The behemoth that is the Premier League struts on to centre stage today, swatting the men's Olympic 100 metres final, cricket's Friends Provident Trophy and everything else into the wings. The "big four" teams all get full-blown television treatment and every bookie in the land is showing off their Premier League markets.
You can bet on the first manager to be sacked, and the wags at Paddy Power are offering a market on the depth of Cristiano Ronaldo's tan (a "David Dickinson" is 4-1). Most bookies make Manchester United favourites to win another title, but Jennings have stepped out of line byoffering United at 2-1 with Chelsea their 13-8 "jolly".The reasoning may be that,if Chelsea could get within two points of United under Avram Grant, how closewill they be under the more experienced Luiz Felipe Scolari?
Sir Alex Ferguson has already started the propaganda war by suggesting that the Chelsea squad are too old. But they now have a fine right-back in Jose Bosingwa, their midfield is packed with power and a touch of stealth from Deco. And if Dimitar Berbatov goes to Old Trafford, expect Robinho to arrive at the Bridge. Chelsea it is, then – £20 to win at 15-8 with Coral.
Arsenal will again play the prettiest football but Arsène Wenger's youth experiment may have to settle for a domestic cup. Meanwhile, Liverpool, under extreme pressure to land the title, could implode as their owners continue to frustrate manager and fans. Further pain could come from reject Peter Crouch, a decent chance for the Golden Boot at 33-1 (£5 each-way).
* Fair play to Padraig Harrington for his late swoop at the USPGA. Admiration softens the blow of four selections who made the cut but who were never competitive thereafter. £40 lost.