After almost four months of abstinence, EPL fans everywhere can finally relax and binge on some soccer, as the EPL kicks-off again this weekend with a feast of games.
Some old faces and teeth have left the EPL during the summer, but new ones have also arrived and should help to make the upcoming season one of the most exciting and exhilarating yet. So without further ado let us at GotSoccer take you through some of the news, previews and predictions for Week 1 of the EPL
Pulis leave Crystal Palace
Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace by mutual consent less than 48-hours before the start of the new season.
The departure was revealed late on Thursday after as a meeting between Tony Pulis and club chairman Steve Paris failed to resolve tension between the pair, which is believed to have begun during the summer.
The former Stoke boss was named manager of the year last season after steering Crystal Palace from the foot of the table in November to a mid-table finish in May. However, his relationship with the Club is believed to have soured during the off-season with Pulis wanting to assume greater control of all soccer matters, especially transfers, after missing out on a few targets.
On Friday, Palace issued a statement, saying: “The club would like to thank Tony for his efforts with the club last season and wish him all the best for the future.”
Assistant manager Keith Millen will be in charge against Arsenal on Saturday.
Aston Villa sign Colombia International Carlos Sanchez
Aston Villa have signed Colombia defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez from Elche on a four-year deal.
The midfielder who starred for Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil this summer joins the midlands club for an undisclosed fee.
Sanchez started his European career in France with Valenciennes, where he spent six seasons before joining Spanish side Elche last season. Talking about the transfer, Sanchez said: “I’m delighted to be here. It was always my aim to play in this country and in this league.”
Villa boss Paul Lambert described the deal as “a great coup”, adding: “He’ll be an excellent player for the club.”
“Carlos is a very experienced professional who played a prominent role in a Colombian team which captured everyone’s imagination at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil,” Lambert added.
“He does the simple things really well and he’s excellent at spotting the danger, dealing with it and keeping it simple.
“We’ve beaten other teams to bring him here to Villa.”
|Man Utd v Swansea||4-1|
|Leicester v Everton||1-2|
|QPR v Hull||2-2|
|Stoke v Aston Villa||2-1|
|West Brom v Sunderland||1-1|
|West Ham v Tottenham||1-1|
|Arsenal v Crystal Palace||3-0|
|Liverpool v Southampton||2-0|
|Newcastle v Man City||0-2|
|Burnley v Chelsea||0-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Manchester United v Swansea
Swansea City have been Manchester United’s opponents on some milestone occasions over the two seasons—first they were Sir Alex Ferguson’s final opponents at Old Trafford two seasons back. While last Season David Moyes got off to a great start with a 4-1 win over the Swans in South Wales before things went sour for United later on in the season.
And now Swansea face United once again as they usher in the era of Van Gaal.
Saturday’s game will be Van Gaal’s first competitive game as United coach, but he has already guided his side to a stellar preseason, with United winning all of their friendly matches. But competitive soccer is an altogether different ball game and after 90-minutes we should all have a better understanding of how United are progressing under the Dutchman.
Meanwhile, this season could be a tough one for Swansea with the club having lost nine first-team players during the summer and only making four signings. The key to their season could rest on whether they manage to hold on to striker Wilfred Bony, who is reportedly being targeted by several clubs in the EPL.
Manchester United will be without summer signing Luke Shaw, who has a hamstring injury that could keep him out for a month.
Meanwhile, Johnny Evans is also struggling with an injury and could join Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick on the sidelines.
Swansea will be without Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton for their trip to Old Trafford, but Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge should return after missing the Swans last friendly.
No team in soccer is more synonymous with the 4-4-2 formation than Manchester United, however, Van Gaal plans to adopt the 3-5-2 system he employed at the World Cup with Holland and it will be interesting to see how the system fairs in the EPL.
Despite a terrific preseason, Van Gaal says it will take time for his ideas to be implemented and that fans should not expect too much too soon. Nevertheless, I expect the Red Devils to win Saturday’s match fairly comfortably. Manchester United have never lost a home league game to Swansea and I don’t expect that to change tomorrow.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Expectations are high for the Gunners this season, especially after they comfortably saw off Man City in the Community Shield with a 3-0 victory.
The signing of Alexis Sanchez adds a different dynamic to their attack, and when Theo Walcott returns from injury, the Gunners will have two players with pace that can get in behind defenses.
Crystal Palace did immensely well last season to move from the bottom of the table in November to eleventh by the end of the season. Tony Pulis came in and made the Eagles a side no team enjoyed playing against. However, with Pulis departing I suspect Palace may once again descend and struggle in the EPL.
Arsenal should welcome back defender Laurent Koscielny who has been out with an Achilles injury, while Abou Diaby could also return to the squad after a long lay-off.
However, World Cup winners Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker will be rested for the visit of the Eagles.
Palace assistant manager Keith Millen will assume charge of team affairs after the departure of Pulis and has a whole squad to choose from.
Arsenal has lost only once to Palace in the EPL, which came almost a decade ago with a 2-1 loss at Highbury. The Gunners have won their last three games against the Eagles and with Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis having departed I don’t see the Eagles putting up much resistance.
Liverpool v Southampton
Liverpool begins life without Luis Suarez on Sunday after having sold the Uruguayan to Barcelona during the summer for $125.2m. However, the Reds have strengthened their squad during the off-season signing a number of players, including three from Southampton.
Southampton are in transition after losing a number of keys players and their coach Mauricio Pochettino, who moved to Tottenham. The Saints have installed Dutch legend Ronald Koeman as the man to takeover from Pochettino and it will be interesting to see how Southampton fair under the Dutchman.
Liverpool could hand former Southampton players Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert their Liverpool debuts against their former club, but former Saints star Adam Lallana is injured, while one of the clubs other new signing, Lazar Markovic, is also ruled out.
Meanwhile, the Reds face defensive issues with Jon Flanagan and Daniel Agger sidelined with knee problems.
New Southampton boss Ronald Koeman is set to hand a start to former Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
While a host of the Saints’ other new arrivals may also make their debuts, including Shane Long, Dusan Tadic, Ryan Bertrand and Saphir Taider.
Southampton have won their last two visits to Anfield, but I think they will take a while to adapt to the style and ideas of new coach Ronald Koeman and therefore I expect Liverpool to win this one.
Newcastle United v Man City
Newcastle’s campaign last season was a tale of two halves, with the Magpies terrific during the first-half of the season and abysmal during the second-half. However, their poor finish to the season was in large part due to injuries and having strengthened over the summer, the Magpies could well be better equipped to mount a challenge for a European spot this season.
Manchester City have strengthened their defense this summer bringing in French defender Elliquin Mangala from Porto and Argentinian keeper Willy Caballero from Malaga.
However, City looked far from defensively sound during their Community Shield game against Arsenal and could have lost by more than the eventual 3-0 scoreline.
Newcastle could hand debuts to Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Jack Colback. But Siem de Jong, Cheick Tiote and Yoan Gouffran could all miss out with slight knocks.
Manchester City has a tremendous record against Newcastle and are unbeaten against the Magpies in their last 15 EPL games (16 in all competitions). Newcastle are usually tough cookies to beat on their home-turf, but the Magpies have not fared well on the last few opening days to the season—Newcastle have failed to score in their opening game in three of their four seasons since returning to the top flight (W1, D1, L2)—and I expect City to see them off without trouble.