Premier League Predictions | Matchday 1

Premier League Predictions | Matchday 1
Aug 12, 2016

Arsenal Bournemouth Burnley Chelsea Crystal Palace Everton Hull City Leicester Liverpool Manchester City Manchester United Middlesborough Southampton Stoke Sunderland Swansea Tottenham Watford West Brom West Ham

It’s mid-August, and after the forgettable EURO 2016 tournament, the league, teams, goals & drama that we all love and crave has returned.

Over the summer, there have been managerial transitions, new signings, new stadiums & a new transfer record. With three time Premier League title winner Jose Mourinho being appointed at Old Trafford, ex-Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City coupled with Antonio Conte’s arrival at Chelsea, all the vast activity over the past two months is going to inaugurate into an incredible season of football, showcasing how superior the Premier League is.

All of the hype commences on Matchday 1, where the team who lifts the title in May, will see themselves beginning on the cusp of glory. Whilst we are at the start of the season and prophecies made by pundits alike based on the league table do not imply that a team is necessarily heading for relegation, safety or the title.

However, last season divulged that the league is anyone’s league.

Fixture: Hull v Leicester, KC Stadium. KO: 12:30PM

After the remarkable footballing (or sport for that matter) upset in 2015/2016, Leicester City finished the season as champions, pipping Arsenal & Tottenham to the title. The title win also taught everybody a moral story in that anything is possible – you’re never out of the race.

It’s been a mixed season for Leicester – they had lost marshalled midfield N’Golo Kante to Chelsea. Kante was a key metronome in their midfield last season as the Foxes sang from the same hymn sheet in that department, and his move will hurt Leicester City, or any ambitions they may hold for the upcoming season. However, they have kept hold of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, who were branded as integral members of their squad last season.

Hull is a city some don’t often associate with football so much. The gut-wrenching truth for Hull, unfortunately, is that it’s the biggest transition from one league to another as the Foxes discovered in 2014/15. After losing their boss, Steve Bruce, Hull have been burdened with assistant manager Mike Phelan as well as a squad depleted of squad depth or resources to stretch the club in any respect. It could be a very long season for the Yorkshire club. Leicester have been in Hull’s position before, but the Tigers look in serious danger.

Prediction: Hull 0-2 Leicester

Fixture: Burnley v Swansea, Turf Moor. KO: 15:00PM

Burnley have been promoted to the Premier League twice. Both of those times they have gone straight back down to the Championship. Is it third-time lucky for the Clarets? On their return to the top-flight, they are up against Francesco Guidolin’s Swansea, a team who have transitioned brilliantly into the Premier League, despite having 5 different managers along the way. However, they have suffered a implosive transfer window; EURO 2016 winner Éder left to Marseille, whilst the finishing and prowess of French striker Bafetimbi Gomis went to Marseille on loan for the season, as the Swans have struggled to introduce real replacements bar Fernando Llorente.

Significant departures in South Wales could mean Swansea face scrapping for the drop during the season.

Like Hull, Burnley haven’t invested in their squad. They do lack depth in midfield, with Michael Duff retiring and Joey Barton jumping ship to Rangers. If signings aren’t introduced they will also struggle to compete with the pace that the Premier League works in. No doubt, there’ll be a party atmosphere at Turf Moor as the fans will welcome their side to the top division again, and tha may just be enough to buoy them here.

Prediction: Burnley 2-2 Swansea

Fixture: Middlesbrough v Stoke City

Seven years after facing the devastating prospect of being relegated from the Premier League after years of stability as a club, Middlesbrough are official back in the big time, and with an array of brilliant signings coupled with a respectable squad to show with it. If Middlesbrough were promoted to the Premier League a couple of years ago, many would have tipped them to go straight back down. However, their squad depth has massively improved, and it only will grow as the signings of players such as Fischer, Alvaro Negredo & Victor Valdes are introduced.

Stoke, meanwhile, will be heading for a more consistent season after frequent mid-table finishes under Mark Hughes. Their shrewd transfer investments in Joe Allen & Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi will improve their midfield creativity with Shaqiri in the side – last season they conceded more than they scored in the league. Defensive reinforcements are a virtue for the Potters, and I think Middlesbrough will beat them here and begin to make a bigger statement than scrapping for relegation.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-1 Stoke

Fixture: Crystal Palace v West Brom

Both teams here have had a poor transfer window. They’ve spent £13m on a winger in Andros Townsend & £10m in an experienced veteran defender, James Tomkins, coupled with the signing of excellent goalkeeper Steve Mandana on a free. These are very good signings that Palace have made, but Alan Pardew still hasn’t rectified the dilemna in the striker role. They lost Dwight Gale to Newcastle, and are left with potentially unreliable options in the long-term. If they fail to bring in a ST this transfer window, they will struggle with goals.

West Brom have made only one signing all summer, and that’s winger Matt Phillips from Championship side Queens Park Rangers. Earlier today in his press conference ahead of the new season, Tony Pulis admitted they needed 5 more signings – ideally the Welshman would want to bring in a defender and a striker who can guarantee more goals, as Solomon Rondon managed nine last season. Christian Benteke from Liverpool is their main target, and would add more strength to their forward line, and pace as well.

West Brom will be scrapping, most likely for relegation for parts of the season, but their defensive discipline masterminded by Pulis could keep them up. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, could be destined for a mid-table finish, but even with deadly Yannick Bolasie on the wing, West Brom’s defensive stability should be enough.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-0 West Brom

Fixture: Everton v Tottenham

Tottenham, last season, in my opinion, were unlucky to lose out on 2nd place last season to their bitter North London rivals Arsenal. They played some brilliant football, and at times, they looked like genuine title winners. In the end, they just lacked the winning mentality to win the Premier League. However, last season’s 3rd place finish should not be overlooked; they have a group full of great young talent, but they do need to add more to their side. Creativity is aplenty; and it could be enough to mount another title challenge.

