Back with a Bang: Premier League Opening Weekend PreviewBy: Rob | August 13th, 2010
Trust the Premier League to arrive shrouded in drama and controversy. If you missed it, the big story this week was that Martin O’Neill walked out on Aston Villa, just days before the new season kicks off. It starts tomorrow, and it really starts with fireworks, as you’ll see.
But first a word on the season as a whole – this genuinely could be the most interesting, and open season for a generation. There is certainly no big four anymore, the old big four were broken up last year of course, but this year it could be mixed up even more. Man City have bought basically every player in World Football, and if they can gel are surely title contenders. Arsenal surely must be planning to come of age at some point. Man United and Chelsea you know all about but possibly don’t look the dominant force they previously have, while Harry Redknapp thinks Spurs can win the title. Liverpool will be desperate to get back to the Champions League, and have made some great signings to try and get there. Its going to be brilliant, with any luck.
Anyway, onto this weekend, all times are local time, and all predictions entirely fallible.
Spurs vs Manchester City
What a great way to kick off the season. The two teams who were battling for the fourth Champions League spot, kick off the season desperate to get points off one another. Man City have bought Yaya Toure and David Silva, and are about to sign Mario Balotelli and James Milner as well, (though those two won’t feature in this game). Spurs have been (surprisingly) comparatively quiet but they did have the edge over City last season. This time round I see City as being real title contenders and expect them to overcome Spurs tomorrow in hopefully, a fantastic match. Prediction Manchester City
Aston Villa vs West Ham
Villa would have been a comfortable win a week ago, but have been thrown into turmoil after manager Martin O’Neill’s shock resignation. West Ham aren’t exactly in great shape themselves, a season of struggles last season and fights between the mouthy new owners and Gianfranco Zola, everyone’s favourite diminutive Italian, saw the latter axed in favour of Avram Grant. Grant did a great job for Chelsea and a pretty good job at Portsmouth considering, and he may be able to pull of a result against a Villa side at sixes and sevens. Prediction Score Draw
Blackburn vs Everton
Blackburn have post-Paul Ince been a model of Mid-table safety, while Everton have been slow starters in the past few seasons. Everton will be spurred on by the fact they could finish this season ahead of local rivals Liverpool for the first time since 2004–05, so this could go either way I think. So i’ll back a draw. Prediction Draw.
Bolton vs Fulham
A tale of two ex-managers here, Fulham are recovering from losing Roy Hodgson to Liverpool, after last season’s incredible run to the Europa League final. They have replaced him with Mark Hughes, who has never finished a job in a lower position than where he started. At Bolton meanwhile, they are just happy that Gary Megson was replaced last season by Owen Coyle, who laid down some impressive foundations toward the end of the last campaign. Prediction I expect a home win here.
Sunderland vs Birmingham
Birmingham were one of last season’s success stories, with their rugged defence (helped by Joe Hart) looking stern against all the top sides, including results at Man United and Chelsea. Hart has gone back to Man City, so they will be hoping that former Man United goalkeeper Ben Foster can replace him. Sunderland are managed by ex-Birmingham boss Steve Bruce, who quietly has been doing a decent job in guiding the club away from the drop zone. But he has signed Titus Bramble, who will hopefully recreate his Wigan form, not his Newcastle form. Prediction, Draw.
Wolves vs Stoke
Possibly not the glamour game of the afternoon, but could be cruicial come the end of the season. Stoke’s not-exactly-Barcelona style of football has not only kept them in the Prem but seen them move up the table year on year, while Wolves survived the drop last year and are slowly consolidating. Should be an even game, but i’ll say home advantage will pay, and Prediction Wolves will win.
Chelsea vs West Brom
Poor West Brom, they have a torrid first section of the season. Its sees them open their campaign against the defending Champions and my pick to retain their title. If West Brom can pick up points against the big teams when they are struggling with summer-hangovers it could prove vital at the end of the season, on the other hand if they just get stuffed a few times their confidence could go completely AWOL. Prediction A comfortable Chelsea win.
Bet on Chelsea vs. West Brom
It’ll be great to see Blackpool up with the big boys, and quote machine Ian Holloway will be worth his weight in gold this season, but sadly it’ll be a real surprise if they do well. Wigan were the most inconsistent side on earth last season though, so if Blackpool are going to pick up some points, nows the time. But betting on them is madness really. Prediction, Wigan win.
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Pretty exciting this one. Liverpool had a nightmare season last time around which saw them fall out of the Top Four, which saw them part company with Rafa Benitez. They’ve bought in Roy Hodgson, off the back of a miraculous spell at Fulham. They’ve bought in Joe Cole (who is better than Messi) and Christian Poulson among others, and look candidates for a stronger season than last time around. Arsenal meanwhile, surely its the season for the young guns to come of age? They’ve bought in goalscorer Marouane Chamakh, and Jack Wilshire looks like he might be ready to break into the side. Still worries about the keepers though. Prediction could be a classic, I’ll back Arsenal to pull it off.
Bet on Liverpool vs. Arsenal
Two years ago, in Newcastle’s relegation season, they started the season with an impressive 1-1 draw against Man United. With Jonas the star of the show. Then Kevin Keegan jumped/was pushed and the wheels of came off at an alarming rate. They are now back, and start against Man United. United meanwhile will be out to start well, with a super competitive top end of the table meaning they’ll need every point they can get. I expect them to beat Newcastle, but it won’t be a white wash Prediction, Man United win.
Bet on Manchester United vs. Newcastle