The English Premier League is back and 38 weeks of world class football will commence early on Saturday morning, Australian time.
All twenty clubs are faced with a clean slate and there is a case to be made for several lifting the trophy come season’s end, though reigning champions Manchester City do look an outstanding prospect once more.
The 2018/19 Premier League action will officially commence when Manchester United welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford, while Week 1 will end in London when Arsenal and City square off in a mouth-watering clash.
The Premier League season is underway when title threats Manchester United open their account against 2015/16 champions Leicester City at Old Trafford.
United were expected to bolster their stocks in the offseason but are yet to make much of an impression with only a few, non-heralding signings. Their first choice XI still reads as one of the best in the league and on class alone, they will finish top four.
Leicester City are an ambitious club and while it looks almost impossible for them to emulate their competition-winning run of a few seasons ago, they can finish in the top ten again this season. The loss of Riyad Mahrez is obviously massive and the key to their success will lie with how their other stars react, namely Jamie Vardy up front and Kasper Schmeichel between the posts.
United will probably have just a little too much firepower for the Foxes and they can begin their campaign with a win.
Two clubs that are keen to make an impression in 2018/19 will square off in Week 1 of the Premier League when Newcastle host Spurs on Saturday night.
Newcastle fans have not been pleased with the club in recent years and more directly, the ownership of Mike Ashley, which has ultimately led to bizarre and often hopeless decisions on the transfer market. Manager Rafa Benitez has still been able to instil some belief in the squad and if they capture some of the form that they showed late last season, they are good enough to finish in the top ten. The addition of Ki Sung-yueng could prove positive for the club, particularly if he can recapture the combination that he built with Jonjo Shelvey at Swansea.
Spurs have made a habit of finishing towards the top of the table and they boast easily the best young squad in the league. They haven’t made any signings, however and are on the verge of losing Toby Alderweireld to United in the coming weeks. The addition of a player like Anthony Martial would be ideal and would give Pochettino nice cover for Harry Kane, as well as a quick wing option.
Spurs can begin their campaign with a low-scoring win in the north of England.
Watford and Brighton could both be faced with the relegation dogfight at some point this season and we therefore both be hopeful of a positive first-up result.
Watford actually have a good little team on paper and that is headlined by a very sturdy midfield that includes players like Doucoure, Chalobah and Cleverley. The addition of Ben Foster at the back of the pitch is terrific, but the Hornets will need to realise their potential reasonably early in the season, if they are to stay away from danger at the pointy end.
Brighton have made several potentially outstanding signings and if they can string it all together, they’ll earn another season in the England’s top league. The addition of Bernado to a backline that was decent with Dunk and Duffy last season is smart, while last season’s Eredivisie top goal scorer in And one could ultimately be the difference
Brighton can get the early runs on the board by beating Watford.
Bournemouth will host the newly-promoted Cardiff City in what promises to be an intriguing Premier League fixture.
The Cherries have continued to punch well above their weight since gaining passage back into the Premier League and they will be hopeful of building off a very respectable twelfth last season. Ake has proved vital of their set-up and the addition of exciting youngster David Brooks could lead to something, given his impressive pre-season form.
Cardiff were truly terrible through their first and only Premier League campaign in 2013/14, but that feels like a lifetime ago and they re-enter the competition with renewed confidence. Neil Warnock tends the get the best out of his players and the addition of a couple of attackers to a sturdy defence could lead to a competitive season for the Welsh club.
Bournemouth look to be a competitive side and they can take early points by winning in Week 1.
Potentially the biggest mismatch in Week 1 of the Premier League will see Huddersfield Town host Chelsea early on Saturday morning.
The Terriers survived by the skin of their teeth last season and will need to bring a lot more to the pitch in 2018/19 if they are any hope of maintaining their Premier League status again. Its been an absolute rollercoaster for fans recently and that looks likely to be the case again. The permanent signing of Kongolo from Monaco is positive, and their early season form last campaign was excellent; if they can find a little of that, they can trouble other clubs.
For obvious reasons, Chelsea will always begin a Premier League campaign towards the top of betting and they really do look like a title threat this season. Chelsea were a locker room divided at the end of 2017/18, but pre-season performances suggest that is no longer the case and with new manager Maurizio Sarri, so too comes new hope.
