Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek One

It’s that time of the year again when the Premier League returns and with it returns the ever popular fantasy game too. As usual I’ll be running my FPL league, my Head to Head League as well as my Predictions League this season and I’m looking forward to it being just as good if not better than last season. I’ll be predicting all the games here every week as well as giving my tips for Fantasy managers as I have done for so many seasons now that I’m not sure when it began.

Friday August 10

Manchester United v Leicester City

8pm BST, Old Trafford, Manchester 

United finished second to City last season, but they were a long way behind them. They are always a tough proposition at home and will be clear favourites to win this game. Their pre-season hasn’t gone too well and Jose Mourinho is among the favourites to be the first manager to lose his job this season.

With some of their better players having played up until the very end of the World Cup it’s possible that Alexis Sanchez or Juan Mata could be good fantasy choices early on while David de Gea and any of their defenders that play are very good choices too.

Leicester did reasonably well last season, but still nowhere near their title winning heroics of two seasons earlier. They struggled away from home last season and this is a tough fixture to start their away campaign for this season. The loss of Riyad Mahrez to City is a big blow for them and they will be hard pushed to replace his influence on their results.

With Mahrez gone Jamie Vardy is probably the best fantasy option in the Leicester team while Harry Maguire can’t be ignored (particularly if he joins United) and new boy Rachid Ghezzal could be worth a punt too.

I think this will be a close game, but home advantage should just give United the edge.

Prediction: 1-0

Saturday August 11

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur 

12.30pm BST, St. James’s Park, Newcastle 

Newcastle managed to stay up reasonably easily in the end last season and that was their target for the season. St. James’s Park is never an easy ground for travelling teams and they will need to take as many points as possible at home. They haven’t added much to their squad this summer and they could find themselves facing an uphill battle to keep their Premier League place.

I think Kenedy could be the best fantasy choice in the Newcastle team while Jamaal Lascelles might do well too.

Spurs had a good season last season, but yet again they failed to win any silverware. Only City took more away points than Spurs last season and they will hope to continue that away form. They haven’t added any new players as I write this and that could hinder their chances of bagging that much elusive trophy.

With so many players only just returning from World Cup duty it might be best to avoid some of the Spurs players for the moment, but Christian Eriksen could offer some early points for fantasy managers.

Despite probably missing much of their first choice team I still think Spurs will get a narrow victory.

Prediction: 1-2

Bournemouth v Cardiff City

3pm BST, Dean Court, Bournemouth 

Bournemouth finished in mid-table last season and their ability to stay in the Premier League is remarkable for a club of their size. They won as many games as they lost at home last season and they usually tend to score at home. They have broken their transfer record this week to bring Jefferson Lerma, but their first target yet again this season will be to avoid the drop.

I don’t think there are any Bournemouth players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment.

Cardiff managed to secure promotion to the Premier League last season, but they will do very well not to go straight back down. Their home form will be crucial for them, but they will need to get as many points as they can away from home. They are odds on to be relegated and it will be a huge achievement for them if they manage to stay up.

If I can’t see any Bournemouth players to recommend I most definitely can’t see any of the Cardiff players to recommend either.

I think Bournemouth will get their season off to a good start with the three points in this game.

Prediction: 2-0

Fulham v Crystal Palace

3pm BST, Craven Cottage, London

Fulham won their way into the Premier League through the play offs, but they have invested heavily to try to keep their status. They played some good football at home in particular last season and they will fancy their chances in this game. Their chances of staying up are quite good and hopefully they will get the chance to play some good football too.

Ryan Sessegnon looks like the Fulham player to have for fantasy managers while Andre Schurrle might do well too.

Palace turned their season around quite remarkably last season after what was the worst start I can remember by any team in the Premier League. Once they started winning games they did well away from home last season and they are a hard team to beat. They haven’t added too much to the team that only finished outside the top half on goal difference and they will hope to at least match that finish this season.

Wilfried Zaha is the popular choice for fantasy managers in the Palace team this season despite being listed as a striker while Luka Milivojevic will hope to match his return from last season and defenders like Patrick van Aanholt and Mamadou Sakho are possibilities to consider too.

I think this will be a very close game and a score draw is probably the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 2-2

Huddersfield Town v Chelsea 

3pm BST, Kirklees Stadium, Huddersfield 

Huddersfield survived with four points to spare last season and they could find it even harder to avoid the drop this season. They only won six of their 19 home games last season and no other team scored less goals at home, but they will need to improve that home form if they are to have any hope of staying up. They have brought in some new players, but I don’t think they look any stronger than last season and that could be their undoing.

I can’t see any Huddersfield players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment.

Chelsea didn’t have a good season last season and they failed to qualify for the Champions League, but they did at least win the FA Cup. They took almost as many points away from home as they did at home last season and they will be favourites to win this game. The transfer window hasn’t gone as planned for Chelsea so far and they could possibly end up losing more good players than they sign.

Chelsea’s defenders probably look like the best choice for fantasy managers at the moment while Cesc Fabregas could be an option too with other players missing or possibly on their way out.

