Saturday August 12 2017

Time for traditional giants to deliver

By Allan ssekamatte

Brighton 1 Man City 2

Brighton played scintillating football on their way to promotion last season. Chris Hughton’s stylists can be expected to retain the same ethos during this campaign. While their rivals are splashing the cash on expensive recruits, they have invested in a brand new stadium and state-of-the-art training facility. Pep Guardiola’s big spenders will be gunning for a good start. I am backing them to win.

Chelsea 2 Burnley 0

Champions Chelsea have spent the summer burning up valuable time on handling the fall out from Diego Costa’s ejection. How quickly Antonio Conte finds a solution to the absence of his three leading marksmen from last season - Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro, is crucial to them having a good start. Burnley travel poorly, so I expect Chelsea to overcome Sean Dyche’s battlers with minimum fuss.

West Brom 1 Bournemouth 1

These sides will be competing for the position of ‘best of the rest’ that falls to a side that finishes just outside the top seven. Bournemouth have recruited well. Jermaine Defoe and Joshua King will be a headache to West Brom.

Arsenal 1 Leicester 1

Arsenal have won just one of their last four opening EPL fixtures. Despite their Community Shield victory over Chelsea, the Gunners are without talismanic pair Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. This plays into the hands of Craig Shakespeare who could deploy new boy Maguire along Robert Huth and Wes Morgan in a three man central defense. I have chosen this as my upset result of the opening weekend.

Man United 2 West Ham 1

This is the kind of fixture that cost United big time in Jose Mourinho’s debut season. Instructions from the Portuguese gaffer will thus be for his troops to go for the jugular. West Ham have signed well. In fact, I am backing either of Marco Arnautovic or Javier Hernández to cause ripples at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, Romelu Lukaku should do what he always does against West Ham - score goals.

Watford 0 Liverpool 1

If Jurgen Klopp is to convert his nearly men into genuine English Premier League title contenders, he must improve his record against bottom half sides. As Hull City boss, Marco Silva famously masterminded victory over Liverpool. Klopp will thus be wary of the Hornets. All the same, I am backing Egyptian international Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane to power the Kop home.

Newcastle 1 Tottenham 2

Magpies supremo Rafa Benitez has dampened Toon Army expectations by saying his objective is to avoid relegation. Notorious slow starters Spurs must improve their away form if they are to have a major assault on the title. Improving their 86 point tally from last season will almost guarantee that.

Everton 2 Stoke City 1

Ronald Koeman must quickly conjure up a striking combination to compensate for Romelu Lukaku’s goals. Returning hero Wayne Rooney will be expected to lead by example as Koeman tries to break into the top four. Stoke City are decent and capable of posing some pertinent questions.

C. Palace 2 Huddersfield 0

David Wagner is cut from the same cloth as his former boss Jurgen Klopp. We must therefore expect a high octane pressing game from the newcomers. Palace boss Frank de Boer will have earmarked this game as an absolute must win if the Eagles are going to avoid a relegation scrap. Narrow victory for Wilfred Zaha and company.

Southampton 1 Swansea 0

This match pits two teams that would have done without the distraction that comes with a protracted transfer saga. Virgil van Dirk and Gylfi Sigurdsson are causing unnecessary disruption to their preps. In the circumstances, I am backing Manuel Pellegrini, who proved to be a master tactician at Alaves, to mastermind a narrow home victory.

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