Saturday, August 23, 2014

Araenal's Premier League Trip To Everton Previewed

A hectic start to the season continues for Arsenal today with a trip to Everton for an evening kick off. With the season only a week d Arsenal will be playing their third game and they have two more to come in the next week before the first international break. It's not an easy task for the team with players returning late from World Cup duty and injuries already starting to have an effect.
At least the team managed to keep going at home to Palace last week and get a late winner to get the season off on a firm footing. The 0-0 draw away to Besiktas on Tuesday wasn't ideal, but it leaves Arsenal as firm favourites to progress to the group stages of the Champions League. The downsides from those two games were the injuries to Mikel Arteta and Kieron Gibbs as well as Aaron Ramsey's red card against Besiktas.
Everton drew their opening game away to Leicester and don't look to have strengthened from last season. They beat Arsenal far too easily towards the end of last season though when they briefly looked like they might pip them to fourth place. In the end Arsenal finished ahead of them with relative ease, but can expect another rough ride today.
Too often last season Arsenal failed to react when good opponents came at them and Everton are bound to use the same tactics again I would imagine. Arsene Wenger needs to have his team prepared and rating to go from the first minute to counter whatever Everton throw at them. They are a very good team at home in particular and they cannot be allowed to dominate Arsenal like they did in that 3-0 victory last season. 
Calum Chambers is very much an inexperienced centre back and he could have a very tough ride from Romelu Lukaku. He slipped badly to let Demba Ba in against Brsiktas and it's an awful to expect of him so soon in his career. There isn't much choice for Arsenal in the centre of defence though with Per Mertesacker not ready to play yet, Thomas Vermaelen sold and no other replacements bought yet.
The Arsenal defence is stretched to the limit already with the injury to Gibbs to contend with too and some serious work in the transfer market had to be done before the window closes. It will only take one more injury for Arsenal's defensive options to reach crisis levels with the season only a week old. Hopefully that won't happen today with the return leg to come at home to Besiktas on Wednesday night.
With the Besiktas game in mind there might be a few changes today, but at least one of them will be enforced. Mathieu Flamini will surely fill in for Arteta and I wouldn't be surprised if the only other change saw Alexis Sanchez move to a central striking role with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming in on the right side of the attacking trio. That would see Olivier Giroud drop to the bench which might not be a bad idea as he still doesn't look to have got his touch or game going so far this season. The need for more defensive height at set pieces could well see Giroud keep his place though or possibly Yaya Sanogo come in for him.
It's been common knowledge for more than a while that Wojciech Szczesny needs some competition to keep him on his toes. It was thought that the arrival of David Ospina would be the spur he needed, but he has been far from commanding in the last two games while Ospina has been injured. If he is finally going to shut the doubters up he needs to play well whether his place in the team is under threat or not.
It's not going to be easy for Arsenal going to Everton so early in the season and in the middle of two such important games against Besiktas, but the players availableare still more than capable of getting a result. A win would be the ideal scenario, but avoiding defeat wouldn't be a disaster either. Arsenal will face some harder games away from home this season, but most of their away trips will be under easier circumstances. I'll be happy to see Arsenal take a point from Everton, but as always I want them to win.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek Two

