We’re back after a relatively short break to kick-off the 2020-21 Premier League season. Two fixtures have been postponed for this weekend — Manchester United at Burnley and Aston Villa at Manchester City. Man City stars Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte have tested positive for the coronavirus, so keep an eye on how everything pans out in Manchester.
Still there are plenty of exciting fixtures to be played in the opening game-week of the brand new Premier League season. Let’s take a look into the match-ups and discuss live in the comments as the action unfolds.
Saturday 12 September
The first game of the new season kicks off at Craven Cottage as visitors Arsenal take on Fulham. The Gunners’ away form hasn’t been great for the past couple of seasons, so they’ll be looking to hit the ground running straightaway against a potentially leaky Fulham side.
Fulham’s talisman Alexsander Mitrovic was the joint top-scorer in the Championship last season, so the Cottagers will be heavily reliant on him to produce the goal scoring goods (again). Arsenal’s defense looked weak last season, especially away from home, so Fulham will be determined to put pressure on that error-prone back line. However, Fulham’s defense should be terrified of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who scored a whopping 22 goals last season. It will be interesting to see the Arsenal line-up as Mikel Arteta has some decisions to make with the arrival of Willian from Chelsea.
Both Crystal Palace and Southampton will be looking to start their season strongly at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace have kept clean sheets in their last two opening games against Everton and Fulham and they’ll be certainly hoping to keep that record going. The Eagles have had a pretty strong pre-season with the likes of Tyrick Mitchell and Eberechi Eze heavily involved.
Southampton scored seven goals against Swansea in their pre-season game as they looked in great form. With Danny Ings and captain James Ward-Prowse having been on international duty, their limited preparation might play a crucial role in their respective performances. Palace have a few issues with Van Aanholt unlikely to play and only five defenders available for the game. On the other hand, Ralph Hassenhuttl will have a full-strength squad to choose from with no injuries reported.
The defending champions start their campaign against the newly promoted Leeds side at Anfield. Leeds have returned to the Premier League after 16 years and what a fixture to start their season with! Although, Liverpool are expected to win the game, Leeds are not to be discounted so easily. All eyes will be on their new signing Rodrigo Moreno who’s arrived from Valencia. He will face a mammoth task against Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and their stubborn defense.
This game should be an interesting watch as to how will Leeds approach the game. Their intense pressing approach might not be an ideal one against giants like Liverpool but who knows what Bielsa has got up his sleeves. It’ll be as good a test as they’ll face in the Premier League this season.
The Hammers host Newcastle United at London Stadium amidst unease among supporters as well as some players due to the unpopular decision of selling Grady Diangana to West Brom. West Ham are yet to add anyone new to the squad from last season which barely avoided relegation.
Their Betway Cup game against Bournemouth which ended 5-3 in favor of the Cherries showed their vulnerabilities at the back and how badly they need some reinforcements. David Moyes has plenty to think about including his CB partnership as well his striker options. Newcastle on the other hand have seen some quality players like Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser arriving but who will start behind the lone striker is still a bit uncertain with Fraser lacking match fitness.
Sunday 13 September
The Foxes visit the newly promoted Baggies at the Hawthorns on opening weekend. Leicester will be looking to put behind what was a rather disappointing end to last season. The Baggies finished last season in the Championship strongly by securing second place. Slaven Bilici’s experience in the Premier League will be of huge importance for them as they return after a two-year absence.
Leicester have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far with Ben Chillwell leaving for Chelsea and Timothy Castagne arriving from Atlanta to replace him. Leicester will have the Europa League added to their fixture schedule as well so a good start will be pivotal.
The Foxes are favorites to win this encounter and their talisman Jamie Vardy who won the Golden Boot last year only seems to be getting better with age.
Tottenham vs Everton
Spurs finished sixth last season which was their worst finish since the 2014-15 season. They made a good deal by signing Matt Doherty from Wolves as he looks set to play a crucial role at the LWB position. The arrival of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will give them that extra option in midfield.
Everton on the other hand, will rely massively on the likes of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson for attacking contributions. Also, the arrival of James Rodriguez can prove instrumental for Ancelotti’s side as well. Everton have been looking to strengthen their midfield by signing Brazilian Allan Marques from Napoli and Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucouré.
This match has the potential to go either way and is the pick of the bunch for me this weekend.
Monday 14 September
Sheffield Utd were commendable last season with the Blades ending up ninth on the table. They had the fourth-best defense in the league conceding 39 goals. Sheffield are an extremely physical team and this is going to be a really difficult test for Nuno’s side.
Wolves have finished seventh for two consecutive seasons but they did better defensively as well as offensively than the previous season. Both of these teams were in the top six for a major part of last season until they both had their share of mixed results. This is a fixture which can so easily end 0-0 but it’ll be interesting to watch two teams with fairly different playing styles go head to head for three points.
Brighton vs Chelsea
The extremely expensive and new-looking Chelsea squad will visit the Amex Stadium on Monday to face Brighton. The Blues have been strengthening their squad in all areas this transfer window. Chelsea scored 69 goals last season which was only bettered by Man City and Liverpool. With so many new signings, they will surely be in an attacking mode from the very beginning. It should be a comfortable outing for Lampard’s men with so many players available at his disposal.
Brighton have never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League but Graham Potter’s side drew the highest number of matches last season (14) and looked fairly hard to beat. Brighton will depend heavily on Neal Maupay to deliver the goal scoring goods for them as he scored 10 goals last season in his debut campaign.
Which matches do you think look viable for FPL investment? Do you have an uber differential up your sleeves for the opening week? Which player do you think is currently being underestimated by a lot of managers out there? Join us in the comments below!