English Premier League – Match Day 1

English Premier League - Football

The Premier League is back for another season with a massive weekend of football to kick things off for 2015/16. All eyes will be on Manchester United and Tottenham first up with plenty of excitement and optimism around Manchester United and their plethora of top quality signings with a trimmed down young Tottenham side looking for a big scalp. It’s a great matchup to kick off the season but it’s of course not the only match to look forward to. Straight after there will be plenty of interest in newly promoted Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich and whether they can buck the trend and win as a promoted side on opening day. Over the last 10 seasons, newly promoted sides have won just 5 of 30 matches meaning that history is against the new boys once more. Of the 3 matches this weekend for the new boys, Bournemouth perhaps look the most likely at home against a Villa side that has had a lot of change throughout the off season. Once we’ve got those games out of the way though, it’ll be time for the defending Champions Chelsea to take on Swansea at home. Chelsea will no doubt be looking to make a statement of intent in that one. The remaining games then stretch through until Tuesday morning finishing up with West Brom hosting Manchester City. Plenty of football ahead so let’s have a look at what may happen.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 8th August

Manchester United ($1.61) versus Tottenham ($6), Draw ($3.75)

This is going to be an exciting game and not just because it’s the opening game of the season. There’s plenty of new faces in this Manchester United side that will be expected to deliver whilst for Tottenham there’s a sense of new hope from their up and coming youngsters led by Kane and Eriksen. Adding to the intrigue will be the goalkeeping situation for both sides with LVG confirming De Gea will be sitting the game out amidst building transfer speculation whilst Lloris, despite making an appearance against AC Milan in a friendly earlier in the week, is still a doubt having just come back from a broken wrist. Leading on from here I feel there’s a bit of uncertainty around both sides defensive line-ups. United could start with a completely new back four from last season in Darmian, Smalling, Blind, and Shaw. On paper that’s an exciting back four but with Romero in goals set to make his debut I just wonder how cohesive they will be from the get go. At the other end of the pitch, Tottenham will be keen to reduce the number of goals they conceded last season and the hope is stability in less changes and the introduction of Alderweireld will help in that.
Considering United have such a potent attack and Tottenham have been prone to getting caught out on the counter, I can see plenty of opportunities for United to score here. Rooney up front with support from Mata, Depay, and Young can be lethal and I’d be surprised if they didn’t score a few goals. Tottenham will have their chances given United’s new look defence but I can see United taking the edge in this one in a close game. I’d avoid the head to head markets here given Spurs have a good record against United in recent times with United winning just 1 of the last 6 meetings.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.74 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win and both teams to score at $3.28

Bournemouth ($2) versus Aston Villa ($3.75), Draw ($3.4)

Bournemouth should be one of the sides you take notice of this season because they’ll provide plenty of excitement this season if they can get their attack in gear. They have a relatively friendly first up fixture in the visit of Aston Villa and will be absolutely pumped up in front of their home crowd. Villa conceded the 3rd most goals last season behind Newcastle and QPR and although some defensive reinforcements have joined in the form of Amavi and Richards, they’ll need time to build a solid partnership at the back. It also shouldn’t be looked into too much, but Villa’s preseason form from their last 3 games hasn’t seen a clean sheet with 6 goals conceded. With that said, Bournemouth’s defence won’t be immune to a new look Villa attack without the recently departed Benteke. Two players to keep an eye on will be Scott Sinclair and Libor Kozak. Sinclair scored a hatrick against Nottingham Forest in their last friendly and Kozak a double against Wolverhampton in a friendly before that. It’s certainly no guarantee they’ll be an instant success here but it gives the team and supporters some hope whilst also shows new avenues to goal. Add in new signing Ayew coming from wide and Villa could be a handful here.
In terms of a spectacle I think this could be one of the games of the weekend. Both sides aren’t expected to be defensively strong but there’s reason to expect some goals here. As for a winner I’m backing a Bournemouth win here given their team is relatively settled and they’re proven scorers even if it was at Championship level.
Predicted score: Bournemouth 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score- Yes at $1.8 (80%)
Next Best: Bournemouth to win at $2