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I managed one perfect result last week with five correct outcomes and four incorrect. As I'm away at the moment I won't update my predictions league table until next week, but I can't see me topping it this week.
Saturday August 23
Aston Villa v Newcastle United
12.45pm BST, Villa Park, Birmingham 
Villa got a good win away to Stoke in their opening game in what was a dour affair. If they can take the three points from this game it will be seen as a very good start to their season. They struggled to put back to back wins together last season and their home form was far from impressive too.
Ron Vlaar looks like a good fantasy bet in the Villa team at the moment.
Newcastle got the expected result when they lost their opening game at home to City on Sunday. They will hope not to continue on where they left off last season, but all the signs are that they will. If they can't find some good form soon then Alan Pardew could find himself out of a job.
I can't see any Newcastle players to recommend to fantasy managers, but it's still early and that could change.
I think Villa will have just enough at home to take the three points.
Prediction: 2-1
Chelsea v Leicester City
3pm BST, Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea were impressive in their win away to Burnley on Monday night and face another newly promoted team in this game. The critics all seem to think the league is theirs to win, but they will be judged by their tougher games surely. I can see them running in a few goals in this game to stay on top of the table.
Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa look like good fantasy buys along with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Eden Hazard.
Leicester got a good point at home to Everton in their opening game, but this will be a much tougher test for them. A trip to the title favourites so early in the season will be a backs against the wall job and they will be happy not to get a hiding. If they are going to survive in the Premier League it will be from their results against the other teams who will be battling against relegation.
I still think Marc Albrighton could do well for Leicester this season once he gets a run in the team.
I can't see anything other than a comprehensive Chelsea win in this game.
Prediction: 3-0
Crystal Palace v West Ham United
3pm BST, Selhurst Park, London
Palace almost had a new manager and they very nearly got a point at Arsenal last week. They need to bring in a few more players, but they have a chance of staying up if whoever eventually gets the job can keep them strong at the back. After losing that first game they need to take at least a point from this game though.
It's hard to know if Palace will be as good defensively under their new manager, but if they are then their defenders are still a good fantasy option.
West Ham had a great chance to win their opening game at home to Spurs last week, but a missed penalty and a late sucker punch left them pointless. They looked strong defensively but very blunt in attack with Andy Carroll injured yet again. Like Palace they need something from this game or the natives will start to become restless.
West Ham defenders are their best fantasy bet with their inability to score goals.
I can see this game ending in a draw and maybe even a scoreless one at that.
Prediction: 0-0
Southampton v West Bromwich Albion 
3pm BST, St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton 
Southampton played well away to Liverpool on Sunday and could easily have taken a point off them. Despite all of the changes this summer they still look capable of having a go against any team. If they are to be as comfortable as last season this is a game they must take three points from.
When he's back from injury Jay Rodriguez is the Southampton player I think will do best for fantasy managers this season.
West Brom at least took a point in their opening game, but they conceded a late goal like they did far too often last season. If they're going to avoid another relegation dogfight they need to stop throwing leads away. They will have a tough task getting anything from a ground where a lot of teams struggled last season.
At the moment it's tough to see any West Brom players who might set the fantasy world alight.
I think Southampton should win this game by at least one goal.
Prediction: 2-1
Swansea City v Burnley 
3pm BST, Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Swansea got their season off to a great start with a win away to United and have an ideal chance to make it two wins out of two at home to a newly promoted team. Their manager had changed a couple of times in the last two years but they continue to play the same good football. Without European distractions they will hope to be a lot more secure in a mid table position this season.
Gylfi Siggurdsen is the Swansea player most likely to succeed closely followed by Wilfried Bony.
Burnley played well against Chelsea on Monday night but were well beaten in the end. They have a long hard season ahead of them and need to take as many home points as possible. Despite being well organised in defence they will probably ship a fair few goals away from home in particular.
At the moment it's hard to see which Burnley players might make a difference for fantasy managers.
I think Swansea will continue their good start with a win by a couple if goals at least.
Prediction: 2-0
Everton v Arsenal 
5.30pm BST, Goodison Park, Everton
