The Top 6 in the Premier League looked head and shoulders above of the rest of the division last season as Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United made up those six places. Manchester United finished in 6th place and were eight points ahead of Everton, who despite an extremely strong second half of the season, were still a way off the Top 6.
If we are looking at teams who may have a chance of breaking into the Top 6 this time around, then you’d think that only Everton and West Ham United have a serious chance and in this betting preview I will analyse their chances.
Everton have a new owner in Farhad Moshiri and the new man has shown a willingness to spend big this summer bringing in Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaasen and Wayne Rooney for a combined total almost £100m. This has been offset by the £75m sale of star striker Romelu Lukaku and manager Ronald Koeman is sure to want to bring in one or two more big names before the season begins. The club have been linked with a big money move for Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, but up to now the Welsh club have rejected any overtures from the Merseyside club.
Everton’s summer business looks impressive on paper with Pickford, Keane, Klaasen and Ramirez looking like excellent buys for the future. It remains to be seen whether club legend Wayne Rooney will be able to perform at this level following a difficult few seasons at Manchester United, but if there is any set of fans willing to give him time, it is the Goodison Park faithful.
The sale of Lukaku and the expected departure of Ross Barkley leaves them looking a little short of goals in the side and Sandro Ramirez is certainly an untested prospect in England, but he has impressed in his short career up to now in Spain. It is this lack of a real recognised goal scorer that could hold them back in the quest to break into the Top 6 next season.
The club showcased their exciting youth team prospects last season as Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all impressed when given a chance in the first team and Koeman will be hoping that those players can push on even further this season to help Everton achieve a Top 6 finish
West Ham United
West Ham United have made some interesting transfers this summer and in contrast to Everton, the club have favoured experienced players with plenty of Premier League experience as they seek to improve upon last seasons disappointing 11th placed finish. Slaven Bilic found himself under pressure at points last season as the club failed to live up to the expectations that the previous season had brought and the loss of star man Dmitri Payet certainly didn’t help their cause.
During the off season, Bilic has brought in Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart from Manchester City, Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City and former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen. These all look like extremely smart buys on paper and they certainly fill holes in the squad that needed filling.
Joe Hart has had a difficult couple of seasons, but he is still England’s number one goalkeeper and if he can regain his form and confidence he could represent a great coup for West Ham United. The club have long struggled to find a reliable goal scorer with Andy Carroll plagued by injuries, but in Javier Hernandez they may have found the perfect man.
The diminutive forward scored 59 times in 157 appearances for Manchester United, before finding the net 39 times in 76 games for Bayer Leverkusen. The Mexican striker is a man who knows where the goal is and he could be the man to fire West Ham United into the Top 6 this season. I think the only thing holding West Ham United back could be the manager and in Slaven Bilic it remains to be seen whether they have a good enough man at the helm to steer the club to the higher reaches of the Premier League.
As you can from the odds Ladbrokes have on offer, Everton are rated as having the best chance of breaking into a strong looking Top 6. You can get odds of 11/4 on the Merseyside club finishing in the Top 6, whilst West Ham United are available at odds of 12/1.
Everton certainly look like they have the strongest squad outside of the Top 6, but West Ham could be more tempting at those odds and if Joe Hart and Javier Hernandez can find their feet instantly at both ends of the pitch then there is no doubt that the likes of Zabaleta, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll, Kouyate, Reid, Fonte and Antonio have enough quality to support them in their quest for surprise Top 6 finish. Therefore, I think if you are going to bet on anyone to break into the Top 6 then it has to be West Ham United.