Premier League Week 1: Man United & Spurs Could Suffer Opening Day Slip-ups

The Manchester clubs bookend the Premier League action on the opening weekend of the season.

In between, we’ve got some cracking matches as big-spending Fulham host Crystal Palace on their Premier League return and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson makes his competitive Anfield bow against a new-look West Ham side.

Manchester United v Leicester City 

At the time of writing, it is possible that England international Harry Maguire could be playing for either team in the Premier League curtain-raiser on Friday. United are reported to be on the verge of making a world record bid for the defender before the end of the transfer window on Thursday.

Given Maguire only returned to training on Monday he is unlikely to be involved in the game – for either side – although United look sure to test Leicester’s resolve as Jose Mourinho looks to add to his squad.

It has not been a great summer for Manchester United and it is hard to disagree with Mourinho’s comments in the aftermath of their 1-0 defeat to Bayern on Sunday when he suggested the club face a “difficult season” unless they make a couple of major signings this week.

United (17) have won their opening fixture more times than any other in the history of the Premier League, but I feel Leicester will get at least a point at Old Trafford on Friday night.

Tip:

Leicester City double chance (draw or win) at 7/4

Newcastle v Tottenham 

West Brom striker Salomon Rondon is likely to join the Magpies this week, but their summer signings have been largely underwhelming and you can almost feel the frustration in Rafa Benitez’s voice as he prepares for the visit of Spurs.

Spurs are yet to make a new signing themselves whilst their title/top four rivals continue to build and improve. Mauricio Pochettino has criticised what he believes to be the premature closure of the transfer window and feels Premier League clubs are at a disadvantage compared to the rest of Europe who have another three weeks to do their business.

Spurs have several key players returning from World Cup action on Monday and it will be fascinating to see if Pochettino starts with Kane and co at St James’s Park on Saturday or keeps them on the bench.

I think Newcastle will keep a point.

Tip:

Game to finish in a draw at 5/2

 

Bournemouth v Cardiff 

Bournemouth look to be on the verge of signing Colombian Jefferson Lerma for a club-record £25m and I know there are a number of good judges who believe their 20-year-old Welsh international David Brooks – who they signed from Sheffield United in the summer – is a player of huge potential although he may need time to adjust to top-flight football.

Survival is the main objective for Neil Warnock’s newly-promoted side, but I feel they will give a very good account of themselves at the Vitality where I expect to see goals.

Tip:

Both teams to score at 4/5

 

Fulham v Crystal Palace 

Palace will be looking for a better start than last season and this is a London derby where I expect to see plenty of opportunities at both ends. Roy Hodgson returns to one of his former clubs and it looks as if he will have Wilfried Zaha available for the trip to Craven Cottage with the Eagles spurning the advances of potential suitors for their star player.

Fulham are likely to create a number of chances of their own and this promises to be a hugely entertaining game.

Tip:

Over 3.5 goals at 13/5

 

Huddersfield v Chelsea 

New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri faces an anxious wait to see if he can persuade Willian, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois this week that their immediate future lies at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard was sorely missed by the FA Cup winners in a one-sided Community Shield defeat to champions Manchester City on Sunday. I wasn’t convinced the Chelsea defenders were in love with their new 4-4-2 formation, having played three central defenders and two wing backs under the previous successful regime at the Bridge.

The good news for Sarri is they won’t play City every week and I think they can get a positive result in West Yorkshire. Huddersfield have picked up just 13 points in 2018 – fewer than any other side and I think it could be a long season for the Terriers.

Tip:

Chelsea halftime/fulltime at 6/4

 

Watford v Brighton 

Watford have done well to tie Abdoulaye Doucoure down to a long-term contract and Hornets boss Javi Gracia is optimistic his French midfielder will be available for the visit of the Seagulls on the opening weekend.

Watford are unbeaten in their last 11 opening games to a league season and I think they might have too much for a Brighton side who have made nine signings this summer and may need time to gel.

That said I know all Seagulls’ supporters are excited by the arrivals of Romanian international striker Florin Andone and Iranian winger Jahanbakhsh who cost a club record £20m from AZ Alkmaar.

Tip:

Watford to win at 13/10

 

Wolves v Everton 

Like everyone else I’m looking forward to seeing how this exciting Wolves side – who took the Championship by storm last season – cope with life in the Premier League.

In Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves Wolves possess two hugely gifted young players and I think they will cause Everton plenty of problems at Molineux.

Everton will be looking to add at least one central defender to their ranks this week, but their front three of Cenk Tosun, Theo Walcott and Richarlison will create their own opportunities.

It promises to be a terrific and very informative game.

Tip:

Game to finish in a scoring draw at 15/4

Liverpool v West Ham

West Ham have lost 61 top-flight games against Liverpool and I expect Jurgen Klopp’s side to make a winning start to the campaign although you get the impression that this new-look West Ham side will give the Reds a decent test in another game that promises goals.

I feel the signing of Alisson might be the last piece of the jigsaw for Jurgen Klopp, but new Hammers’ boss Manuel Pellegrini has also been backed in the transfer market and this is another opening weekend clash that should be as entertaining as informative.

Tip:

Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 17/10

Southampton v Burnley

Burnley will do well to replicate their 7th place finish of last season and I think the Saints will make a winning start to the season in a low-scoring affair.

The Clarets did win more points on the road than at Turf Moor last season, but they face a difficult-looking trip to Istanbul in the Europa League on Thursday and fatigue could play a part at St Mary’s.

Tip:

Southampton to win at 4/5

 

Arsenal v Manchester City

The reigning Premier League champions have lost their opening league game for the last couple of seasons, but I expect City to buck that trend at the Emirates in another game that promises goals at both ends.

Unai Emery has never beaten Pep Guardiola in ten previous meetings in Spain (L6 D4) and I am sure his Gunners’ side will give City more of a game than Chelsea did at Wembley.

This promises to be an exciting but transitional season at the Emirates and I feel City will be too good for the hosts.

Tip:

City to win and both teams to score at 23/10

 

My weekend treble:

Liverpool, Southampton and Manchester City at 9/2

*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article

Michael Owen

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Michael Owen is a former football player, played striker for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, as well as for the England national team.

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