Leicester City

EPL Roundup: Manchester City’s title odds continue to improve

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Manchester City’s futures line has continued to decrease in value, even though it is only two points clear of its cross-town rival with 30 games yet to play.

Unbeaten through eight rounds of play in the 38-game season, Manchester City is now the -250 favorite to be the English Premier League outright champion, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The price on Manchester United (+350) has risen, while Tottenham Hotspur (+1200) has dropped well back.

Matchweek 9 gets underway with West Ham United (-125) hosting Brighton & Hove Albion (+375, draw +235) in a Friday betting matchup. The teams drew 1-1 in their last matchup and could very well do so again, based on both teams’ struggles with finishing plays. Brighton’s best shot to score, as it always is, is Pascal Gross.

Huddersfield Town (+850) seems unlikely to break a four-game goal drought against Manchester United (-285, draw +395), but it will dig in around its goal and make Man U earn its three points. The under on the 2.5 total is -115, and this might be the play since Manchester United might take the do-just-enough-to-win approach.

Manchester City (-1200) hosts pesky Burnley (+2400, draw +1000). The big betting question revolves around the 4.0 total and City being minus-2.5 on the goal line. Burnley might not be capable of stopping City cold, or scoring many goals, but manager Sean Dyche has coaxed them to earn points against top competition several times already this season.

The tightest moneyline involves Swansea City (+180) at home against Leicester City (+160, draw +220). The Foxes decided the show was over for manager Craig Shakespeare and remain an iffy play until his firing blows over. The total is 3.0 and the oddsmakers have the juice on the over (-135) instead of the under (-110). Swansea striker Tammy Abraham should get his share of scoring opportunities.

Off to its worst start in almost a decade, Everton (+275) is an underdog at home against Arsenal (even, draw +250) in a Sunday betting matchup. Taking the Toffees here would be based on the belief that Everton manager Ronald Koeman will pull out all the stops in order to keep his job. Arsenal, after fielding a no-name bunch in its Europa League match on Thursday, could finally have Alexandre Lacazette running with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

While Tottenham Hotspur (+115) is home to Liverpool (+230, draw +250) on Sunday, it went winless in three tries against the Reds last season. Liverpool is the farthest thing from a sit-back-and-wait team, which ups the possibility of Harry Kane scoring for the Spurs and the 3.0 total going over. The price on Liverpool is nearly irresistible, but Tottenham might be due.

Manchester City, Man United headline odds to win Premier League title

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With Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho coming in as managers, rivals Manchester City and Manchester United hold down the top two spots on the odds to win the Premier League championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the outset of the season.

The 2015-16 season was the most uncharacteristic in recent memory, with Leicester City winning the league after most experts had them marked for relegation. The underdog team winning kick-started an active offseason, which has led to Manchester City being installed as a +250 favorite (bet $100 to win $250), with Manchester United, at +300, sliding in as the second favorite.

Chelsea (+550) and Arsenal (+650) are also high up on the board, which has a big drop-off after the +800 odds on both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Leicester City sits at +3000

Manchester City, after barely finishing fourth last season, brought in Guardiola, a recent FIFA world coach of the year whom it has coveted for years. Adding John Stones, late of Everton, should solidify the Sky Blues’ back line, while Guardiola has a total of eight newcomers to work into an improved lineup.

Manchester United opted more for the big names, with Mourinho, 34-year-old Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (a non-factor at Euro 2016), and star midfielder Paul Pogba coming into join veteran Wayne Rooney. The Reds are an on-paper power, but there’s reason to wonder how all those egos will co-exist.

Arsenal might be worth a longshot play. Manager Arsene Wenger is in a contract year, which means he could go all out to revamp his attack and central defense for a run at finishing on top.

Man City’s Sergio Aguero and Tottenham’s Harry Kane are respectively listed at +350 and +500 on the top goal scorer board. Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is listed at +1200, but that reflects on the quality of his team, which seems intent on keeping the Belgian striker.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez (+2000) is also in a situation where he could cash in from his team having a big year. Ibrahimovic is listed at +900, but it seems far-fetched he would be the leading scorer in his first season in the league.

The three worst teams at the end of the 38-game regular season are relegated to the Football League Championship. Understandably, the three teams that have come up have the lowest odds to be low on the table. Hull City is listed at -150 odds, with Burnley at -110, and Middlesborough at +150.

Keep in mind that Hull City won promotion through a special playoffs, as opposed to being a top-two team over the entire season. Crystal Palace, which flirted with relegation last winter, is listed at +400 on the prop wager at the sportsbooks.

