Which Premier League club will be Midlands top dog?
Continuing the exploration of Coral’s enticing new markets, we take a look at which Midlands side could rank highest in the Premier League this term.
Birmingham-based side Villa apparently boast a host of famous fans, with Tom Hanks and the Duke of Cambridge counted amongst supporters.
The Villains, 7/2 to finish as the top placed Midlands side, have more reasons to be proud than just celebrity fans, though. Having won eight old First Division titles, seven FA Cups and one European Cup, they are the most heavily decorated team amongst these four local rivals.
With Roy Keane joining the coaching staff, exciting and experienced new signings Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson, and Philippe Senderos will certainly be kept on their toes, as the squad look to build on last season’s 15th-place finish.
Villa were also the last Midlands side to qualify for European football through Premier League position, representing their region in the UEFA Cup in 2010/11 after finishing sixth in the campaign before.
Freshly promoted Leicester have been busy bees in the summer transfer window, having smashed their club transfer record to bring in Argentine attacker Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton and Hove Albion.
The crafty Foxes’ sensational swoop for the £8m man could prove to be the factor that propels them up the table, after the striker netted 23 league goals last term.
Leicester, also 7/2 to clinch top spot in this market, have the benefit of being an unknown quantity for other Premier League sides, and could well be this season’s Crystal Palace.
Foxes boss Nigel Pearson also has a raft of former Manchester United starlets in his squad. Former academy player Jack Barmby, son of ex-England international Nick, the latest in a long-line of Red Devils recruits, who will be waiting in the wings to show the Old Trafford club what they are missing.
Stoke can claim to be the last of these four competitors to compete in a European competition, securing a place in the Europa League after finishing as runners-up in the FA Cup in 2010/11.
Mark Hughes steered his side to a 9th-place Premier League finish last term, with the Potters ending the season as the highest placed Midlands club.
They are 6/5 to do be top dogs again in the upcoming campaign, particularly after the exciting signings of former Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic and ex-Hannover and Man Utd striker Mame Biram Diouf. The pair netted 13 goals between them last season and should give Stoke an attacking edge.
West Bromich Albion
The Baggies have finished in the Premier League top 10 twice in the last three terms, and are 4/1 to resume normal service this season and end the campaign as top Midlands club.
With the acquisitions of Costa Rica World Cup star Cristian Gamboa, England international Joleon Lescott, and club record signing Brown Ideye, West Brom fans can be excited about attending The Hawthorns again.
New boss Alan Irvine represents somewhat of a fresh start for the Baggies and, with top performers Ben Foster and Graham Dorrans penning new deals, the Baggies should be a tough challenge in the local derbies.