Best bet for 2023-24 Premier League opener

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By Susan Comstock

There is never really a great time to try and beat Manchester City.

Not only are the Cityzens the three-time defending champions in the Premier League, but they are also just a couple of months removed from completing the classic treble by winning their first-ever Champions League title.

Man City is in a class of its own in world football

So let’s bet against them, shall we?

Manchester City vs. Burnley pick

The 2023-24 Premier League season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 11 with a showdown between newly-promoted Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern, meaning it will be played under the lights at Burnley’s home ground.

As you could have guessed, City is a massive favorite to win the match.

At the time of writing the Sky Blues are -320 on the three-way moneyline while Burnley checks in at a robust +800. The draw is +500. 

Manchester City celebrates with the UEFA Champions League Trophy.
Manchester City celebrates with the UEFA Champions League Trophy.
Manchester City FC via Getty Ima

Though we have a pretty good idea what to expect out of City over the next 10 months, Burnley is a tough team to project in their return to the Premier League.

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During their last stay in the top flight — which lasted from 2016 until 2022 — Burnley was known as a team that was greater than the sum of its part.

The Clarets operated on a shoestring budget by Premier League standards and opted to get results by being hard to break down, rather than hard to stop. 

It was the only way Burnley could feasibly survive in the Premier League.

The Clarets didn’t have the talent to put the ball on the carpet against the likes of Man City or Liverpool, so they opted to dig in and hope that their structure would provide them with a high enough floor to keep them in the Premier League.

It worked for a while, but eventually Burnley’s luck ran out and the club opted for a shift in philosophy.

New investment came in and the Clarets hired Vincent Kompany, the former captain of Manchester City, to manage the first team.

Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany
Getty Images

Kompany’s first season was a rousing success as he led the Clarets back to the Premier League in style.

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Burnley racked up a whopping 101 points en route to a first-place finish in the Championship (England’s second-division) and they did it by playing a much more progressive style of footy. 

Though Burnley was able to put on a blood-and-thunder show with some impressive soccer in the Championship, I am expecting Kompany to put the handbrakes on a bit here and focusing on getting his side organized defensively.

Kompany saw his side get picked apart by City in the FA Cup last season, so he’ll know that the most viable path to success for his underdog Clarets will be to sit back, defend and hope that the Cityzens aren’t at the races yet after reaching the pinnacle of club soccer under 10 weeks ago. 

Should Burnley opt to play things closer to the vest, I like their chances to give City a game on Friday afternoon.

Turf Moor should be buzzing for the return of the Premier League and it would be foolish to expect Manchester City to be at their peak in Matchweek 1.

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Like I said above, there’s never a good time to play Manchester City, but getting them on the road in the curtain-raiser is about as good a time as any.

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Without any tangible data to go off of except for what we saw last season, handicapping Matchweek 1 in the Premier League is more of an art than a science.

There are still transfers being sorted out, teams are adapting to new systems and players are shaking off rust, so there’s a lot more variance on Opening Weekend than almost any other time during the season.

So while all the numbers will point to City taking care of business on Friday night at Turf Moor, a funky situational spot calls for a bet on the underdog.

The bet: Burnley (+900, FanDuel)

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