Bet on Premier League’s opening weekend matches
The 2018/19 Premier League begins with Leicester’s (6.50) trip to Manchester United (1.52) on Friday night. Jose Mourinho’s men finished second last time out and are favourites to triumph in the campaign’s curtain-raiser, but there is reason to believe that Claude Puel’s charges could frustrate them at Old Trafford.
Pre-season has not exactly gone smoothly for United, with Mourinho visibly frustrated at his club’s transfer dealings (or lack thereof). Question marks remain about the defence, both in the centre and on the flanks, while all eyes will be on Paul Pogba following his magnificent performances for France at the World Cup – the type of displays he has only occasionally produced for his current employers.
Leicester will relish the role of underdogs, with this match perfectly set up for them to showcase their counter-attacking prowess. The Foxes were unfortunate to lose 4-3 to Arsenal this time last season, but back them to pick up a draw at favourableodds of 4.00 on Friday night.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
The biggest game of the opening weekend takes place at the Emirates Stadium, where champions Manchester City (1.90) will help to usher in the Unai Emery era. After 22 years with Arsene Wenger at the helm it will be intriguing to see how Arsenal(3.70) fare under a new boss this term, but the early signs suggest the Gunners may have to be patient in their quest to mount a sustained title challenge.
City’s performance against Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday was ominous for the rest of the division. No one was able to get close to Pep Guardiola’s charges in 2017/18, and the Catalan’s intensity makes it difficult to imagine complacency setting in at the Etihad Stadium over the next few months. City were superb in their 3-0 win at this ground last campaign, but Arsenal should at least be able to score here – take up odds of 3.20 on an away win with both teams finding the net.
Fulham vs Crystal Palace
The Premier League looked a long way off when Fulham(2.45) slipped to 15th place in the Championship table last December. Their form in the second half of the campaign was sensational, though, and there was little doubt that Slavisa Jokanovic’s charges deserved to win promotion through the play-offs. Attention now turns to avoiding an immediate return to the second tier.
Crystal Palace(2.87) successfully pulled themselves clear of the relegation zone in the final weeks of last term, having begun the campaign with seven straight defeats (and no goals scored in that time). It is difficult to envisage the Eagles enduring such a run at the beginning of 2018/19, but they are notoriously slow starters, having lost six of their last seven opening-day encounters. That could prove to be the case again on Saturday when a Fulham win at 2.45 looks like the best option.
Huddersfield vs Chelsea
Maurizio Sarri’s employment at Chelsea(1.61) began with a whimper rather than a bang, as the Blues turned in a disappointing display in their 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the Community Shield. There is plenty for fans of the west Londoners to be excited about – Sarri’s Napoli side played some scintillating football in Serie A – although it may take a while for his ideas to take hold among a group of players who have grown used to a very different style.
Huddersfield(5.50) did brilliantly to stay up last season, but second-season syndrome could bite this time around. A return of 28 goals in 2017/18 shows where this team’s problems lie, and it remains to be seen whether they have the firepower to significantly improve upon that tally in their second year in the Premier League. Fail to do so and Town could be back in the Championship in nine months’ time.
The Community Shield suggested that Sarri’s side will not be firing on all cylinders for at least a few weeks, but they should be good enough to emerge triumphant at the John Smith’s Stadium. Back an away victory to nilat 2.45.
Liverpool vs West Ham
After reaching the Champions League final in 2017/18, Liverpool’s(1.24) principal goal this season will be to mount a challenge for the Premier League title. Their recruitment in the transfer market has been excellent, with Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alisson all likely to improve the starting XI, while Xherdan Shaqiri is a useful back-up option behind Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
West Ham(11.00) have also generated plenty of headlines with their summer business, snapping up Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson. A top-half finish could be on the cards for the Londoners this term, but it will be tough for Manuel Pellegrini to get his Hammers career off to a winning start at Anfield. Back Liverpool to win a game featuring more than 2.5 goalsat 1.64.
By Greg Lea
After many years of sports writing with emphasis on football, including a stint at Sky Sports, Greg is here to help you with betting tips. Follow him on Twitter @greglea to get the latest updates before placing your bets.