Everton got their season up and running with a point away to Leicester. They had a very good record at home last season and easily beat Arsenal 3-0 towards the end of the season. Their team doesn't look quite as strong this time around though and this could be a more difficult game for them.
In the absence Ross Barkley it would seem Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines could be good fantasy options along with Seamus Coleman if he's fit to play.
Arsenal just about got off to a winning start on Saturday at home to Crystal Palace. They had to travel to Turkey on Tuesday night and injuries are already starting to build up for them. Their squad will be stretched up until the break at the end of the month and they won't find it easy to take anything off Everton. 
Aaron Ramsey is already living up to his pre season hype and Alexis Sanchez is looking pretty good too.
I can see this being a very close game and I think Arsenal will just shade it.
Prediction: 1-2
Sunday August 24
Hull City v Stoke City
1.30pm BST, KC Stadium, Hull
Hull got three valuable points on the opening day away to QPR and they will hope to build on that in this game. They had a good home record last season and didn't conceded too many goals at home either. With Europa League games to play it's important for Hull to start the league well and the three points on offer in this game could be very valuable for them.
Allan McGregor was impressive for Hull last season and he's a good fantasy option along with any of their defenders who are playing with James Chester possibly the best of them.
Stoke will be very disappointed to have lost at home to Villa on Saturday considering they usually take most of their points at home. They don't travel too well and their biggest problem still seems to be their inability to score goals. They will think they have a chance in this game and they need to put in a performance to back that up.
It's not easy to see which Stoke players might prosper for fantasy managers, but their defenders are usually the best bet although that is generally when they play at home.
Despite their poor start I think Stoke will do enough to take a point.
Prediction: 1-1
Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers
1.30pm BST, White Hart Lane, London
Spurs got a good win at West Ham last week and they looked solid in defence too. They will feel they have every chance of making it two wins out of two with a home game against a newly promoted club. If they are to push the top four this season this is exactly the type of game they have to win and win well.
Spurs defenders did well last season against the lesser teams and that could be the case again this season while Christian Eriksen looks the best of their attacking players.
QPR were beaten at home in their opening game and this will be a much tougher test for them. Despite all of the finances available to them their team looks no better than the one which was relegated two seasons ago. Harry Redknapp will be keen to take something off his old club, but lack of firepower could be their undoing.
I can't see any QPR players to write home about for fantasy managers.
I think Spurs should be good enough to win this game by a couple of goals.
Prediction: 2-0
Sunderland v Manchester United
4pm BST, Stadium of Light, Sunderland 
Sunderland got a point away to West  Brom in their opening game, but this will be a tougher test for them. They struggled at home for much of last season and found goals hard to come by. If they can put enough pressure on United they will see them as vulnerable after their poor performance in their own opening game.
Conor Wickham and Stephen Fletcher could benefit from United's defensive problems and Vito Mannone is always likely to amass points in goal for Sunderland.
United were beaten at home in their opening game which has put them under pressure already. They fared very well away from home last season though and might feel they have a better chance in this game with less possibly expected of them. If they are going to contend for the top four they have to keep pace early on and need something from this game.
I still think Wayne Rooney looks like a decent fantasy bet and Juan Mata will come good for United too with Robin van Persie worth considering too when he returns to the team.
This could be a very close game and I think it might just end in a narrow win for the away team.
Prediction: 1-2
Monday August 25
Manchester City v Liverpool
8pm BST, Etihad Stadium, Manchester
City got their title defence off to an ideal start by winning away to Newcastle on Sunday. This will be a tougher task for them but they will have a distinct advantage at home. It should be a fascinating encounter between last season's top two so early in this season.
David Silva looks like a very good fantasy bet as always along with Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero as do most of the City defenders.
Liverpool stuttered in their opening game, but just about managed to beat Southampton. This will be a much harder game for them though and a much tougher test if a suspect defence. With their attacking flair they have a chance of getting something from this game, but they would have to ride their luck at the back again.
Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling look like good fantasy choices as do Steven Gerrard and possibly Jordan Henderson too.
I think City will have too much firepower for a Liverpool defence which still looks dodgy despite the new arrivals.
Prediction: 3-1
That's it for today.
See you next week.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Arsenal v Crystal Palace Preview

