Manchester United v Leicester City
Lordy, Lordy. Here we go again kids! The phoney war is over. The Premier League is back. Weekends are again as they should be.
First things first: reports of Manchester United’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Just because they drew 0-0 with San Jose Earthquakes the other week does not mean they won’t be in the title reckoning. Jose Mourinho is clearly sick as f**k that he’s not been able to add further to his squad defensively, but let’s not forget he spent a fortune on Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly not so long ago. The fact is he has a very strong squad. Mourinho’s going to have to earn his money this season however and solve the puzzle about how to get the best out of Paul Pogba. And guess what. Dogging him in the media might not be the way to do it. As my old English teacher used to say: ‘You catch more Bees with honey than you do with vinegar Degs.’ Tru dat, Jose. Tru dat.
Betting: Manchester United to win 1-0 at 11/2 (bet365)
Newcastle United v Tottenham
Spurs would look delicious at 11/10 if Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Kieron Trippier were all definitely going to be involved on Tyneside. Rumours persist though that they may be rested by Mo Po and if that turns out to be the case I’m all over the draw here. It’s going to be a season of struggle for the Toon. Their net spend this summer makes grim reading in you are a Geordie, and Rafa surely won’t be able to turn water into wine again despite that tenth-place finish last season.
Betting: Draw at 5/2 (bet365)
Bournemouth v Cardiff City
The big thing for Bournemouth is that Eddie Howe is still on the firm. And it will be intriguing to see him up against Neil Warnock on Saturday. Make no bones, this is a titanic battle between superstar bosses from different generations. This is Hulk Hogan v Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 6 at Toronto’s Skydome. The gnarled veteran versus the unpredictable good guy. Howe’s forward-thinking methods versus Warnock’s old-school values. And the Bluebirds – favourites for the drop – could be value here at better than 3/1.
Betting: Cardiff City to win at 7/2 (888 Sport)
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Fulham’s four-year hiatus from the Premier League is over and backed by the seriously deep pockets of Shahid Khan, they will be fine this season. Jean Michael Seri is a cracking buy, while Ryan Sessegnon is only going to get better. Palace have done well to hold onto Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian baller didn’t start on nine occasions last season, and Palace lost the lot. This game should be a fun watch, and don’t rule out a load of onion bag action at Craven Cottage.
Betting: Over 2.5 goals at evens (888 Sport)
Huddersfield Town v Chelsea
Alvaro Morata is no longer Chelsea’s record signing after they flamboyantly splashed the cash on keeper Kepa. Can Morata produce for the Blues this season? Let’s face it: he was poor last year given his quality and the amount of dough they shelled out for him. He won’t fear Huddersfield though, who Chelsea beat 3-1 away last season.
Betting: Morata to score first at 9/2 (bet365)
Watford v Brighton
This might be the toughest fixture to call on the opening weekend. The Hornets are again being tipped up by bookmakers and football writers to be relegated despite never seriously being threatened with the dreaded demotion to Championship purgatory at any point since returning to the top flight in 2015. They have been ‘workmanlike’ in the transfer market, with Adam Masina and Ben Foster among several solid squad additions. Brighton are a brilliantly run club who will definitely survive this season. This one could turn out to be an instant non-classic however.
Betting: No goalscorer at 7/1 (888 Sport)
Wolves v Everton
Wolves might just have been the best-ever side to come up from the Championship, and after doing some more sterling business in the summer they look set for a decent season. The Black County outfit should have too much for Everton, who enjoyed a triumphant deadline day but whose new signings may need time to bed in. Wolves have made a few marquee signings themselves this summer, such as Leander Dendoncker and Joao Moutinho, and they can lay down a marker by beating Everton at home.
Betting: Wolves to win at 11/8 (bet365)
Liverpool v West Ham
One of the more amusing things I heard on social media on Deadline Day was “Liverpool shop at Matalan, Everton shop at Catalan”. Alas the Toffees will be laughing on the other side of their faces (whatever that means) if the Reds land a first Scudetto since 1990 this season. They will beat West Ham, even though the Hammers blew my f**king mind in buying Felipe Anderson for £36million. Bobby Firmino is a 4/1 shout to score first and that price looks a proper banger.
Betting: Firmino to score first at 4/1 (bet365)
Southampton v Burnley
The Clarets have a load of injuries and look vulnerable on matchday one. Southampton beefed up their attack late doors on Thursday by bringing in Danny Ings from Liverpool and if he’s involved he can help them to an opening-day victory at St Mary’s.
Betting: Southampton to win to nil at 7/4 (bet365)
Arsenal v Manchester City
They’ve been quiet in the transfer market, save for a heavy punt on Riyad Mahrez, but Manchester City are still clearly the team to beat this season. They finished fully 37 points better off than Arsenal last term, and look like a smash job here at a shade under even money. Where are the leaders in this Arsenal team? Where are the fellas who will gargle petrol and tell you what year it was made?
Betting: Manchester City to win and both teams to score at 9/4 (888 Sport)