Everton ($1.73) versus Watford ($5), Draw ($3.7)

Last season was tough for Everton with poor results pushing them down the table. They have a fresh start here though and have been given a pretty favourable fixture to kick off their campaign. When you look through their best starting XI, there’s no reason why this Everton side can’t push their way back into the top 10 and a strong win here against a newly promoted side could be just what they need. As a result I’d be surprised if this is anything other than an Everton win. That’s not to discredit Watford in any way, but it’s clear that Watford will need some time to gel as a unit in these early stages of the season with a significant number of new faces joining the club. They’ve bought well in that their new players should add value this season but in their first game I don’t think they’ll be ready just yet to cause an upset. I don’t expect Watford to be cast aside too easily as they’ll be pretty excited and determined for the first game of the season but history is against promoted sides on the opening day especially away from home so look for an Everton win here.
Predicted score: Everton 2-0
Best Bet: Everton to win at $1.73 (90%)
Next Best: Everton to lead at Half-time at $2.3

Leicester ($2) versus Sunderland ($4), Draw ($3.3)

Both sides flirted with relegation last season and could well do so again this season so whilst it might be the first game of the season, every point counts come May 2016 so both sides will be hard at it here. Leicester’s incredible run home to safety last season hasn’t convinced me they’ll stay up for another season so they’ll need to start showing some consistency. As a fixture it’ll be interesting to see if this one can produce any goals. In their two games last season, they both ended up scoreless draws and their last 5 games in all competitions have all been under 2.5 goals and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game follow a similar fashion. Leicester defensively not too bad in their home games whilst Sunderland struggled on the road to score with just the 15 goals. Of course both sides will have a new look with new faces and altered tactics but I’m not expecting a goal bonanza in this one.
As for a result I think this might just be one that can’t be decided. Sunderland will be feeling confident after Dick Advocaat did so well to keep them alive late last season but I can’t underestimate Leicester at home.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.66 (70%)
Next Best: A goal scored in both halves – No at $1.8

Norwich ($2.6) versus Crystal Palace ($2.8), Draw ($3.25)

There’s a lot of optimism, hope, and genuine excitement for Crystal Palace this season that I just hope they can keep a lid on it early. They have a really tough run in their first 6 games with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Tottenham waiting for them after Norwich so a win here is pretty important for their momentum into their home game against Arsenal. The excitement stems from strong performances under Pardew since he took over during last season as well as the new recruits they’ve managed to bring in. Yohan Cabaye will be looking to have an immediate impact in his official debut for the club and he’s sure to add a quality element in midfield to this Palace team. The potential absence of Yannick Bolasie marauding his way down the wings will be a bonus to Norwich’s chances but I think Pardew will get his side to hit the ground running here. I don’t think Norwich will be easily cast aside but I think Palace will just have a little too much for them.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Crystal Palace to win either half at $1.95 (80%)
Next Best: Crystal Palace to win at $2.8

Chelsea ($1.33) versus Swansea ($10), Draw ($5)

The defending champions kick off their season against Swansea at home this weekend as they look to get their season off to a winning start. Swansea though won’t be fearful given their opening day win away at Old Trafford last season so I’m sure they’ll have a sense of optimism that anything is possible here. With that said though, Chelsea haven’t lost an opening fixture in the Premier League since the 1998/99 season so it’d be a massive upset if they lost here. There is a doubt over Diego Costa due to his reoccurrence of a hamstring injury so it will be one of Remy or Falcao likely to lead the line. There’s little other change expected in the Chelsea line-up given how strong they already are so this should be a regulation win for Chelsea. Swansea have certainly improved over the summer and it will be interesting to see new signing Ayew in the side and what impact he’ll have here. Last season they were battered by Chelsea goals losing 5-0 at home and 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. Interestingly prior to these games their previous 4 in all competitions registered only 4 goals in total. One thing that is clear though is Chelsea have won their last 5 against Swansea with 4 clean sheets so I’d expect another victory here.
Chelsea will win, but I don’t feel Swansea will be belted here. They’re a good side defensively and are well organised so I’d be a little surprised to see them implode on day 1 by 3 or 4 goals.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-0
Best Bet: Chelsea Half-Time/Full-time at $1.91 (75%)
Next Best: Swansea to score no goals at $1.83

