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September 25, 2018

I am going with my Gunners and Devils on this opening EPL weekend

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in action with Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward. /REUTERS
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in action with Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward. /REUTERS

Everton Vs Tottenham Saturday 5pm

My Prediction: The Toffees 1-2 Spurs

It’s back! Finally the English Premier League 2016/17 season is here and we are looking forward to some magical action! Players and coaches have moved and this is going to be one of the most exciting seasons in a while! I would like to say Tottenham finished strong last season but losing second spot to Arsenal on the last stretch would say otherwise. But it was still one of their best finishes in decades. Mauricio Pochettino has strengthened his squad who were impressive for most of last season by bringing in power in midfield,in Victor Wanyama. England didn’t go too far during the Euros so star player Harry Kane will have rested enough. They had a great pre-season, notably beating Inter Milan 6-1. Meanwhile Everton are like a new born baby. After a disastrous 2015-16 season where they ended the campaign in 11th, it was time for new blood. Enter manager Ronald Koeman. I have a lot of respect for this guy because of how he handled Southampton. He and Pochettino infact have Southampton in common so there’ll be some interesting rivalry here. Wanyama will have to focus hard not to respond to Koeman but to his “old-new” boss Pochettino. Everton haven’t really signed big players. My view is that Koeman hasn’t had enough time yet to rebuild a team and won’t stand a chance against wounded Spurs.

 

Bournemouth Vs Manchester United Sunday 330pm

My Prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 The Red Devils

Manchester United are always so lucky! They are always given a warm up period when the league starts and in this case a warm up match against Bournemouth who were rather fortunate to survive relegation. Jose Mourinho is now in charge at Old Trafford and we all know he’s created a lot of excitement by buying two of the most talked about players in the summer – Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Paul Pogba. United are fresh from beating defending champions Leicester in the Community Shield and will be eager to get the league off to a flying start. Sadly I think they will; but only because they are playing a kindergarten side.

 

Arsenal Vs Liverpool Sunday 6pm

My Prediction: The Gunners 3-1 The Reds

This is the tie to watch this opening weekend because both teams are considered hot favourites to do well this term. Yes! Even though manager Arsene Wenger has given us gooners ulcers by stalling when it comes to signing a striker and a defender; we are still favourites to do well. Arsenal may have signed midfielder Granit Xhaka over the summer, but the club are still in desperate need of a mature striker and now that Gabriel Paulista was injured during the Man City “friendly” last weekend, a mature centre back. I am not too worried though because our young boys; namely Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell along with Chuba Akpom have had a sterling pre-season. If given time in competitive play they can do really well in the league. Alexis Sanchez is in great form while Santi Cazorla has been doing well so an organised Gunners team without any more signings are okay. The position I do worry about though is at the back and Arsenal have been linked with several great defenders including Germany centre-back Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi. As I write this on Thursday evening he is still set to become a Gunner and I hope that happens quickly. Liverpool though have had mixed fortunes during the pre season; beating Barcelona but then having their steam snuffed out by Mainz. But I would worry about Jurgen Klopp because I know that his team is finally being put together and he is a managerial genius. I just think Arsenal’s confidence after beating City will drive this tie in our favour.

 

Chelsea Vs West Ham Monday 10pm

My Prediction: The Blues 1-2 The Hammers

A London derby on the opening weekend is all we need to crown the introduction to 2016/17! And I am so looking forward to this test for Antonio Conte. His pre season didn’t go too well with losses to Real Madrid and Rapid Vienna, although they did get in wins over Liverpool, AC Milan and Werder Bremen. But you can’t take pre seasons too serious as managers experiment with players. West Ham however were impressive last weekend against Italian champions Juventus and I’m actually banking on them to get one over Chelsea this weekend. They look more of a unified outfit and Conte simply hasn’t settled.

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