Football doesn’t seem to take a holiday these days with the English Premier League kicking off once again this weekend. The 2015/16 season was a shock to all as Leicester won the title in what was and still feels like such a surreal season. It creates an air of uncertainty and unpredictability about this season simply because Leicester showed what is possible. The hunt for the title begins once again this weekend with Leicester starting their defence away at Hull. It’s not the most glamourous matchup of the weekend but it does warm things up nicely ahead of what should be a great weekend of football.
Multi Bet: Leicester Win ($1.95), Crystal Palace Win ($2), Manchester United Win ($1.8) = $7.02
Match Day 1 Best Bet: Leicester to beat Hull at $1.95
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 12th August
Hull vs Leicester
There’s no Kante this weekend to keep things in control defensively for Leicester this week but they shouldn’t have much trouble against newly promoted Hull. And whilst Kante may have left for the bright lights of London, Mahrez is still there for now and along with Vardy should cause plenty of trouble for Hull. Hull made their way up through the Championship playoffs having finished 4th and whilst defensively last season they only conceded 35 goals (equal 2nd with Burnley), the step up to the Premier League is a different level and Leicester aren’t shy about scoring. The real problem for Hull though has been the resignation of Steve Bruce 3 weeks before the season started and there’s still not a replacement in charge. That uncertainty alone and especially at the start of the season will likely count against them.
Predicted score: Leicester 2-0
Best Bet: Leicester to win at $1.95 (85%)
Next Best: Leicester to lead at Half-Time at $2.5
Middlesbrough vs Stoke
Newly promoted Middlesbrough will fancy their chances against Stoke and of the 3 promoted sides they look the most likely to get a win on the opening week. They’ve done some great business in the transfer window through the likes of Negredo, Fischer and Valdes which should serve them well. Stoke are a difficult ask though where defensively they will be difficult to break down but the absence of some key players coupled with the excitement for Middlesbrough in their opening game at home could be recipe for an upset. Jack Butland missing in goal in particular is a big blow for Stoke whilst a couple players including Shaqiri are doubts. It’ll be a tight contest but I’m going to back the new boys for a first up win.
Predicted score: Middlesbrough 2-1
Best Bet: Half-time Draw at $1.83 (80%)
Next Best: Middlesbrough Draw No Bet at $1.57
Southampton vs Watford
The Saints have had another summer of change but they’ll be hoping it doesn’t impact the start of their season. A home game to kick things off under a new manager could be just what they need though. They’re relatively new look side still looks strong at the core despite the losses of Mane and Wanyama and they should still make it a difficult ask for Watford to get points here. Watford had a great first half of the 2015/16 season where they sat in 7th after 18 games but from their they just fell away to finish in 13th. Much like the Saints though they start with a new manager this season and it’ll be interesting to see how they get things going this week. Southampton will be particularly dangerous on the counter with the pace up front in Long and Redmond who will play alongside him not to mention the dangerous Tadic just behind. Watford are a good enough side to survive another season but Southampton just have a way of performing well despite losing their best players each year.
