Playing the Odds


Instead of letting my own rose-colored glasses unduly sway me, I thought it would be a lark to see how the cold, flinty eyes of the gambling community assess our chances of finishing in the top four. By happy chance, our toughest competition all hails from London, so checking “Top London Club” serves as an effective proxy. With Spurs climbing to 3rd on the strength of having played an extra match, the comparison is a bit dicey, but the odds-makers have been kind enough to suss this out for us. Because they base their predictions on likelihood rather than emotion, their assessments are useful in calibrating our expectations, if not in looking for ways to earn a few quid on the side.  With that in mind, let’s see what they have to say about our prospects.

The good people at Paddy Power (thanks, Nicklas!) suggest that Chelsea are the now the favorites among the London Clubs to finish in the top four, pegging them at 4/11 to stay in the top four, whereas Spurs and Arsenal are pegged at even odds, each at 8/13, making both of them (if I understand fractional odds, which I’ll admit is a dubious claim) long shots, compared to Chelsea, to claim a top-four finish. Therefore, if I bet £20 on Chelsea to finish in the top four and they pull it off, I’d net only £7 because they’re the favorites, at least for now. Making the same bet on Arsenal or Spurs would net me £12, suggesting that the experts at Paddy Power see Chelsea as almost twice as likely as us or Spurs to finish in the top four. Everton is a distant 10/1, which would net £200 on a £20 bet, for what that’s worth (yes, I know it’s worth £200, but I’m speaking figuratively).

Having gone through all of that, I actually think I have a stronger sense on the situation than the good lads at Paddy Power. Then again, they saw fit to advertise on Bendtner’s underwear, so I feel that I went into this with better sense than they have. I’ll have to check back on their numbers to see if adjustments are made for the injuries to Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill, who are out for at least two weeks, and to Hugo Lloris, who might be ready to return for next week. Lloris’s injury is serious enough, apparently, that Spurs have brought Brad Friedel back and have also recalled a 19-year old keeper, Jordan Archer, from a loan spell at Wycombe. With both teams facing cluttered schedules, injuries are the last thing they need. I do hope that all three are fit enough to help their respective clubs make progress in the Europa League, and I do mean it when I say that I don’t want to advance on the injuries of others. We’ve had quite a few of our own, thank you, but I want to beat teams without the injury excuse for them to fall back on.

At any rate, it’s interesting to note that, despite the gap between us and Spurs, we’re rated as even-odds with them for finishing in the top four. Chelsea, despite its loss to Southampton and subsequent drop to 4th, apparently retains its claim on the top four, at least for now.

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