SPORTS BETTING: Striking purchase makes United favourites

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The Independent Online
Manchester United are a top-priced 11-8 for the Premiership with William Hill following the signing on Friday of Teddy Sheringham for pounds 3.5m from Tottenham Hotspur.

Sheringham - who is now 8-1 with William Hill to be the Premiership's top scorer in the next season - is making a shrewd move according to the bookmakers. Spurs are 50-1 with Ladbrokes to win the Premiership next season although, if rumours that they are in the hunt to sign Juninho prove correct, those odds will surely shorten a little.

There will be any amount of chequebook activity between now and the start of the season in August and, at this stage, it makes little sense to dive in and back any side at a short price when a sudden flexing of the transfer muscles could suddenly transform any team's prospects.

Newcastle United, who seem sure to spend money strengthening their squad in a far more judicious manner under Kenny Dalglish than under the cavalier Kevin Keegan last summer, are 7-2 with William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Liverpool, who have unloaded Stan Collymore to Aston Villa and spent only a portion of the proceeds on Wimbledon's Oyvind Leonhardsen, are 9-2 with Ladbrokes but may have quite a bit of spending to do yet. Arsenal, who put in such a solid performance last season, are 9-2 with William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Many may be tempted by the FA Cup final winners Chelsea, who are 14-1 with William Hill. However, although Ruud Gullit seems sure to go into next season with a stronger squad than ever, his side's League form last season was woefully inconsistent and it could be a mistake to rate them as League contenders on the back of a few good Cup results.

A better each-way prospect at this early stage might be Aston Villa, who are 20-1 with William Hill and Ladbrokes. Collymore looks a good signing for Brian Little's side, who showed enough last season to suggest that a little more flair in midfield and up front could see them challenging for a top three place.

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