For many football fans and oddsmakers, the top-four this year has almost already been decided, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea widely seen as the outstanding contenders.
Football, like many other sports, is an unpredictable game, and in the latest episode of 888Sport’s The Eye Test, the team sat down to discuss this season’s underdogs, debating who could ‘do a Leicester’ and defy all expectations.
For Rory Jennings, notable for his appearances as a pundit on bettingexpert’s football breakdowns, West Ham United could be a team for bookmakers and punters to look out for.
The Hammers enjoyed a strong run of form in the 2020/21 season, earning themselves sixth place and a spot in the Europa League, marking the East London club’s first foray into European competition for some time.
“I think they could do well in Europe, you think about the amount of fans they’re going to take away from home,” Jennings observed.
“That stadium (the London Stadium) doesn’t necessarily rock the way it used to at Upton Park, but I think on European nights it will.
When reminded that Europa League fixtures can often have a detrimental impact on mid-table team’s performances, he added: “I think they could go a long way in Europe, and even if that has a negative impact on their domestic campaign, we’d still say it was a good campaign.”
Flex from the UnitedView, however, believed that West Ham’s rivals to the north of London, Tottenham Hotspur, could surprise many of their detractors – including many bookies – and break into the top four.
He remarked: “They’re not really tipped to be getting into the top four, and it’s going to be a bit of a struggle, but I think now that they’ve kept Kane and the storm has settled, they’ll have a better season than we thought they would.”
Building on Flex’s comments, Steve McKinerney eyed up both Tottenham and Everton as potential surprises for the 2021-22 campaign.
“Both of these teams have now got better managers for the club. Spurs had Mourinho, which didn’t work out too well, then they had Ryan Mason, but now they’ve got a good manager in Nuno, he’s an actual manager.
At Everton Ancelotti was fantastic but was never the man for Everton, and maybe they need someone pragmatic like Benetz, he’s an old-fashioned coach and he had some cracking success with some middling players at Liverpool.”