The Premier League returns this weekend, and I am going to give you my tips for the opening round of matches.
Fulham v Arsenal
Both sides come into this game having enjoyed success at Wembley in their last competitive matches. Arsenal won the FA Cup and Community Shield at the home of football while Fulham won the Championship play-off final there. The smart money will be on Arsenal to win this game especially if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang picks up his goalscoring form from the end of last season when he scored six goals in his last four games. And he also found the back of the net against Liverpool in the Community Shield so he will certainly be a good bet to score in this game. I can see Arsenal starting fast and take control of this game in the first half. For that reason, I’m going for an Arsenal HT/FT double.
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Recent meetings between these two sides have been low-scoring affairs with under 2.5 total goals paying out in five of the last six. The Saints have won to nil on their three previous visits to Selhurst Park and they will fancy their chances of making it four straight wins especially if Palace start the season the way they finished the last campaign when they picked up just one point from a possible 24. Both teams to score has not happened in eight of the last nine meetings and that is another bet I would be looking at from this contest.
West Ham v Newcastle
West Ham dragged themselves away from the relegation zone after lockdown by playing a more expansive and entertaining style of football. Will David Moyes be brave enough to start the new season in the same manner? Time will tell. Mikhail Antonio was the standout performer when the season resumed after lockdown scoring eight goals and providing an assist in his final seven matches. I would expect Antonio to play a big part in the Hammers’ gameplan against a Newcastle side that may be content to start the season with a point on the road in a potentially low-scoring affair. Under 2.5 goals might be the bet from this game.
Liverpool v Leeds
Welcome back to the Premier League, Leeds. A trip to Anfield first up might be a daunting proposition for Marcelo Bielsa’s newly-promoted side, but it could also be the ideal time to face the defending champions on their own ground before they find a rhythm. Leeds have waited 16 years to play a Premier League fixture and while they will give it a good go, they might just come undone by Liverpool’s potent attack of Mo Salah, Sadie Mane and Roberto Firmino. I’m going for Liverpool to win this game after leading at half-time.
West Brom v Leicester
Leicester let themselves down at the end of last season when they slipped from what looked to be a safe third-place finish to ending the campaign fifth and missing out on a place in the Champions League. They will have to put that disappointment behind them at West Brom where they will be met by a Baggies side that stumbled their way to promotion rather than ending their fixtures in style. West Brom will look to make it a low-scoring game in order to frustrate their opponents who have won all four of their top flight meetings at the Hawthorns. Jamie Vardy could be the difference between the two sides as Leicester start their campaign with a win.
Tottenham v Everton
Jose Mourinho starts his first full season in charge of Tottenham hoping for a win that will get his players up and running. It won’t be easy against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton who have strengthened their squad with the addition of midfielder Allan and forward James Rodriguez. Both sides have the ability to score goals which is why I think ‘both teams to score’ will land in North London. Everton have not won this away fixture in their last 12 visits to White Hart Lane, Wembley and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Brighton v Chelsea
Chelsea have no excuses for not challenging for the title this season after spending over £230m in bringing the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell to Stamford Bridge. Last season, Frank Lampard’s side were beaten 4-0 in his first game in charge of the Blues, but this should be a winning start to his second season in charge. With the attacking talent at their disposal, I can see Chelsea scoring over 2.5 goals at the Amex against a Brighton side who have yet to beat Chelsea in the EPL in their three home fixtures.
Sheffield Utd v Wolves
Sheffield United were the surprise package last season settling for ninth in their first season back in the top flight when in all fairness, their finishing position could and should have been higher. Wolves missed out on qualifying for European football which could be a blessing in disguise for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. It means they won’t be playing regularly on Thursday and then Sunday. Their squad isn’t the biggest in the league but the quality is there despite losing Matt Doherty to Tottenham in the off-season. This could be another low-scoring game with under 2.5 total goals the most likely outcome.