Harry Prince, part of the RTBI Comms team, reports ahead of the first weekend of the Premier League.
The 25th Premier league season is right around the corner and the season starts at the theatre of dreams with Manchester United vs. Tottenham, but the betting man amongst you may be interested in Monday’s fixture at the Hawthorns as the last five Premiership champions started their season on a Monday, so it’s a race between West Brom and Man City for the title this year, don’t worry though because Round Table has a quick guide for both of those games and all of the fixtures in between.
Man United vs. Tottenham
United new signings will be looking to impress after Van Gal’s busy and fairly successful summer transfer window. Two years ago United’s title winning side had Tom Cleverly in the number 23 shirt this year it belongs to World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger so there is definitely reason for confidence.
Spurs, on the contrary, have been fairly reserved this summer compared to past seasons, it looks like all that Bale money has run dry, Spurs are not the side they were two years ago and will hope their talismanic striker Harry Kane does not suffer from the famous second season syndrome that has haunted so many of England’s young talent in the past.
I think Man United will just edge this game despite still having an extremely top heavy team that looks beatable at the back.
Score – 2 – 1
Bournemouth Vs Aston Villa
New boys Bournemouth host Tim Sherwood's Villa side at 12,000-seater Dean Court.
Bournemouth will hope their attacking style will keep them up, but there is no guarantee, just ask Blackpool.
Young manager Eddie Howe has done well this summer boosting his defence with Premiership veteran Sylvain Distin and potential wonder kid Tyrone Mings while further boosting his attacking options with Atsu on loan from Chelsea.
Aston Villa’s line-up could be mistaken for a team playing in Ligue 1 after Tim Sherwood's raid of the French top division. The elephant in the room is certainly the outgoings at Villa Park over the summer, they have lost their leader Delph and a world class striker in Christian Benteke. Can they be replaced with a championship striker and a few Ligue 1 stars, I’m not convinced.
I think Premiership experience will prevail on the opening day as Bournemouth’s championship stars get used to the top flight.
Score 0 – 1
Everton vs. Watford
Another one of the Premiership new boys Watford face a trip up north to Everton. This season they will aim to beat their previous two outings in the Premiership when they finished rock bottom both times. The man in charge of doing so is Quique Sanchez Flores, Watford’s 5th Manager in 12 months. Who obviously means business recruiting 10 new players already this summer.
Everton will be looking to kick-start their season with a win after last campaign’s disappointing 11th place finish. Roberto Martinez side have not made any major additions to their squad but without the distraction of the Europa League they should be able to improve on last season. If not, Martinez may be taking a visit to the Jobcentre come Christmas.
Despite being notoriously slow starters, I think Everton will begin this season with a point to prove and a home game against newly promoted Watford shouldn’t be that difficult.
Score 2 – 0
Leicester City vs. Sunderland
Last season Nigel Pearson managed to mastermind one of the best relegation escapes of recent years all while providing some of the most entertaining and interesting press conferences ever, his reward was a P45 and in came his replacement Claudio Ranieri. Leicester have made strong signings but have lost Cambiasso With Pearson and Cambiasso leaving you have to doubt whether Leicester are as coherent as they were last year. It might be a long hard season for the Foxes.
Sunderland’s biggest signing has been convincing manager Dick Advocaat to stay after he was able to guide them to safety after his appointment in March. Advocaat will be hoping to avoid the curse of Sunderland managers beating the drop and having nightmare seasons next time out, just ask Poyet and Di Canio.
I think the two Premiership strugglers will battle it out for a draw. Don’t be surprised if this one is last on Match of the Day.
Score 0 – 0
Norwich vs. Crystal Palace
The playoff champions Norwich face tricky Premiership opposition, the squad that will line – up against Palace will not differ too much to the one that went down two years ago along with a few Premiership old boys who joined in the summer such as Mulumbu and Dorrans. So will the team learn from their mistakes from 2013/14 or will it be a repeat performance from the canaries? The one difference is up and coming manager Alex Neil who managed to win 17/25 games last season after taking over in January.
Crystal palace were the surprise package of last season after being relegation contenders in January they finished in 10th place in no small part to the appointment of Alan Pardew who revitalised the team. Alan Pardew has done well... so far at keeping hold of star wingers Zaha and Bolasie, the latter of which he valued at £60m which is ridiculous but does illustrate how good he was last season.
I predict a hat-trick of losses for the new boys this season and expect Palace to pick up where they left off.
Score 0 – 2
Chelsea vs. Swansea
Chelsea’s status as Champions never seemed in doubt last term. Their side has only got stronger since the arrival of Falcao who is one of the best strikers in the world, if you ignore last season’s stint at Man United. If there is one man can get the best out of him it is Mourinho who has won the league a total of eight times in twelve attempts at his last four clubs.
