The Premier League action begins on Friday night this week and we’ve got a very tempting £10,000 1X2 – Pick 8 pool kicking off with the opening match, Aston Villa vs. Everton. Ed Acteson has cast his eye over five of the Premier League matches contained in the pool to try and find a way through. If you agree with his Premier League preview, you can join his Syndicate here.
Aston Villa vs. Everton
Premier League football returned to Villa Park last weekend for the first time in a couple of seasons as Villa returned from the Championship wilderness. However, their plans were undone by a Bournemouth team who showed that lavish spending is no match for a shrewdly assembled squad.
This week it’s Everton’s turn to visit, a side who have taken Kurt Zouma’s departure in their stride and are yet to concede a goal this season. The Toffees have also only scored once but that was enough to beat Watford last weekend and they’ll fancy their chances against Villa who are yet to adjust to life in the top flight again. I have to say that I fancy them as well.
Though I was initially tempted to support the draw, I think Everton’s stout defending coupled with their attackers gradually warming up they should have enough to overcome Dean Smith’s side under the Friday night lights
Watford vs. West Ham
We wrote that Watford’s dodgy form at the tail end of last season may have carried over and, following two defeats in their opening fixtures, they will be desperate to get a result against a club with similar ambitions in West Ham.
The Hammers have also suffered a similar start, claiming just a point so far, though a 5-0 spanking by the defending champions Manchester City was a dreadful way to begin their campaign.
For Watford a third consecutive defeat is unthinkable and would put Javi Gracia under unimaginable pressure despite the season remaining in its infancy. Manuel Pellegrini may not have quite the same urgency to win but, having been backed in the transfer window, West Ham’s owners will not expect to see them loitering in the lower reaches of the league for long.
I think it will be a cautious match and I’ll back the draw.
Brighton vs. Southampton
Two sides who have reversed their expected pre-season form so far. Brighton, heavily tipped for relegation are currently sitting happily between Man United and Tottenham in fifth after a very impressive start to the season.
Meanwhile Southampton, who seemed likely to join the pack of clubs competing for seventh place, are instead in 19th place with two losses to their name. A narrow defeat to Liverpool is entirely excusable but getting tonked 3-0 by Burnley on the opening day will have left a bitter taste in their mouth.
It’s one of those matches that could really go any way and you wouldn’t be surprised. I am however inclined to take a stance and support Southampton. There were definite signs of improvement last week against Liverpool, whilst Brighton’s draw at home to West Ham echoed their mediocre home form last season where they were the 16th best side in the league.
Sheff Utd vs. Leicester
As with Brighton, not many expected Sheffield United to be sitting in the top half of the table this season, even if we are only two games in. The Blades were well deserving of three points in their victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday and, should they stay up, it would be a fantastic story.
However, The Foxes will be their toughest test so far and I fear that the dream could now become a nightmare. Leicester have a modest two points after two games of the season, however with those fixtures coming against Wolves and Chelsea, you can understand why many fancy Brendan Rodgers to challenge the top six this season.
After a shaky start they took control against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon and, in the end, should have won the match. I think they will comfortably claim their first win of the season in this one.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
It’s a top of the table clash between the Premier League pacesetters, Liverpool and Arsenal. No, you haven’t read that wrong, the division’s two perennial bridesmaids are indeed the only two who have yet to drop a point but all that will have changed by the time Casualty begins on Saturday night.
In fairness both had a comfortable start, taking on several of the sides expected to finish in the bottom half. However they must step it up and, if last season is anything to go by, there will only be one winner.
Arsenal’s defensive issues are well documented and their away form last term was lamentable, only winning seven of 19 away fixtures. Meanwhile Liverpool were absolutely imperious at home and won 17, drawing two.
Liverpool have actually looked slightly defensively vulnerable so far but comparing their defensive woes to Arsenal would be like comparing a stubbed toe to a severed limb. It could be a thrilling game in which both sides get in the goals but I would expect Jurgen Klopp’s side to emerge with the points.