David John brings you his best bets as he previews the opening weekend in the new Premier League season.
Recommended bets: Sunday Premier League
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Newcastle v Tottenham (1330 BST, Sky Sports Premier League)
Spurs manager Mauricio Pocchettino has some late problems at wing-back ahead of their opening foray of the season on Tyneside.
The club’s only recognised senior right-back Kieran Trippier is set to miss out with an ankle injury while Danny Rose on the other flank has a bad case of foot-in-mouth.
The club’s wage policy got an untimely public airing this week from the Englishman that adds up to a whole lot of unwanted questions for his manager to bat away when he should be concentrating on a fast start to what could at last be a title-winning campaign.
It has not been the easiest of summers up to now for Pochettino anyway with no new faces through the door to bolster arguably the best starting XI in the top flight but expectations remain sky high for the north Londoners, who are odds-on to collect three points.
Pochettino has hinted at three or four fresh faces arriving before the transfer window shuts but will those currently at the club have to re-focus following Rose’s outburst?
Who knows? Whether any or none of them are considering their weekly pay packet rather than matters on the pitch, a good percentage of this Spurs team were humiliated 5-1 the last time they were here and having some sort of score to settle should be a pretty big motivational tool.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since May 2016 – not least Newcastle spending a season back in the Sky Bet Championship.
To their eternal credit, they emerged as champions at the first time of asking and it is now up to the outstanding Rafa Benitez to get them re-established back in the top flight.
While Spurs fans scratch their heads over the lack of summer transfer activity, it has been a similar story for Sunday's hosts.
One or two players have arrived but only to replace the departures – Jacob Murphy looks a very interesting recruit from Norwich – as Benitez has not exactly been handed a copious warchest for a recruitment drive so it seems in the current climate he will have to rely on the squad that won promotion and his own wily skills.
Two victories over Wolfsburg and Hellas Verona to complete pre-season were encouraging and the attacking flair on display suggests in the short term at least the Toon faithful are going to be entertained if they maintain that momentum.
Just once in their last five encounters have Spurs and Newcastle failed to both get on the scoresheet so an investment at a shade of odds-on for each side to register is the rather obvious option for what should be a lively encounter.
Verdict: Newcastle 2-2 Tottenham - Sky Bet's scoreline odds: 14/1!
Manchester United v West Ham (1600, Sky Sports Premier League)
The World Athletics means West Ham begin the new season with three away fixtures on the bounce while the tidy-up takes place at Stratford’s London Stadium.
If that were not enough pressure on Slaven Bilic ahead of the tour’s opening stop at Old Trafford, cheeky scamp and opposite number Jose Mourinho has cranked up the situation a little further by suggesting West Ham’s new summer arrivals now makes them genuine title rivals!
That might be stretching things a little but the Hammers have the belief that a return to European football is within their grasp after Bilic went out over the summer to build up his squad sufficiently in a bid to avoid last season’s rollercoaster ride.
They finished in 11th place but there were more than enough scares along the way towards the wrong end of the table to leave the Croat shifting uncomfortably in his seat before a satisfactory final six weeks ensured safety.
Marko Arnautovic (club record), Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Sead Haksabanovic and Javier Hernandez all look good on paper since coming on board but at least five other first-team regulars will be missing on Sunday so Bilic is not really making much progress until he can start providing serious competition for places in his starting line-up.
Hernandez is the obvious news angle on his return to Manchester United and the potential for a fairytale goal (which may or may not be celebrated) has been compromised somewhat by a dual boost at the back for the home side.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones missed the midweek Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid through suspension but are both available and necessary for Mourinho judged on how the Spaniards frequently sliced through the United backline in Skopje.
The serious business starts at the other end of the pitch too for £75m Romelu Lukaku, who found the net against Real Madrid but his development continues judged on an earlier wasteful thrash over the bar and an amateurish offside in that game.
Let’s be honest, he won’t have much of a honeymoon period with his new team before the goals need to start flowing on a regular basis although a clash with West Ham could not be a better starting point considering a frankly bonkers record against them from his Everton days.
It will be interesting to see how this new-look West Ham are coming together but the games does not make massive appeal at the moment from a betting perspective.
I could be half-tempted by Marouane Fellaini to put himself about in the penalty box and cause a nuisance but the likelihood of him starting on the bench detracts from any appeal in the goalscorer markets.
Verdict: Manchester United 2-1 West Ham - Sky Bet's scoreline odds: 17/2!
Recommended bets: Saturday Premier League
1pt Steve Mounie to score anytime in Crystal Palace v Huddersfield at 7/2 - arrived from Ligue 1 and fancied to open his competitive account for Huddersfield
1pt Joselu to score anytime in Everton v Stoke at 4/1 - has been a real bright spot for Stoke in pre-season and can keep up the good work
1pt Bournemouth to beat West Brom at 23/10 - nice additions to the squad and can make a fast start at The Hawthorns
Watford v Liverpool (1230BST, Sky Sports Premier League)
Saturday’s first offering encapsulates punting on Premier League football at this time of season.