Who is each sport’s version of 2015-16 Cinderella story Leicester City?

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The clock does not always strike midnight for Cinderella.

Holding onto a seven-point lead in the Premier League with just five games remaining, Leicester City is closing in on what many are calling the most improbable title run in sports history.

The Foxes came into the season with 5000-1 title odds and a relegation label plastered all over them. Instead, they have rolled to a 21-9-3 (W-D-L) record with a goal differential of plus-26.

Until recently, Leicester fans seemed hesitant to start thinking about a potential championship, but reality has started to set in. Not only has the club’s first Premier League title in their 132-year history become a possibility, at this point, it is expected.

To call this the biggest Cinderella in sports history is a label that carries a lot of weight. Every sport has seen its share of monumental upsets and logic-defying runs, so we are going to take a look at each sport’s “Leicester City.”

First, ProSoccerTalk’s Joe Prince-Wright explains how the script to Leicester’s Cinderella run was written.

Six clean sheets in their last seven games (plus five shutouts on the spin) tells you they’re keyed in to grind out results when it matters most. That’s the sign of a champion. Winning at all costs and dispelling any defensive fragility which held them back at times earlier in the season.

It has truly been the perfect storm for Leicester as everything has gone right, while clubs around them have sputtered. Now it’s up to them to finish the job.

The NBA may not always be ripe with upsets, but ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin says the 2007 “We Believe” Golden State Warriors, who entered the playoffs as the eighth seed, are responsible for the biggest upset in NBA history.

The Warriors were matched against the Dallas Mavericks — a 67-win team led by MVP Dirk Nowitzki (he had a 50-40-90 season), a team that had lost just five games at home throughout the campaign. They were serious title contenders expected to roll through the first round… like Manchester United through Leicester.

Led by Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson, the Warriors would eventually become the NBA’s first eight seed to ever knock off a one seed in a seven-game series.

On the ice, it’s a no-brainer. ProHockeyTalk’s Mike Halford talked to NBC’s Al Michaels, who describes the unforgettable “Miracle on Ice.”

The 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team had an outside shot at a bronze medal as the Games began in Lake Placid. The group’s average age was 22 and most of the players had just finished their college careers. The Soviet Union team, on the other hand, were amateurs in name only. They spent eleven months each year on the ice either training or dominating competition on the international level. Had the Soviets been allowed to play in the National Hockey League at that time, almost everyone on their roster would have been a star.

NASCARTalk’s Daniel McFadin dives into Alan Kulwicki’s 1992 underdog story, saying “he managed to defy all expectations by rallying to win the 1992 Cup Series Championship.”

When it comes to baseball, look no further than the 1969 New York Mets, writes HardballTalk’s Craig Calcaterra. From 1962 to 1969, the Mets went from a laughingstock to World Champs.

The 1969 season started as usual, with the Mets digging themselves a nine-game hole by the end of May. Their record — hovering around .500 — was a bit better than it had been in recent years, but they still stood in fourth place, scaring no one. Then, suddenly, manager Gil Hodges’ men began to make a move.

After winning the National League pennant, the Mets defeated the dynasty that was the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series to earn the eternal moniker the “Amazin’ Mets.”

There are a field of Cinderellas to sort through in college basketball as March Madness hosts an abundance of jaw-dropping upsets every year. However, CollegeBasketballTalk’s Rob Dauster says 2013 Florida Gulf Coast, aka Dunk City, may be the closest thing the sport has had to Leicester.

FGCU become the seventh No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed in the first round back in 2013, and they then became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16. They did so by beating down both Georgetown and San Diego State, to the point that they were showing off with alley-oops with a couple of minutes left in the game.

College football is a similar story as Cinderellas usually only wear the glass slipper for a game or two. But the biggest upset? Well, Appalachian State got to be Leicester for one game in 2006, writes CollegeFootballTalk’s John Taylor.

Yes, App. State was in the midst of a three-year run as FCS champions.  That didn’t stop the oddsmakers from making ASU 33(ish)-point underdogs for their game against No. 5 Michigan in the Big House that September afternoon — especially as said oddsmakers were armed with the knowledge that no FCS had ever beaten an FBS team ranked in the Top 25.

A late field goal allowed App. State to tear down the winningest program in football history, 34-32. Let that sink in for a second.

But, do any of these Cinderellas really compare to what Leicester is doing this season? Will anything like this ever happen again?

Let the debates begin.