Here we go, here we go, here we go… Let’s have it right. Weather wise this summer has been absolutely mince. And I won’t pretend to you that I was ever actually f**king bothered about the Lions’ tour to New Zealand. Granted, the women’s Euros were great until we got that paddling off the Dutch but thankfully the phoney war is now over and I can stop doing my conkers on T20 cricket of an evening. The Premier League is back folks and I don’t mind telling you I’m more excited than a sexually repressed yet well-endowed wrinkly OAP in a mixed sauna….
Arsenal v Leicester City
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal go with a back three this season as they won eight of their last ten matches last term after Arsene Wenger went all Chelsea at the back. The Frenchman will surely be hoping it clicks straight away as I doubt he can be a**ed with another season of light aircraft cruising over the Emirates demanding he f**ks off asap.
The Gunners main bit of business this summer has been Alexandre Lacazette who looks the real deal and is worth chancing in the first scorer stakes here. Lacazette bagged 20+ goals for three seasons straight in Ligue 1 and is a player with speed and stubble to burn.
Betting: Lacazette to score first at 17/5 (888 Sport)
Watford v Liverpool
The Hornets signed off last season with six straight losses but fans have renewed hope under new boss Marco Silva. The bookies are clearly showing Liverpool respect this season if you consider their outright price and recognise they are moving in the right direction under Jurgen Klopp. They still look at least a centre back short of a title push and it goes without saying Coutinho’s future is massively important. I got pelters on these very pages last week for suggesting he will end up at Barcelona and won’t play for Liverpool again and while I still feel that’s the most likely outcome it would be a massive shot in the arm for the Reds if they could hold onto their star man for another year. Don’t bet on it though.
Betting: Liverpool to win by one goal at 13/5 (bet365)
Chelsea v Burnley
Winning the Premier League title and retaining it are clearly two different things in the modern era and while I don’t fancy the Blues to be champions this time next year (mainly due to a lack of significant transfer investment and the current question marks surrounding Eden Hazard) they’ve got the necessary firepower to blast past Burnley here. The Clarets were abysmal on the road last season and this looks a stone wall home banker. Alvaro Morata just can’t fail to be a huge hit for Chelsea, can he? He’s won an impossible amount of silverware for one so young and has the world at his very expensive feet. Odds against to score here? Thank me later, bambinos.
Betting: Alvaro Morata to score anytime at 11/10 (Paddy Power)
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield
I’m just fascinated to find out how Frank de Boer gets on as new Palace boss and whether he will wear the same sort of comically ill-fitting headwear so beloved of Big Sam when the weather turns naughty in a few month. Huddersfield look have been cast as top flight whipping boys this season but can rip up the script by taking a plucky point at Selhurt Park.
Betting: Draw at 27/10 (Unibet)
Everton v Stoke City
I have the Toffeemen down as my lock of week one having spent north of £100million in the summer and brought prodigal son Wayne Rooney back to Goodison. Mark Hughes is the betting jolly with a lot of firms to be the first Premier League boss to lose his job and his players look up against it here against an Everton side who already have two Europa League games under their belts.
Betting: Everton (-1) to win at 21/10 (Sun Bets)
Southampton v Swansea
Both of these teams struggled for goals big time last season so Hills’ 3/4 quote that we see fewer than three at St Mary’s looks a pearler.
Betting: Under 3 goals at 3/4 (Hills)
West Brom v Bournemouth
The Cherries lost 10 of their 19 matches on the road last season but might be worth a nibble here, especially following the acquisition of veteran goal machine Jermain Defoe. The camel coats have had ages to procrastinate over this particular Premier League coupon, but may have made a rick by going as big as 23/10 about a Bournemouth win. Yes the Baggies finished tenth last season but they lost their last four home games to nil and have since lost Darren Fletcher. They look a team that might struggle to me.
Betting: Bournemouth to win at 23/10 (bet365)
Brighton v Manchester City
You can get 11/1 if you fancy Brighton to cause a shock here on the opening day. Man City look really strong though, they are the title favourites by some distance and have a defence budget nowadays higher than that of the Democratic Republic of Congo (I s**t you not). Man like Jesus is also going to be blasting in the goals for fun this season.
Betting: Jesus to score first at 7/2 (Paddy Power)
Newcastle v Tottenham
So in a summer when Man City spent north of £200million on defenders, United bagged Romelu Lukaku for £75million and Chelsea paid a fortune for Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko, Spurs released a DVD of their 2016/17 season (working title – ‘We put the pressure on’). Two things really. Where are the marquee signings? And why release a DVD when you finished second and won f**k all?
Betting: Tottenham to win 2-1 at 8/1 (bet365)
Manchester United v West Ham
West Ham have been busy in the transfer market and I’ll doff my cap in deference to them if they come good with the rumoured bid for William Carvalho, one of the best young holding midfield prospects around right now. Do they have the quality to win at Old Trafford though? The bookies don’t think so and chalk them up as an 11/1 rag to win at the Theatre of Dreams. Former Red Devil Javier Hernandez should feature, but all eyes will be on the boy Lukaku, who has scored seven goals in his last eight appearances against the Hammers.
Betting: Lukaku to score and Manchester United to win at 5/6 (Sky Bet)