A sore Mour is a sure deal but Pep will grow balder at Emirates
The Predictor digs in every league matchday and gives you what to look forward to
THE PREDICTOR | JACOBS O. SEAMAN
Curtains to be drawn at Old Trafford as several new signings make a bow for their respective clubs this week. But who will win and who is losing?
Man Utd 3-1 Leicester 10pm
Jose Mourinho has not been in the mood to humour anyone since the transfer window opened. For a manager used to breaking the bank every summer, being reduced to a pocket of signings like Fred and Grant was sure going to hurt. To make matters worse, Boateng, Ronaldo, Godin, Boateng, Alderweireld, Maguire, Sandro, Kovacic, Bale, Perisic… all could not board Mour’s bus (pun intended). But Mour is one of those managers who does best when under pressure or most expected to lose. He has mastered the art of building his team to play to not lose when they are not fancied and tonight’s league opener should provide for such moments.
Romelu Lukaku might still not be fresh from World Cup duty with Belgium but in Marcus Rashford, Mourinho knows he can’t waste time worrying about what people say of his relationship with Anthony Martial. Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez is fresh and was seen returning from a visit to the barber and Paul Pogba has overcome has failure to join Barcelona on transfer deadline.
Leicester City have been bristling with confidence partly because they feel their host are troubled, but Riyadh Mahrez has left and like the departure of N’Golo Kante left a void too deep and wide to fill, Jamie Vardy might have to run and pick those balls from his defenders and dig it in past De Gea if things are going to happen.
Claude Puel did well to retain the services of big defender Harry Maguire and his aerial clearances will be crucial if Lukaku starts as expected tonight. But if Puel has been as confident as his players, he might need a quick call to Brendan Rodgers before kickoff otherwise this is a sure win for Mourinho.
Newcastle 1-1 Spurs 3pm
Of the top six clubs, only Tottenham Hotspur did not sign a single player this summer. Now Pochettino will be relying on a Harry Kane who has yet to find his feet in August for the club since he started first team football. To make matters worse, Spurs are renowned slow starters to the league season and this will make St James Park a very unpredictable place to visit with Rafael Benitez in the dugout.
Newcastle have made a few changes to their squad but then again they have never been known to be very active in the transfer window. Theirs is the case of using available resources to ‘just do it.’ Last season, the two clubs met on the first day of the league as well, with Spurs returning to London with all three points. On match day 37, Spurs beat the Magpies 1-0 at home to complete a double without conceding a goal.
This is a season for their double draw and 1-1 is the result for this lunchtime match.
Huddersfield 0-3 Chelsea
The Sarri ball and the Sarri bow in the rough waters of the English Premier League. You know it is business when a seasoned striker abandons Number 9 shirt for 29 after enduring a bad spell and Alvaro Morata knows exactly why. On Saturday, the Spanish striker who was overlooked for World Cup duty will want to show the world the reasons for that decision with his feet and remarkable head on the goalmouth.
Luckily for the Blues, they face a Huddersfield side that are good candidates for the drop at a time they have a new manager, a new goalkeeper and a desire to rebuild. Chelsea have no injury concerns for this opener and retaining playmaker Hazard will be the biggest bonus for them this season. They have also replaced Thibaut Courtois with a proven shot stopper in Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Sarri will just relax and puff away as the Blues win easily. 3-0.
Wolves 1-2 Everton 7:30pm
What didn’t Everton buy? The title perhaps. The Toffees have enough midfielders to field as an entire XI for a match but most of the new faces will not travel to newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday evening. The last time the two sides met in the Premier League was in 2012, with Wolves dropping down after a barren draw.
Nuno Santo’s squad is good enough for competitive football as the Portuguese has signed some experienced legs to shore up the midfield with Joao Moutinho, Adama Jota and Ruben Neves all credible enough to give the Toffees a run for their revamp but they remain thin at the back yet the visitors will be better cushioned up front.
Marco Silva should put this match to bed easily. 2-1
Sunday 12 August
Liverpool 4-0 West Ham 3pm
Mo Salah and his company return for the side that is being tipped to be the biggest challengers to champions Manchester City. If Jurgen Klopp is aware of what has to be done, then he knows there is no room for faltering on a first that against a team they easily beat home and away last season. Keita is expected to make his bow in midfield but Fabinho might have to do with the bench as Klopp will need him to acclimatise in the hard contact English league.
However, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are all good to resume from where they stopped last season and it will be up to Manuel Pellegrini to find out just how many goals they can stop the trio from scoring. 4-0.
Arsenal 2-1 Man City 6pm
Pep Guardiola starts his third season at Etihad with a big show at a new Arsenal. There is no Arsene Wenger no more and there is Unai Emery, a manager whose Sevilla side would make Pep’s Barca sweat for three points. It looks like a new Arsenal this season although they had no marquee signing in the summer.
For City, they did not need much revamp from a squad that finished 19 points clear of their nearest title pretenders with triple figures. Yet they added Mahrez to an already teeming creative midfield. Striker Kun Aguero is in fine form having hit the 200 goal mark against Chelsea last week and is sure to start on Sunday, but Chelsea did not have Pierre Aubameyang in their strike force to cause the midfield and defence enough worries to release Aguero.
At Emirates on Sunday, Arsenal will have the luxury of a full squad and fresher football philosophy and that should give them the momentum they need in an opener like this. For Emery, start with a win will be a big statement even though he will be testing the squad.
Arsenal, though, remains thin at the back despite their convincing midfield and forward firepower. Whether Kevin De Bruyne will be ready to start after his World Cup exploits is not yet clear but Silva is sure to start and Sane is well rested after that infamous Joachim Loew snub while Raheem Sterling looks set to do with the bench since Mahrez is a better bet.
This is a very tight game but for a man without hair, Pep is sure to scratch the stubs on his chin for answers as Arsenal will ask just too many questions of the visitor’s title defense credentials. 2-1 to Gunners.
Bournemouth 1-0 Cardiff 5pm
Fulham 2-0 Crystal Palace 5pm
Watford 3-2 Brighton 5pm
Southampton 1-1 Burnley 3pm