The hosts have forked out the best part of £30m this week for Andre Gray and ‘Brazilian starlet’ Richarlison while Liverpool try and fend off the latest overtures from Barcelona for prize asset Philippe Coutinho.
It all paints a confusing picture then over the next few weeks as teams scramble to complete their transfer business and Watford will be the first of a myriad of sides blooding new talent in need of appraisal.
We are all also waiting to see how new manager Marco Silva fares and the early optimism after his arrival at Vicarage Road at the start of the summer seems to have fizzled out a little after an alleged bust-up with the excellent Etienne Capoue.
Silva still has plenty to prove too having been at the helm for much of Hull’s relegation campaign so I detect more than a little tension in the air as an ambitious owner aims for the top half of the table.
The one punt guaranteed to land at long odds-on in this game will be Jurgen Klopp’s tetchy reply to any questions about Coutinho.
They are all big boys now at Anfield who hold title aspirations so using this unwanted distraction as a bit of an excuse for a moderate start to proceedings is not going to wash anymore.
The match certainly has the potential to be a similar banana skin to the early one trodden on at Burnley last season but it would be sloppy if Klopp and company suffer a similar outcome at odds-on against an extremely unproven Watford outfit.
The pre-season form of a fit-again Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah has been encouraging while victory in the Asia Cup and success over Bayern Munich suggest the visitors should be well up to speed with Coutinho possibly not even in the equation due to a back issue.
Emre Can’s wonder volley separated the pair back in May but it would be a turn up if Liverpool don’t prevail by more in the way of a comfortable margin.
Verdict: Watford 0-3 Liverpool
Chelsea v Burnley (1500)
I don’t think everything is quite right currently at Chelsea as they begin the defence of their title following a rather uneven summer.
Antonio Conte might have been allowed to spend a king’s ransom on four players but you very much get the feeling his squad still lacks ideal depth at the moment with Europe back on the agenda while a public spat with the talismanic Diego Costa has left are rather nasty taste in the mouth for all concerned.
How much value can be placed on the form of the Community Shield is open to debate but the way they failed to put Arsenal away having gone into the lead must be a concern and the game for them descended into a bit of a shambles in the penalty shootout.
Not an ideal prep so perhaps getting back to the serious business will elicit a response at long odds-on at home against a team among the front-runners to be heading for the Sky Bet Championship.
The visitors have not done much to change people’s opinion on that front having cashed in on Michael Keane and now off-loaded Andre Gray to Watford.
It is going to be tin hats on again for Sean Dyche as they try to prove the critics wrong but it would be some achievement if they were able to reproduce the excellent home form which was the basis for a 16th place finish, six points above the drop zone.
Chelsea could be vulnerable here to some extent unless Conte gets them fully focused and although they should claim all three points, it might be tougher than expected.
Verdict: Chelsea 2-1 Burnley
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield (1500)
More relatively unknown quantities to assess here as Frank de Boer has his first competitive game in charge of the Eagles and follows in the footsteps of Sam Allardyce’s survival campaign.
The former Ajax boss wants change with the summer spent working on three at the back and is keen to build his side around the talent of Wilfrid Zaha – the latter is not a bad strategy as he is reaching the peak of his powers and finished last season in rare form.
De Boer made history in the Eredivisie by being the first man to guide a team to four straight titles and clearly has a fine pedigree but a period of adjustment will be required despite Palace moving quickly at the start of the summer to get him in place.
That makes them a little shaky as odds-on favourites against the newly promoted Terriers, who will be full of enthusiasm and optimism after making it to the top flight.
Manager David Wagner has wheeled and dealed early and often this summer with moves for Tom Ince, Aaron Mooy and Benin striker Steve Mounie among others all concluded swiftly.
Wagner has been impressed by the way his squad has come together as a unit in pre-season and any shortfalls in quality at this level will be made up for to some extent by team spirit with Ince exuding a quiet confidence in their ability to exceed expectations.
I can see them getting a positive opening result at Selhurst Park with Mounie very interesting in terms of opening his account for his new club.
Quick, brave and a serious aerial threat in the box, the former Montpellier man is well worth a second glance at 7/2 in the anytime scorer market.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 2-2 Huddersfield
Everton v Stoke (1500)
The Toffees already have the benefit already of two meaningful matches as they narrowly overcame a workmanlike Ruzomberok to reach the next phase of qualification for the Europa League.
Battling on a second front means the Merseysiders gleefully re-invested their booty from the sale of Romelu Lukaku to bring in Michael Keane, Davy Klaasen and Sandro Ramirez while prodigal son Wayne Rooney is also back at a club which is expected to make a serious push in an upward direction.