Even with the players they’re missing I still think Chelsea will be too strong for Huddersfield and should win with a couple of goals to spare.

Prediction: 0-2

Watford v Brighton And Hove Albion

3pm BST, Vicarage Road, Watford 

Watford looked to be in relegation trouble at one stage last season despite a good start, but they just about managed to steady the ship. Despite only losing six home games they conceded more home goals than any other team last season. They haven’t added much to the squad which struggled in the second half of last season and avoiding the drop has to be their main aim for this season.

It’s not easy to see which Watford players might do well for fantasy managers, but Ben Foster and Will Hughes are certainly worth considering.

Brighton finished last season just strongly enough to stay up and avoiding relegation will be their first target this season too. They had the worst away record in the league last season and they scored the least away goals too. They have added some good players to their squad though and I think that might just about be enough to keep them up.

The choices for fantasy managers in the Brighton team don’t exactly roll off the tongue, but Pascal Gross, Matthew Ryan and Jose Izquierdo could all do well.

I think this will be a very close game which could go either way, but Watford will probably take the three points.

Prediction: 2-1

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton 

5.30pm BST, Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton 

Wolves won the Championship with relative ease last season and they were only one point off the magic 100 point mark. They will need to make Molineux a fortress if they are to do well in the Premier League and they certainly have the capacity to do so. Of the three promoted teams they look the most likely to make an impact this season after some very good work in the transfer market.

I’m not too sure which Wolves players to recommend to fantasy managers, but Rui Patricio and Diogo Jota are probably the most likely to succeed.

Everton started last season very badly and could only manage to finish eighth in the end. They only won three of their 19 away games and only three teams conceded more goals away from home last season. With Marco Silva in charge they will hope to get a lot closer to the top six this season.

Jordan Pickford is very popular among fantasy managers after a good World Cup while Richarlison and Cenk Tosun could do well too.

This isn’t an easy game to predict, but I think a draw is probably the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

Sunday August 12

Liverpool v West Ham United 

1.30pm BST, Anfield, Liverpool 

Liverpool finished fourth last season after playing some very good football, but being far too inconsistent against teams they should have beaten. They were the only unbeaten team at home last season, but they drew seven of their 19 home games and only United conceded less home goals. They have spent big this summer and at the moment they look like the team most likely to challenge City.

Mohamed Salah is the must have player for fantasy managers as long as he can match his feats of last season while Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and all of Liverpool’s defenders are worth considering too.

West Ham are one of many teams who flirted with relegation last season and ended up comfortably staying up. They conceded more away goals than any other team last season, but they also managed to score more away goals than most other teams too. Like quite a few other teams they have invested heavily this summer and the arrival of Manuel Pellagrini has given them hope of at least putting some pressure on the top six.

With all the money West Ham have spent they still don’t have too many outstanding candidates for fantasy managers, but Lukasz Fabianski, Marco Arnautovic and maybe even Felipe Anderson could possibly do the business.

I think Liverpool should be too strong for West Ham as they look to start their attempt to dethrone City in winning fashion.

Prediction: 3-1

Southampton v Burnley

1.30pm BST, St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton 

Southampton only finished one place and three points above the relegation zone last season in what was a season to forget for them. Only West Brom took less points at home and they need to make St. Mary’s the fortress it used to be in the past. They haven’t added too much to a squad that struggled last season and would want to be careful they don’t suffer the same fate this season.

Cedric Soares looks to be the best value player in the Southampton team while Charlie Austin could be a good choice too if he can stay fit.

Burnley did very well to finish seventh last season and they even looked like they might catch sixth placed Arsenal at one stage. Only the top five took more away points than them and only three other teams conceded less away goals. They won’t find it easy to match their heroics of last season, but they should at least be good enough to finish safely in mid-table if their Europa League campaign doesn’t distract them too much.

Joe Hart could be a good choice for fantasy managers with both Nick Pope and Tom Heaton injured while all of Burnley’s defenders are worth considering if they can defend like they did last season.

This game looks like it’s the most likely one to end without a goal to either side.

Prediction: 0-0

Arsenal v Manchester City

4pm BST, Emirates Stadium, London

Arsenal could only finish sixth last season after some abysmal away results and they face the prospect of Thursday night football in the Europa League again this season. Only City took more points and scored more home goals than Arsenal last season though and they will need to find that home form again this season. Their first priority has to be a return to the top four after a turbulent time which saw Unai Emery replace Arsene Wenger who had been at the helm for almost 22 years.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey are the best fantasy choices in the Arsenal team, but Ramsey could miss this game with a knock.

City set the bar very high last season and they will have to go a long way to match that performance. They had by far the best away record in the league last season and it was that away form which saw them blow all the other teams away. They will be looking to be the first team to retain the Premier League title since 2009 and it would be foolish to bet against them.

With some of their players back late from the World Cup Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva could be good choices early on for fantasy managers.

This has the makings of a very good game and with my heart ruling my head as always I am plumping for a narrow Arsenal win.

Prediction: 2-1

That’s it for this week.

See you next week.

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