the decent end to the last campaign under Moyes has hinted at some positives.

Pellegrini’s job is now to produce the goods, although his demeanour and the fans’ resentment towards the hierarchy will give him time to build and press towards what could be an interesting second half of the season.

Wolves to finish in the top six @ 9/1

I think one team everyone is watching is Wolves, who after winning the Championship last term, are again scouring the market for top talent.

Their relationship with ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes may have provoked the ire of other clubs but having someone with his connections on board can never be a bad thing.

Already Nuno Espirito Santo has seen Euro 2016 winning goalkeeper Rui Patricio added to his squad, while the continuity brought by the permanent deals for Diogo Jota and Willy Boly could also be significant.

The Mendes-aided coups Wolves pulled off last summer means there is still mystery surrounding who will face Everton on the opening weekend, despite Santo’s assertion that he is happy with the number available to him.

In truth, new arrivals could be out of his hands but he showed last season, and previously at Valencia, that he can cope with a somewhat scattergun transfer policy.

Winnable early home games against Everton and Burnley could set the team on the right track, while trips to the aforementioned Leicester and West Ham will show Wolves where they stand.

There was a time in the distant past where the Molineux club were the envy of England. They may currently have a very different philosophy but Wolves could well be about to spark something special on their return to the top flight.

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Jack Ogalbe Jack has been a sports betting writer for over a decade and has an excellent strike rate with his suggestions. A semi-professional footballer, runner and cyclist, his sports knowledge is second to none and he knows all the stats and facts you need when considering a punt.