Last season in the Premier League, Manchester City trailblazed their way to victory with a record-breaking year that saw the Citizens amass the highest ever total of Premier League points (100) and the greatest number of goals (106) in a single 38-game Premier League campaign.
Although the summer has been punctuated by England’s trip to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia, just three weeks after the tournament has finished, the Premier League is back ready to start up again this coming weekend with ten intriguing games taking place from Friday through to the Sunday.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the ten different games this weekend, the odds available on each (at the time of writing, courtesy of bet365 Sport) and give you our view of how we see the match turning out and also how the season will turn out for each of the ten teams.
Here’s the fixtures for the opening weekend of games.
Friday 10th August
7.45pm – Manchester United (4/11) v Leicester City (8/1) – 7/2 the draw
United will get the season underway at Old Trafford against the 2015/16 Champions Leicester City. It will be interesting to see if United can adopt a more attacking approach after Mourinho’s tactics were criticised last season despite significant improvements in the Premier League. United should win this comfortably and how comfortably will give us an insight into their chances this season. I’m going for a solid 3-0 win for the home side here.
Manchester United Prediction – 2nd – A better season for United and they’ll push City more closely
Leicester City Prediction – 10th – Mahrez will be a big loss so mid table beckons for the Foxes.
Saturday 11th August
12.30pm – Newcastle United (13/5) v Tottenham Hotspur (21/20) – 12/5 the draw
Another pre-season without huge investment means Newcastle will require Rafa Benitez to work wonders again and I think he will. Spurs similarly have not yet signed any big names but they’ll be strong again this season and I fancy them to get their season off to a winning start here, although how tired the likes of Trippier, Alli, Rose and Kane are could make it tough for them. I’m backing a 2-1 win for Spurs here.
Newcastle United Prediction – 9th – Rafa will continue to work miracles on a shoestring.
Tottenham Hotspur Prediction – 4th – Spurs are the best of the London clubs, but will still finish 4th.
3pm – Bournemouth (evens) v Cardiff City (13/5) – 5/2 the draw
The Cherries made some interesting moves in the pre-season but didn’t bust the bank and once again remain financially astute. They’ll be fine this season but I think won’t push on a great deal from last year. Cardiff will be thrilled to be back in the big time, but this squad doesn’t have Premier League quality throughout and I think it could be a tough year for the Bluebirds, starting here as I am backing Bournemouth to nick this one 1-0.
Bournemouth Prediction – 14th – Won’t be threatened by the drop, but won’t be top half either.
Cardiff City Prediction – 19th – It’s going to be tough for the Bluebirds and I think the drop awaits.
3pm – Fulham (13/10) v Crystal Palace (21/10) – 23/10 the draw
A London derby to kick off the season sees Fulham welcome Crystal Palace and a return to Craven Cottage for Roy Hodgson. I think Hodgson has steadied Palace very nicely since coming in last season and I expect them to push on from there towards mid-table. Fulham will find it tough in the Premier League but should just about get enough points to stay up, starting with a single point here as I am backing this one to finish in a 1-1 draw.
Fulham Prediction – 17th – It’ll be a close run thing but I think Fulham just avoid the drop.
Crystal Palace Prediction – 11th – Roy Hodgson’s steadied the ship, they’ll be fine this season.
3pm – Huddersfield Town (6/1) v Chelsea (1/2) – 3/1 the draw
Huddersfield have spent a little cash in the off-season but in truth, David Wagner’s squad is amongst the weakest in the division and I think they’ll suffer this season because of it. Chelsea should win here, but I am far from convinced all is well at the club, not just in terms of manager and players, but also at boardroom level. As such, Chelsea will be strong but they won’t be challenging the big boys and may miss out on the Champions League places once again. They’ll get the job done here though with a 2-0 win.
Huddersfield Town Prediction – 20th – They avoided the drop last season, they won’t do so this.
Chelsea Prediction – 5th – Not convinced all is well at Chelsea and this could be another tough year.
3pm – Southampton (10/11) v Burnley (3/1) – 12/5 the draw
I’m really unconvinced given the mess he made at Stoke City last season, that Mark Hughes is the long-term answer at Southampton. Sparky hasn’t covered himself in glory over the past couple of years and I think Southampton will struggle again, starting here with a home game against Europa League competitors Burnley. Sean Dyche’s men may find those extra games impact on their league performance but they’ll do more than enough to be safe. I also feel they’ll nick a 1-0 win here too.
Southampton Prediction – 16th – Not convinced Mark Hughes is the answer to Saints problems.
Burnley Prediction – 12th – The Europa League may stop them hitting the heights of last season.
3pm – Watford (6/5) v Brighton (23/10) – 9/4 the draw
I think both these teams will be in for long seasons. Javi Gracia seems to be moulding Watford into a continental outfit, but at times they look woefully short in the Premier League. Chris Hughton’s Brighton performed well last season but without significant investment, I think this year they will struggle and feel the pinch and I fear that they may be the surprise team that ends up dropping out of the Premier League this season. This will be close but I am backing Watford to win it 2-1.
Watford Prediction – 15th – Could be a tough season for the Hornets and Javi Gracia.
Brighton Prediction – 18th – A tough season ahead for the Seagulls and the drop beckons.
5.30pm – Wolverhampton Wanderers (13/10) v Everton (21/10) – 23/10 the draw
Wolves won the Championship comfortably last season and they’ve used their links to Portugal to bring in some fine players, notably Rui Neves in midfield. They should have more than enough quality to survive in this division comfortably. Everton too have made a shrewd move appointing Marco Silva manager and the ex-Watford and Hull City manager should at least give Evertonians some better performances and a few more wins as I expect them to have a much better season. They may have to settle for a draw here though as I fancy this one to finish 1-1.
Wolves Prediction – 13th – Talented squad, but will take time to get to Premier League level.
Everton Prediction – 7th – Marco Silva’s a shrewd appointment. Everton will finish top half easily.
Sunday 12th August
1.30pm – Liverpool (2/7) v West Ham United (10/1) – 4/1 the draw
For me, Liverpool’s season depends entirely on whether Jurgen Klopp brings in a new goalkeeper, or at least gives Danny Ward an extended run in the team. Karius and Mignolet are not up to the task and if the German persists with either, Liverpool will likely finish fourth at best. West Ham’s new manager Mauricio Pellegrini has made some very shrewd moves this pre-season and I think the Hammers will benefit greatly as a result and likely finish top half. That said, I can’t see them picking up anything at Anfield as I’m backing the Reds attack to get the job done here 2-0.
West Ham Prediction – 8th – Really like the signings Pellegrini has made. Solid season.
Liverpool Prediction – 3rd – Although they could improve further if a new goalkeeper is signed.
A cracker at the Emirates to get the season underway as Unai Emery’s new look Arsenal play their first Premier League game of the post-Wenger era against last season’s runaway champions. The Gunners have seen a few new faces come in during the off season but so have City and although this is a tough game to begin the season with for City, I am backing Pep Guardiola’s men to get the job done here with a 2-1 victory.
Arsenal Prediction – 6th – It’ll be a tough first season for Unai Emery and he’ll feel the pressure.
Man City Prediction – 1st – Champions again, but they will be run a lot more closely this time.