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Odds & Predictions: Who Could be the Next Team to Break the Top 6?

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Everton top six odds

After a disappointing spell with Carlo Ancelotti in charge, Everton enters the 2021/22 Premier League campaign with hopes of challenging the top six and without their Italian manager.

Toffees fans watched on with envy as West Ham United and Leicester City secured Europa League football last season, with Everton passing up a number of opportunities to qualify themselves. Two points off the top six with half a dozen games remaining, a disappointing end to the season saw Ancelotti’s side finish down in 10th.

After flirting with a move to Crystal Palace, former Wolverhampton Wanderers boss, Nuno Espírito Santo, was odds on to take the reins at Everton, before Rafael Beniez got the phone call to take the job. Whilst Nuno will no doubt need to make some big changes at Goodison Park, the 47-year-old has consistently proved himself as a manager capable of exceeding expectations.

Everton’s last top six finish came under David Moyes in 2013 and the Blues are a healthy 4/1 to make the jump next season and if their young players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison can continue their form, they could well do so.

West Ham top six odds

West Ham may have enjoyed a fruitful 2020/21 campaign, but back-to-back top six finishes aren’t guaranteed for David Moyes’ men.

After securing their highest league position since 1999, the Hammers at one point had hopes of breaking into the top four at one point, yet a poor run of form saw them fall short of Champions League football. Instead, Moyes’ side will compete in their maiden Europa League group stage, but will be wary of managing continental football expectations with their Premier League performances.

Both Burnley and Wolves suffered a considerable drop-off in-form the season after competing in Europe, with West Ham hoping to avoid a similar fate. Recruitment could be key for the Hammers if they have any desire to continue last season’s form and with Jesse Lingard odds-on to make his loan move to the London Stadium permanent, there could be a chance West Ham finish inside the top six at 5/1.

Leeds United top six odds

Expectations were high for Leeds United in their first season back in the Premier League, yet few would have imagined just how well Marcelo Bielsa’s men performed. Finishing in ninth, the Yorkshire cub ended up just three points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the final Europa Conference League spot.

In each season since 2019, at least one side outside of the traditional ‘Big Six’ have qualified for Europe and Leeds look well equipped to be the next team to break the mould. With a world-class manager at the helm and a traditionally strong recruitment policy, should Leeds lose any of their star players, you’d back Bielsa and co. to sign adequate replacements.

Leeds head into their second season in the Premier League since 2004 priced at 9/2 to finish inside the top six.

Aston Villa top six odds

Winning their first four matches of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, including a shock 7-2 victory over Liverpool, Aston Villa’s hopes of a top-six finish last season looked strong. Yet, like many other fast starters around them, their form eventually dropped off and Dean Smith’s side were only capable of an 11th-placed finish.

Since taking over in 2018, Smith has transformed Villa from a mediocre mid-table Championship team, to a side with the potential to compete alongside the biggest top-flight clubs once more. The 1982 European Cup winners haven’t tasted European football in over a decade and having already snatched Emi Buendía from the noses of Arsenal, the Midlands club have shown plenty of ambition to return.

The future of long-time captain, Jack Grealish could stifle the progression of Smith’s men, with the English midfielder odds on at 8/15 to join reigning champions, Manchester City. But should Grealish stick around at Villa Park, they may be in with a shout and a top six finish for Villa is priced at 6/1.

Wolves top six odds

With one of the most promising squads in the division, many believed Wolves had the talent to break into the Champions League positions last time around. Instead, after a season plagued by injuries, the 2020 Europa League quarter-finalists finished the 2019/20 campaign languishing in 13th.

Waving goodbye to their manager of four years, Nuno Espírito Santo at the end of the campaign, Wolves have wasted no time in finding his replacement, hiring ex-Benfica boss, Bruno Lage in his place. A league winner during his time in Portugal, Lage will look to utilise the existing crop of Portuguese players within the Wolves’ rank to bring European nights back to the Molineux Stadium.

Nine of Wolves’ squad during the 2019/20 campaign were Portuguese, with rumours circulating that Lage may be looking to add a few more of his compatriots before the window shuts. Yet, already at the club and having enjoyed a fairly decent first season in the Premier League is former Benfica youth product, Fabio Silva, who the 45-year-old manager could look to build his new-look side around.

With two seven placed finishes in the last three campaigns, Wolves will be hoping 2020/21 was a mere blip and they’re 10/1 to finish in the top six next season.

By Amos Murphy