After what seems like an eternity Arsenal are back to competitive action today when they play their first Premier League game of the season at home to Crystal Palace. It's been a busy summer so far for Arsenal with four new arrivals and a whopping £66 million spent on those players. Of course some of that money was recouped through sales and add on deals from previous transfers.

There's still a couple of weeks to go in the current transfer window and it looks like Arsenal will be busy during that time. After the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona this week there is a real pressing need for another central defender in the squad and there's still a possibility of a defensive midfielder being added too. That central defensive issue will not be too pressing today hopefully, as Laurent Koscielny has recovered from the minor knock he picked up in the Community Shield victory over City last Sunday.

Arsenal looked very good in that game despite missing Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski. None of those players will be available today either with the German trio having just returned from their World Cup triumph and Walcott not quite ready yet after his injury last Janurary. I'm not sure if any of the three German players will be available this month and that's a little worrying with five games to play in two weeks.

There are still plenty of players available though and I expect Arsene Wenger will go with the same starting 11 as that which was so convincing against City with the possible exception of Oliver Giroud replacing Yaya Sanogo up front. Sanogo played well but I expect the boss to go with the striker he considers to be his first choice. I can't imagine he will rest players ahead of the trip to Besiktas on Tuesday night despite the importance of that game.

It's very important for Arsenal to win today to set themselves up for the challenges ahead. They lost the opening game at home to Villa last season and went on a good run after it, but they need to start off on the right foot to keep pace in what looks like being a very open title race. Every single Premier League point is very precious and the three on offer from Palace need to be grabbed with both hands.

Palace have been rocked this week with the departure of Tony Pulis after he worked wonders to save them from what looked like certain relegation last season. His departure came as a real surprise and who knows how the players are going to deal with it so close to the start of the season. If it has a negative effect on them Arsenal need to take advantage of that, but it's a game Arsenal should be winning anyway. Despite their heroics towards the end of last season Palace are still a limited team and Arsenal have more than enough quality to dispose of them.

I don't doubt that Palace will try to put pressure on a slightly makeshift Arsenal defence, but they have to get the ball first and that won't be easy for them. The chances are they will sit deep and try to defend in numbers and hope to score on the break or from a set piece. They won't find it easy to deal with the quality of players like Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez though and it could be a long hard afternoon for Palace.

I think Arsenal will win by a couple of goals at least and I won't be surprised to see Ramsey get his name on the scoresheet. It's impossible to know how the team might have fared if both he and Walcott hadn't picked up injuries around the same time in December/Janurary and he will be a vitally important player this season once he can stay fit. Arsenal's injuries over the last few seasons have been awful, but there seems to be genuine hope that they can be handled better this season.

The players will be straight back into action after the game as they're off to Tukey for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Arsenal have fared really well at this stage of the competition over the years and have always gone through with at least a couple of goals to spare over the two legs. It's really important for them to qualify again this season with the revenue the competition brings in as well it's ability to attract top class players to the club.

There's a nasty international break at the start of September, but it would be great for Arsenal to head into that break with a place in the group stages of the Champions League and seven or maybe even nine Premier League points. By the time the players come back from the break the squad should be at almost full strength to face the challenges ahead of them. The future is looking very bright at the moment and the players need to cash in on that feeling over the next few weeks starting with Palace today.

Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner now that there's over 1,000 teams in it. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.

Absolutely finally for today I'm also running my predictor league again this season. I'll be previewing every Premier League game every week throughout the season too. You can make your predictions here and then join my mini league with the code FD20D-AVD after you have set everything up. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek One

The new season is upon us and with it comes the return of fantasy football too. As usual I'll be running my own league with a €50 prize to the winner. I'll keep the league open to new entries for a month or so but it will be closed after that so nobody can parachute in if their team is doing very well.

I'll also be running my predictions league again just like I have for the past few seasons. The details of how to join both leagues are at the bottom of this post and I'll be posting my predictions for every single Premier League game throughout the season right here. 

Saturday August 16

Manchester United v Swansea City

12.45pm BST, Old Trafford, Manchester 

United had a very disappointing season last season and will have no European football this season as a result. The lack of European football could be a real help for them as they attempt to get back among the title challengers. Their home record last season was very poor by their standards, but they did well away from home and will be hoping for a vast improvement at home this season.

It's hard to look beyond Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata as the best fantasy choices in the United team although van Persie might have a slower start than the other two after coming back later from his World Cup duties.

Swansea weren't as impressive last season as they had been in their previous two seasons since promotion, but they still play some very attractive football and are capable of beating any team on their day. They have managed to hold on to most of their important players from last season and have even strengthened a little. I'm sure they would be happy to finish in mid table again and maybe have a good run in one of the cups.

Wilfried Bony again looks like a very good fantasy buy and Gylfi Siggurdsen could just regain the form he showed when he was with Swansea a couple of seasons ago.

United need to get off to a good start under their new manager and I think they will do just that with a two goal victory.

Prediction: 2-0

Leicester City v Everton

3pm BST, King Power Stadium, Leicester

Leicester are back in the Premier League after after five years in the Championship and they will be keen to stay up. They haven't added an awful lot to the squad which won the Championship last season and they could face a tough battle to retain their status. They had a very good home record last season with 17 wins and only two defeats in their 23 games.

It's not easy to see which Leicester players might make a big impression for fantasy managers this season, but Marc Albrighton and Casper Schmeichel are both possibilities.

