10 Things To Look Out For On The Opening Premier League Weekend

Sergio Romero Is Thrown Into Man Utd’s De Gea Drama

Louis van Gaal’s decision to drop David De Gea for Manchester United’s season-opener against Tottenham was down to ‘thinking about the human being’ apparently, which makes you wonder how the Dutchman makes his other choices.

What it also surely is is the beginning of the end of De Gea’s United career, and whilst summer signing and Argentina No. 1 Sergio Romero might not be the long-term replacement for the Spaniard between the sticks, he looks likely to be thrown in at the deep end here.

It can never be easy making your debut in a new country in a high-profile game, but with the De Gea angst hanging over Old Trafford, just how the new goalkeeper handles it promises to be fascinating viewing.

Tottenham to score at least once 1.58


Gradel & Tomlin Add Fun To Bournemouth’s Firepower

Bournemouth’s summer additions ahead of their first ever Premier League season have seemed to come at both the start and end of the summer, with this week’s surely being the most exciting.

In Max Gradel and Lee Tomlin the Cherries have added some attacking flair to their squad, and given themselves an X-factor ahead of the first ever top-flight game at the Vitality Stadium (Dean Court to you and me).

Before the new French season starts on Friday night, no player has scored more goals in Ligue 1 in 2015 than Gradel, who arrives from Saint-Etienne seven years after a loan spell at Bournemouth during which they were relegated from League One. Tomlin – a fans’ favourite in stints at Peterborough and Middlesbrough, where he once did the above to Vincent Kompany – is another who deserves a crack at the Premier League. Both will be fun to watch.

Bournemouth to beat Aston Villa 1.93


Do Watford’s Players Know Each Other’s Names?

Ten new signings, a new manager and another new start for Watford, who’s constant chopping and changing has achieved the immediate goal of a place in the big time.

Quique Sanchez Flores’ English football bow comes against another Spanish boss in Roberto Martinez, but his Everton have been much quieter in the transfer market this summer, and the Hornets could be about to discover that familiarity is sometimes the better option.

Everton -1 to win 2.75


The Return Of The Tinkerman

Birmingham City v Leicester City - Pre-Season Friendly : News Photo

Can you tinker with something that you haven’t even started yet?

New Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri takes charge of a domestic match in England for the first time since Chelsea beat Leeds United 1-0 in May 2004, but he arrives to the sounds of much scratching of heads over just why he’s there at all.

Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat got his brief experience in the Premier League at the tail end of last season, and with both clubs desperate not to repeat last season’s frequent struggles, a draw could be on the cards.

Draw 3.45


Alex Neil Can’t Allow Himself To Get Dizzy

Two years ago, Alex Neil was the player-manager of Hamilton Academical in the Scottish First Division – the only hope he’d ever have of attending Premier League matches would have been through the turnstiles.

Yet here he is leading Norwich City into another top-flight campaign, albeit one which doesn’t start with too many declarations that they can avoid the fate they’ve experienced on three separate occasions now.

Crystal Palace provide a tough opening opponent, and Neil might be about to find out just how hard this division can be.

Crystal Palace to win 2.92


Are Chelsea Really As Good As Everyone Says They Are?


They seem to be the universal pick to win the league, but following a pre-season in which Chelsea failed to win a match in 90 minutes and floundered badly in attack in both the Community Shield and a home friendly with Fiorentina, the Blues suddenly look a little more human.

Diego Costa’s muscles are aching again, and neither one of Loic Remy or Radamel Falcao fill you with supreme confidence that they could be the man to replace him upfront for a sustained period of time.

Swansea, with another summer of impressive recruitment behind them, might just smell a chance here.

Swansea to win or draw 3.20


The Continuing Reinvention Of Theo Walcott

The first-half hat-trick against West Brom on the final day of last season was the firmest message yet that Theo Walcott wanted to stick around at Arsenal, and stick around at centre-forward.

His reward was a start in the FA Cup Final, and in turn he rewarded Arsene Wenger with a goal, and at a time when there is so much optimism around at Arsenal that they could hand out Valium with the match programmes against West Ham on Sunday, Walcott’s is the face which is probably going to feature on the front of it.

In truth Walcott and the Gunners probably couldn’t wish for better opening opponents than the Europa League-weary Hammers, and Arsenal’s ‘new’ forward will have fancy his chances in front of goal.

Theo Walcott to score at any time 2.23


Pelle To Power Southampton Again

Europa league third qualifying round - 'vitesse v southampton fc' : News Photo

He’s not the unknown quantity in this country that he was this time last year, but defences will still struggle to work out how to stop Graziano Pelle, who has looked in fine form in both pre-season and in Southampton’s Europa League qualifiers.

If West Ham are tired from their European matches then you would have suggest that Saints might be too, but they looked so in control in both legs against Vitesse Arnhem that Ronald Koeman should have few worries.

Steve McClaren, on the other hand, has Pelle to worry about.

Graziano Pelle to score at any time 3.15


Another New Liverpool Can Get Physical At Stoke

Eleven weeks on from their heaviest ever Premier League defeat at the Britannia Stadium, a new Liverpool return and seek to be the ones doing the bullying this time.

Stoke City will be without captain Ryan Shawcross on Sunday afternoon and for the next two months, meaning that Christian Benteke will be making his competitive Liverpool debut against defenders who are somewhat unfamiliar with each other, and certainly dreading the prospect of facing him.

With Liverpool’s new-look midfield of captain Jordan Henderson and vice-captain James Milner doubtless buzzing around and looking to force several issues – as well as Stoke now missing the departed Steven N’Zonzi, who was imperious in that 6-1 – it could be Liverpool who are the most physical team on show at the Britannia, and they who get the rewards this time.

Liverpool to win 2.22


A Happy Monday For Manchester City

Manchester City vs  AS Roma : News Photo

Unfathomably, the winners of each of the last five Premier League titles started their season with a Monday night fixture, and with the greatest of respect to West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City are our best hope to make it six. But they begin at The Hawthorns to sound of silence.

With the clamour to claim Chelsea as champions before a ball has even been kicked, with Arsenal as their apparent closest challengers, no-one seems to be talking about City, who have recruited well (if expensively) in Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling.

Both freshen up the squad and the team, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the latter was heavily involved in an impressive early victory for his new club.

Manchester City -1 to win 2.65 


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