Saturday August 16th
For good and for ill, the Premier League is upon us again. First up at 12.45 we have a supposedly re-vamped Manchester United taking on a Swansea side that one already fears will struggle quite badly this season. Can United’s new boss manage Louis Van Gall shake the torpor which clouded the champions of 2012/2013 last season? With a much vaunted new 3-5-2 system likely to be in place, does he have the necessary defenders to play 3 centrebacks after the exodus of senior players like Vidic and Ferdinand, relying in their stead on 3 relatively young (and injury-prone) defenders in the shape of Jones, Smalling and Evans?
Having lost two of their best players in Vorm and Michu, Swansea offer an unsure United a very decent shot at getting off to a winning start. The market seems to concur, with 4/11 the best price being offered on Betfred amongst others.
The Stoke v Aston Villa game at 15.00 offers an interesting look into their respective seasons, whilst not quite offering prices most would find interesting. On paper it would seem that the bookies have called it right with the best price for a Villa home win to be found 22/23 at Betbright but for those who find something appealing in the directionless chaos of Villa, Betvictor is offering 18/5 for an unlikely Villa win.
Arsenal are to host Crystal Palace in the 17.30 game. Even though Arsene Wenger has found Tony Pulis to be a difficult adversary over the years, luck has shone and Pulis has left Palace “by mutual consent” just days before kick-off. With Arsenal strengthening in the summer on the back of their F.A. Cup win and the undeniable disarray which must be taking hold at Crystal Palace, anything other than a big win for Arsenal seems unlikely. The betting indicates this with prices of 2/7 being the best on offer.
Sunday August 17th
Sunday 13.30, Liverpool v Southampton. An intriguing match first weekend in as Liverpool take on a Southampton team from whom they bought 3 first team players. Southampton have also bid adieu to Pochettino, with Dutch legend Ronald Koeman stepping in to take the managerial reins. Liverpool have added quality and much-needed depth to their squad all without adequately replacing the goal-scoring machine that was Suarez. However, they should still have far too much fire power and verve for a Southampton team with assets added to their bank balance but unfortunately shorn from their team. Betbright are offering the best price of 3/8 for a Liverpool win.
At 16.00, Newcastle welcome last season’s champions Manchester City to the north-east. Most bookies seem to make City favourites for the league again this season and whilst they still possess a stellar class of talented players, there is a slight scent of the mistakes made two seasons ago when, following their maiden Premier League winning trophy, they failed to add significant quality to their squad and faltered as a result. This season, whilst getting in some good players, their forward ranks are looking shaky with Aguero and Negredo currently unfit to play, meaning an often-times wasteful Dzeko and yet-to-be-lethal Jovetic are left to lead the line.
Newcastle have flown under the radar in the transfer market this summer and yet still have spent upward of £30 million. With Newcastle having endured a terrible end to last season, an away win for City at 4/6 with Betvictor looks about right but a draw at 16/5 from Betfred doesn’t look too outlandish for a silly fiver.