By Mark Young.
The Premier League is back but who will get off to a winning start? This week Mark goes up against former Chelsea and Leicester star Frank Sinclair with their tips from the pick of the opening weekend fixtures.
Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
It was only a few months ago that Manchester United beat Tottenham 3-1 at Old Trafford as the Red Devils motored towards fourth place. It’s not an ideal game for Spurs to start their battle to get back into the top four, but it may be a good game to get out of the way.
United have purchased Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin so far, with all four in contention to play on Saturday. Depay has linked up well with Wayne Rooney in pre-season and the England captain, who scored against Spurs last time out, will be looking to lead his side to glory this term.
Spurs played two friendlies in two days in Munich in midweek and will probably feel the benefits eventually, but this Saturday may come too soon. United should kick the season off with a victory.
Frank Sinclair’s prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Bournemouth 2-2 Aston Villa
Bournemouth have risen from the ashes to get to the Premier League and will believe that they can test Aston Villa in their opening contest at the Goldsands Stadium.
Eddie Howe has been widely regarded as one of the best young coaches in England and he will be testing himself at the highest level this season. The South Coast side have recently added Max Gradel to their ranks, but will be looking to Callum Wilson for goals this season as one of the star turns of their Championship-winning side.
Aston Villa lost Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph over the summer and there have been so many new faces in at the Villains that there may be an opportunity for Bournemouth to strike. The bookies have the home side as favourites for this one, but an attacking score draw could find itself high up the running order on Match of the Day.
Frank Sinclair’s prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Aston Villa
Everton 3-0 Watford
Everton seemed to struggle in their second season under Roberto Martinez last term, but have the perfect opportunity to get an early three points on the board against promoted Watford. The Toffees have added Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu to their ranks, while the rest of the window looks like being a long slog to keep hold of John Stones.
Watford, on the other hand, have brought in almost a whole new first team and a new manager in Quique Sanchez Flores. The Spaniard has brought some solid players in and captain Troy Deeney will certainly be looked upon to score the goals for the Hornets this season. The issue they will have is that a trip to Goodison is not an ideal start.
A solid pre-season under Martinez should see Everton ease to victory, with a certain Belgian striker likely to get off the mark early on.
Frank Sinclair’s prediction: Everton 3-0 Watford
Newcastle 2-1 Southampton
Steve McClaren hosts Southampton in his first match in charge of Newcastle United at St James’ Park. McClaren has been very active in the transfer window, with Georginio Wijnaldum purchased for almost £15million, and Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba both signed from Anderlecht.
All three are exciting prospects, with more likely to come through the door, but McClaren is clearly getting backing from the board. Wijnaldum, in particular, is a superb box-to-box midfielder who is worth keeping an eye on.
Ronald Koeman will know all about his midfield compatriot, but will not enjoy this as a fixture to kick off his side’s season – particularly after the Saints’ trip to Vitesse in the Europa League on Thursday. Saints have lost Nathaniel Clyne, however, they do have a fit-again Jay Rodriguez to add to signings such as Steven Caulker, Jordy Clasie and Juanmi. Although, with the Europe so close to the Premier League kick-off, Newcastle may start the quickest.
Frank Sinclair’s prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Southampton
Stoke 3-1 Liverpool
It was only three months ago when Stoke hit Liverpool for six as Steven Gerrard bowed out and Raheem Sterling played his last game for the Reds. And the fixture computer has come up with an immediate rematch for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who will not be licking their lips at the prospect of a trip to the Britannia on Sunday.
Liverpool have strengthened in attacking areas, with the likes of Benteke and Danny Ings signed in the wake of the departure of Sterling, but they have only signed Clyne to shore up their very leaky defence.
Stoke have signed former Reds right-back Glen Johnson and manager Mark Hughes has added a huge amount of invention to his team. Joselu, Marco van Ginkel and Ibrahim Afellay have all signed, while Bojan is close to full fitness. The Potters look fantastic on paper and Hughes could really fit all the pieces together. Stoke seem to have the Indian sign over Liverpool and with that will come three points, and Rodgers instantly under pressure.
Frank Sinclair’s prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Liverpool
Read more by Mark Young here!