Hull City v Leicester City
It’s back folks! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Olympics and it’s been great watching the women’s judo in just my pants but there is nothing quite like the return of top flight English football. To business then. Hull are a complete shambles at the minute. No manager. Selling players and not replacing them. Fans who say words like “kecks” and refer to the world’s most popular carbonated soft drink as “kirk-a-curler”. It all points to an away win. Leicester City, the reigning Premier League champions (I still cannot get used to writing that) may have lost N’Golo Kante but Jamie Vardy is still with the Foxes and it looks like Riyad Mahrez is staying too. The Algerian was voted PFA Player of the Year and will have too many tricks for the Tigers in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Betting: Leicester to win at evens (Paddy Power)
Burnley v Swansea
The bounce factor could see Burnley over the line here. They didn’t lose a league game after Boxing Day and with Swansea having lost defensive talisman Ashley Williams to Everton as well as last season’s top scorer Andre Ayew I’m not expecting them to fly out of the blocks this season.
Betting: Burnley to win and both teams to score at 9/2 (Bet Bright)
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Those backing ‘Unders’ in terms of goals here won’t go far wrong. Palace have lost Dwight Gayle, Emmanuel Adebayor and Marouane Chamakh over the summer and look a bit lightweight up top as it stands. Tony Pulis would probably whip his baseball cap off and gnaw someone’s hand off to the bone if they offered him a 0-0 outcome right now at Selhurst Park. This one won’t be pretty.
Betting: No goalscorer at 13/2 (Coral)
Everton v Tottenham
Both teams to score looks an absolute lock here. Everton have so far resisted overtures to sell Romelu Lukaku and Spurs have strengthened by bringing in Eredivisie top scorer Vincent Janssen over the summer. For me there is more chance of Roy Hodgson replacing Chris Evans on Top Gear than there is of this finishing without any onion bag drama. Just shy of evens looks a gift.
Betting: Both teams to score at 10/11 (Hills)
Middlesbrough v Stoke
Stoke have been a model of consistency in the top flight having finished ninth in the Premier League for the last three seasons. However there is a nagging doubt that they are still a decent striker (and possibly a centre half) away from being a properly decent side. Boro have spent well and will shock a few this season. The Riverside will be bouncing and I fancy the hosts to get off to a flyer in the land of the Parmo.
Betting: Middlesbrough to win and both teams to score at 19/4 (Stan James)
Southampton v Watford
Claude Puel was something of a surprise choice to get the St Mary’s gig and it will be interesting to see how the Frenchman, who had never coached outside of his home country, goes this season. The same goes for Watford boss Walter Mazzarri, and my hunch is this could be a cautious affair as both new bosses strive to get their feet under the table.
Betting: Draw at 11/4 (bet365)
Manchester City v Sunderland
City of course are title favourites and long odds on to win here. The contrast between the two managers could not be more stark. One is the epitome of style and elegance. The other has ginger pubes. Home win.
Betting: Kevin De Bruyne to score anytime at 7/4 (Betfred)
Bournemouth v Manchester United
Great game in store on the south coast where Bournemouth have bought well over the summer. Jordon Ibe looks a cracking buy while Brad Smith and Lewis Cook will also add quality to the Cherries’ squad. That said, how will Bournemouth contain big Zlatan? By all accounts the enigmatic Swede has been tearing it up in training, showing fitness levels most 25-year-old athletes would be proud of. My hunch is da beg fella is going to have another huge season following on from what he did at PSG last term and he should be backed here to continue where he left off at Wembley last weekend.
Betting: Ibrahimovic to score first at 7/2 (Sky Bet)
The weekend winds down with a potential classic as Arsenal – who have been beset by defensive worries all summer – entertain Liverpool. Shkodran Mustafi looks like he could be on his way to north London, but there’s no way he will feature on Sunday with terms yet to be agreed and Arsenal therefore will be vulnerable with a makeshift centre-half pairing. Sadio Mane had a worldly against Barcelona in the International Champions Cup last week and if he’s in the mood again he could help Liverpool run amok in North London.
Betting: Liverpool to score in both halves at 100/30 (Hills)