While Robin van Persie's decision to join United has balanced things up a little, I still think Manchester City hold the aces when it comes to this season's title race. It was almost smoke and mirrors how Sir Alex Ferguson almost took United to another championship victory last season when City were clearly the better side. And fair play to United for wringing out just about every available point they could. But now City have made the seismic leap from title contenders to title winners, they look justifiable favourites to put their new-found belief towards securing a second successive Premier League success - much as Chelsea did when they won the title for the first time under Jose Mourinho in 2004/5 and repeated 12 month later. Chelsea have 25 points to make up while it's hard to see Spurs being in the race for as long as they were under Harry Redknapp. Losing van Persie is clearly a huge blow to Arsenal while Liverpool aren't ready yet under Brendan Rogers. So, City it is at 13/10 and if you want one last line of reasoning, check out their respective fixtures lists after Champions League matches. City have 5 at home, 1 away; United have 1 at home, 5 away (Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea, Villa, City). Expect Sir Alex to point that out sometime during the season!
Sergio Aguero (7/1), Robin van Persie (8/1) and Wayne Rooney (8/1) are the justified favourites at the head of the Premier League top scorer betting. They were the three most prolific strikers last term (RVP 30, Rooney 27, Aguero 23) and their teams should score by the bucketload this season. But the bet I like at 20/1 is Newcastle's Papiss Cisse. The Senegal striker blasted home 13 goals in just 14 appearances for the Magpies last season after joining in the January transfer window and basically took over scoring duties from compatriot Demba Ba. Before his switch to the Premier League he'd netted 33 times in 51 league games for Bundesliga outfit Freiburg so he really is a deadly marksman. He looks capable of hitting the 25 mark and if Rooney and van Persie share the goals between them, Cisse could win this market. Certainly he's an excellent each-way price at 20s with place terms ¼ 1,2,3,4.
A couple of big-priced draws stand out when looking at the fixture list for the first round of Premier League games. For starters, Sunderland look capable of forcing a draw at a Robin van Persie-less Arsenal and it's priced at a massive 4/1. The Black Cats have managed two draws at The Emirates in their last four visits and have caused plenty of trouble for the Gunners in recent meetings. Second, I like the 3/1 about Wigan forcing a home draw with Chelsea. Wigan were excellent at the end of last season while Chelsea's league form left plenty to be desired even though they did so well in the cups. The two shared a 1-1 draw in this fixture last season while only a last-minute Juan Mata goal stopped the Latics forcing a stalemate at Stamford Bridge in the away meeting.
After winning last week's USPGA by eight shots - the same whopping margin by which he won his first major, the 2011 US Open - Sky Bet are now betting on how many majors Rory McIlroy will bag in 2013. It's 9/4 he bags one, 14/1 two, 40/1 three and 150/1 he does the Grand Slam and wins all four. It's 2/5 that he draws a blank. As for the venues, the Masters is at Augusta of course while the US Open heads to Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. The Open Championship goes north of the border to Muirfield in Scotland and the USPGA is at Oak Hill in New York. Merion and Oak Hill are both shortish par 70s so I'm not sure either are up Rory's street (his two major wins have come on par 72s measuring over 7,500 yards) while I think his obvious Open chance would be St Andrews (he'll have to wait until 2015) rather than Muirfield. In other words, despite his obvious brilliance, perhaps 2013 isn't the year to start backing him to win 2, 3 or 4.