This weekend kicks off the 2017/2018 Premier League season and after most teams have made their squad and managerial changes everyone should be ready to hit the ground running. The first weekend’s fixtures generally don’t predict how a season will pan out. That said, the teams vying for the title, and the newly promoted teams hoping to stay up, will hope to put down a positive start to their season so they have some momentum to build upon and a buffer to put between themselves and the others.
Arsenal v Leicester City
The Gunners start us off by hosting fairytale Premier League winners Leicester. Leicester managed to keep a number of their big stars and add some reinforcements, despite Riyad Mahrez’s future still a bit of a mystery. They’ll come up against a reinvigorated Arsenal team who just beat Chelsea in the Community shield and will have a lot to prove going into their first season with Champions league football. Arsenal at home will feel confident, but they need to avoid complacency as Leicester aren’t a mediocre outfit. Sanchez will likely miss the opening game, which is a blow for Arsenal, but the likes of Lacazette, Iwobi and Giroud should see them over the line.
Prediction: 2-1 to Arsenal. Place your bets on Arsenal v Leicester City.
Watford v Liverpool
Last season Watford managed to get under the skin of a number of the giants and take points off them with their high work-rate and direct attacking style. Marco Silva has taken over for the Hornets, and he managed a 2-0 win over Liverpool last season while he was at Hull City, so he knows what it takes to keep the Reds quiet. Jurgen Klopp has strengthened his side, though, and they’ve benefitted from a solid pre-season schedule and should be rearing to go. The addition of more attacking talent in Mo Salah alongside the pacey Sadio Mane should provide enough to overwhelm Watford, but Liverpool will need to be cautious of overextending themselves away from home and being punished by a disciplined Watford team.
Prediction: 1-1 draw. Place your bets on Watford v Liverpool.
Everton v Stoke City
Free-spending Everton have been preparing for life without Romelu Lukaku by making astute acquisitions across the pitch, hopefully setting Ronald Koeman’s side up to be stronger than they were last season. Sandro Ramirez, a Barcelona academy product and the likely long-term replacement for Lukaku, managed to score 16 league goals for Malaga in La Liga in only 28 games – an impressive return. They’ve also added Davy Klaassen to their ranks, who captained Ajax to the Europa League final last season and provided 14 League goals from midfield – so Everton’s goal- scoring ability shouldn’t be diminished after the loss of Lukaku. Stoke, on the other hand, have lost their best attacker in Marko Arnautovic to West Ham and haven’t particularly strengthened their team during the transfer window so they’re unlikely to cope with Everton’s quality.
Prediction: 3-1 to Everton. Place your bets on Everton v Stoke.
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
The Geordies have returned from their Championship exile under Rafa Benitez and face a bit of a baptism of fire by facing Spurs in their season opener. Benitez has been active in the transfer window and added a decent amount of signings to his squad, but few of them have played in the Premier League before, so the learning curve they’ll have to navigate could be quite steep. Spurs are on a hot streak after two impressively competent and high-scoring seasons in a row, and they’ve managed to hang onto all their major players, specifically Dele Alli and Harry Kane. No team is at their most prolific in the first game of the season, but Spurs should be able to comfortably manage a victory over Newcastle as they find their feet in the top flight again.
Prediction: 2-0 to Tottenham. Place your bets on Newcastle v Tottenham.
Manchester United v West Ham
Critical eyes will be firmly on both Manchester clubs as they appear to be the most likely title challengers this season, but after Mourinho’s complete overhaul of the United team after van Gaal’s departure it remains to be seen if he’s regained his swagger following the meltdown he endured (and possibly created) at Chelsea. Premier League regulars Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku should help United hit the ground running, but the new youngsters will have to adapt to the pressure that comes with playing at a club of United’s stature. Meanwhile, West Ham managed to snag the signing of ex-United hitman Javier Hernandez, who enjoyed a successful spell in the Premier League before a couple of great seasons in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen. United are clearly still finding their feet and could stumble, but at home they should manage enough of a performance to start the season with three points.
Prediction: 1-0 to Manchester United. Place your bets on Manchester United v West Ham.
We’ve had a look at a few of the exciting games that will start our English Premier League season off, who’s going to get off to a flyer and who’s going to flub their lines? Pundits seem to think the title is heading to Manchester, but they’re going to need to settle any early-season nerves if they’re going to set the pace from the get- go.
If you’re looking to earn your weekend drinks off the guys at Sportingbet (it wouldn’t be the first time), you can place your bets on the upcoming Premier League matches here.