The first of two Friday night games sees Birmingham manager Gary Monk welcome former side Swansea City to St. Andrews. This will be the first time the teams have met in the league since 2008 when the teams played out a goalless draw at the same venue. Visitors Swansea have started well under new manager, Graham Potter, and have 2 wins from their opening 2 games following wins against Preston and Sheffield United, and they will hope to make it 3 consecutive league wins for the first time since they completed that feat at the end of the 2016-17 season. The hosts have just a single point from their first two fixtures, drawing at home to Norwich after holding a two goal lead, and then they suffered a single goal defeat away to current league leaders, Middlesbro. Gary Monk has taken charge of the Blues for 6 Championship games at St. Andrews and his record is 5 wins, and just a single defeat. This game could go either way with my preference being for both teams not to loose, but to make sure I don’t fall at the first hurdle, I will cover all options.
The only game in this weeks pick 8 that isn’t English based should see an away victory for Lyon. These sides have only met on 8 previous occasions on league duty and so far there has yet to be a draw, with Lyon leading the score by 5 wins to 3. The home side recorded a surprising away win at Nice in their opening game when Moussa Doumbia’s 2nd minute goal was enough to seal the win. Lyon started with a comfortable home win over Amiens as goals from Traore, and Depay were enough to get them off to a winning start. The visitors were impressive on the road last season, with only champions PSG taking more points from away games, and their away goals tally of 49 was way ahead of any other team. They finished last season in excellent form winning 9 out of their last 10 league games, and I expect them to be good enough to claim all three points.
The early kick-off in the Premier League sees Newcastle provide the opposition for Cardiff’s first home game back in the top flight and the game will see both teams looking to earn their first point of the current campaign. If Cardiff are to have any chance of staying up, you would assume that they will have to rely on winning most of their points at home, so they will be looking to do better than they did when they were last in the top flight when they only managed 5 home wins. Opening home games in both of their previous 2 appearances in the Premier League have resulted in 2-0 defeats, and I think that Newcastle have a great opportunity to claim their first league win in this game. Rafa Benitez has never lost a game against Neil Warnock in 5 meetings, and the Geordies have won their last 10 consecutive games against Cardiff. Having said all that, Cardiff can take some hope from the fact that Newcastle have not won any of their last 5 opening away games in their last 5 Premier League campaigns.
This particular London derby has not been played since the 2013-14 season in the league, although the teams met in an FA Cup tie in 2017. The last league game saw Spurs win 3-1 , and in the previous 10 league games, Fulham have recorded just a single win over their North London rivals. Last season Spurs won their opening league game away at Newcastle, as they did this season, and then followed that up with a home loss against Fulham’s neighbours, Chelsea – so for those who may like a coincidence bet…..personally, like most people, this looks to be a solid home banker and although Mr Kane seems to struggle to find the net in August, there are plenty of other Spurs players who are more than capable of doing so.
Both teams gained a point each on the opening day with Everton’s probably being the better result after they played more than 50 minutes with just 10 men following the red-card for defender Phil Jagielka against promoted Wolves at Molineux. This will be new boss, Marco Silva’s first game in charge at Goodison and the Everton faithful will be wanting the new man to get their home league campaign off to a winning start. Last season it was Southampton who got the better of the ‘head-to-head’, winning 4-1 at St Mary’s, and earning a point with a 1-1 draw at Goodison. You have to go back to 1998 to find Southampton’s last win at Everton, when Matt Le Tissier was amongst the goals, and for me, this is another home win.
The 2015-16 Premier League champions kick-off their home campaign against promoted Wolves looking for their first points of the new season following their opening day defeat at Old Trafford. The home side have not lost their first home league game since they were defeated by Reading back in 2011. Historically this fixture is very close with Wolves having won 36 league games against Leicester’s 35. The last time they met in league action back in 2012-13, both sides had 2-1 wins, and previous to that in 2007-08, both games were drawn. Wolves played some excellent football last season, but stepping up to the Premier League will be a big test for them, and I see Leicester being good enough not to lose in this Midlands encounter.
West Ham prop up the table after their opening day defeat at Anfield, whilst visitors Bournemouth are one of eight teams who started their campaign with an opening weekend win. Having began last season with three away fixtures – all defeats – the Hammers got their first points of the season by beating Huddersfield at the London Stadium in their first home game, and a much changed West Ham squad will be hoping to bounce back from that heavy defeat by Liverpool to get their season up and running. Bournemouth have lost all 3 of their first away league games since they joined the Premier League, and that includes a 1-0 defeat at West Ham the season before last. Having started with a comfortable win over Cardiff last weekend confidence amongst Eddie Howe’s men will be high, and although they are capable of winning this game, I don’t expect West Ham to lose. These teams have only ever played 8 times in league matches, with West Ham being unbeaten in 6 of those, a sequence I think will continue.
If we are still in the hunt for a perfect 8 when this game kicks off, then all hopes will be on Chelsea making it two successive league wins as my prediction is for a home win. Although playing against Champions Man City last weekend, visitors Arsenal looked to still be adjusting to the tactical changes made by Unai Emery and at this early stage in the season, I think Chelsea can exploit this situation. Chelsea looked quite impressive in their opening day win at Huddersfield and they have only lost one of their last 18 opening home league fixtures. Admittedly last season was slightly better for Arsenal as they won the only game of the 5 meetings that didn’t finish all square, but at Stamford Bridge it’s 8 games since Arsenal last tasted victory and I think it looks to be another home win.