Well here we go again, after the end of the World Cup and a few pre-season friendlies, the Premier League gets underway this weekend, and those kind people at Colossus Bets have allowed me the opportunity to preview the first round of fixtures that start on Friday night. Each week I will give my views of the games that will feature in the Friday Pick 8 list of games and then add a Syndicate on the Colossus site for you to join in and play along in. Low stakes, big fun is my motto, and please remember to bet responsibly. So here we go.
The opening game of the 2018-19 season begins with Jose Mourinho’s side at home to Leicester City and despite all the supposed problems at Old Trafford, United should still be good enough to get their season off to a winning start. It is 20 years since Leicester had a victory over Man United when Tony Cottee netted a 30th minute winner, and the hosts have opened with wins on their last 3 opening day fixtures and will be strongly favoured to win this one. Visitors Leicester are unbeaten in their 3 pre-season games, beating both Notts County, and Lille, and impressed in a decent workout in an entertaining game with La Liga side Valencia. Former United favourite Jonny Evans will return to Old Trafford, and unless Harry Maguire moves away from the King Power, that pairing could be the one to try and stop the hosts from claiming their first win of the season.
Saturday’s early kick off sees Spurs travel to St.James’ Park in a repeat of last season’s opening day fixture, and it would not be such a surprise if there is a repeat of the scoreline that saw Spurs score twice in the second half to win the game by those two goals without reply. As yet, Spurs have yet to register any activity in the transfer market, but with such a strong squad it is hard to see anything other than a win for the London team. Newcastle have only won one of their opening day fixtures in the last 10 seasons, and that was back at the start of the 2012-13 season when goals from Demba Ba, and Hatem Ben Arfa gave them a 2-1 home win against… Tottenham! The home fans will be hoping for a repeat of that, but if Spurs are up to speed, this should result in an away win.
Newly promoted Cardiff face a difficult start down on the South Coast as they bid to make their return to the Premier League a winning one. Neil Warnock’s side are amongst the favourites for relegation and it’s hard to disagree as their squad looks to be severely lacking in depth. The home side are now regarded as an established Premier League outfit, but the visitors will take some confidence from the fact that Bournemouth have lost all three of their opening day fixtures since joining the top league. It is for this reason that I am going to take a bit of a chance and go for Cardiff not to lose.
Fulham start life back in the Premier League with a London derby against Palace and last seasons Championship play-off winners will have a strong belief that they can mark their return to the top flight by gaining an opening day win.The Craven Cottage faithful will be watching something of a new look team with as many as 7 new signings joining Slovisa Jokanovic’s side. The pair last met in the Premier League on the last day of the 2013-14 season when they shared 4 goals with Fulham equalising in the final minute. Palace will be hoping to start the new season in a much better way than they did last season when it took them 8 games before they claimed their first point. The Eagles recovered well though and finished with a run of just one defeat in their last 8 games which included 5 wins. This will be a close encounter and it’s one I expect Fulham not to lose.
This for me is the most unpredictable of the 8 games and could go either way. It is 3 opening day draws for Watford since they gained promotion, sharing the points with Liverpool, Southampton and Everton with last season’s opener against Liverpool being a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw. Visitors Brighton had the upper hand as far as the games between the teams went last season, a 1-0 win at home was preceded by a scoreless draw at Vicarage Road as Brighton’s defence kept out the Watford attack on both occasions.The away team will want to start the new campaign in better form than the way they ended last season as they only recorded a single win – against Man United – during their last 10 league games. The sides finished a point apart last season and with Brighton only scoring 10 goals away from the Amex, Watford are my tip to win this one.
The third new addition to this season’s Premier League are last season’s Championship winners and they kick-off their Premier League debut against Marco Silva’s Everton. The Merseysiders were pretty poor away from Goodison last season only winning 3 games, and scoring just 16 goals and this could be another game in which they struggle to score. Molineux will be buzzing ahead of Wolves’ return to the big time and I think they will be good enough to avoid defeat in this opening game. The teams last met in the Premier League back in May 2012 when they played out a no-scoring draw. This is a very different Wolves team nowadays and they will cause a few surprises this season and I am taking them not to lose here.
Sunday’s early kick-off sees last seasons surprise package Burnley make the trip to St.Mary’s where last season they claimed all 3 points thanks to a solitary strike from Sam Vokes. The Saints had a very poor season last time around only just avoiding relegation, and once again they could be in for a bit of a struggle. Their form during the run in was pretty awful as well with only 4 wins from their last 14 games. The visitors are already up and running competitively having just scrapped past Aberdeen over two legs in the Europa League, and the benefit of playing these two intense games early on may just give them the edge. A hard game to call this one, so I will cover all options.
The final leg has the potential to be a cracker as a much changed Arsenal take on champions Manchester City at what will be a packed Emirates.Last season it was a ‘double’ for City and that included a 3-0 win at the home of the Gunners, but with new manager Unai Emery now at the helm Arsenal will be a different proposition.However, it is 10 years since City last lost an opening day fixture, and they have won their last 7 and although they are away at one of their top rivals, I think they will be extending the run to 8 opening day wins in succession.
There is no doubt that this will be a tough opener for City, but the way they went about beating Chelsea in last weekend’s Community Shield match suggests that they are already capable of starting the coming season on a high.