The magnificent match day atmosphere. The waiting around for team sheets. Watching the game live and in full before reliving every highlight of every game with Gary Lineker on the BBC to the annoyance of many sisters, girlfriends, wives and mothers around the country who want the TV remote. I’m of course talking about the start of the new Premier League season. Last season saw a lot of drama in the Premier League such as Chelsea utterly bamboozling implosion to Manchester United missing out on the Champions League places on goal difference to Manchester City, ultimately drawing the curtains on Louis van Gaal’s reign in Manchester. And of course the Premier League trophy found a new home in very unfamiliar surroundings in the form of Leicester, who finished 10 points clear at the top in May to be crowed Champions, despite being 5000/1 with the bookies to do it. But that was last season and football moves very quickly and here we are on the cusp of a new Premier League season.
Hull City vs Leicester City
Leicester City start their title defence away to newly promoted Hull after losing the Community Shield but despite this, the two clubs couldn’t be at more opposite ends of the spectrum if they tried. Leicester are on an obvious high, being crowed the champions of England and having the right to don the gold Premier League badge and although have lost N’Golo Kante, they have reinvested in the squad and made good acquisitions. Whereas Hull City are in full on crisis mode. Steve Bruce has left the club which leaves them without a manager with the season nearly here, a hugely depleted squad due to injuries and being rejected by transfer targets left right and centre. Leicester City couldn’t have asked for a better opening game and I think it could really become a bloodbath out there, resulting in a very anticlimactic opening game of the season.
Score Predication – 0-3
Burnley FC vs Swansea City
Now this is harder to call. It is a very tight fixture and this really could be a relegation 6 pointer already as Swansea City are in a bit of a rut and Burnley despite having a relatively decent squad, are odds-on to be relegated like 2 years ago. Burnley do have an ace up their sleeve however in the form of Andre Gray. The speed merchant scored 25 goals in the Championship last season and has scored a hatful in pre-season, as well as having a good squad around him with previous Premier League experience. Although Swansea ended the season in somewhat of a flourish and started well last season, they were really in a relegation scrap for much of last season and only just about avoided slipping back into the 2nd tier. They have also recently lost arguably two of their best players in the form of Ashley Williams to Everton and Andre Ayew to West Ham. This significantly weakens their spine and I think this spells the end of their Premier League stay. Against Burnley however, I can see a score draw.
Score Predication – 2-2
Crystal Palace vs West Brom
Last season was a mixed bag for Crystal Palace as they survived the relegation battle and got to the FA cup final which they lost in extra time after a valiant effort, but had a horrible 2016 dry patch, winning their first game of the year in April, the last time to do so in entire of England. Despite this they had a stupendous window thus far bringing in the likes of Steve Mandanda, James Tomkins and Andros Townsend. They are close to losing star man Yannick Bolasie to Everton however, so further investment many need to be made. As for West Brom, they have become a stubborn maiden when its come to relegation, though have flirted with the zone over the past few years. When it comes to these two meeting on Saturday, I can see an entertaining game but Crystal Palace edging it.
Score Predication – 2-1
Everton v Tottenham
Everton parted ways with Spaniard Roberto Martinez after he led them to a woefully underwhelming 11th place finish and it has hard to see why in plain sight why they were doing so bad with the amount of quality players they have at their disposal but it soon become obvious that the defensive solidity that was instilled to these players by David Moyes had slipped away and they were an utter shambles at defending and to address them they have bought in Ronald Koeman from Southampton as their new manager and although they have sold star man John Stones to Manchester City(who I believe is very overrated) they have bought in Wales captain Ashley Williams to shore up the defence on their road to recovery. This is the opposite for Tottenham, who have managed to keep star players as well as add in the form of Wanyama and Janssen and although they did ‘bottle’ the league last season, they’re better for it and can push on for the title again, and I think their title push will start with a win.
Score Predication – 1-3
Middlesbrough vs Stoke City
There has to always be one. The match day yawnfest. Middlesbrough are finally back in the Premier League and although have made some very good signings like Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes, I still see them struggling and going down but of course not without a fight. The purchase of Viktor Fischer from Ajax is also an eye-catching one as he can provide that attacking spark for them as well as Gaston Ramirez. Stoke City seem to have finally broken away from the stigma set by Tony Pulis of them being a route one team or playing rugby football as they have made some very good signings in technical players and ball players and this summer is no different, the main one being Joe Allen from Liverpool. Fresh of being voted in the best XI for the Euros he joins a team with high ambition and can seriously challenge for Europe, especially after finishing 9th for the past three years. I see this being a high scoring score draw.
Score Predication – 2-2
Southampton vs Watford
This fixture sees two clubs which has seen a fair few changes happen to it over the past few months as both have appointed new manager and as routine is seems over the past few years, Southampton have lost key players. They sold midfielder Victor Wanyama to Spurs as well as offloading striking duo Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle to Liverpool(unsurprisingly) and to Shandong Luneng for a combined fee of £49m. They also lost their manager Ronald Koeman to Everton who got them two of their best point totals ever in the Premier League in a row and appointed Claude Puel as his replacement. The attacking exodus could mean it is time for Charlie Austin to take centre stage at St Marys, after an underwhelming initial 6 months. As for Watford, they dismissed Enrique Sánchez Flores after an underwhelming 2nd half of the season and replaced him with Walter Mazzarri, but have kept Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney amid interest from China and Leicester respectively as well as signing up both on new deals, so Watford will be striving for another season in the top flight and strengthening their position as a steady Premier League side. As for the game, both have sets of players who wants to impress the manager but I see Southampton winning comfortably.
Score Predication – 3-1
Manchester City vs Sunderland
This game also involves two new managers making their mark, although ironically are both on opposite ends of the manager wish list in Pep Guardiola and David Moyes. Manchester City secured the world’s most sought after manager in Pep and he’s wasted no time in splashing the cash as he’s brought in the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, Nolitio, numerous promising youngsters as well as most recently secured Everton’s John Stones, who is touted as Pep’s perfect player in terms of his ability on the ball and ability to step out of defence to be a ball playing centre-half, like he moulded Jerome Boateng to become at Bayern Munich. As for Sunderland, after effectively condemning rivals Newcastle to relegation they were on an obvious high. This was quickly gone however as they lost manager Sam Allardyce to the England job and had brought in no signings until they appointed David Moyes, who quickly amended this by purchasing Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea and the Manchester United trio of Paddy Mcnair, Donald Love and Adnan Januzaj, the 2 former being purchases and the latter being a season long loan. Both managers will want to get off to a good start and are likely to be on opposite ends of the table come May, though I think Manchester City will steamroll through Sunderland.
Score Predication – 4-0
Bournemouth vs Manchester United
This starting fixture was ironically the game of the last season, due to a bomb scare at Old Trafford meaning the game had to be rearranged. The game also gave Manchester United the chance to secure Champions League football and leapfrog Man City into fourth, if they won 19-0. Needless to say, they won 3-1 and were condemned to a season playing in the Europa League. That game is what killed off Louis van Gaal and this time around it still has the same aura of emotional tension due to the changes made at Manchester United regarding manager and players. After breaking the world record transfer fee to bring back Paul Pogba from Juventus for £89m, they need to stamp their authority on the league as they are arguably the frontrunners along with Manchester City to win the league. Bournemouth won’t make it easy however, they had an amazing season last year and will look to build on that to be well on their way to become an established Premier league club. As for the game, I think Manchester United will win and give Jose Mourinho his first win as United boss.
Score Predication – 0-2
Arsenal vs Liverpool
The biggest game of the opening match day of the Premier League season in terms of names is Arsenal vs Liverpool and this is a huge season for both Arsenal and Liverpool and I think the match will reflect that. Arsenal somehow sneaked their way into finishing 2nd place last season and although that is improvement for the year previous, they will be hugely disappointed that they did not end their 12 year wait for a league title as all their rivals were in a phase of transition but have been gifted as many of the clubs still are such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. They are in an injury crisis right now however as Mertasacker and Gabriel are both sustaining long-term injuries, Koscielny is still on break from the Euros so the only fit defenders are Callum Chambers and new signing Rob Holding. New midfielder Granit Xhaka looks the part however and can be pivotal. As for Liverpool, I genuinely have no clue what Klopp is trying to do. There is little to no squad balance as they sold their only real first team recognized winger in Ibe and have bought in Mane and Wijnaldum, creating further attacking and midfield headache when really, the defence is what is in most need of renforcements, despite the arrival of Joel Matip. This game is touted to be the most exciting game of the match day due to the magnitude of the teams as well as Arsenal’s defensive frailties and Liverpool’s attacking riches and I somewhat agree with Arsenal nicking it late on.
Score Predication – 3-2
Chelsea v West Ham United
The final game of match day one is a tasty encounter and is a London derby between Chelsea and West Ham. After their woeful title defence last season finishing 10th after sacking Jose Mourinho and having Guus Hiddink as interim manager for a 2nd time, they appointed Italy boss Anotonio Conte and the fiery Italian wasted no time by bringing in young Belgium talent Michy Batshuayi and arguably last season’s best player N’Golo Kante from champions Leicester City as well as keeping talents such as Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, in addition to getting John Terry to sign a new one year deal. Conte will be having Chelsea firing on all cylinders soon no doubt and their first opponents are West Ham United. West Ham, fresh off moving into the Olympic Park went straight into the transfer market and have made good acquisitions in Feghouli, Tore, Nordtveit amongst others, being 2 matches away from qualifying for the Europa League as well as keeping Dimitri Payet. amid interest from clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United etc. I think this will be a close contest however, with Chelsea just edging it.
Score Predication – 2-1