Everton did very well last season but they couldn't quite break into the top four. Their away form was probably their biggest issue last season with only eight wins in 19 games despite having a good defensive record on the road. They have managed to sign Romelu Lukaku permanently from Chelsea and that could be their best piece of transfer business.

The usual suspects of Lukaku, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Tim Howard all look to be the Everton players most likely to succeed again with Lukaku maybe as the best bet and Ross Barkley an outside shot too if he can stay fit and get more game time.

I can see this being a very close game and ending in a draw which should make both teams a little happy at least.

Prediction: 1-1

Queens Park Rangers v Hull City

3pm BST, Loftus Road, London

QPR spent an awful lot of money when they were last in the Premier League two seasons ago and a fair few of those players are still in their squad. Despite their budget they only scraped through in the last minute of the play off final against Derby and avoiding relegation has to be their first priority. Their best piece of business could be failing to sell Loric Remy as he could score the goals they need to stay up after returning from his loan spell at Newcastle.

Remy might not be a bad fantasy purchase and Steven Caulker gets his fair share of goals as a defender which means he has to be considered too.

Hull did well after their promotion last season and ran Arsenal very close in the FA Cup final too. They have managed to make it through to the final qualifying round of the Europa League and they could find this season difficult if they have to play European football too. They had a fairly good defensive record for most of last season at home in particular and they will need to find that defensive stability again. 

Robert Snodgrass, Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor are all worth considering for fantasy managers as is Robbie Brady if he can rediscover his form from before his injury last season.

This has the makings of another draw with another newly promoted team at home to a team who over performed last season.

Prediction: 1-1

Stoke City v Aston Villa

3pm BST, Britannia Stadium, Stoke

Stoke continue to be a tough team to beat at home season after season with only the top four losing less games at home last season. They finished ninth last season which was their highest finish in the Premier League and they will hope to improve on that this season. Their problem is their lack of goals, but the purchase of Bojan Krkic might help to solve that problem.

Krkic could be worth a punt for fantasy managers and he's available at a good price with Geoff Cameron and Asmir Begovic possibly worth considering too.

Villa had a battle against relegation for all of last season and just about managed to stay up. If they're going to do any better this time they will need to find some consistency and improve their home form too. They haven't added too much to their squad yet and it looks like this season could be a struggle again.

Ron Vlaar might not be a bad fantasy purchase with Christian Benteke worth considering when he comes back from injury and Charles N'Zogbia a possibility after missing all of last season through injury.

Stoke's home record should be enough to see them take all three points in this game.

Prediction: 2-1

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland 

3pm BST, The Hawthorns, Birmingham 

West Brom only finished one place above the relegation zone last season and they won less home games than any other team. They also lost less games than any other team in the bottom half of the table, but drew too many games for their own good. They have taken a chance in appointing Alan Irvine as their manager and they need that gamble to pay off.

It's not easy to predict any West Brom players who might do well this season, but I have a feeling Stephane Sessegnon might not do too badly.

Sunderland managed to avoid relegation last season after looking dead and buried with only a few weeks to go and they will look to build on that. They have added a few decent players to their squad and Gus Poyet will want to push them towards the top half of the table. Their 11 home defeats last season were just not good enough and they need to make the Stadium of Light a tougher venue for teams to visit.

Vito Mannone and Adam Johnson look like the most obvious candidates in the Sunderland team for fantasy managers with Conor Wickham worth considering too if he can find his form of late last season.

I can see this being a very close game which could go either way, but I think it will end in a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

3pm BST, Upton Park, London

West Ham will be worried that Andy Carroll is injured yet again as they struggled to score goals far too often last season. They can't afford to drop out of the Premier League again with a move to London's Olympic Stadium coming in two years time. Added to that there is a desire among the fans for the team to play some good football which isn't easy with Sam Allardyce in charge.

Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Guy Demel are all fantasy possibilities although Winston Reid might be the best option along with whoever gets the nod in goal for West Ham.

Spurs have had very few transfer dealings in the summer and will be hoping new boss Mauricio Pochettino can work his magic on their team. They bought an awful lot of players last summer though and some of those might perform a little better in their second season. Their away record was as good as any other team in the league last season and they will hope to continue that this season.

I think Christian Eriksen could possibly have a very good season for Spurs and Erik Lamela could do an awful lot better than last season too.

