Good people of the world wherever you are, welcome to the very first edition of premier league predictions for this season, things hardly stay the same, punches in the air today, in celebration of victory, heads buried in shame another day in the disappointments of defeat, while some can be excused for losing, hell will leak for others, this is the English Premier League, where Manchester City will look to restore the pride of champions, United must prove they aren’t a spent force having been unable to reproduce the heroics of Sir Alex Ferguson since he left as a champion in 2013, Liverpool will look to shine to a successful end and Arsenal, under a new manager now must win something, beyond the quest for stability. Day one is upon us and it’s the only time when teams start on the same level, some will surge, to fall and rise again, while some will actually begin their journey to the championship right from here, this is for the brave, for the decisive and for the strong, fasten your seat-belts as we head into yet another season of exhilarating football, like never before.
Friday 10th August
Manchester United vs Leicester City
The moment is here, the huge take off of the 2018/19 Premier League season, like it happened last season when Arsenal played host to Leicester in what ended as a seven goal thriller, Leicester are at it again, heading to the den of the devils to fight out points on day one. Jose Mourinho has moaned and groaned about the lack of activities in the window that only produced Fred and Diogo Dalot, however there won’t be tenable excuses should he fail to deliver silverware at the end of the season. Claude Puel successfully held on to Harry Maguire despite their host on opening day repeatedly making offers for the England center back, although a few names including Jamie Vardy won’t be fresh for this game, he can rest assured that he has Maguire to work with. No Riyad Mahrez anymore, it’s time for them to move on from the winger’s chapter, a good start is paramount on opening day for any side. Manchester United will not have so many men back for this fixture, Paul Pogba was touted to be heading to Barcelona so he won’t play, Nemanja Matic is injured, Lingard just returned from break, United must start well here.
Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez
Verdict: United to win or draw
Saturday 11th August
Newcastle vs Tottenham
St James’s Park
Harry Kane doesn’t score in August, in fact he has never scored in the first three games of the season, something he’ll look to change this season. Mauricio Pochetino has been under the spotlight for a while for lack of silverwares despite how intense his team has been challenging for the title. Newcastle survived relegation last season, they won’t want to go down that route again, Federico Fernandez joined from Swansea at the death but they still did better than Sprus in the just concluded window, Spurs became the first ever team to fail to add a single man to their squad in the summer transfer window. Whatever it was that Rafael Benitez fed the guys in the run in last term must be repeated because in all honesty, he has a championship standard squad, a false start here and the struggle will come starring at them in the face. Tottenham must look beyond top four this season, the stories of stability should be told by the guys that just came into town not an ever present Spurs side, new stadium curse could play a part but at least they are on the road first. Tottenham boys shone brightly at the world cup in Russia, that could play a huge part in whatever will happen here, Trippier, Alli and Kane can’t be as fresh as the rest of the lads, they didn’t let go of any huge star, they should however be weary of a likely banana peel
Player to watch: Kevin Trippier
Verdict: Newcastle to win or draw
Bournemouth vs Cardiff
Bournemouth struggled last season, like they were expected to do, but while survival was the target, a look at Burnley would give their fans reasons to ask questions. Bournemouth were the most successful of south coast clubs last season but the manner in which they shipped goals left them scrambling for their top flight status. They start at home to a team fresh from the championship, whatever the story is, Bournemouth has everything it takes to win here and if they don’t, they will give bookmakers reason to tilt their season towards the drop. Cardiff are probably the weakest of the new boys, they are the number one candidate for relegation by everyone’s predictions, they have it all to do and must be brave as they have a seemingly kind opening day fixture. Man for man, it feels like championship football, but it should be seen by either side as a relegation six pointer, the likes of Westbrom and Swansea would be jealous of these two and they both have to get it right early to avoid telling the doomed duo’s story come May of 2019.
Player to watch: Josh King
Verdict: Bournemouth to win
Fulham vs Crystal Palace
Premier league football is back to Craven Cottage, remember them? The boys in immaculate white with more frowns than smiles, they don’t have a very rich history of success but they have produced some super stars in the past, one of them, arguably the best goalkeeper to ply his trade in the premier league in Edwin Van Dar Sar, the former Manchester United stopper caught the eyes of the world even while in Fulham colours. Fulham will start their affairs against Crystal Palace, another team that struggled last season, with Wilfried aha still flying down the flanks, defenders must be wary of his trickery to avoid giving penalties away cheaply like we saw last season. Fulham has in their ranks too a wonder boy, Ryan Sessegnon, the young chap bagged all the championship awards last season and it was quite commendable of Fulham to keep hold of him despite big guns seeking to cart him away. Palace must avoid the kind of false start they endured last season, seven straight losses culminating into the sack of Frank De Boer, they shouldn’t rely on Christian Benteke for the goals, he has proven over time that he’s a spent force and won’t do them much good, high scoring midfielder, albeit from dead ball situations, Luka Milivojevic will still be an important player this season, starting from here.
Player to watch: Andre Schurle
Verdict: Fulham to win or draw
Huddersfield vs Chelsea
John Smith Stadium
Chelsea will never forget their horrendous start to last season, they were three goals and one man behind as early as first thirty minutes of the season, crazy to say the least, they didn’t really recover from that shameful home loss to Burnley all season long, they face the Terriers first here and must start well, it is Sarri’s first league game, his style must fit in quickly or he’ll fall behind and catching up won’t be as easy as he’d hope. Huddersfield are a sure bet to go down if they don’t find ways to score, last season they were so poor at scoring, in fact it’s a norm even from their championship days, they became the first team to get promoted to the top flight with a negative goal difference, they have a bit of balance in the squad even if they didn’t really add super names to the team, they even let Tom Ince go to Stoke, David Wagner has it all to do to be very honest. Chelsea sold Courtois but signed Kepa for world record fee, big gamble for a goalkeeper of such experience; Jorginho and Kante offer you the best of steel in the middle, holding on to Hazard must be their best achievement this summer, left for them to bring the best out of Morata and they will challenge for the title. Willian stays too, at least for now, the team can start on a high here.
