Premier League Matchday One: Honours Even At Old Trafford?10 min read
The opening weekend of the new Premier League season begins at Anfield on Friday evening when newly-promoted Norwich are the visitors. After getting my Community Shield predictions spot on, here’s my take on all the upcoming action exclusively for BetVictor.
Liverpool v Norwich City
History will be made at Anfield on Friday when Michael Oliver will be the first referee to officiate in the Premier League with the Video Assistant Referee system in operation. Andre Marriner will be the first VAR official.
The only other time Liverpool entertained Norwich City in their opening league game of the season was back in the 1976-77 season. The Reds won what was then the 1st Division title that season from runners up Manchester City. An omen perhaps?
The last time the sides met, Liverpool won 5-4 at Carrow Road and I would be surprised if we didn’t see a number of goals at Anfield. The Reds finished the Community Shield at the weekend on the front foot and Jurgen Klopp would have been delighted with their second half performance at Wembley. Mo Salah looked particularly sharp against City and the Egyptian is likely to be a huge threat to the Canaries.
Tip: Liverpool -2
West Ham United v Manchester City
City have won their last seven games against West Ham in all competitions and scored 23 times in the process. I expect that dominance to continue at the London Stadium on Saturday, although I expect to see the hosts improve markedly this term on last season’s 10th placed finish.
Manuel Pellegrini will want his side to defend better than they have in their final couple of pre-season games against Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao, but they have impressed going forward and I’m looking forward to seeing new signings Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller against the champions.
Tip: City to win and both teams to score
Bournemouth v Sheffield United
The first top-flight meeting between these clubs and I think Sheffield United can pick up a valuable point at the Vitality Stadium. The Blades have won their last five away games at Bournemouth, so it has been a happy hunting ground for the south Yorkshire outfit, and I expect Chris Wilder’s side to get a draw from an entertaining game on the south coast.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Burnley v Southampton
These sides played out a goalless draw on the opening day of last season at St Mary’s and there have only been six goals in the last five games between the sides. That said I think we will see goals at Turf Moor and expect the hosts to edge a close game.
Both sides have impressed in pre-season with the Clarets beating Nice and Parma at Turf Moor in the last week. I take the hosts to keep all three points.
Tip: Burnley to win
Crystal Palace v Everton
Everton have struggled for goals in pre-season and it will be interesting to see if Marco Silva starts his Italian international striker Moise Kean at Selhurst Park or whether he feels the teenager bought from Juventus at the weekend will need time to adjust to life in the Premier League.
The Eagles lost 4-0 at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday and Roy Hodgson was struggling for numbers against the Bundesliga outfit. Palace are likely to have Wilfried Zaha available although their talisman – a transfer target for Everton earlier in the window – only returned to training from African Cup of Nations duty on Monday.
Tip: Under 2.5 goals
Watford v Brighton
These two sides met at Vicarage Road on the opening day of the 2018/19 season and the hosts won 2-0. I feel the Hornets will again keep the points on Saturday in another low-scoring affair.
Tip: Watford to win and under 2.5 goals
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Like everyone else I’m looking forward to seeing Dean Smith’s new-look Villa side and they have impressed in pre-season scoring plenty of goals on the road.
Mauricio Pochettino cut a frustrated figure when asked about Spurs’ transfer targets last week and he is likely to have to do without Dele Alli following a recurrence of the hamstring injury which ruled him out of a number of games last season.
With Heung-min Son suspended and uncertainty, at the time of writing, surrounding the future of Christian Eriksen – who has less than 12 months left on his current Spurs contract – this will be a real test for the hosts but one I expect them to pass. But only just.
Tip: Spurs to win and both teams to score
Leicester City v Wolves
Leicester City begin life without Harry Maguire at home to Wolves at the King Power on Sunday and I expect to see a hugely entertaining game.
Wolves are in Europa League action in Armenia on Thursday, but I don’t think that will have an adverse effect on Nuno Espirito Santo’s side who will have already played three competitive games by the time they take to the field in this Midlands derby.
Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw
Newcastle United v Arsenal
Arsenal have won twelve of their last 13 competitive against Newcastle United but this is a game I expect the Magpies to get something from at St James’ Park. At the time of writing the Gunners have not yet signed a quality central defender this transfer window which has surprised me although there is still time for Unai Emery to address what I believe is an ongoing weakness in his squad.
Steve Bruce has spent £40m on striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim and he is also optimistic of bringing in a couple of other new faces before Thursday’s window closes. I think the Magpies can take a valuable point.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Manchester United v Chelsea
The world’s most expensive defender Harry Maguire is likely to make his debut for Manchester United against Chelsea in a fascinating conclusion to the opening weekend of the season. United picked up just seven points from their 10 games against the other “big six” clubs last season, but they will be looking to begin their campaign with a bang, having ended last season so tamely.
Chelsea have lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid but, even though they are embargoed from signing players this window, they are likely to give American Christian Pulisic his debut on Sunday. New Blues boss Frank Lampard has several exciting young English players at his disposal although I am sure he would like to have World Cup winner N’Golo Kante back from injury for the trip to Old Trafford.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1
Michael’s weekend wager: Liverpool, Everton and Watford
Read Michael’s Premier League 1-20 predictions preview.