Boro and Chelsea Premier value

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The Independent Online
Now there are no prizes for guessing which side is the most likely to win the Premier League next season. Even if they fail to persuade Blackburn Rovers to swap Alan Shearer for a toffee (well, Andy Cole), Manchester United - with Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs inspiring what is, on balance, a young, improving side - richly deserve to be the top-priced 13-8 favourites with Coral.

But value is the name of the game and the name of the value has to be Middlesbrough at 50-1 with Coral and Ladbrokes.

Last week's pounds 7m signing of Fabrizio Ravanelli from the European Cup winners Juventus, coupled with the manager Bryan Robson's pounds 4m capture of Emerson from Porto in May, adds up to Middlesbrough lining up a side which will be vastly superior to the one which came uncomfortably close to relegation last term.

Build in the possibility that both Juninho and Branco may themselves benefit from the enhanced line-up and that 50-1 looks a decent each-way bet (it is a quarter the odds, the first three places for the place portion).

Chelsea are the other obvious attraction for value seekers. When a technically enlightened Dutch manager, who when speaking English articulates his thoughts rather better than the average native of this sceptred isle, starts marching around brandishing what looks suspiciously like a book full of blank cheques, it is time to sit up and take notice.

Ruud Gullit further bolstered his side on Saturday by adding Robert Di Matteo (pounds 4.9m from Lazio) to his side following the coup of securing the services of Juventus's Vialli and the purchase of Franck Leboeuf from Strasbourg. At 25-1 with Coral, Chelsea are also surely well worthy of an each-way interest.

Both Liverpool and Newcastle failed to impress in the consistency department in the closing stages last season and, with both sides, starting the new campaign with largely unchanged squads, it would be no surprise to see either Middlesbrough or Chelsea (or both) push the two northern sides out of the top three.

Finally, one fore the sadists. Coventry appeal as a fair bet to get relegated this season at 7-4 with William Hill. They narrowly avoided the drop last term, and are in no position to buy their way out of trouble in the transfer market.

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