The Premier League returns and our Tipster @MagicMikeTips gives the low down on 10 clashes this weekend.
HULL CITY v LEICESTER CITY, Saturday 12pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Hull – Championship play-off winners; Leicester – Champions
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Hull – Jonathan Edwards; Leicester – Nampalys Mendy
LAST MEETING: October 27, 2015 – League Cup; Hull 1 Leicester 1 (Hull won 5-4 on penalties)
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Matt Fryatt – Was at Leicester from 2005-11 and then joined Hull where he stayed until 2014. Yet in all that time he only played one season in the Premier League.
VERDICT: Leicester may have got a lucky break as they seek to defend their title, with Steve Bruce walking out of Hull but the home side’s woes will have little bearing when the whistle goes to kick off the Premier League season. This match is about how Leicester can cope with the pressure of being champions. They did alright when going for the title but with N’Golo Kante gone and Riyad Mahrez possibly set to follow, they need a fast start. It is hard to know how some heavy friendly defeats against top European sides will affect them, but they should win here.
PREDICTION: Hull 1 Leicester 2
BURNLEY v SWANSEA CITY, Saturday 3pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Burnley – Championship champions; Swansea – 12th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Burnley – Johann Berg Gudmundsson; Swansea – Leroy Fer
LAST MEETING: February 28, 2015 – Premier League; Burnley 0 Swansea City 1
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Leighton James – Legendary Welsh winger had three spells at Burnley in the 1970s and 80s and was with Swansea on their memorable run to the top flight under John Toshack.
VERDICT: There was a time, not too long ago, when this would have been a battle at the wrong end of the Football League, but these two are now Premier League regulars, even if Burnley are currently in a yo-yo phase. Swansea ended up mid-table last season but may not be so lucky this time and it could be a long winter for them. I expect goals in this.
PREDICTION: Burnley 2 Swansea 2
CRYSTAL PALACE v WEST BROMWICH ALBION, Saturday 3pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Palace – 14th; West Brom – 15th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Palace – James Tomkins; West Brom – Matt Phillips
LAST MEETING: February 27, 2016 – Premier League; West Brom 3 Crystal Palace 2
MANAGED BOTH SIDES: Tony Pulis – The Welshman can expect a hot reception back at Selhurst Park having quit the club on the eve of the 2014-15 season. That won’t bother him though.
VERDICT: Palace have been bold in the transfer market with Steve Mandanda and Andros Townsend on the way in, but the face that they could lose Yannick Bolasie undermines everything Alan Pardew is trying to achieve. West Brom’s big transfer deals – in and out – could be to come but they won’t change, they’ll most likely end up somewhere between 13th and 20th.
PREDICTION: Crystal Palace 0 West Brom 0
EVERTON v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, Saturday 3pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Everton – 11th; Tottenham – 3rd
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Everton – Maarten Stekelenburg; Tottenham – Vincent Janssen
LAST MEETING: January 3, 2016 – Premier League; Everton 1 Tottenham 1
MEMORABLE MEETING: August 16, 2002, Premier League; Everton 2 Tottenham 2 – Wayne Rooney makes his debut as a 16-year-old Tomasz Radzinski saves Everton with a late equaliser after two Richard Wright gaffes.
VERDICT: Ronald Koeman was quick out of the blocks with Southampton but Everton are a real work in progress and it would be surprising if they can be a top-six side. People made a lot of Tottenham ‘choking’ at the end of last season but they were right in it until the end and will be competing for a top-four spot – possibly more if they get a good start.
PREDICTION: Everton 0 Tottenham 2
MIDDLESBROUGH v STOKE CITY, Saturday 3pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Middlesbrough – Championship runners-up; Stoke – 9th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Middlesbrough – Victor Valdes; Stoke – Joe Allen
LAST MEETING: March 21, 2009 – Premier League; Stoke 1 Middlesbrough 0
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Tuncay Sanli – Not a roaring success with either side, he had a couple of solid seasons in a struggling Middlesbrough side before moving on to Stoke. Last spotted playing for Pune City in the Indian Super League
VERDICT: This is a definite don’t know prediction. Middlesbrough are on the up but it is a big leap up to this standard. Stoke at times beat the very best sides with a bit in hand – any improvement on last season can see them being a real threat to the top six, at least on a one-off basis.
PREDICTION: Middlesbrough 1 Stoke 1
SOUTHAMPTON v WATFORD, Saturday 3pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Southampton – 6th; Watford – 13th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Southampton – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg; Watford – Isaac Success
LAST MEETING: January 13, 2016 – Premier League; Southampton 2 Watford 0
MEMORABLE MEETING: April 15, 2000 – Premier League; Southampton 2 Watford 0 – A relegation six-pointer that took effectively secured Southampton’s safety as goals by Marian Pahars and Kevin Davies saw off a Hornets side that went down.
VERDICT: Like most of the division, both sides have new managers. Claude Puel would probably be happier with the make-up of the Saints squad he took over, but Watford have a habit recently of doing well whoever is in charge so Walter Mazzarri knows he needs a good start as his owners will not hesitate to change course at any time. On paper though the Saints should be too good.
PREDICTION: Southampton 3 Watford 1
MANCHESTER CITY v SUNDERLAND, Saturday 5.30pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Manchester City – 4th; Sunderland – 17th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Manchester City – Nolito; Sunderland – Papy Djilobodji
LAST MEETING: February 2, 2016 – Premier League; Sunderland 0 – Manchester City 1
MEMORABLE MEETING: March 31, 2013 – Premier League; Manchester City 3 Sunderland 3 – The 2011-12 season is famous for City’s late Agueeerooooo inspired comeback to win the title but there was another one that got a vital point a few weeks earlier. City fought back from 3-1 down to draw thanks to two goals in as many minutes late on from Kolarov and Balotelli, despite the pair having a row on the pitch during the game.
VERDICT: The Pep Guardiola era starts – as does the David Moyes era for Black Cats fans but he’s definitely got second billing here. City have made plenty of signings for the immediate and medium term but the young players like Leroy Sané should provide the zest and spark that were missing last season. Sunderland were strugglers last season and there is no reason to expect a change her.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 4 Sunderland 1
BOURNEMOUTH v MANCHESTER UNITED, Sunday 1.30pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Bournemouth – 16th; Manchester United – 5th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Bournemouth – Nathan Ake; Manchester United – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
LAST MEETING: May 17, 2016 – Premier League; Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 1
MEMORABLE MEETING: January 7, 1984 – FA Cup; Bournemouth 2 Manchester United 0 – Young manager Harry Redknapp earned a memorable win over defending cup champions United with his unheralded Cherries team.
VERDICT: Bournemouth, with another fine young coach in Eddie Howe and plenty of money behind them, are getting better and have signed a lot of dynamic young players over the summer. That’s not United’s style, though, and they went out and got a 34-year-old striker and one of the biggest managerial names in world football. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jose Mourinho might just win them the league title.
PREDICTION: Bournemouth 1 Manchester United 2
ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL, Sunday 4pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Arsenal – 2nd; Liverpool – 8th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Arsenal – Granit Zhaka (for now); Liverpool – Joel Matip
LAST MEETING: January 13, 2016 – Premier League; Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3
MEMORABLE MEETING: April 17, 2011 – Premier League; Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 – Jamie Carragher’s head injury caused a huge amount of injury time. Robin van Persie scored in the eighth minute of it but there was still time for Dirk Kuyt to equalise.
VERDICT: Both sides will be looking to improve on last season, though as Arsene Wenger reminds us, his side were second and beat the champions twice. Jurgen Klopp had a good first few months in charge at Anfield and will expect to challenge for Champions League football. These two usually give us an entertaining game.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2
CHELSEA v WEST HAM UNITED, Monday 8pm
POSITION LAST SEASON: Chelsea – 10th; West Ham – 7th
KEY SUMMER SIGNING: Chelsea – Michy Batshuayi; West Ham – Sofiane Feghouli
LAST MEETING: March 19, 2016 – Premier League; Chelsea 2 West Ham 2
MEMORABLE MEETING: September 27, 2002 – Premier League; Chelsea 2 West Ham 3 – Two Paolo Di Canio goals helped the Hammers to a win at Stamford Bridge against a Chelsea side that led through Jimmy Hasselbaink with Jermain Defoe and Gianfranco Zola also among the goals.
VIDEO: Chelsea 2 West Ham 3, 2002
VERDICT: Antonio Conte has so much scope with no European football and coming off the back of a season on which Chelsea can only improve. Improving is what West Ham have been doing for years and but for an injury to Dimitri Payet mid-season they might have got into the top four last season. This local derby is a crackerjack for the first Monday night game of the campaign.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 West Ham 1