The Premier League is back this weekend, ready to bring excitement, drama and attractive football to millions of fans across the globe. Liverpool will aims to “attack” another league title while the Manchester clubs look on and plot how to deny them. Chelsea and Arsenal look to use their freshly-signed players to chase for the title too, so the race should be another roller-coaster ride, and interesting to witness how it will all turn out for everybody.
Just after the unusual ‘Restart’ campaign ending seven weeks ago, the 2020-21 season is set to take the field on Saturday and Sunday. 16 teams will see action, but Manchester United and Manchester City will not be taking part in the opening week (nor will their scheduled opponents, Burnley and Aston Villa). All three promoted sides (Leeds, West Brom, and Fulham) will step into the English top-flight.
JOIN THE NMA FANTRAX MINI-LEAGUES
[If new, please register at Fantrax and then...]
NMA-17 Fantrax League
NMA-17 allows you to expand your roster to as many as 17 players. Each week, your best 3 forwards, best 4 middies, best 3 defenders and best keeper that week will add to your cumulative season earnings.
NMA-11 Fantrax League
NMA-11 limits you to exactly 11 players, no subs. However, you may choose from a range of allowed formations.
JOIN THE NMA FPL MINI-LEAGUE
The Never Manage Alone “BTB” (“Beat the Bloggers”) league has been automatically renewed, so if you were a member last season, there should be no need for you to do anything (except buying your initial roster of course).
If you are new to the league, first set up your account and pick a squad. You can do so by visiting the Official FPL site and registering. Then you can join by clicking on “Leagues” and then “Private Leagues.”
League Name: Never Manage Alone “BTB”
League Code: btojt9
With minileagues out of the way, let’s take a look at who faces whom, and let’s think on what the final whistle might see at the end of our first game-week:
Saturday 12 September
Fulham vs Arsenal
[Our early game, which should provide confirmed lineups before the Fantrax deadline]
After a difficult start to the previous campaign, the Gunners will look to maintain their cup-winning momentum for this one. They look to be on the right track under Mikel Arteta, having defeated the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool to win the FA Cup and Community Shield during the off-season.
On the other side, Fulham also want to turn-around their previous Premier League performance, which saw them go through three managers before finishing 19th. However, Arteta’s side are heavy favorites heading to Craven Cottage.
· Arsenal have won their last 5 matches against Fulham in all competitions.
· Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the last goalscorer in his last two PL matches vs Fulham.
· Alexandre Lacazette has scored at least one goal in his last two PL matches vs Fulham.
· Fulham have lost their last 10 top-flight London derbies.
Prediction: 0 – 2
Southampton finished last season strongly, thanks to Danny Ings’ fantastic form. Saints picked up 37 points from their final 21 matches and will want to continue where they left off.
Palace did the opposite, suffering seven defeats in their last eight games. The only threat we can predict is from Wilfried Zaha who reportedly wants out. In this game, one should really not expect tons of goals in the net.
· Southampton are undefeated in their last 7 PL matches.
· Palace have won just three of their last 22 PL matches vs Southampton
· Nathan Redmond has scored a goal in his last three PL matches with Southampton as favorite
Prediction: 0 – 0
Liverpool vs Leeds
For the first time since 2003-04 season, Leeds fans can watch their team in the Premier League. They were contenders in Europe before 16 long years in the wilderness, including time in third-tier purgatory. Many are expecting Marcelo Biesla’s side to make a statement against their rivals, but they do face champions Liverpool in their first task.
The Reds may look a bit rusty with two defeats in their previous seven games, but they ended the season long-time ago, and the way they won in style throughout the last campaign, one can never take them lightly anymore. Jurgen Klopp’s side should earn all three points in the first week.
· Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield in the PL since April 2017.
· Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in 24 of their last 26 home matches.
· Liverpool are unbeaten vs Leeds in their last eight games dating back to 2001.
· Mohamad Salah is looking to become the second player to score in Week 1 of the PL in four straight seasons
Prediction: 2 — 0
Sunday 13 September
During the ‘Restart’, the Hammers lost just one of their last seven games, defeating Chelsea and drawing with Man United in the process to finish five points clear of relegation. Eyes will now be on Michael Antonio who scored eight goals to help David Moyes’ side.
The Magpies have had a mixed summer, struggling on and off the pitch at the same time. Their unpopular (to say the least) owner was unable to sell the club to wealthy foreign investors, but he still strengthened the squad by adding Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson from AFC Bournemouth. Much still needs to be worked on.
· Newcastle conceded at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 PL matches.
· West Ham dropped 26 points from winning positions last season, more than any other side.
· Jonjo Shelvey scored for Newcastle in both games vs West Ham last season.
· Newcastle failed to win their last 6 PL matches.
Prediction: 1 –1
West Brom vs Leicester
Last term the Foxes enjoyed their most successful season since 2015-16, finishing fifth and booking a spot in the Europa League.
Newly promoted side West Brom has a lot to prove as one can question their squad strength being able to compete in the Premier League.
· Leicester won their opening PL game just once in the last 11 seasons.
· Jamie Vardy has scored in all four his PL away matches vs West Brom.
· Leicester won their last 4 away matches at West Brom in all competitions.
· Leicester failed to win their last 8 PL away matches.
Prediction: 1 – 2
Languishing in the bottom half when Jose Mourinho took over last year, Tottenham clawed its way back up to finish sixth. Spurs will look to improve on that this term.
Meanwhile, the Toffees finished 12th, but they do look like an interesting team to follow. Carlos Ancelotti’s side has brought the likes of shocking transfer signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Allan from Napoli and Watford’s Abdulaye Doucoure into its ranks.
· Spurs are unbeaten in their last 15 PL matches vs Everton dating back to 2012.
· Everton is winless at Spurs since 2008.
· Harry Kane has scored nine goals in his last nine PL games vs Everton.
· Spurs have won their last 4 PL home matches
Prediction: 2 – 1
Monday September 14
Sheffield was surely the surprise package last term. The Blades will be looking to carry on their form after such an unlikely promotion-year campaign last season.
Wolves will be aiming to again finish in the European spots as they still have one of the most interesting sides to watch this coming season.
· Sheffield have lost just two of their last 13 home league games vs Wolves.
· Wolves are unbeaten in their opening league match in the last seven seasons.
· Raul Jimenez scored the third most goals of any PL player in all competitions last season (27).
· Sheffield lost their last three matches of last season.
Prediction: 0 – 2
Brighton vs Chelsea
Brighton somehow managed to fight off relegation in 2019-20, finishing 15th. Chelsea can arguably be called a team on the move after doing tremendous business in the transfer market, signing Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz as a statement of intent to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the title run.
· Chelsea has never lost to Brighton in league competition.
· Brighton failed to win any of the six EPL games vs Chelsea, losing five.
· Chelsea lost just two of the last 20 opening day PL games
· Timo Werner’s 28 Bundesliga goals last season were the fourth most in Europe’s top five leagues.
Prediction: 0 – 2
[All stats sourced from Opta and WhoScored]
What are your predictions for the fixtures? Any specific match you’re looking forward to watching? What are your fantasy strategies for the opening week? Any popular player (or sleeper) from whom you hope to get points? And who is being added? Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late fitness news (e.g. positive Covid-19 tests), please share!