The football Premier League came back with a bang last weekend and here’s hoping for more of the same on Matchday 2. Both Manchester clubs make their season debut after getting an extra week off due to last season’s European commitments – it’s four games each on Saturday and Sunday with two more to come on Monday night.
Everton to Win -1 Goal
Everton v West Bromwich Albion
Everton started their Premier League campaign with a tricky away match against Spurs but came through that particular test with flying colours. Their new-look midfield was very impressive and they fully deserved their 1-0 victory.
If West Brom were unsure about the size of the task they face to stay in the Premier League, their 3-0 beating by Leicester City on Sunday will have left them in no doubt at all.
When they were relegated three seasons ago, they only managed to score a meagre total of 31 goals and although their defeat to Leicester was only the first game of their new season, their current strike force will need to do much better if they are to have any chance of survival.
I like what I saw from Everton in their first match and I think their impressive midfield, along with the Baggies’ lack of goals is likely to lead to a comfortable 2-0 home win for the Toffees.
Leeds HT / Leeds FT
Leeds United v Fulham
Leeds announced their return to the Premier League with a bang! They were very impressive indeed against Premier League champions Liverpool and only an 88th-minute penalty from Mo Salah denied them a point that many will say they deserved.
With their style of play, Marcelo Bielsa and his men will cause problems for any team in the Premier League and it’s going to be hugely entertaining to watch their progress this season.
Fulham were another of three promoted sides to face defeat in their opening game after a chastening 3-0 loss to Arsenal.
Scott Parker will be keen to get his new signings involved as well as getting Aleksander Mitrovic back to full fitness as a lack of goals upfront and a leaky defence at the back are quite frankly, a Premier League recipe for disaster.
I fancy another lively display from Leeds in this one and I’m going for a 3-1 victory to the Whites in their first Premier League home game since 2004.
Manchester United to Win to Nil
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Manchester United were given a rest on the first weekend of the Premier League as a result of their exertions in Europe and they will be very keen to get three points on the board in this first game of their new campaign.
Crystal Palace recorded a gritty 1-0 win over Southampton on the opening weekend of the season although they have their goalkeeper Guaita to thank for the three points after he made a great save from Danny Ings in the dying minutes.
I think this is going to be a long and difficult season for Roy Hodgson and his team and I see this ending in a comfortable 2-0 home win for Manchester United.
Arsenal to Win, +2.5 Match Goals
Arsenal v West Ham
Arsenal looked very impressive in their opening match against Fulham and Mikel Arteta has certainly improved their shape, style, and confidence since he took over.
They look much more solid defensively with new signing Gabriel playing particularly well in the season’s opener and Willian, recently signed from Chelsea, also in impressive form. The Gunners really do look to be heading in the right direction.
I predicted a top-half finish for West Ham this season but at this moment in time, there appear to be a number of issues at the club both on and off the field.
David Moyes was very unhappy with the performance of his team in their 2-0 loss at home to Newcastle United and I’m not sure he will be relishing an away trip to their North London rivals who are in such good form.
A comfortable 3-0 victory for the Gunners for me in this one.
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur
Both teams suffered defeats in their opening matches and both managers were disappointed with their team’s performances.
Southampton did create several chances in their defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace but were thwarted by several good saves from the Palace keeper as well as wasted opportunities from their front men. It is evident that as things stand, Southampton will once again be reliant on last season’s top scorer, Danny Ings, for the majority of their goals.
Tottenham were extremely disappointing in their loss to Everton and Jose Mourinho has plenty of work to do if he is to make this Spurs side competitive at the top end of the table.
I think this could be a season of many draws for both teams and I’m going for a less than entertaining 1-1 draw at the St Mary’s stadium.
Newcastle to Win
Newcastle United v Brighton
Newcastle United fans will have been delighted and excited in equal measure, at the positive signs shown by their team in their opening 2-0 win against West Ham.