Chelsea should be winning this match and winning well.
The first London Derby of the season also comes way of the first match back in the Premier League for Fulham, and Craven Cottage will be buzzing.
Fulham produced a decent campaign in the Championship but were forced to go the long way around in the playoff for third. The Cottagers went twenty-three matches unbeaten in the second-tier last season and their possession-based football has the potential to surprise a few teams, so long as they are not completely outclassed. This is the first opportunity we’ll get to see exciting youngster Ryan Sessegnon in the Premier League, while players like Andre Schurrle have added some world class to their ranks.
Palace struggled through most of last season but did enough to survive, but they appear to have accounted for the loss of Cabaye and Loftus-Cheek effectively enough with a couple of decent signings. Zaha will be pivotal to their chances and plenty will be expected of German import Max Meyer in the middle of the field.
Fulham look an exciting side and their performance in this match should be a good indicator of their immediate chances.
The Molineux will be the scene for Wolves’ return to the Premier League and in their way of an immediate impact is the always-dangers Everton.
Wolves re-enter the top flight with renewed confidence stemming from an outstanding campaign in the Championship, and following an impressive transfer drive that has netted several big names. The signing of Patricio and Moutinho are obviously huge, while Jonny Castro on loan for Atletico should go a long way towards strengthening their defence. This is a club that really means business and their intentions have already been quite clear.
The Toffees have a new manager in Marco Silva and with that, a fresh look at the competition. They’ve picked up a couple of key signings in the middle of the pitch and they have an attack that looks capable of scoring plenty of goals. The potential issue for Everton will be their central defence; Michael Keane is reasonably slow to react and captain Phil Jagielka is getting on in years.
Everton failed to fire in the early stages of 2017/18, but they have improved since then and will be a real test for this decent Wolves outfit.
Liverpool have been widely tipped to win the Premier League this season and they will launch their campaign at home against West Ham on Sunday night.
The Reds have continued to improve year-on-year since Jurgen Klopp took the reins and an appearance in the Champions League final more than underlined that. They are faced with a clean slate and having bolstered their stocks in impressive fashion; adding Alisson and Shaqiri most notably. They boast arguably the best front three in the league in Salah, Mane and Firmino and the sky appears the limit for this team.
West Ham have continued their impressive ability to sign big names by adding the likes of Jack Wilshere, Anderson and manager Manuel Pellegrini to their books. They have all the makings of a competitive side, but perennially underperform and may require a few weeks for everything to gel.
Liverpool can make a statement by delivering West Ham a decent defeat and opening their account in style.
Southampton and Burnley will launch their Premier League campaigns at St Mary’s early on Monday morning.
After a few outstanding seasons in the top league, the Saints survived by the skin of their teeth in 2017/18, in what could be described as a disastrous campaign. It has been a fairly productive offseason for Southampton, who have made a number of key signings to fill the losses of Tadic and Van Dijk. Surely they will be good enough to stay out of the drop zone, but they will need to put it all together reasonably early.
Burnley were easily the ‘best of the rest’ last season and they have the opportunity to go on with the job in 2018/19. They have booked a place in the Europa League and will therefore be managing four competitions, but they have maintained a very similar squad and there is no reason why they cannot do that effectively.
On last season’s performances, the Clarets are a cut above and they are simply over the odds at their current price in head-to-head betting.
The final fixture of the round is where week 1 of the Premier League is set to peak, but Arsenal vs Manchester City should well and truly be worth the wait.
The reigning champions are again the club to beat and they enter their title-defence off the back of a win over Chelsea in last weekend’s Community Shield. They have lost virtually no one, have bolstered their stocks and really do look like a club that can challenge for several trophies again in 2018/19.
The season could not have arrived fast enough for Arsenal fans, who will be full of optimism with the arrival of Unai and at the very least, will be treated to a fascinating ride. The arrival of Torreira could mark a new era for the Gunners, while Ozil rates as key to their success, once more.
This should be a terrific game, particularly this early in the season and at the Emirates, but City should be winning.