‘Football is back!’ tweets Manchester City fan Kevin ahead of this weekend’s Premier League return, but little does Kevin know that the real football returned last weekend with the football league. Alas, these over-paid Premier League players certainly can excite now and then, so I’m going to give you all the Terrible Tips ready for the Premier League opening weekend.
Liverpool vs Norwich City
We all know the story of last season by know, but it will remain fresh in the minds of Liverpool players and fans alike as they kick off the Premier League season on Friday night, hosting recently promoted Norwich.
Following a poor pre-season, culminating in Sunday’s Community Shield penalty loss to trophy-greedy Manchester City, perhaps the nerves will be kicking in before the Canaries visit to Anfield. Norwich won a lot of fans last season for their attractive brand of football under German manager Daniel Farke, and they deservedly came up as champions.
Liverpool may be without Sadio Mane, who only returned his extended break following his international duty with Senegal on Monday, and with Salah and Firmino not really finding their shooting boots in pre-season, it may be the team in yellow that head into the game with more confidence.
Liverpool look shaky, but I think they’ll just about scrape past the Premier League newcomers.
Liverpool 2-1 Norwich
West Ham United vs Manchester City
Saturday’s early kick-off sees West Ham take on last year’s champions Manchester City, with the London side hoping for a push into the European spots following last season’s indifferent finish. The Hammers have had a really positive transfer window, brining in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller to help bolster the club’s attacking options.
Haller arrives with some pedigree and will prove a strong replacement for outgoing troublemaker Marko Arnautovic. With no Andy Carroll to come off the bench for West Ham, I think they could cause the Citizens some problems in their opening game at the London Stadium.
City meanwhile, will be without the sought-after Leroy Sane following his injury in the Community Shield, so will have to rely on Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva or any of the other world-class players they have to score the goals in this one.
West Ham 2-0 Manchester City
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United
It’s clash of the titans at the Vitality Stadium as Bournemouth take on Sheffield United in n opening fixture that presents great opportunity for both sides. Bournemouth will be hoping to push on from last season’s 14th placed finish, whilst the Blades are expected to struggle following their impressive, if slightly surprising, promotion last year.
The dangerous duo of Callum Wilson and Joshua King up-front, coupled with the tricky Ryan Fraser should provide enough firepower to keep Bournemouth up once again, but will they be able to breach a defence that only conceded 41 goals in the league last-season. The away side have made several signings from Championship clubs, including the likes of Luke Freeman, Callum Robinson and Oli McBurnie, but to me these look very similar to the sort of signings Cardiff made last season.
This will be a game that neither side will want to lose, so I expect it to be scoreless until Sheffield United’s so called ‘fat’ striker Billy Sharp nods one in in the final moments, although this is perhaps wishful thinking as he’s currently in my fantasy football starting 11.
Bournemouth 0-1 Sheffield United
Burnley vs Southampton
Another game that promises to be a classic at Turf Moor, as Burnley take on Southampton. It’s the Saints who have probably had the better transfer window, bringing in the likes of Che Adams, who stated that he wanted to win the league with his new side upon joining. Although manager Ralph Hasenhüttl impressed in keeping Southampton up last season, I think the title might be a stretch for this season.
Southampton might have the better squad, ambition and perhaps even manager, but Turf Moor is going to be a horrible place to go until the day Sean Dyches gives up football. Had Burnley not released now retired striker Peter Crouch, I could’ve seen them nicking this with a last-minute header, but nil-nil it is.
Burnley 0-0 Southampton
Crystal Palace vs Everton
The battle for mid-table mediocrity comes at Selhurst Park, with Crystal Palace taking on Everton in their Premier League opener. Palace have lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United, and Wilfried Zaha could still yet leave the South London club, with Everton one potential suitor.