Arsenal ($1.3) versus West Ham ($10), Draw ($5.5)

A London derby generally never fails to impress and Arsenal will certainly be looking to do so in their opening fixture against a new look West Ham. The Hammers have a number of new faces with Payet and Ogbonna likely to debut but it might be a tough debut here with Arsenal looking the goods this year. Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott should have big seasons with Ozil perhaps a little fatigued throughout last season whilst Walcott’s return from injury a bonus for their striking options. They’ll also be full of confidence from their community shield win over Chelsea last weekend which serves as a great result heading into their season opener. For West Ham there’s a lot to like about their season ahead but such a big game to kick things off is just going to be too much for them. They need some more time under their new manager and their new recruits need time to adjust to the league.
Anything other than an Arsenal win will be a massive upset given they’ve won their last 9 games against the Hammers. Goals could be on the cards with their last 7 encounters all producing over 2.5 goals.
Predicted score: Arsenal 3-1
Best Bet: Arsenal Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.83 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.64

Newcastle ($2.8) versus Southampton ($2.62), Draw ($3.2)

There’s another side with a new look and a new manager with Steve McClaren’s Newcastle taking on Southampton this week. It’s been great to see Newcastle finally splash some cash and I think the players they’ve brought in should do well for them throughout the season. With that though comes a sense of doubt as to how quickly they can hit the ground running against a Southampton side that impressed immensely last season. The same doubts can be put on Southampton though given they’ve lost some key players in Alderweireld, Clyne, and Schneiderlin however their preseason form does a bit to remove some of that doubt. The fact they’ve had competitive Europa League fixtures as well, which they won against Vitesse 5-0 on aggregate, could be really advantageous as they’ll feel in good form.
For me I can Newcastle being a good side this season but Southampton just look a little more cohesive and a more complete side at this point of the season and I think they’ll be able to get the 3 points here. Newcastle will certainly be competitive here but they need a little more time on the pitch to gel together.
Predicted score: Southampton 2-1
Best Bet: Southampton to win either half at $1.83 (75%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.8

Stoke ($3.2) versus Liverpool ($2.3), Draw ($3.3)

Stoke will be looking to continue their good form over Liverpool when they meet on Sunday in a game that could easily go either way. One thing that looks likely is goals with the last 3 fixtures at Stoke producing an incredible 19 goals with Stoke winning 2 of those. I’m sure Liverpool fans have been trying to forget that final day fixture last season where Stoke won 6-1. There’s plenty of change for both sides ahead of this one though I’m not sure if those changes will exactly stop the goals coming. Liverpool have a proven striker now in Benteke and I’d expect him to hit the ground running with good support in the likes of new recruit James Milner and usual suspects Henderson and Coutinho. One area which I don’t think Liverpool have address well enough is in central defence so I’m intrigued to see how their defence goes this season.
Both sides will be up for this and whilst I think Liverpool will be strong here I can’t discount Stoke’s chances given their recent record over Liverpool and the fact they are genuinely tough to play at home. I like both sides’ chances for a number of reasons but for that I think this will probably be a draw. It’ll interesting to see if this one blows out like in recent matches here at Stoke but at the very least I think we can expect a goal for both sides.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.8 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.03

Author

mm

Goal

As an Australian growing up AFL was always my no.1 sport especially given I was lucky enough to grow up a few blocks from Carlton’s home ground, Princes Park, where I was lucky enough to attend many games. That’s where my passion for sport began but it was until the early 2000’s when I discovered a real passion for football with the Socceroos 2002 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay accelerating my football journey. From there I began to follow the Premier League and haven’t looked back since. These days I’m a massive Tottenham fan where I’ve enjoyed many sleepless nights religiously watching them without missing a game despite many roller coaster feelings. There’s just something magical and glamorous when you watch the EPL and knowing the Profits owners Drew and Euan through studies, I’m now lucky enough to be able to share my thoughts on each game each week of the season.

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