There’s been a new managerial change at Everton; former Southampton boss Ronald Koeman takes over the Blues after a disappointing 2015/2016 campaign under Roberto Martinez. Despite selling John Stones to Manchester City, they’ve done good buisness in bringing Ashley Williams, a veteran defender who spent at 8 years at Swansea, to the club. He can give the club some leadership it desperately lacked at times last season. They are still a club in transition, and the Dutch boss could bring them back into contention for Europe.

Tottenham didn’t make a good start last season, and with Goodison Park now a tough place to come to, they won’t get the win here.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Tottenham

Fixture: Southampton v Watford

I feel exhorted to imply that Southampton will have a mid-table season, unfortunately this season after losing integral members of their squad. However, when Ronald Koeman arrived at St Mary’s in the summer of 2014, he made a few good signings, and then built a strong nucleus into the squad as they continued to challenge for Europe. Despite the past, though, this time I really do think they’ll wilt slightly. Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle’s departure will be a big miss for the Saints, but they have good midfield depth – the only issue lies in their strikers. Claude Puel, though is known for turning youngsters into superstars of our current age – so don’t be too surprised if he goes and signings an 18-year old.

Watford, I think will massively struggle this season. They faded badly despite a good start to the season; Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney failed to fire on all cylinders for the last part of the season – it was arguably the start to last season that kept Watford safe. If they don’t show glimpses of the partnership that got them promoted in 2014/2015, they’ll be in trouble.

Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Watford

Fixture: Manchester City v Sunderland

Manchester City fans, no doubt will be hyped for the new season, especially as a Spaniard, who has pedigree at the two best European teams (Barcelona & Bayern Munich), and he’s certainly made a statement, as he’s splashed the cash, signing Nolito, and addressing their CB issue by capturing John Stones, as well as further midfield depth in Gundogan from Dortmund. They can win the title with the squad depth they have; and I expect them to comfortably win this here. However, Pep Guardiola needs time to adjust to English football, as the style in La Liga is different to the Premier League.

David Moyes is back in the Premier League; his last not so memorable at Manchester United. However, an impressive pre-season suggests he can guide Sunderland to safety. I think that with the confidence they showed towards the end of last year, they’ll have a better season than the last one. City’s pressing game may be too much for them, though.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland

Fixture: Bournemouth v Manchester United

On the other side of Manchester, another site are spending heavily with a boss with his English pedigree. That’s right – Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League, eight months after leaving the role at Chelsea, in the wake of their poor start to the league campaign. Many few would be writing his Manchester United off from winning the Barclays Premier League title. The Red Devils have spent mainly in midfield; Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juventus midfield maestro & record signing in Paul Pogba, coupled with one of the best strikers in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

It was the creativity that eluded Manchester United last season, but with a Portugese who has won 3 titles in England at the helm, and the world’s best gracing their midfield & forward line, the glory days aren’t far away from Old Trafford.

Bournemouth, who finished 16th last season, enjoyed a memorable home win over United last season, and their transfer focus would surely be in defence, and they’ve already gone and invested in Liverpool youngster Brad Smith, and they could do with another fullback as only Aston Villa conceded more last season. I think Bournemouth will give United a slight run for their money here.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester United

Fixture: Arsenal v Liverpool

Out of all the opening fixtures, this is surely likely to be the most entertaining for a neutral. The two sides, who would have been fighting for the title a decade ago are challenging for different desires. Arsenal are still waiting for their first Premier League title in 12 years, whilst Liverpool have their sights set on the top 4. Arsene Wenger came in for some heavy critism from Arsenal fans despite finishing as runners-up last season; they have midfield depth with Xhaka and a prospect in Rob Holding, and Skhodran Mustafi’s deal to the Emirates could be complete. The one place which needs strengthening is striker. They’ve relied on Giroud, who lacks pace and isn’t a good option in the long-term. A quick, nippy striker who is also a poacher (Lacazette) can bring Arsenal the title.

On Merseyside, it’s the defence that’s the biggest issue. Alberto Moreno at fullback is a disaster, but he’s the only realistic first team option. They signed centre-back Joel Matip from Schalke & Estonian Ragnar Klavan, leaving them with plenty of CB partnership options for the new season. They have more attacking options as well, with Mane’s arrival. Wijnaldum is a versatile and creative midfield, and Klopp has addressed their weaknesses. However, will they be able to compete with Chelsea, Manchester United & Manchester City?

Arsenal have key players Giroud, Ozil and Koscielny out, so Liverpool have a chance to make a statement to the league. Their defence may let them down here though.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool

Fixture: Chelsea v West Ham United

Yet another side to face new managerial structure, Chelsea. They needed a boss who could galvanise their side after a disaster of a season in 2015/2016, and Antonio Conte is their answer. The Italian has pedigree managing at one of the world’s greatest clubs in the world, Juventus, and led Italy to the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter-final. He has already made versatile signings in striker Michy Batshuayi, and Romelu Lukaku’s potential arrival may give them more attacking prowess. However, whilst their midfield depth is colossal, their ageing defence needs strengthening, but Conte is a great tactician in that department.

West Ham have made some good signings, meanwhile. This season marks their first season at their new stadium, the Olympic Stadium, after years at their home, Upton Park. It will be more difficult for them this season, whilst Chelsea will flourish due to no European football. If N’Golo Kante keeps Dimitri Payet quiet, Chelsea could breeze through here.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 West Ham

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