Premier League Week 1 Predictions: Full Forecast of Saturday's Opening Fixtures
The Premier League finally returns after a summer of never-ending transfer sagas.
Can David Moyes lead Manchester United to another title, or will their "noisy neighbours" march in to reclaim the trophy? With all the comings and goings involving both players and managers it looks set to be a thrilling season.
Here are our predictions of Saturday's opening fixtures followed by a breakdown of the key clashes.
|12.45 p.m. BST/ 7.45 a.m. ET||Liverpool vs. Stoke||2-0|
|3.00 p.m. BST/ 10.00 a.m. ET||Arsenal vs. Aston Villa||1-1|
|3.00 p.m. BST/ 10.00 a.m. ET||Norwich vs. Everton||3-1|
|3.00 p.m. BST/ 10.00 a.m. ET||Sunderland vs. Fulham||1-2|
|3.00 p.m. BST/ 10.00 a.m. ET||West Brom vs. Southampton||2-2|
|3.00 p.m. BST/ 10.00 a.m. ET||West Ham vs. Cardiff||3-0|
|5.30 p.m. BST/ 12.30 p.m. ET||Swansea vs. Man United||2-1|
Liverpool vs. Stoke
Poor old Liverpool. The Reds have endured a rollercoaster of a summer and all because of one man—Luis Suarez. First he wants to leave, then—per Uruguayan newspaper El Observador (via Sky Sports)—apparently declares his love for the fans and says he’s staying put, before going on to deny those comments, as reported by ESPN.
Not that it’ll affect the Uruguayan’s teammates. They’ve dealt with the saga for months and, even though Suarez won't feature due to his nibble on Branislav Ivanovic, they still have more than enough quality to see off Stoke with Philippe Coutinho in particular capable of offering the required creativity.
Brendan Rodgers says he expects #LFC to have Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel fit for Saturday's clash with Stoke City.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 15, 2013
Brendan Rodgers has started to reverse Liverpool’s indifferent home form—two seasons ago it seemed every minor side could expect a point at Anfield—and, despite the Suarez situation, the signs from preseason are largely encouraging after some solid, if unspectacular wins.
How the Potters fare under Mark Hughes will be interesting to follow, but Liverpool look solid defensively, with the acquisition of Kolo Toure a real coup, and shouldn’t be tested.
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
The Premier League’s top two clubs, albeit only on alphabetical order, meet at the Emirates in the pick of the 3 p.m. kick-offs.
As it stands, Arsenal still haven’t addressed their striker shortage, and, with over 20 players departing the Emirates this summer, albeit those on the fringe of the squad, they look a touch light ahead of the new season.
Aston Villa will inevitably sit back and look to counter, and it could be a frustrating afternoon for the Gunners, who struggled to break down this same opposition at home last season. The Villans looked set for a summer of turmoil after Christian Benteke handed in a transfer request, but his subsequent turnaround has led to unexpected optimism as the Belgian and Andreas Weimann form a cracking partnership.
Arsenal opened their account last season with a bore draw at home to Sunderland, and it may be a similar tale against a rejuvenated Villa side.
Norwich vs. Everton
Norwich looked destined for relegation after an appalling 2013 left them staring at the drop before they belatedly found form, winning three of their last five matches.
FT: England 3-2 Scotland. Martin and Whittaker get 90 for Scotland, and Snodgrass 66 - all appear to be fine ahead of Saturday! #ncfc— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 14, 2013
New signing Leroy Fer will go head to head with Maroune Fellaini for midfield domination. If Everton adopt a 3-4-3, as they have at times under Robert Martinez in preseason, they will be left open to the talents of England U-21 international Nathan Redmond on the wing, should the summer signing be selected, while Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel will cause problems in a stretched Toffees defence.
Everton’s unlikely Champions League dreams ended at Carrow Road last season, and there is much to suggest a similar result will occur this time around.
Swansea vs. Manchester United
Swansea thrive on playing the Premier League big guns at the Liberty Stadium. Last season, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all left with draws, and in their debut campaign they beat City, Arsenal and Liverpool in Wales.
The Swans have smashed their way through preseason without losing a game, finding double figures against little-known Haaglandia, and conceding just one goal.
While reading into preseason is always risky, United have looked shaky in their tour of Asia and Australia. It took just 40 seconds for them to concede against Yokohama F. Marinos in their 3-2 defeat, and at times in their 1-1 draw with AIK the game was so open both teams were practically taking it in turns to attack.
With Michu and new boy Wilfried Bony threatening to form an irresistible partnership after combining well in the 4-0 demolition of Malmo, it could well be another disappointing opening day for United, following on from their 1-0 loss at Goodison Park last August.
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