After a busy summer, the Premier League returns this weekend with a full complement of fixtures across the opening few days of the season. With the Charity Shield now sorted, attention will turn for the next few weeks to a series of league matches with teams looking to make the best possible start to the new season.
Champions Manchester City will be hoping to defend their title for a third successive time, but the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham will be hoping to pip the Citizens to the title. How will the season’s go for the newly promoted teams? Can Arsenal and Manchester United get back into Champions League contention and how will the likes of Wolves, Leicester and Everton perform over the year.
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All the action begins this weekend with the following ten games, each of which we have previewed and given you our tips for below.
Premier League Matchday 1
All kick off times below are 3pm unless otherwise stated
Friday 9th August
Liverpool v Norwich City
After a superb campaign last season fell just short, Liverpool did taste success in winning the Champions League and that will give this team new-found confidence. Norwich have a poor record against Liverpool, especially at Anfield and their defence is somewhat leaky. I expect Liverpool to get their season off to a very positive start here against the Premier League new boys and this should be a comfortable home win for the Reds.
Saturday 10th August
West Ham United v Manchester City (12.30)
The Champions begin the defence of their title with what looks like a tricky trip to London to face West Ham, but the truth is City have demolished West Ham on their home pitch in the last few seasons and in truth, I don’t see anything different this time around. I think City will get the season off to a very good start with a strong win on the road.
Bournemouth v Sheffield United
Bournemouth’s form tailed off last season after a solid start and Sheffield United will be hoping they can get off to a flyer in the Premier League. Bournemouth do blow hot and cold but on home soil on the opening day against a newly promoted side and the team I feel are weakest in this division, I am backing the home side to emerge with the three points.
Burnley v Southampton
I expect both of these teams to avoid the relegation battle that they were embroiled in last season. Sean Dyche knows how to get the best from his players and I think Ralph Hassenhuttl has done the same at Southampton. This will be close but I feel that this game could be the one which just heads in favour of the Saints landing the away win.
Crystal Palace v Everton
Two of the more inconsistent teams in the Premier League meet at Selhurst Park on the opening Saturday. What Crystal Palace will turn up this season? That is the question all Eagles fans want answering, although the same can be said of Everton in truth. I expect this to be a battle in more ways than one and I think a draw is the most likely outcome.
Watford v Brighton
After their thrashing in the FA Cup Final, Watford will have spent the summer stewing over that and I feel they will want to repay their fans with a strong showing here against a Brighton side I feel are going to struggle a great deal this season. Javi Gracia is a very underrated manager and I’m backing him to mastermind a decent Watford win here on the opening day.
Tottenham v Aston Villa (5.30)
After falling just short in the Champions League, Spurs have at least spent a little money this summer and I think they will benefit from that. Their new stadium is also a big benefit for the home side and this is a bit of a tough start to their first Premier league campaign in a while for Villa. I fully expect Spurs to win this one relatively easily.
Sunday 11th August
Leicester City v Wolves (2pm)
I fully expect both these teams to be pushing hard for places in the top six this season and as such, this encounter at the King Power should be telling. I feel Leicester have made the best signing of the pre-season in Tielemans while Wolves are also looking strong. Neither side will want to start with a defeat here, so I think a draw is the wise option.
Newcastle United v Arsenal (2pm)
How will Newcastle post-Rafa Benitez fare this season? Personally, I think it is going to be a very tough season for the Toon Army and they start the season against an Arsenal side that do not have the best record at St James’ Park. That said, Arsenal do have firepower and without Benitez tactical acumen, I am backing Arsenal for the win here.
Manchester United v Chelsea (4.30pm)
The biggest game of the weekend should be a cracker as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attempts to get the Red Devils season underway against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The Londoners will be without Eden Hazard for this game and his absence will be keenly felt. That said, it isn’t all harmonious at Old Trafford either so this could well be an intriguing clash. I fancy there to be goals here and I think a draw is the most likely outcome at Old Trafford.