Both debutants, Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick played very well and rounded off their performances with a goal apiece, and with Andy Carroll back to his marauding best, things look very good right now for United.
Brighton boss Graham Potter was generally pleased with his team’s performance in their 3-1 loss to Chelsea on Monday night but knows they will need to improve if they are to avoid flirting with the relegation zone this season.
I feel sure that Brighton will improve but on this occasion, I fancy a confident Newcastle United to secure a 1-0 win and add to their positive start to the season.
Over 2.5 Match Goals
Chelsea v Liverpool
This is clearly the stand-out fixture of Matchday 2 and I can’t wait to watch these fiercely competitive rivals go head-to-head.
Chelsea started their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win away at the Amex stadium and Frank Lampard will have been pleased with the way that some of his new signings seem to be settling in. Timo Werner was a constant threat to Brighton and looks like he is going to adapt very quickly to the rigours of the Premier League.
Liverpool beat Leeds United 4-3 in their opening day fixture and while Jurgen Klopp will have been delighted to see his strikers picking up where they left off last season, he will have been concerned with the way Leeds picked their defence apart on way too many occasions.
If there is one certainty in this match, it’s that there will be goals! I fancy an entertaining, end to end clash between the two sides with honours even at the final whistle. 2-2 for me.
Jamie Vardy to Score Anytime
Leicester City v Burnley
Leicester limped over the line last season with just 17 points from 17 games which ultimately cost them a spot in this season’s Champions League. However, they put that poor form firmly behind them last weekend when they started with a comfortable 3-0 victory over newly promoted West Brom.
Jamie Vardy will have been boosted by his brace of successful penalty kicks and will hope to go on another of his famous goal-scoring runs. He may have finished as the Golden Boot winner last term with 23 goals in the Premier League but 17 of them came before Christmas Day so he’ll be hoping he has found his shooting boots again.
Burnley didn’t play on the opening weekend as their scheduled match against Manchester United was postponed.
Sean Dyche will be hoping for a good start to their season as he won’t want his side to be playing catch-up too early on.
However, as much I fancy Burnley to have another decent season, I feel that Leicester will just have too much for them at the King Power stadium and I am going for a closely fought 2-1 victory to the Foxes.
BTTS - Yes
Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Aston Villa were also rested for the first weekend as they were due to play Manchester City and that was the second game that was postponed.
They arranged a friendly against Manchester United on Saturday and ran out 1-0 winners although I’m not sure we can read too much into that particular result.
The Villans have spent less than last pre-season but seem to be focusing on strengthening their attacking options. They have already signed Ollie Watkins from Brentford and have also been heavily linked with Bertrand Traore who currently plays at Lyon.
If you’re unable to keep a clean sheet, then it’s imperative that you can score plenty at the other end of the pitch and success in the transfer market may well be the key to survival for Dean Smith’s men. (Editor’s note – Aston Villa have since completed the signing of goalkeeper Emi Martinez from Arsenal.)
Sheffield United had an incredible season last time around and will have been shell-shocked to find themselves two goals down after just 6 minutes against Wolves in their first match of the new season.
Credit to the players for not panicking and actually giving as good as they got for the remainder of the game and I’m sure they will go on to have another successful season.
Neither of these sides are likely to be free-scoring this season and both teams will be anxious to get a point on the board so I can see this game ending in a low-scoring 1-1 draw.
Manchester City to Win & BTTS
Wolves v Manchester City
All appears to be well at Wolves with first the announcement that Nuno Espirito Santo had signed a new deal that will keep him at the club for another three years and then with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sheffield United in their first game of the new season.
They are an impressive team, full of quality players and the manager certainly seems to be getting a tune out of each and every one of them.
Manchester City will be very keen to start with a win as they won’t want to be chasing anyone at the top of the table. They finished 18 points behind Liverpool last season and will know they need to be much more consistent if they are to win the league this season. This is a difficult game to call but I am just going to go with Manchester City to edge it 2-1.