West Ham are never an easy proposition at home and I think they will get off to a winning start with a narrow victory.

Prediction: 2-1

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

5.30pm BST, Emirates Stadium, London

Arsenal won their first trophy in nine years last season and they have added to the strength of their squad over the summer too. They need some defensive reinforcements though if they are going to go the distance this season. They were in the title race for much of last season and will hope to be in it again, but they will have to improve their record against the other contenders to do so.

Aaron Ramsey is a must buy for fantasy managers in my opinion with Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott (when he returns from injury) all good choices too along with Mathieu Debuchey from a defensive perspective. 

Palace haven't added too much to their squad over the summer and the lack of purchases has led to Tony Pulis departing. He saved them from what seemed like certain relegation when he took over last season and they will need to find someone who can instill the same spirit in the team. They won't be looking forward to a trip to Arsenal after such a difficult week for the club.

Jason Puncheon did very well for Palace last season and could be worth a shot along with some of the Palace defenders if they can continue on from where Pulis left off.

Arsenal look to have too much firepower for Palace even with a few players out and I think they will win by a couple of goals.

Prediction: 3-1

Sunday August 17

Liverpool v Southampton 

1.30pm BST, Anfield, Liverpool

Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona and their chances will depend upon how they adapt to life without their star player. From where I see it they haven't brought in players to improve on the ones they have, but some of their players will have learned a lot from last season and could improve. I can't see them challenging for the title again unless they sort out their defensive issues, but they might still score a lot of goals. 

Daniel Sturridge could be the Liverpool player to score their goals post Suarez with Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard worth considering too along with Adam Lallana and maybe even Dejan Lovern.

Southampton did really well last season, but they have sold an awful lot of the players who helped them to finish eighth in the league. A lot of those players have joined Liverpool and this game will have a very strange look to it from a Southampton perspective. The arrival of Ronald Koeman could be a good thing for Southampton, but it could take a while for all of the new signings to find their feet.

With so many changes in the Southampton team it's hard to know which players to choose but Jose Fonte and Fraser Forster could perform and Graziano Pelle is a possibility too along with Jay Rodriguez when he returns from injury.

Liverpool are a very tough team to get a result from at Anfield and I expect them to take all three points in this game.

Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle United v Manchester City

4pm BST, St. James Park, Newcastle 

Newcastle finished safely in mid table last season without ever troubling the teams above them. They had a lot of trouble scoring goals and the loss of Loric Remy won't make that task any easier. They only won eight of their 19 home games last season and they will have to improve on that or Alan Pardew will find himself in a spot of bother.

It's not easy to predict great things from Newcastle players this season, but Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and new boy Siem de Jong all have a good chance of performing well.

City have to be among the favourites as they look to retain their title and they have added a few players to make their squad even stronger. They were the top scorers last season with over 100 league goals, but they were vulnerable away from home at times. The title race looks very open this season and City will feel they have every chance of their third title in four seasons.

The old reliables look to be good fantasy choices in the City team with Yaya Toure, David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta all good choices and Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Eden Dzeko all worth considering too.

I think City will have too much class for Newcastle and will win by the odd goal.

Prediction: 1–2

Monday August 18

8pm BST, Turf Moor, Burnley

Burnley did very well to get promoted last season and their sole aim this season has to be to stay in the Premier League. They only lost two of their 23 home games last season and only conceded 14 goals in those games. That home form could be very important for them if they are to have any chance of staying up, but they have to be favourites to finish last.

Some of Burnley's defenders might do well this season as they were very strong defensively at home in the Championship last season and Danny Ings might not do too badly either.

Chelsea have invested heavily over the summer and they're going to be a very hard team to beat this season. They had the best defensive record away from home last season and look like they have a very good balance between attacking and defending players. They look like the team to beat and Jose Mourinho will feel he has a team more than capable of winning the league.

I think Cesc Fabregas could have a very good season for Chelsea along with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard along with all of their defenders.

I can't see anything other than a Chelsea win in this game.

Prediction: 0-2

Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner now that there's over 1,000 teams in it. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.Absolutely finally for today I'm also running my predictor league again this season. I'll be previewing every Premier League game every week throughout the season too. You can make your predictions here and then join my mini league with the code FD20D-AVD after you have set everything up. 

That's it for this week.

See you next week.