Welcome back Premier League fans! Football season begins today! Newcomers Wolves, Fulham, and Cardiff City will be trying to replicate last year’s promoted clubs as all three avoided the drop this past season. As many have expected, current champions Manchester City is the club that most pundits have picked to win the league yet again, but Liverpool and Chelsea may have something to say about that. The Merseyside club has made some major additions to the squad and have even addressed (or at least made attempts to address) their goalkeeping issue which has afflicted the club over the last two seasons and the Blues have added some needed steel to their midfield. With that, let’s get to it!
(All kickoffs EST)
Manchester United vs. Leicester City (3:00 pm)
Jose Mourinho appears to be becoming increasingly more morose these past few weeks. The Manchester United manager is clearly not happy with his club’s lack of movement in the transfer window. He has, in fact, in what one can only presume is a preemptive strike so to speak, already started the process of deflecting blame; constantly calling out rival clubs in a vain effort to draw attention from the gathering storm clouds that are forming over Old Trafford. The irony of his audacious ramblings is the fact that the manager has had the luxury of spending over a billion pounds on players over the years due to the multitude of affluent clubs he has managed in his career. Still, United is a world-renown football club with quality players. World Cup champion Paul Pogba will be back in the center of the park and star striker Romelu Lukaku will want to be in the mix for the golden boot. Visitors Leicester City will be hoping that marksman Jamie Vardy can resurrect his goal-scoring ways that brought the Foxes a miraculous league title three seasons ago, but their loss of Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City will hurt. I expect a United victory, albeit a slim one, but I don’t expect Mourinho to last the season.
Newcastle United vs. Tottenham (7:30 am)
Howay the lads! Football has returned to Tyneside and the Toon army faithful will be more than excited to see their new strikers in action. Japanese international Yoshinori Muto and Venezuelan Salomon Randon were brought in to rectify their poor goal-scoring record from last year. The Magpies only managed 39 goals in the league last season (barely more than a goal a game), which is not the ratio you want if European football is craved. Conversely, Tottenham may not have dipped into the transfer market this summer, but talisman Harry Kane, fresh off a solid World Cup, will be back leading the line. Additionally, attacking midfielder Lucas Moura has had a brilliant preseason and the Brazilian will certainly be tormenting defenses this year. Close game but Spurs to win.
Bournemouth vs. Cardiff City (10:00am)
Four straight seasons in the Premier League is a massive achievement for the Cherries. Eddie Howe’s boys have consistently punched above their collective weight despite modest spending over the years and playing in the smallest stadium in the league. Newly-promoted Cardiff is thrilled to be back in the promised land and will hope that their stay lasts a little longer than the previous time they were in the top flight – having been relegated after just one season. While I do not expect this game to thrill, striker Callum Wilson should be the difference for Bournemouth.
Fulham vs. Crystal Palace (10:00)
Fulham is back in the Premier League after several seasons down in the second tier of English football. Wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon is a massive reason for their promotion. The 18 year old scored sixteen goals last season! Additionally, the London club has made some impressive moves in the transfer market, bringing in German international Andre Schurrle and Ivorian Jean Michal Seri. They also landed Atletico Madrid striker Luciano Vietto on loan in the final hours of the transfer window. As for the Eagles, Palace pulled off quite the coup by signing a German international of their own. Max Meyer, who recently plied his trade in the Bundesliga with FC Schalke, is an attacking midfielder with bags of talent. Fulham may not be solid throughout the pitch, but their quality signings, coupled with starting the season in front of their own fans, should be enough to capture all 3 points.
Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea (10:00)
Both clubs ended last season on completely different notes. For Huddersfield, the joy of retaining their top flight status after being promoted that season was about all that their fans could ask for. As for Chelsea, despite an F.A. Cup trophy, the Blues will certainly be disappointed with not competing in Europe’s top competition this year. This shock has led to a number of changes being made at Stamford Bridge, starting at the top. Last season’s manager Antonio Conte was replaced by compatriot Maurizio Sarri. Keeper Thibaut Courtois has moved to Real Madrid with the Blues signing Kepa Arrizabalaga for a record-breaking transfer fee. They have also strengthened in the midfield by bringing in Italian international Jorginho and Croatian World Cup runner-up Mateo Kovacic. Considering they were able to retain Willian, Eden Hazard, and N’Golo Kante, Chelsea’s midfield is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Despite playing at home, Huddersfield manager David Wagner is going to have his hands full. Chelsea to win by multiple goals.
Watford vs. Brighton (10:00 am)
Watford may have lost their star Brazilian Richarlison to Everton, but the Hornets can seek solace in the fact that central midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure was one of the best central midfielders in the league last year. The Frenchman scored seven goals from the middle of the park last season, an admirable amount for a club that didn’t find the back of the net often. As for Brighton, the seacoast club have strengthened up top, bringing in Iranian Alireza Jahanbakhsh (here’s hoping he does not score a lot as writing that name is going to take some time getting used to) from the Dutch league and Romanian Florin Andone from La Liga. Vicarage Road can be a troublesome venue for many clubs, but I think these sides with cancel each other out. Draw.
Wolves vs. Everton (1o:00)
Premier League football has returned to the Molineux. Wolves won the league Championship last season comfortably and have shown they are not afraid to “splash the cash” as they look to retain their top flight status come the end of the season. The West Midlands club has brought in an astounding eleven players! Everton have also not shied away from spending money, having bought Richarlison from Watford and Yerry Mina from Barcelona for a combined 70 million! They also snapped up Brazilian international Bernardo on a free transfer. Sometimes we see examples in football when multiple purchases does not necessarily equate to success as it can take time for these footballers to adapt to one another’s playing style, but the amount of players donning their new kits for this match should make for an entertaining watch. Everton to nick it.
Liverpool vs. West Ham (8:30)
Anfield will surely be rocking as the Reds look to get the season underway with a bang. The Merseyside club had an impressive preseason thanks to some key signings and the return of the Egyptian Pharaoh Mohamed Salah. Liverpool signed Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig, Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City and Fabinho from Monaco. However, what haunted them the most last season was their problem at the goalkeeping position. Liverpool bought Brazilian international Alisson from Roma to shore up the defense. As for West Ham, the London club brought an experienced manager in the form of Manuel Pelligrini. The Argentine has had success at multiple clubs, including a Premier League title with Manchester City. Keeping it (somewhat) short, the last time these clubs met at Anfield, the hosts ran out 4-0 victors and I expect not much to be different this time around. Liverpool to win by multiple goals.
Southampton vs. Burnley (10:00 am)
A European distraction is not an excuse that Burnley can use often considering they’re trying to reach the group stages of the Europa League for the first time in their history, but the Clarets could be forgiven should they deliver a less than satisfactory performance this weekend. Still, Sean Dyche always gets his boys to perform to the best of their abilities as he has shown over the last two seasons. Burnley have brought in English keeper Joe Hart to add to the wealth of English keepers they already have on the books and Southampton have strengthened in attack by signing a reinvigorated Danny Ings on loan from Liverpool. Saints to win.
Arsenal vs. Manchester City (11:00)
GAME OF THE WEEKEND. There will certainly be a a feeling of emptiness for both Arsenal fans and the indeed the entire league as well. Longtime Gunners boss Arsene Wenger stepped down at the end of the season last year having managed the club for two decades! However, Arsenal fans can feel confident in new manager Unai Emery. The Spaniard has won trophies in both Spain and France. They have also brought in German international keeper Bernd Leno and experienced fullback Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer. Champions Manchester City will want to replicate last season’s triumph, having won the league by a country mile. The Cityzens have not spent nearly as much this summer as they have in the previous summers, but they still managed to bring in Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. They also, of course have Kevin de Bruyne – easily one of the best midfielders in the league, if not the world. IF this game does not end in a draw as I imagine it will, I expect Arsenal to upset the odds.