Swansea finished last season with their highest ever Premiership points tally as Gary Monk continued Swansea rise since there promotion in 2011, they are now a certified Premiership side and will look to build on last season success by breaking into Europe. Swansea did well to get their transfers done early but replacing Bony seems a challenge.
Swansea will prove a test for Chelsea who did not look up too much in last weekend’s Community Shield, but I think the Champions will get the victory.
Score 2 – 0
Arsenal vs. West Ham
Arsenal have been a consistent top four side for years now but the last few years have seen them make a significant step up. They have back to back FA cups after an eight-year silverware drought. Arsene Wenger has been injecting some real world class talent into the side with the arrival of Sanchez, Ozil and most recently Cech. No longer are the Gunner’s dark horses for the league they are up there with the front-runners to challenge Chelsea’s title.
West Ham had an extremely average season last time out, which lead to the sacking of Premiership veteran Sam Allardyce. His replacement was ex-West Ham player Slaven Bilic who has flirted with a Premiership manager’s job ever since his success with the Croatian National team. West Ham were able to qualify for the Europa League through the fair play league, however this may turn out to be a curse for the Hammers as they have already had a packed pre-season due to European qualifying games so juggling the Premiership and European commitments could be a struggle. Bilic has been able to bring in some real European quality to the side and the Hammers squad certainly looks stronger than last year, thanks to the additions of Payet, Obiang and Ogbonna.
I fancy Arsenal to edge it as West Hams new boys get used to the Premiership.
Score 2 – 1
Newcastle United vs. Southampton
Newcastle’s wheels well and truly fell off in the final stages of last season when John Carver they managed only three wins in nineteen games, one of which came on the final day against west ham which secured Newcastle’s premier league status. To fix these problems Steve Mclaren (master of the Dutch language) was brought in as well as some serious reinforcements in the likes of Mitrovic and Wijnaldum who bring a lot of excitement to a Newcastle side who will be looking to make serious improvements on their 15th place finish last season.
Southampton are turning into one of the biggest producers of quality Premiership players in the league, it’s just a shame that most of those players are now part of top four clubs who have been prying away the Saints top talent since their promotion two seasons ago. This season might prove the biggest challenge after Southampton lost Schneiderlin and Clyne, I expect new signing Claise to impress but Koeman will have to work his magic to maintain Southampton’s impressive showing in the last two seasons.
I think Newcastle new stars will need to settle and Southampton will be getting used to life without Schneiderlin. Expect a nervy draw.
Score 1 – 1
Stoke City vs. Liverpool
Stokealona now have as many Champions League winners as Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal ... combined. So should Stoke be aiming for the title next season? No. They have brought some real quality players in without spending much money such as Marco van Ginkel, Afellay and Shay Given all coming in on free transfers or loans. However, they will miss N’Zonzi and Begovic who left for Seville and Chelsea respectively. The biggest question of the season, can the Potters new European stars do it on a cold night in Stoke?
Brendan Rodgers will tell you that last season Liverpool showed great character. But Liverpool had absolutely nothing to show for it and were half the team they were last season when they nearly and defiantly should have won the league. So Rodgers has significantly added to Liverpool’s front line which scored 48 goals less last season than they did in the 2013/14 season. Getting James Milner on a free is also another huge signing for Liverpool as a hardworking and consistent midfielder who has the tricky task of replacing Steven Gerrard. Liverpool will be ambitious to think they will walk into the top four this season and if they don’t have a good start my money would be on Rodgers as the next manager to get the chop.
Despite all of their new European pedigree and reputation as a hard ground to travel to, Stoke might struggle to contain a Liverpool attack that has had a serious boost this summer.
Score 0 – 2
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City
Expect ugly and effective football for the Baggies next season as Tony Pulis makes his mark on the team. It’s pretty tricky to place West Brom, whose fans will tell you they are looking to break into the top 10 this season. The key to this will be keeping Saido Berahino the young Englishman who has had a summer of speculation. Partnering him will be old Englishman Rickie Lambert who will be hoping to prove he is still Premiership quality after his stint at Liverpool.
Moneybags Man City have spent the summer buying the best English talent available. The Sterling saga is over and he will be hoping to justify the £49 million City paid for him. A lot of Man City’s players dipped in form last season. Kompany looked lost after the world cup, Joe Hart looked unreliable for the first time and Yaya Toure was still sulking after Man City forgot his birthday. If Man City are hoping to celebrate Toure's birthday next year with a cup, these players will have to show up next season.
I predict Tony Pulis’s side to put up a fight, but Man City’s class will come out on top.
Score 0 – 2