The Premier League returns this weekend, after the frantic actions of last week’s Football League. After the ridiculous spending of the transfer window, it will be interesting to see how these new squads adapt to England, their teammates, and what must now be a huge amount of pressure. We’ll take a quick look across other leagues as well.
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The Premier League has seen vast amounts of money change hands this season, and clubs will want to see an immediate return on their huge outlays. For that reason, expect a fairly straightforward opening weekend across the division, with only a few possibility of upsets.
Arsenal v Leicester City: Arsenal found some vigour toward the end of the season, and with new signings Kolasinac and Lacazette should carry that form into this season. Leicester should be too weak to stay with them.
Arsenal: 8/15 Draw: 7/2 Leicester: 11/2
Watford v Liverpool: Liverpool have been caught up in a couple of transfer sagas this window, first for Naby Keita and then for Philippe Coutinho. It hasn’t stopped Klopp strengthening in the right places with Salah and Robertson coming in. That said, Watford have quietly gone about their business this summer and love to spoil a party. This one could be a draw.
Watford: 11/2 Draw: 10/3 Liverpool: 4/7
Chelsea v Burnley: Burnley achieved a minor miracle staying up last season, and did it with ease, but second season syndrome could bite without Michael Keane. Especially with an opening game at the champions. Reports say Conte in unhappy but Chelsea should be too strong for the away side.
Chelsea: 1/4 Draw: 11/2 Burnley:14/1
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield Town: Huddersfield make the bow in the Premier League, and in David Wagner have a pragmatic manager. Palace, however, have their own inspirational leader and in Frank de Boer has made any impact on the side, they should win at home. It might be time for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to finally shine.
Crystal Palace: 5/6 Draw: 13/5 Huddersfield: 4/1
Everton v Stoke City: Two different approaches to the transfer window here. Stoke have quietly gone about the business of strengthening, and have done so well. Everton, on the other hand, have been in the headlines every other day. But its not the high profile that will give them the upper hand, its the Europa League – The Toffees have already racked up a couple of competitive games.
Everton: 7/10 Draw: 14/5 Stoke 19/4
Southampton v Swansea City: Southampton are the marker of inconsistency in the Premier League, but this season they have managed to keep hold of their players and even, in Mario Lemina, added real quality. Swansea, on the other hand, will be without Fernando Llorente and the Gylfi Sigurdsson transfer saga is dragging on. Saints win.
Southampton 8/13 Draw: 3/1 Swansea: 11/2
West Brom v Bournemouth: West Brom are always solid under Tony Pulis, and in Jay Rodriguez have found some real firepower – when he’s fit. Bournemouth have added firepower of their own in Jermain Defoe, and I reckon they could nick a result at the Hawthorns.
West Brom: 7/5 Draw: 23/10 Bournemouth: 23/10
Brighton v Man City: Newly promoted Brighton have a daunting task ahead of them as they take on ATP’s favourites for the title Man City. With so much money spent at the back they should be solid, and the competition going forward means that whoever starts should be motivated. City will want to see an immediate return on investment here.
Brighton: 11/1 Draw: 17/4 Man City: 1/3
Newcastle v Tottenham Hotspur: Newcastle return to the Premier League and have momentum on their side against a strong Spurs squad that hasn’t needed much strengthening. That said, a vociferous St. James’ crown, and a whole new transfer issue at White Hart Lane, they could falter at the first hurdle. Spurs rarely start strongly, and I think Newcastle could pick up an unlikely three points.
Newcastle: 9/2 Draw: 17/4 Tottenham: 7/10
Man Utd v West Ham: West Ham could get a rude awakening at Old Trafford. Man Utd have strengthened well over the summer, and Lukaku will want to justify his transfer fee as quickly as possible. The Hammers, on the other hand, have made a few marquee signings but haven’t added as much quality as the teamsheet suggests – Javier Hernandez will want to punish his old club, but Joe Hart made more mistakes leading to goals than any other goalkeeper in Serie A last year. Mourinho’s men to win.
Man Utd: 3/10 Draw: 19/4 West Ham: 11/1
The Best of the Rest
Championship: Bristol City will be hopeful of continuing their good start to the season against a Birmingham who looked out of sorts against Ipswich, while Hull will expect their first win of the season against Burton Albion. Many people’s favourites Leeds take on Preston and should pick up a result, and ATP favourites Fulham will try to put last-minute disappointment behind them and beat Reading, who lost to QPR on opening day.
League One: Fleetwood Town will want to push on after an impressive victory over Rotherham last week. They are away at Northampton. Their fellow table-toppers Oxford and Portsmouth meet in what should be a great game.
League Two: Yeovil will want to put their dreadful start behind them, but it won’t be easy against an Accrington side who looked strong against Colchester. Coventry got a good result against Notts Co, but will have a sterner test in Grimsby this week, while favourites Mansfield will take on upstarts Forest Green.
Europe: The DFB Pokal kicks off this weekend, but due to seeding upsets are hard to spot – 1860 Munich against Ingolstadt stands out though. More interesting is the Coppa Italia, where relegated Palermo will fancy their chances against Cagliari and Frosinone will be eyeing an upset against Serie A Udinese. Ligue 1 sees a reinvigorated Marseilles meet Nantes, under new manager Claudio Ranieri and big spending PSG take on Guingamp.
All odds correct at time of writing.