The additional quality in the ranks compared to the Slovakians was ultimately the difference but they hardly set the world alight in terms of domination and seemingly need some more time to sharpen up.
That might not be great news for odds-on punters as they tackle a Stoke outfit who are an early candidate for one of the top-flight teams to take on with some relatively low-key arrivals in the transfer market over the summer.
The feisty Marko Arnautovic has also moved to West Ham in a club-record deal but Mark Hughes will press on and hope Xherdan Shaqiri really steps up as the main creative force for an outfit that will rely on the tried and tested policy of being difficult to beat.
One bright spot has been the return of Joselu after a loan spell at Deportivo and some lively pre-season efforts suggest he could still kick-start his career at the Britannia Stadium.
Newcastle have been sniffing around as well in a bid to thrash out a potential deal to take him to Tyneside but either way, keeping up his good form from the summer would be beneficial and a small investment on him to find the target at Goodison Park is tempting.
Verdict: Everton 1-1 Stoke
Southampton v Swansea (1500)
Two middle-ranking teams meet on the south coast and will probably be glad to get back to competitive activity on the pitch having spent the last three months discussing whether a key member of the playing staff will be going or remaining.
Virgil van Dijk’s future has been a big distraction for new Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino as he assesses what he has at his disposal while a recent 2-0 friendly victory over Sevilla was a timely boost last weekend after losing 4-0 to Augsburg.
Pellegrino admitted after the latter fixture that there was much work to be done and it would be a brave man who smashes into what looks a very short price to get off to a victorious start against the Swans.
The latter have left their best player Gylfi Sigurdsson out of the travelling party as a tug-of-war over the summer with Everton for the Icelander perhaps heads closer to a conclusion, depending on who you believe.
The gifted Paul Clement oversaw a successful survival bid thanks to a strong end to the season with four wins and a draw and a clear run over the summer with no distractions would have been handy as they certainly remain in the argument for relegation.
A loan deal for the confident Tammy Abraham is interesting and the youngster feels he can carry on where he left off for Bristol City despite taking a hefty rise in class as he attempts to establish himself at this level.
I would not be entirely surprised if the visitors actually pinched this one at a decent price if Southampton remain in the doldrums but the attacking verve of home stars Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini will be tough to shackle for a full 90 minutes.
Verdict: Southampton 1-1 Swansea
West Brom v Bournemouth (1500)
The Cherries flirted with danger once more last season but just two defeats from their final 11 games saw them zoom up the standings to finish in the top half.
Eddie Howe did not rest on his laurels in the slightest and a nice influx of players over the summer including Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic and Jermain Defoe have given the squad a classy boost and expectations will be of holding a loftier perch for longer in the top flight once proceedings get under way.
This is a reasonable place to start as well with the Baggies teetering on the cusp a little bit as fans perhaps begin to run out of patience when it comes to the product being delivered by Tony Pulis.
The latter is a master of keeping teams afloat at the expense of any style or panache and the way his side dropped off a cliff over the final 10 weeks of last season was pretty dramatic having been on the brink of a potential record Premier League points haul.
Striker Jay Rodriguez has a chance to resurrect his career at The Hawthorns but is a bit of a gamble considering his misfortune with injury over the years and the squad overall has the look of one that could seriously start to take a step or two backwards.
I quite fancy the visitors to get in amongst West Brom and could provide the one away winner on the coupon from the earlier kick-offs.
Verdict: West Brom 1-2 Bournemouth
Brighton v Manchester City (1730, BT Sport1)
There are a host of short-priced favourites on Saturday and no surprise to see Manchester City among the shortest to get off to a winning start on the south coast.
Pep Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad Stadium was pretty underwhelming on the whole but we will be kind, hand him a pass while he got sorted out in England and anything other than a serious title challenge this time will be considered a failure.
He will be hoping to see a vast improvement at the back for a start with a new goalkeeper and expensive additional defensive cover drafted in and if a successful foundation in that department can be created, then the sky really is the limit with the absolute class on display in the final third.
Guardiola is renowned for his attention to detail in a bid to avoid any unwanted surprises from a rival but a recent flurry of transfer activity from the Seagulls will make for some additional late homework.
The hosts have signed Davy Propper and Jose Izquierdo for consecutive club-record fees and both could be in the squad to face City in what is expected to be a very harsh welcome to the top flight.
Manager Chris Hughton has not been done any favours either as he aims for a good start with Beram Kayal a long-term injury issue and livewire Anthony Knockaert working his way back from an ankle problem and probably only good for limited action this weekend.
The old cliché of there being more important games down the line for Brighton against lesser opposition probably rings true but it will be important for morale they don’t suffer a thrashing if City turn up at the rampant best.
I don’t doubt for one moment Brighton’s enthusiasm for the fight on Saturday evening but it should be pretty routine for Pep and his superstars.
Verdict: Brighton 0-2 Manchester City
Posted at 0720 BST on 11/08/17.