Harry’s Picks: Week Two9 min read
After the appetite was whetted following the start of the EFL, I am eagerly looking forward to the new Premier League season starting this weekend.
Although Manchester City and Liverpool are expected to dominate in the title race, the chasing pack have all made exciting recruitments and even though Chelsea haven’t been able to add to their playing staff, the appointment of Frank Lampard as new manager bodes well for the club.
With all four Divisions finally back in action, here are my five picks for the upcoming weekend fixtures.
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✅ West Brom
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) August 5, 2019
Bournemouth to blunt the Blades
I will always have a great affinity towards Bournemouth and expect my old club to make a good start to their campaign when they host newly-promoted Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Wilder has done a fantastic job with the Blades and they deserve their chance in the spotlight, but looking at the new signings at Bramall Lane it’s going to be a huge achievement just to survive in the top flight this season. Former Swansea marksman Oliver McBurnie certainly looks an intriguing capture for the Sheffield club but whether he can translate his excellent scoring record in the lower leagues to the top flight is a big ask.
Bournemouth suffered a blow when exciting winger David Brooks was ruled out for three months after picking up an ankle injury. However, they quickly moved to secure Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma who should have the Dean Court faithful on the edge of their seats.
England international Callum Wilson remains on the South coast and is a worthy favourite with BetVictor to top the clubs PL scoring charts once more. Along with Josh King, this gives the hosts plenty of attacking flair . The pair were both on the scoresheet during an eye-catching 3-0 win over Lyon recently and I fully expect a home win on opening day.
Seagulls could struggle this season
South coast rivals Brighton face a tough season and are another club likely to be involved in a relegation survival battle. They were only two points ahead of Cardiff, who dropped back down to the Championship last year, and the squad doesn’t look strong enough even though the Seagulls have just splashed out 20 million to bring Bristol City defender Adam Webster to East Sussex.
They followed this up on Monday when handing another 20 million over to Brentford to recruit forward Neal Maupay. The club will rely heavily once more on the goal output from Glenn Murray but will hope Maupay can relieve the burden and make a significant contribution too .
They face a tricky opener at Watford who enjoyed an FA Cup final appearance last season as well as a mid-table league finish.
The Hornets look ready to make a top half assault and have a squad capable of scoring plenty of goals. Striker Andre Gray has looked sharp in pre-season and bagged a brace during a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. Gerard Deulofeu is ready to return to action Saturday afternoon so I envisage a home win at Vicarage Road.
Spurs looking strong
Aston Villa were last season’s playoff winners and fully deserve their chance back in the big time. They have been throwing the cash around this summer and made a number of new signings but will have to be careful that they can integrate them into a team that hits the ground running.
It may take time to gel and a trip to highly-fancied Tottenham looks a tough baptism of fire. Spurs have enjoyed a good pre-season with victories over Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Harry Kane netted the winner against the Spanish giants and his goals will be crucial if the North London men are to make any inroads against the big two. Despite missing Dele Alli, Tottenham can get off to a flyer and, if they make their stadium a fortress, should enjoy another strong season.
Baggies will take some beating
West Brom just missed out in the Championship playoffs last year and will be keen to return to the Premier League. With all the media focus on Leeds and Fulham, the Baggies have been slightly disregarded in the promotion race but made a cracking start when coming from a goal behind to secure a useful 2-1 victory at fancied Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Slaven Bilic looks a good appointment and although Albion fans were worried at the loss of star forward Dwight Gayle, they created plenty of chances at the City ground to show they will once again be one of the challenging teams in the section.
Next up for Albion is a home match with Millwall who opened the season with a narrow 1-0 success over Preston. However, the visitors were poor and Millwall will face a much tougher challenge at the Hawthorns. I can’t see the London team been strong enough and the hosts can make it six points from their opening two games.
Pompey with a point to prove
Portsmouth will always hold so many happy memories for me and lifting the FA Cup with them in 2008 was such a special day and occasion. The club hit the buffers and fell down the league but under the shrewd leadership of Kenny Jackett, are most certainly on their way back up.
Pompey took the Football League Trophy at Wembley when they beat Sunderland last year and although later beaten in the playoff final against Charlton, will be one of the leading clubs again in League One. They suffered a surprise 1-0 opening day loss at Shrewsbury but it was only a wonder strike that beat them and they had enough chances to have claimed a point.
They received good fees for Matt Clarke who left for Brighton, and Jamal Lowe who headed north to Wigan and recruited Doncaster star forward John Marquis with some of the proceeds. The squad depth looks solid and back at Fratton Park, they can get back on track against newly-promoted Tranmere.
Rovers are another club rebuilding and with two recent promotions are a confident outfit. However, star forward James Norwood has left for Ipswich and they will be more than happy to preserve Division One status this term. They were well-beaten 3-2 at home by Rochdale with only two late goals providing some comfort, but that couldn’t disguise a disappointing performance.
Portsmouth should quickly get back to winning ways and will be one of the teams chasing the title this campaign.
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