MANCHESTER UNITED v SOUTHAMPTON, FRIDAY 8pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Bournemouth 1 Manchester United 3; Southampton 1 Watford 1
LAST MEETING: January 23, 2016 – Premier League; Manchester United 0 Southampton 1
MEMORABLE MEETING: September 24, 1999 – Manchester United 3 Southampton 3; Take a bow Massimo Taibi – sorry, I mean hang your head in shame. This match is rightly remembered for Taibi’s blunder from Matt Le Tissier’s dribbler (with former Old Trafford favourite Sparky Hughes providing the assist) but it was a 3-3 cracker with Marian Pahars’ effort, nutmegging Jaap Stam on the way, also worthy of note.
VERDICT: The Saints have a win on the board against the Red Devils at Old Trafford this year already. However, a lot has changed since January and United looked alarmingly comfortable as they knocked off Southampton’s south coast neighbours Bournemouth last week. In Jose Mourinho’s first home game, you have to expect the same result.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 2 Southampton 0
STOKE CITY v MANCHESTER CITY, SATURDAY 12.30pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Middlesbrough 1 Stoke 1; Manchester City 2 Sunderland 1
LAST MEETING: April 23, 2016 – Premier League; Manchester City 4 Stoke 0
MANAGED BOTH SIDES: Mark Hughes – Currently boss of the Potters – and doing a decent job – the Welshman was at Manchester City just as things were taking off but his position looked untenable from the moment Robinho was airlifted in without his say-so. As an ex-United player he must savour every win against the other half of Manchester.
VERDICT: Stoke were convincing winners of this same fixture at the Britannia last season and the 2-0 scoreline did not do them justice. If they can reach those heights again they can beat a City team still finding their feet under Pep Guardiola, but I’m not sure Stoke are quite in that form.
PREDICTION: Stoke City 1 Manchester City 2
BURNLEY v LIVERPOOL, SATURDAY 3pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Burnley 0 Swansea 1; Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4
LAST MEETING: March 4, 2015 – Premier League; Liverpool 2 Burnley 0
MEMORABLE MEETING: January 17, 2005 – FA CUP, Burnley 1 Liverpool 0; This game can be summed up in two words – Djimi Traore. The Liverpool legend’s brilliant own goal decided this one. Still, four months later he was a Champions League winner!
VERDICT: Burnley’s loss at home to Swansea was worrying as they can’t afford to be playing catch-up all season while Liverpool had real spark in their win at Arsenal. The defence may be a problem but if they can score more than their opposition they’ll win plenty.
PREDICTION: Burnley 1 Liverpool 3
SWANSEA CITY v HULL CITY, SATURDAY 3pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Burnley 0 Swansea 1; Hull 2 Leicester 1
LAST MEETING: September 22, 2015 – League Cup; Hull 1 Swansea 0
MEMORABLE MEETING: May 2, 2003 – League 2, Swansea 4 Hull 2; Hard to believe now but 13 years ago these two were in the bottom tier of the English league and this win, thanks to a James Thomas hat-trick at the old Vetch Field, preserved the Swans’ league status.
VERDICT: Unfortunately one of these two (maybe both) will lose their 100 per cent record but with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming back in after his Euro 2016 heroics then the hosts should have enough to get a second win on the board.
PREDICTION: Swansea 1 Hull 0
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v CRYSTAL PALACE, SATURDAY 3pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Everton 1 Tottenham 1; Crystal Palace 0 West Brom 1
LAST MEETING: February 21, 2016 – FA Cup; Tottenham 0 Crystal Palace 1
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Alan Pardew – Obviously Eagles boss Pardew was part of the Palace side that got to the 1990 FA Cup final but did you know he had a brief spell playing on loan for Spurs in the much-missed InterToto Cup in the mid-1990s. He was part of the side that lost 8-0 to Cologne. Happy days.
VERDICT: Christian Benteke might be swapping Liverpool for Palace but the Eagles will be hit hard by the loss of Yannick Bolasie. Tottenham started slowly last season and only got a point at Everton last week but they will crank into gear soon – maybe in this one.