The Toffees have actually had an impressive transfer window, with Andre Gomes returning from Barcelona on a permanent deal, as well as Jean Philippe-Gbamin replacing the outgoing Idrissa Gueye. Moise Kean too looks a very decent acquisition from Juventus, and could form a dangerous partnership with Richarlison up front.
That being said, Everton traditionally take a while to get going, and if Palace can get the ball to Zaha inside the area, then perhaps he will fall over and Luka Milivojevic will tuck away the penalty.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Everton
Watford vs Brighton
Goodness me, what a cracker this could be. Brighton stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, whilst Watford fell away from their strong early season form to finish 11th. The Hornets seem to have stuck with the same squad as last year, with Craig Dawson being their only signing of note, whereas Brighton have spent big on Championship stars Neil Maupay and Adam Webster from Brentford and Bristol City respectively. I’m sure both will prove effective signings in the 2020/21 Championship season.
Watford aren’t great, but they should have too much for a poor Brighton side.
Watford 1-0 Brighton
Tottenham vs Aston Villa
One of these teams reached the Champions League Final last season, whereas the other achieved promotion from the Championship, and yet it’s the Championship side in Villa who have splashed the cash. The Villans have spent more than £100 million on a nearly completely new squad, whilst Spurs have bolstered their midfield with the strong Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.
There have been lots of reports of Villa ‘doing a Fulham’ by spending big and replacing the squad that got them promoted, but key players Jack Grealish and John McGinn will maintain starting spots. I think Villa will surprise a few, but this away game at Spurs comes perhaps too early for them.
Tottenham 3-1 Aston Villa
Leicester vs Wolves
These are two sides who I think can genuinely battle Manchester United for 6th place this season, following promising displays last year. Wolves’ bogey team Huddersfield have gone down, and Nuno Esporito Santo’s squad has been improved further with a multitude of Portuguese signings, along with the permanent return of danger man Raul Jimenez.
Leicester meanwhile, boast one of the strongest midfields in the league in Wilfried Ndidi, James Maddison and new arrival Youri Tielemans, and have money to spend following the departure of Harry ‘Slabhead’ Maguire. If Brendan Rodgers can spend that money wisely, and avoid the temptations of Joe Allen, then Leicester will have another good year. Both sides’ strengths are in attack, so we could see some goals in the King Power.
Leicester 3-3 Wolves
Newcastle vs Arsenal
According to Twitter, Newcastle have the worst owner in football in Mike Ashley. While Newcastle were spending £40 million on Joelinton, lower league clubs Bury and Bolton are at risk of expulsion from the league due to their owners and ongoing debts. That being said, Newcastle fans had right to be worried when one of their star players in Ayoze Perez left for Leicester, but they have replaced him with Joelinton and once Gucci-wearing Allan Saint-Maximin, who could prove strong signings.
The Gunners meanwhile, have spent their reported £40 million transfer budget on £72 million-man Nicholas Pepe, who will replace the goals of released Danny Welbeck and more, whilst Dani Ceballos adds another creative influence in midfield. Whilst Arsenal’s frontline looks extremely strong, their defence was laughably bad at times last year and with no improvements having yet been made, I expect Emery’s men to continue to struggle away from home.
Newcastle 2-0 Arsenal
Manchester United vs Chelsea
It’s (almost) a baptism of fire for Frank Lampard, as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea travel to Old Trafford for their opening game. Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, of course, will be without Eden Hazard who left for Real Madrid, and a transfer ban means they may have to rely on the thousands of youth players who no doubt returned over the summer. Christian Pulisic has a big pair of boots to fill, and Mason Mount and Ross Barkley will need to perform if the Blues are to have a good season.
United meanwhile have brought in Daniel James, Wan-Bissaka and Maguire, but attempts to shift Lukaku off the books appear to have failed. Their defence certainly looks stronger, but United still lack a consistent finisher up front, and will need Rashford and Martial to contribute significantly more goals if they are to challenge for a top four spot.
Neither side will be challenging for the title, but it could be an entertaining opening game between United and Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea