English Premier League Season 2016/17 – Week 1
Saturday August 13, 9:30pm AEST
Leicester City begin the defence of their title against a newly promoted and manager-less Hull. The sudden departure of Steve Bruce after four seasons in charge has caused a huge disruption to Hull’s pre-season and they’ve failed to make any early moves in the transfer market this summer. Leicester, meanwhile, have taken on some of Europe’s big boys in pre-season and although the loss of N’Golo Kante will hurt them, the owners have dipped into their pockets to bring in Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa. If they can hold onto Riyad Mahrez then the Foxes will no doubt still be a threat this year.
Since coming up from the Championship two years ago Leicester have gone W6-D3-L1 against promoted sides and since Ranieri took charge it’s been W4-D2-L0 with four of these six matches seeing fewer than three goals and the last four being level at half-time. Hull’s current situation is a real cause for concern, particularly with their existing defenders struggling with injuries in pre-season, so they look particularly vulnerable right now and despite the Foxes losing the Community Shield last weekend (albeit to a strong Man Utd side) they look a good price at odds-against.
BACK – Leicester to Win 2.08
Sunday August 14, 12:00am AEST
Having yo-yoed between the top two divisions in the past couple of years Burnley will merely hope to survive this term. Their total of 72 goals was 26 fewer than Bournemouth managed in winning the Championship in 2015 so they may struggle for goals, but their organisation and team unity under Sean Dyche is sure to be their strength.
Swansea, meanwhile, showed major improvement under Francesco Guidolin last season as they averaged 1.56 points per game from the 16 he was in charge for; an average that would have seen them finish ninth over a whole season. Their total of 42 goals last term was the lowest of their five Premier League seasons, and with last season’s top scorer Andrew Ayew on his way to West Ham finding the net could be an issue again. However, the signing of Spanish World Cup winner Fernando Llorente from Sevilla could prove to be a shrewd piece of business.
In the last two seasons 10 of Swansea’s 12 matches against promoted sides have had fewer than three goals with six seeing no more than two. What’s more we don’t expect Burnley to be open at all, with 61% of their home matches finishing with fewer than three scores last term, so goalmouth action could be at a premium here.
Under 1.5 Goals at 3.00
Sunday August 14, 12:00am AEST
These two sides were separated by just one point last year. Whereas 14th was about where we expected West Brom to finish, 15th for Crystal Palace was majorly disappointing, especially when sitting in a European spot at Christmas. That was partly down to focussing on the FA Cup and injuries to key players, so we expect a much better effort this term, particularly having strengthened in the transfer market with Andros Townsend coming in along with James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda to shore up at the back.
West Brom have had very little transfer activity and are likely to see a similar season to last year under Pulis. Only five of the Baggies 19 away matches last term finished with three or more match goals and they all came against top-half opposition. Of the other 14 both teams scored just three times. For all the quality The Eagles have out wide they lack a top-class finisher as no player finished with more than five league goals last season. With no obvious recruitment in this area it could be a case of creating but not scoring chances again.
BACK – Both Teams To Score – No at 1.70
BACK – Correct score 0-0 at 8.00
Sunday August 14, 12:00am AEST
Ronald Koeman was one of the most in-demand managers in the league and he gleefully accepted the giant pay check on offer from the new owners to move from Southampton to Merseyside over the summer, where he’s been tasked with getting back into Europe after back-to-back bottom-half finishes.
Spurs’ young squad were a joy to watch last season as the only team to really push Leicester before ultimately fading in the last few games. They’ve not lost to Everton since 2012/13, with three wins and four draws in that time, and the Toffee’s woeful recent home record against top-six opposition of W1-D5-L6 in the last two season means Pochettino’s men look a tempting price at 2.54. However, this talented Everton squad should be much improved under Koeman’s leadership and the north-London club are missing half of their crucial centre-back partnership with Vertonghen out injured, so we’re happy to look elsewhere in this case.
Instead with the likes of Lukaku, Deulofeu and Barkley for Everton and Kane, Alli and Erikson for Spurs there is plenty of attacking quality on display, meaning goals could be in the agenda. Furthermore, 58% of Everton’s matches last season had at least three goals while 34% had four or more.
BACK – Over 2.5 Goals 2.20
Sunday August 14, 12:00am AEST
Middlesbrough have been the busiest of the three promoted teams this summer, brining in nine players to date including former Man City striker Alberto Negredo. They begin their campaign against a Stoke City side that came ninth last season. The Potters only significant signing so far is that of Joe Allen from Liverpool although Saido Berahino remains very much on their radar.
Middlesbrough had an impressive W16-D5-L2 record at home last season but it’s a different ball game against Premier League opposition. Promoted sides have only won three of their 22 opening games since 2009/10, whilst Stoke under Mark Hughes have lost just one of their nine away matches against Premier League new boys and have gone W6-D3-L1 since 2014/15 both home and away. It’s worth noting that five of those six victories came despite conceding.
3.7 for a team that finished ninth against a promoted side looks too good to ignore. In addition to Stoke conceding in five of their last six victories against league newcomers they’re likely to be without goalkeeper Jack Butland. He missed the final seven games of last season, in which they conceded 18 times so overs isn’t the worse shout either.
BACK – Stoke to Win at 3.70
Sunday August 14, 12:00am AEST
It’s been another summer of change on the south-coast as Mane, Wanyama and Pelle all left in big-money deals, however, they’ve been able to hold onto key players at the back; Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk and recent Euro winner Jose Fonte. Frenchman Claude Puel has taken over from Ronald Koeman, fresh off finishing fourth with Nice in Ligue 1. First up for Puel is Watford, where it was a surprise to many when Quique Flores was sacked having finished 13th, and he’s been replaced by Walter Mazzarri in a move that highlights the ambition of the board.
Southampton were excellent at home last season as they went W11-D3-L5 from their 19 games. They also boast a very impressive record of W21-D6-L3 against bottom-half clubs at St Mary’s going back to 2013/14, keeping 17 clean sheets in these matches. Watford meanwhile picked up just 12 points from their 20 games against top-half opposition last season as they relied on beating the teams around them. Away from home they lost eight out of their trips to the top-10, while only scoring in two of the defeats.
Charlie Austin will feel like a new signing for Southampton this summer having been plagued by injury since his arrival in January. With a full pre-season under his belt the Saints will be hoping he can rediscover some of the form that saw him net 18 times for QPR in 2014/15.
BACK – Southampton to Win to Nil 2.80
BACK – Charlie Austin to Score Anytime 2.50
Sunday August 14, 2:30am AEST
Perhaps the most high profile introduction to the Premier League this summer is Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Man City. The man many regard as the best coach in the world will be truly tested in the Premier League. His era begins at home to Sunderland, who have David Moyes at the helm after Sam Allardyce took the England job.
The Black Cats have won three of their last 10 matches against Man City but each of these came at the Stadium of Light. It’s a different story at the Etihad where City have won three of the last five meetings with two draws. Four of these saw at least four goals, with Sunderland scoring an impressive eight times but let down by a defence that’s conceded 15.
Sunderland have a dismal record away to top-six sides in the last two seasons, losing 10 and drawing two of the 12 encounters. However, they only failed to score in two of these and were level at the break in seven of the 10 defeats. Meanwhile, the Citizens have gone W10-D2-L0 against bottom-six opposition since 2014/15, scoring an incredible 45 goals along the way. They have however conceded in eight of these 12 encounters and with Vincent Kompany’s likely absence we expect the north-east club to get on the scoresheet in defeat.
BACK – Man City to Win & BTTS 3.00
Sunday August 14, 10:30pm AEST
After Louis Van Gaal finally got the chop, Jose Mourinho has been brought in to try and restore the glory to Old Trafford. The former Chelsea boss has been given licence to spend in the transfer window bringing in some big names that include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the world record signing of Paul Pogba. They start with a tricky visit to Bournemouth where the Cherries enjoyed a sensational first season in the top-flight, with manager Eddie Howe taking much praise for the attitude and style of his team.
Bournemouth had a respectable W2-D1-L3 record at home to top-six sides last term although they did concede a total of 13 goals in these matches. Five of Man Utd’s eight away defeats came to sides in the bottom-11 last year but perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into that given they look a different prospect this year.
Zlatan has started his Utd career with a bang having followed a bicycle-kick in a friendly by scoring the winner at the Community Shield last Sunday. After scoring a career best 50 times last season he’ll be eager open his league account as soon as possible, and with the Cherries conceding almost two goals per game at home last term he’s likely to get a few chances.
BACK – Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Score Anytime 2.00
Monday August 15, 1:00am AEST
We’ve been treated to a cracking fixture on the opening weekend as Arsenal host Liverpool. Liverpool impressed in pre-season by beating Barca 4-0 but followed it up with a defeat by the same score to Jurgen Klopp’s’ former club Mainz. It’s been another busy summer on Merseyside, both in and out, with Saido Mane probably the pick of their six signings so far. It’s a case of same old story with Arsenal as Arsene Wenger refuses to spend big while others around them splash the cash. The only significant signing being that of Swiss holding midfielder Granit Xhaka meaning Olivier Giroud looks set to lead the line again.
A reason for Arsenal’s recent title failures has been their record at the Emirates against their title rivals; since 2012/13 they’ve won just 10 of 28 home matches against top-eight sides, drawing 13 of these.
Meanwhile, Liverpool put in some impressive performance under Klopp last season but remained inconsistent as a W12-D9-L8 record under the German illustrates. He’s now had a summer to stamp his mark on the team and with no European distractions they should be much more competitive this season.
The Reds have a decent record at the Emirates, only losing three of their last nine visits. What’s more Wenger looks set to be without Koscielny, Giroud and Ozil so we’re happy to take the Gunners on.
LAY – Arsenal 2.44
Tuesday August 16, 5:00am AEST
Chelsea have put faith in the exuberant Antonio Conte to restore their title ambitions after the failure of last year. The Italian impressed with his tactical nous at the Euro’s which eventually saw his Italian side lose to the Germans on penalties in the quarter-finals. His opposite man, Slavan Bilic, was superb in his debut Premier League season and has built a strong West Ham team that has much to look forward to with a new stadium and European football.
Along with big money signings Kante and Batshuayi, Eden Hazard could feel like a new signing for Chelsea this season after the 2014/15 PFA Player of the year was pretty much a no-show last term. The Belgian put in some scintillating performances at Euro 2016 and has had a productive pre-season with three goals. The Blues look strong going forward but defensively they are still a worry as Zouma’s injury means that the ageing John Terry and uncertain Gary Cahill look set to start. They kept just three clean sheets all season resulting in a shocking home record of W5-D9-L5, with four of those wins coming against the bottom four finishers.
As important as Hazard will be for Chelsea, Payet is for West Ham. The creative Frenchman showed the world what he can do at his home Euro’s so Hammers fans will be delighted they’ve kept hold of him. Along with the likes of Lanzini and Kouyate and some quality summer additions Bilic’s side have the ingredients to trouble any of the big guns. Last season they won at Man City and at the Emirates, while they beat Chelsea at home and led twice at Stamford Bridge before settling for a draw. So they certainly won’t be afraid of the trip across London.
LAY – Chelsea 1.70