PREDICTION: Tottenham 2 Crystal Palace 0
WATFORD v CHELSEA, SATURDAY 3pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Southampton 1 Watford 1, Chelsea 2 West Ham 1
LAST MEETING: February 3, 2016 – Premier League; Watford 0 Chelsea 0
MANAGED BOTH CLUBS: Gianluca Vialli – It’s often forgotten now just how good Vialli’s time at Chelsea was with five trophies in just a three-year spell and there was also significant improvement in the Premier League and Champions League. In contrast his brief time at Watford was pants.
VERDICT: Chelsea sneaked a win on Monday night and so got the perfect start under Antonio Conte. Watford can be happy with their draw at Southampton but they’ll find it tough to stop the Blues taking all three points.
PREDICTION: Watford 0 Chelsea 2
WEST BROMWICH ALBION v EVERTON, SATURDAY 3pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Crystal Palace 0 West Brom 1, Everton 1 Tottenham 1
LAST MEETING: February 13, 2016 – Premier League; Everton 0 West Brom 1
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Andy Gray – The Scottish striker-turned-pundit was a hero for the Toffees as they rivaled Liverpool to be England’s top dogs in the mid-eighties. He scored in the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup final victories for Everton. His year at West Brom was memorable only for him appearing in a Comic Relief sketch with Rory Bremner.
VERDICT: You wouldn’t be convinced about either side based on last week’s showings but Everton have made a statement of intent in buying Yannick Bolasie. That might not be enough to help them over the line in this one though.
PREDICTION: West Brom 1 Everton 1
LEICESTER CITY v ARSENAL, SATURDAY 5.30pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Hull 2 Leicester 1, Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4
LAST MEETING: February 14, 2016 – Premier League; Arsenal 2 Leicester 1
MEMORABLE MEETING: August 26, 1997 – Premier League Leicester 3 Arsenal 3; The game is most remembered for Dennis Bergkamp’s third goal, but his first was brilliant as well. Leicester fought back from 2-0 down to level 2-2 in injury time. Bergkamp put Arsenal back ahead but with six minutes of added time played there was time for Steve Walsh to equalise.
VERDICT: Two first-day losers meet in this one and who knows how it will turn out. Based on Leicester’s pre-season, the Gunners have to be fancied to win but if Claudio Ranieri launched the likes of Musa, Vardy and Gray on Arsenal’s defence, anything could happen.
PREDICTION: Leicester 1 Arsenal 2
VIDEO: Leicester 3 Arsenal 3
SUNDERLAND v MIDDLESBROUGH, SUNDAY 1.30pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Manchester City 2 Sunderland 1, Middlesbrough 1 Stoke 1
LAST MEETING: October 30, 2012 – League Cup; Sunderland 0 Middlesbrough 1
PLAYED FOR BOTH SIDES: Grant Leadbitter – Started his career at Sunderland and after a spell at Ipswich, is now a key player in the midfield for Middlesbrough.
VERDICT: It’s a bit early for a derby but these two are pitched in on a weekend when there are plenty of derby games throughout the English divisions. It might prove to be a bit of a damp squib as well.
PREDICTION: Sunderland 0 Middlesbrough 0
WEST HAM UNITED v BOURNEMOUTH, SUNDAY 4pm
LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Chelsea 2 West Ham 1, Bournemouth 1 Manchester United 3
LAST MEETING: January 12, 2016 – Premier League; Bournemouth 1 West Ham 3
MANAGED BOTH SIDES: Harry Redknapp – Started his managerial career at Bournemouth but after a spell as West Ham number two to Billy Bonds, he got the top job at Upton Park and established them as a top-half Premier League side.
VERDICT: This Olympic Stadium opener could go either way – West Ham might be nervous and the occasion might be too much, or there might be an early goal and we’ll get a classic. I’m hoping for the latter
PREDICTION: West Ham 3 Bournemouth 2