EPL Week 1
Rejoice! The EPL has returned and promises to be better than ever before. A whopping £500m – $773.55m – has been spent by EPL clubs during summer, meaning the League could be even more competitive than it ever has been before.
But after almost three months of no EPL, we know all this information can be a lot to take in. But fret not for us at GotSoccer are here to take you through all you need to know as we give you a break down of some of the news, predictions and previews of this weeks EPL opening games.
Pellegrini Signs new deal with City
Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini has signed a contract extension that runs until 2017.
The Chilean’s contract was due to expire next year, but the new deal means he will be in charge of the two time EPL champions for the next two seasons.
The former Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga manager joined City in June of 2013, leading them to their second EPL crown in his first season. However, a poor defense of their EPL title last season led to speculation that Pellgrini would be sacked with Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola widely tipped to take over.
“The contract shows the club trusts in my work,” the 61-year-old said.
“I am not talking about Pep Guardiola, he is a manager that every team will want to manage because he is a great manager,” said Pellegrini.
“For me, the owners are happy with the way I am working. Me, I am also happy at this club. It is impossible to know about the future.”
City begins the new Premier League season at West Brom on Monday.
Wenger Welcomes new Simulations Rules
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised new rules by the FA that seek to punish those who feign injury.
Under the news rule set out by the FA a player can be banned for up to three-matches for simulating an injury.
“I’m a big, big fan of the new rule,” said Wenger.
“With all the camera angles it will be easier to punish players diving.”
The new rules will note include all forms of simulations, but only those that result in an opponent receiving a red card. Furthermore, the player deemed guilty of feigning injury to get an opponent dismissed can only be punished if an independent panel rescinds the red card.
|Man Utd v Tottenham||3-1|
|Bournemouth v Aston Villa||2-1|
|Everton v Watford||2-0|
|Leicester v Sunderland||2-1|
|Norwich v Crystal Palace||2-2|
|Chelsea v Swansea||2-0|
|Arsenal v West Ham||3-0|
|Newcastle v Southampton||1-1|
|Stoke v Liverpool||2-2|
|West Brom v Man City||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Last season many of you contenders out predicted me, but after recharging my batteries over the summer I’m feeling ready to take on all new comers!
So if you think you think you have know the EPL and disagree with my predictions above, feel free to post your predictions below.
LET THE PREDICTIONS BEGIN!
Manchester United v Tottenham
Manchester United lost their opening game to Swansea last season, but will want to hit the ground running this time round.
Manager Luis Van Gaal has strengthened his midfield, but the Red Devil’s defense still seems fragile, while the departure of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao mean United do not have too many options up top.
One Striker they are reportedly in the market for is Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who had a stellar season in the EPL last year. Spurs have not been too active during the transfer market and doubt they would consider selling their star man unless a ridiculous offer is made.
Manchester United keeper David de Gea won’t feature, with Van Gaal stating he doesn’t feel he can handle the game amid speculation he will join Real Madrid.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcos Rojo are doubtful due to a lack of fitness, but new signings Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian could all make their debuts.
Ryan Mason, Roberto Soldado and Andros Townsend are all fitness doubts, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could start after returning from a fractured wrist in the midweek friendly win over AC Milan.
Spurs have not traditionally fared well against the Red Devils winning just five of their 46 Premier League encounters. But they have won twice at Old Trafford in the last three seasons and will fancy their chances of gaining another victory.
However, Spurs decided to cram a lot of friendlies in before their opening game, the last game on Thursday against AC Milan and I expect it will cost them. United know they need to start the season well after a poor start last season, and I expect them to explode out the traps on Saturday.
Chelsea v Swansea
Champions Chelsea made such a good start to the season last year that they were able to jog over the finish line. Jose Mourinho knows he side could be in for a tougher test this season and I expect Chelsea to start the season strong again, but perhaps not with the dazzling performances they did at the start of last season.
Many expected the Blues to spend big and bring in a top class forward, instead they have opted to gamble and take Radamel Falcao on loan. There is no questioning Falcao’s pedigree, but after two serious knee injuries it remains to be seen if he can hit the heights of a few season ago.
Swansea were tipped by a few to be relegated last season, but showed their quality straight away with a victory at Old Trafford. Indeed, many expected the Swans to struggle after they sold striker Wilfred Bony, but they still punched above their weight and remain a tough side to play against.
Chelsea are without striker Diego Costa meaning Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao are both vying for the lone striker position.
Swansea’s summer signing Andre Ayew is likely to start but fellow newcomers Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Franck Tabanou and Eder are all expected to be on the bench.
Chelsea has the best opening day record in the EPL, winning 15 of their 23 matches. In fact, they have not suffered defeat since losing to Coventry City in 1998-99 and I do not expect them to lose on Saturday either.
Arsenal v West Ham
After winning the FA Cup for the last two years a lot is expected of Arsenal season, and many are predicting this could finally be their year again.
The signing of Petr Cech from rivals Chelsea was a big coup for the Gunners and will definitely bring them the defensive organization and stability they have for a few years now. I think the biggest factor for Arsenal this season is their belief. For the last few season they have not believed they were good enough to compete for the title, but it seems like they truly believe they can this year and that belief will take them a long way.
West Ham have a new manager in former player Slaven Bilic and it will be interesting to see how he sets up his side to play. The Hammers were solid and difficult to beat under former boss Sam Allardyce, but the fans never took to his pragmatic approach, and they might yet regret pushing ‘Big Sam’ out.
Petr Cech is set to make his EPL debut for the Arsenal, but Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are ruled out with injuries. Alexis Sanchez also will not feature after being given an extended break following his participation in the Copa America.
West Ham have attacking concerns with Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll both out injured. Meanwhile, on-loan full-back Carl Jenkinson is ineligible to face his parent club, though Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid and Matt Jarvis have all returned from injuries and could feature.
Arsenal have won their last 10 league and cup games against West Ham, including nine Premier League matches and I expect them to keep that run going with an easy win at the Emirates on Saturday.
Stoke v Liverpool
Liverpool spent heavily before last summer and ended up having a disappointing season. They have done the same again this summer, but the quality of the signings seem a lot better and if they gel quickly the Reds could compete for a Champions League spot.
However, the Reds have a horrible set of opening fixtures – the Reds next five away games after Stoke are at Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea – so they could be out of the race before a quarter of the season has taken place.
Stoke played some neat and tidy stuff last season and have brought in winger Ibrahim Afellay, who will add more flair to their side. Striker Bojan Krkić has returned from a serious knee injury and if he returns to the form he was in last season, Stoke could have another interesting year.
Stoke will be without captain Ryan Shawcross, who faces two-months out after having back surgery. But Bojan looks set to make his comeback from a knee injury, though Marko Arnautovic is doubtful with a thigh strain.
Liverpool will be without Daniel Sturridge, Joe Allen and Jon Flanagan who are all injured. But new signings Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez could make their debuts for the Reds.
However, another new signing, Roberto Firmino, is unlikely to feature after being given an extended break after competing in the Copa America with Brazil.
Stoke thrashed Liverpool 6-1 on the final day of last season – their biggest EPL victory over any team – so will be confident ahead of Sunday’s opener. However, I don’t think anyone expects a repeat of that score line and I predict this game will be goal-scoring draw.