Predicted score: Southampton 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.71 (85%)
Next Best: Southampton to win at $1.8
Burnley vs Swansea
This looks a really close one on paper between newly promoted Burnley when they host Swansea. Swansea have had an interesting summer but have lost 2 of their bets 3 players already in Ayew and more recently Ashley Williams who is off to Everton. The loos of Williams in particular is a massive blow as their captain who brought experience and stability to their back four. Their still a decent looking side on paper but they also need time to settle in their new players and for me that gives Burnley a great chance to at least kick things off with a point. That will be a crucial point as well as it’s going to be a long season for Burnley who have done little in terms of transfer activity to suggest they have enough depth and quality to survive.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.57 (75%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.91
Crystal Palace vs West Brom
This Palace side looks exciting, quick, and powerful. They’ve brought in more talent through the likes of Townsend and Mandanda who look very suitable to a side of Palace’s attributes. For West Brom it’s looking like a difficult first up test and Palace look like they may just have a little too much creativity for them. Pulis teams always tend to be very difficult to break down and this side looks no different but Palace just look like they have a little too much up front.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Crystal Palace to win at $2 (85%)
Next Best: Crystal Palace to win to Nil at $2.88
Everton vs Tottenham
The 2015/16 season was fairly poor for Everton and they have a tough ask first up to change things this season when they host Tottenham. There is a feeling of a fresh start though for Everton under new manager Koeman who was great for Southampton. The loss of Stones to Manchester City hurts but through Mori, Jagielka and Williams they should be able to cover for that loss. For this weekend though they’ll be unlikely to throw Williams straight in but the doubt up front on Lukaku limits their goal threat. For Tottenham they’ll be really keen to get things off to winning ways this season after they only took 3 points from their opening 4 games last season before finishing 3rd. The thing that Spurs have going for them though is another season under Poch and more importantly they haven’t lost any players. They will be without Dembele for the first 4 games but the incoming Wanyama more than fills that void. Tottenham look the more settled and more complete of the two sides here and should win.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Tottenham Draw No Bet at $1.63 (90%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win at $2.4
Manchester City vs Sunderland
One of the title favourites that is Manchester City have a favourable match to get their season up and running against a side that could be headed for relegation after flirting with it for a number of seasons now. It would be a massive upset if Sunderland won here as they clearly need more time to settle their new players and get used to another new manager in David Moyes. City should take advantage of this and despite some injuries and doubts on fitness of a few players, they have more than enough to kick the season off with a strong win.
Predicted score: Manchester City 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester City to win to Nil at $2 (90%)
Next Best: Manchester City to win both halves at $2.5
Bournemouth vs Manchester United
The season is looking bright for Manchester United after a busy summer of spending under new manager Jose Mourinho. With that comes bigger expectations, which isn’t exactly a new concept at Manchester United, and they’ll expect to get off to a win away at Bournemouth. New record signing Paul Pogba will miss through suspension this week but I doubt they would need him for this one anyway. The additions of Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan alone gives United more than enough to get a win here. For Bournemouth they did well to survive last season but they need to add some more quality as their second season in the top flight could be a lot more difficult.
Predicted score: Manchester United 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester United to win at $1.8 (95%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win to Nil at $2.88
Arsenal vs Liverpool
This is the glamour match of the opening weekend with Arsenal taking on Liverpool but whilst things are looking up for Liverpool under Klopp the same can’t be said of Arsenal. The Gunners have done little to please fans in terms of transfers before the season and this coupled with injuries to Mertesacker and Paulista as well as fitness doubts over Koscielny, Ozil, Giroud and Wilshere, Arsenal have a tough start ahead of them. It should mean a make-shift back four for Arsenal and one where Liverpool could take great advantage. The likes of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino will be licking their lips at the prospect of a weak Arsenal defence. Liverpool though may not have as many injuries defensively but they have been a side known to leak goals in recent seasons and with that this game could be one where a number of goals will be had and it’ll just come down to who will score more. Arsenal lost their opening game last season at home to West Ham and I can see Liverpool repeating the dose here.
Predicted score: Liverpool 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.57 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.74
Chelsea vs West Ham
The opening round of fixtures finishes off with a London derby between Chelsea and West Ham. There’s a lot for Chelsea to forget about last season but ahead of a new campaign and without the distraction of Champions League football they look like they could have a real run at the title. A lot will rest on the form of Hazard getting back to his best but the signing of Kante from Leicester for me is their most important. Chelsea leaked goals last season and Kante’s protection of the back four will mostly fix that issue. West Ham have excitement around them at the moment having moved into their new stadium and also going on a Europa League journey this season (assuming they qualify). If this was last season, then West Ham would be right in with a chance here but Chelsea just look a completely different prospect at the start of this new season.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-0
Best Bet: Half-Time Draw at $2.1 (75%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.96