Watford v Liverpool – 2
While Liverpool may have struggled to get some of the signings they so desperately wanted at this stage, and the uncertainty over Philippe Coutinho’s future represents an unwelcome distraction, the Reds have impressed in pre-season. A 3-0 win over Bayern was certainly the highlight, with Mane and Salah on the scoresheet, and it’s that pairing that should prove too hot to handle for Watford.
The Hornets major coup has been that of manager Marco Silva, who won plenty of admirers during his short stint at Hull and should be expected to improve the fortunes of his new side. The Portuguese boasts an exceptional home record in management but Liverpool will enter the game in confident spirits and should secure all three points.
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield – 1/X/2
Having gone all out on an away win in the first game of the ticket I won’t be taking too many risks early on, and Palace’s tie with newly promoted Huddersfield is a potential banana skin for new boss De Boer. The Eagles have made some shrewd additions but may well take time to adapt to a hugely different approach under the Dutchman.
The Terriers could also need time to settle, not due to a tactical shift but having signed a raft of players to aid in their promotion push. Like Palace, they also have the option to go direct to newcomers Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre, who both carry a significant aerial threat. Too tough to call.
Derby v Wolves – 1/X/2
After an excellent start from a vastly altered Wolves outfit, Nuno will tackle his first Midlands derby against the Rams, with both sides very much harbouring hopes of promotion. The hosts have certainly made progress under Gary Rowett and while their summer spending may not have been as lavish as the visitors they’ve recruited valuable experience through the spine of the side.
A draw at Sunderland, despite the Black Cats’ woes, was a decent platform to build on and they’ll want to get a first win of the season back at home. Again, this game could go either way so I’m not committing one way or the other once more.
West Brom v Bournemouth – X/2
There wasn’t much between these two sides last season but while the Baggies have had a quiet summer the Cherries have undeniably strengthened. The arrivals of Begovic and Ake from Chelsea should shore up a suspect rearguard while Jermain Defoe guarantees goals up front and could forge a strong partnership with last season’s star man Josh King – all three are returning to the club following previous loan spells.
The hosts tailed off badly last season and while they will remain tough to beat, strong at both defending and attacking set pieces, the arrival of Jay Rodriguez doesn’t inspire great confidence that West Brom can kick on. An upset, of sorts, could be on the cards.
Middlesbrough v Sheffield United – 1
Among the favourites for promotion for good reason given their pedigree at this level in recent years, Boro will be aiming to bounce back from opening day defeat at Wolves back at the Riverside. Their newly promoted visitors will be no pushovers though, with many backing the Blades as a dark horse back in England’s second tier – a theory supported by victory over a strong Brentford side in gameweek 1.
The home side certainly have the stronger squad, with notable additions made during the summer including Britt Assombalonga, and their solid defence should should have enough to inspire a narrow victory.
Brighton v Manchester City – 2
Aiming to begin their Premier League adventure in strong fashion, Brighton could have done without an opener against the title favourites. City have spent big this summer on numerous problem positions from the campaign gone by, signing a new keeper in youngster Ederson Moraes and as many as three new full-backs.
Bernardo Silva swells an already fearsome attack, while Gabriel Jesus is fit and raring to go and could be a strong contender for the golden boot. Chris Hughton has nothing close to the same resources so will rely on strong defensive organisation but even the very best of backlines will be hard pressed to keep Guardiola’s charges at bay this season.
Norwich v Sunderland – 1
With both teams drawing on opening weekend, Norwich and Sunderland will hope to go one better this time around under their new managers. Daniel Farke made a very strong start with a point at Fulham, while the visitors answered at least some critics to come from behind against solid opposition in Derby.
Nelson Oliveira was on the scoresheet from the bench at Craven Cottage and made the most obvious suggestion to his new boss that he was wrong to leave him out. The Portugal international is a decent outside bet to be the top scorer in the Championship and could be the difference back at Carrow Road.
Newcastle v Tottenham – 2
Many feel that Spurs’ lack of transfer activity this summer could see them left behind, relying on good fortune as far as injuries are concerned if they are to build once more. The visitors will want to prove any doubters wrong almost as much as they will be desperate to put their last visit to St. James’ Park behind them.
A 5-1 defeat to an already relegated outfit on the final day of the 2015/16 campaign was not only an embarrassment but saw them relinquish second spot to fierce rivals Arsenal. They’ll be out for revenge and while Newcastle have a real shot at survival under Benitez, they’re unlikely to get off to a great start on Sunday.