Welcome to the preview of the opening weekend of the English Premier League season for 2017/18. Just like every break between seasons, the wait has been long and painful for that first official kick off for the season proper. There’s great sense of optimism in the air as sides build up some momentum and confidence through pre-season, but there’s nothing like that first official match to really put things in perspective. Some will hit the ground running, others will fall flat compared to higher expectations and then there will be those that really shock. Opening weekend can produce anything and this weekend will be no exception to that.
**Odds from Sportsbet.com.au as of 9th August
Arsenal vs Leicester
Last 5 meetings: Arsenal 4, Leicester 0, Draw 1
There’s always a build-up of pressure and nervousness for the opening fixture and that will definitely be the case for Arsenal as they have more to lose than Leicester in this one. Arsenal have lost their opening in each of the last two seasons with a 4-3 loss to Liverpool last season and a 2-0 loss to West Ham the year prior and both of these losses came at home. Despite that record though, Arsenal have had a surprisingly fairly stable off-season that has seen Sanchez still part of the squad whilst they’ve also brought in a quality striker in Lacazette. Having dropped out of the top 4 last season, Arsenal will be keen to make a statement in their opening fixture this weekend and unfortunately for Leicester, it could be a tough way to start the season. Leicester did little to convince in their title defence last season, finishing 12th and winning just twice on the road. Arsenal only lost twice at home last season and with a 3rd straight loss to start a season unlikely, this should be a solid Arsenal win.
Predicted Result: Arsenal 2-0
Best Bet: Arsenal to lead at Half-Time at $1.91
Best Value Bet: Arsenal -1 Handicap at $2.3
Watford vs Liverpool
Last 5 meetings: Liverpool 4, Watford 1
Liverpool have a strong record over Watford but their last 2 trips to Vicarage Road have been contrasting. Their most recent visit was a tight 1-0 win and the match previous to that was a 3-0 loss which speaks to the continuing issue for Liverpool which has been their defence. Despite finishing 4th, Liverpool conceded 42 times last season, the most of any side in the top 4 which is going to be a continuing worry for them without a whole lot of reinforcements defensively coming in so far this transfer window. They did however finish last season off really strong where they kept 5 clean sheets in their final 6 matches conceding just once. Momentum is a funny thing sometimes and despite the timeframe, Liverpool can build on that with a sense of confidence heading into the new season. With that said though, Watford will enjoy opening their season at home, with a new manager and a sense of nothing to lose. That will be dangerous for Liverpool and as a result this has the possibility of ending closer than you might think though one thing we should be confident on is that there should be plenty of goals to be had here.
Predicted Result: Liverpool 3-2
Best Bet: Liverpool to win at $1.53
Best Value Bet: Over 3.5 goals at $2.98
Chelsea vs Burnley
Last 5 meetings: Chelsea 3, Draws 2
Chelsea have a favourable opening fixture here against Burnley and are rightful favourites for this one. Burnley only won once on the road last season and took just 7 points in total in away fixtures conceding 35 and scoring just 13. They’ve also lost their best defender over the pre-season with Keane heading to Everton so it’ll be interesting to see how they cover for that loss because right now it’s looking like a long hard season ahead. Part of the trouble for Burnley was that they just didn’t have the goal scoring power or goal scoring options in order to throw something different at the opposition. It’ll be no different when they face Chelsea here either as Chelsea just have too much for them, even without their best player in Eden Hazard.
Predicted Result: Chelsea 3-0
Best Bet: Chelsea to win to Nil at $1.83
Best Value Bet: Chelsea to win both halves at $2.6
Brighton vs Manchester City
Last 5 meetings: Manchester City 2, Brighton 1, Draws 2
Brighton last played Manchester City back in 2008 in a league cup, so there’s little to go by on recent meetings. Regardless though, Brighton will likely be pretty competitive in the first 20-30 minutes of this opening match, but it’s difficult to see Manchester City dropping this match. The title favourites have done a lot of spending over the summer so they’ll need time to gel quickly, but so far in their pre-season matches they have certainly looked pretty menacing at times, even if the result doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. Their front line headed by Jesus along with the likes of De Bruyne, Silva and the plethora of options that they could start with on or off the bench will make this a difficult one for Brighton to get much out of.
Predicted Result: Manchester City 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester City -1 Handicap at $1.83
Best Value Bet: Manchester City to win to Nil at $2.1
Newcastle vs Tottenham
Last 5 meetings: Newcastle 3, Tottenham 2
Newcastle have been somewhat of a bogey side for Tottenham in recent years, but they haven’t played each other in the top flight since May 2016 when Spurs were heavily embarrassed in a 5-1 loss to end the season. Since then, it’s fair to say Tottenham have transformed into a different side with clearly a much stronger mentality that gives them a genuine shot at the title this season so any suggestion of any mental scars about playing Newcastle this weekend would be a little off the mark. That’s not to say Spurs and Pochettino don’t have some headaches with their selection this weekend, particularly at Right-Back with an injury cloud over their only 1st teamer at that position, Trippier. Where Spurs don’t have any issues though is up front with their immensely damaging trio of Kane, Eriksen & Alli set to cause more pain on sides this season. Those 3 combined for 55 goals and 38 assists last season and if there’s one thing for sure, there will be goals in this one. The last 6 meetings have all produced over 2.5 goals for 24 goals in total and with some nerves, there’s chances for both sides here but Tottenham will have enough for the 3 points.
Predicted Result: Tottenham 3-1
Best Bet: Tottenham to win at $1.67
Best Value Bet: Tottenham to lead at Half-Time at $2.2
Manchester United vs West Ham
Last 5 meetings: Manchester United 3, West Ham 1, Draws 1
Manchester United have spent big again over the off season but there’s still a sense they need to do more if they are to really challenge for the title. They do however have a stronger and more settled line-up in comparison to West Ham here who themselves have made a lot of changes in the transfer window. As a result, the Hammers have had an average pre-season in terms of results with their most recent a 3-0 loss to Manchester City. If we could go completely off last season’s form though, then West Ham would have a decent shot at an upset in the form of a draw at least. Manchester United had a pretty poor home record despite recording just the 1 loss but the 10 draws was the difference between their 6th place finish and a top 4 finish. With that said though, United had the 2nd best defensive record at home in the league with just 12 goals conceded and given their defence has only been strengthened, West Ham may find it difficult to break through for a winning score. The cheeky Chicharito of course may sneak a goal, but expect United to get the 3 points.
Predicted Result: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.65
Best Value Bet: Manchester United to win and Both Teams to score at $3
Everton vs Stoke
Last 5 meetings: Everton 2, Stoke 2, Draws 1
Predicted Result: Everton 2-1
Best Bet: Everton to win at $1.67
Best Value Bet: Wayne Rooney to score anytime at $2.8
West Brom vs Bournemouth
Last 5 meetings: Bournemouth 3, West Brom 1, Draws 1
Predicted Result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.65
Best Value Bet: Draw at $3.25
Southampton vs Swansea
Last 5 meetings: Swansea 2, Southampton 3
Predicted Result: Southampton 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.73
Best Value Bet: Southampton to win to Nil at $2.5
Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield
Last 5 meetings: Huddersfield 1, Crystal Palace 1, Draws 3
Predicted Result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.91
Best Value Bet: Half-Time Draw at $2