Player to watch: Jorginho
Verdict: Chelsea to win
Watford vs Brighton
Watford and Brighton both had fair share of moments of happiness last season, they both survived by the skins of their teeth and will both want to avoid such scraps, good start is vital. Jarvi Gracia struggled away from home last season so starting at home should give him some good feeling, Brighton didn’t shine away from home either, but they have a few individuals who stood out and helped the team, Pascal Gross was one of them, he will be their main man again this season with goals and assists. Gerrard Delofeu will help Watford too, the loss of Ricarlison to Everton means the former Barcelona man can step into the arrow head role, depending on who gets the nod to start between Gray and Deeney, Watford should help themselves this term. Discipline issues marred Watford’s season last time out, they have to fix that here. How will they set up? The Hornets will choke the midfield and look to throw Delofeu at the Seagulls every now and then, it will be met by a counter attacking style from Chris Hughton’s side via the flanks, this will be a cracker
Player to watch: Gerard Delofeu
Verdict: Watford to win or draw
Wolves vs Everton
Wolves returned to the premier league with a bang, massive deals in the transfer window, their squad is rich with top stars and if they click quite early, they will trouble teams. They added the likes of Rui Patricio, Willy Boly, Johnny Castro, Leander Dendoncker, Joa Moutinho, Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore, they will be the surprise package if Nuno Espirito Santo is able to fit right pegs in right holes. Everton did greatly in the window too, Ricarlison for around 50m quids alongside the trio from Barcelona, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Yeri Mina, Everton should challenge the big boys with consistent performances, they have fire power up front in Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott, the tinkering of Marco Silva who replaced Sam Allardyce as manager will be under the spotlight should these talents fail to impress. The two sides have met 130 times with Everton winning 60 times, Wolves picking 3 points 44 times and settling for a point each 26 times. This is the fixture of the day, if not for the big one on Sunday at the Emirates, this would have been the toast of the round.
Player to watch: Ricarlison/Ruben Neves
Verdict: Both teams to score
Sunday 12 August
Liverpool vs Westham
Liverpool are the biggest winners in the summer transfer window, they fixed all their problems adequately, Fabinho to add steel, Naby Keita to help the midfield, Shakiri to offer outlet and Allisson Becker to end the goalkeeper issues that bedeviled them last season, no excuses of any shade will suffice for Klopp this season. Westham rang lots of changes, got Manuel Pellegini, a premier league winner at some points to tinker the team, fine additions here and there including the duo from Arsenal, Wilshere and Perez, they added Felipe Anderson from Lazio and should be up there this season with an experienced manager at the helm. Liverpool are the favourites here, the front three of Salah, Mane and Firminho will repeat the heroics of last season, they will hammer defenses, they will terrorize and molest careless teams, how they set up their midfield matters, Henderson, Keita and Fabinho will most likely start as Chamberlain continues to recover from a lengthy spell out, Westham has a huge afternoon to endure. The Hammers can be a banana peel of sorts too, they have what it takes to punish teams too, how early they click would however be the question
Player to watch: Mohammed Salah
Verdict: Liverpool to win
Southampton vs Burnley
St Mary’s Stadium
Mark Hughes became the hero at the death last season, rescuing a doomed Southampton side from the jaws of relegation at the detriment of Swansea, they live to fight another day, another season. Burnley were the surprise package of last season, beating Chelsea on their own perch on day one, magnificent display that day and they will look to repeat the feat at St Mary’s Stadium. Burnley doesn’t concede, they stay water tight at the back, Southampton doesn’t score, that was their major problem last season, and if that continues, then they will struggle again this season. Man for man, they were both quiet in the window, Burnley added just a few significant names, Ben Gibson from Boro, Matej Vidra and Joe Hart from Manchester City, Southampton only notably added Danny Ings from Liverpool, it would be seen how Mark Hughes will set up this team without real reinforcements. Sean Dyche has just one job to do, more of what he did last season, Pope is injured so Heaton or Hart to return in goal, Burnley haven’t lost a single game since the end of last season, they have a game in Europe next week and would keep an eye on it.
Player to watch: Danny Ings
Verdict: Full time draw
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Hello Arsenal fans, how does it feel to know you won’t see Wenger in the dugout again? Odd if you ask me but people come and people go… football remains. Manchester City will look to pick up from where they left off last season, a hundred whooping points, breaking records here and there, they will struggle to match that record considering how strong oppositions are this time but they are still the team to beat. Arsenal added five new faces, finally fixing their holding midfield issues with Torreira and goalkeeping issues with Leno, all eyes will be on Unai Emery as he picks his perfect eleven to start his very first game in charge as Arsenal manager. City beat Chelsea to win the shield cup last weekend, huge result by all standards despite not being fresh, they added Mahrez from Leicester to a very strong forward line, they will molest teams again. Arsenal will count on the ever smiling Aubameyang and Lacazette upfront, Mesut ozil will be key depending on how they set up, Arsenal won’t be the same as of old. Pep Guardiola up against Unai Emery, Kevin De Bryune up against Torreira, Sane, Mahrez and Sterling running down against Bellerin and Monreal… This would be a cracker.
Player to watch: Leroy Sane
Verdict: Manchester City to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion