The Premier League is back after the most unusual pre-season we’ve ever seen. The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have changed everything and the Premier League is no exception.
Brand Ambassador Michael Owen has given us his exclusive thoughts on all this weekend’s action although both Manchester clubs are sitting this weekend out given their recent European exertions.
Arsenal to win and both teams to score
Fulham v Arsenal
Scott Parker has done a superb job in getting Fulham back into the Premier League but of course, the real challenge is keeping them up and that will undoubtedly be the number one target for the Cottagers this season.
Mikel Arteta has had a great start to his managerial career at Arsenal with a couple of trophies already in the bag courtesy of their FA Cup win just a few weeks ago and followed up with win over Liverpool in the Community Shield. I think they will have lofty ambitions for the upcoming season and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them pushing hard for a place in the top four come the end of the season.
I fancy a comfortable 3-1 win for the Gunners in this one.
Under 2.5 goals
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Crystal Palace could be in for a long season as I just feel they may be short of sufficient quality and depth in their squad as the season unfolds.
Southampton had a good end to the season with their top goal scorer Danny Ings smashing goals in for fun and I’m sure they will be desperate to pick up where they left off.
However, Selhurst Park is never an easy place to go and I think both teams will ultimately have to settle for a point each – 1-1 final score for me.
Liverpool HT / Liverpool FT
Liverpool v Leeds
Champions of the Premier League Liverpool host one of the newly promoted teams and champions of the Championship in Leeds United.
It’s always a tricky way to start a new campaign but on this occasion I don’t think the fixture should hold too many fears for Liverpool.
I am really looking forward to watching Leeds this season as I love the way they go about their business and I think one thing we can guarantee with Marcelo Bielsa’s team is entertainment.
I am actually going for an entertaining game in this clash of old rivals but fancy Liverpool to come out on top with a 3-1 victory at Anfield.
Michail Antonio to score anytime
West Ham United v Newcastle United
West Ham will be looking for a much better season this time around. They flirted with relegation for far too long and that was after I fancied them to have a really good season! However, I think they have a decent squad and I would be very surprised if they don’t finish in the top half of the table this time around.
Newcastle have made a number of decent signings and although the Toon fans will be disappointed that the sale of the club is still up in the air, I am pleased to see that Steve Bruce remains at the helm and is set to build on the good work he did last season.
I think this game may come a touch too soon for him to bed his new signings in and as such I see David Moyes’ men getting off to a winning start with a 2-1 win to the Hammers.
Leicester City to win
West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City
West Brom will be delighted to be plying their trade once again in the Premier League and despite one or two hiccups along the way, Slaven Bilic did a fine job in securing promotion with the Baggies in his first season as manager.
Leicester tailed off pretty badly towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign but I think if they can get back to the form they showed for the most part of last season I fancy them to have another good one.
I think this season is going to be a real struggle for West Brom, starting with a 2-0 home loss to the Foxes.
Everton HT / Draw FT
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
I have a few concerns about the current situation at Spurs and I think they could be in for a disappointing season. I can’t see them finishing below halfway in the league but equally, I can’t see them challenging for honours or a place in the top four.
Everton on the other hand have been quietly going about their business in pre-season and I think they could well have their best season in a long while.
Correct Score, 0-0
Sheffield United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Both of these teams had brilliant seasons last time around and I fancy that both can continue their progress once again.
In this particular match I think it may well be a case of both defences coming out on top and as such I’m going for a 0-0 draw with both teams getting a point on the board after Matchday 1.
Handicap, Chelsea -1
Brighton v Chelsea
Brighton are set for a pretty solid season in my opinion and although they certainly flirted with relegation last season, their new style of play could well pay dividends in this new campaign.
Chelsea have undoubtedly been busiest in the Transfer market so far this pre-season and they really do seem to have made a number of excellent additions to their squad.
All eyes will be on Frank Lampard and his team as he looks to bed everyone in quickly so that they can hit the ground running from the start of the season.
I am so excited about watching their progress this season and I think they could provide a real challenge to the pre-season favourites of Liverpool and Manchester City.
It’s hard to see beyond a comprehensive victory for Frank Lampard’s Blues in this one and I’m going for a 3-1 win to Chelsea.