After a 3-month hiatus, the English Premier League is back with a bang this weekend. Liverpool will open the season by hosting newly promoted Norwich, while all eyes will be on Old Trafford on Monday morning as Manchester United host Chelsea. Manchester City will get their campaign underway on Saturday evening in West Ham, while top-6 challengers Wolves and Leicester do battle late on Sunday. The early season tends to produce some unexpected results, especially with a late flurry of transfer activity still to occur. Without further ado, we’ve identified the best value to be found on each of the ten top-flight games in round 1.
Liverpool vs Norwich City
Liverpool: After an excellent 2018-19 season, Liverpool will be looking to go one better this year and claim their first Premier League title. They’ve had a relatively poor pre-season by their lofty standards, losing 5 of their last six games. That said, many of their best players were away on international duty and had only just returned. After curiously not signing anyone in the summer window, they’ll again be reliant on good health for their top players. The scheduling Gods have been rather kind to them first up, giving them a relatively easy home clash with Norwich.
Norwich: To the surprise of most pundits, Norwich were the most consistent side in the Championship last season, taking out the title. They scored for fun all season, comfortably leading the division with 93 goals. Teemu Pukki looms as their danger man up front, with Josip Drmic and Mario Vrancic also likely to be key figures. A lack of transfer activity could hurt Norwich this season, with survival indeed being the only objective. Despite some solid pre-season form, I can’t see anything other than a comfortable loss here.
Betting Analysis: Liverpool were fantastic at home last season, a trend that I can only see continuing here. The Norwich defence was leaky even by Championship standards previous season, and I expect them to struggle against Liverpool’s dominant front three. Similarly, the Liverpool defence was one of the best in Europe last season, which will require a rapid adjustment from the Norwich attack. The early season can bring about some curious results, but I think the talent gap is just too large between these two squads. A Liverpool win to nil appears the most likely outcome, with 3-0 a very logical projected scoreline.
West Ham vs Manchester City
West Ham: The Hammers had a stellar campaign in 2018-19, securing a top-10 finish in Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in charge. They’ve only strengthened in the Summer, adding Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals for a combined 68 million. They still haven’t had the greatest of pre-seasons, losing against all of their top-flight opponents. Throw in players like Chicharito, Felipe Anderson, and Michail Antonio, and this is a dangerous side that can score against anybody.
Man City: The Citizens return after another historic season, narrowly edging Liverpool to the title with an outstanding 98 points. Almost all of their star players are returning this season, with a fully-fit Kevin De Bruyne looking to make up for the lost time. They had a mixed pre-season, beating this West Ham side in China before emerging victorious in the Community Shield against Liverpool. It’ll be tough to replicate their efforts from last season, but motivation is rarely an issue with a Guardiola side. With Aguero and Jesus only recently back in England after the Copa America, the main question surrounds who will start up front in this one.
Betting Analysis: While going to West Ham away will be a tough affair this season, City has dropped just 32 points over their past two seasons. I don’t think they’ll be at their best in this one, but they’ve still got the firepower needed to get the win here. That said, I think it’ll be a tight affair and that West Ham has the necessary quality to get on the score sheet. I’m predicting a 2-1 win to City here with one significant chance late to the Hammers. With this in mind, West Ham +2 and Both Teams to Score look like great value markets in this one.
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United
Bournemouth: The Cherries enter their fifth straight season in the Premier League, having never really been in relegation trouble during Eddie Howe’s reign. They’ve had a solid pre-season, managing wins over Brentford and Lyon in 2 of their last three matches. Despite finishing in 14th last season, I think they’ve got the talent and manager required for a better finish in 2019-20. Talisman Callum Wilson and partner Josh King will likely lead the line-up front this season, while former Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake will anchor the defence.
Sheffield United: Despite being in League 1 just three seasons ago, the Blades now find themselves enjoying the riches of Premier League football. Chris Wilder has done an excellent job at Bramall Lane, managing two promotions with a mostly similar squad of players. They had a solid campaign in the Championship last season, finishing 6 points clear of Leeds United in 3rd. Striker Billie Sharp has banged in goals for fun in the lower leagues, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs in the top flight. Phil Jagielka and former Man United Keeper Dean Henderson will help handle the defence.
Betting Analysis: A lot of people are already writing off Sheffield United, but I can see them hanging around all season. They’ll be full of confidence after an outstanding Championship season and bring an intensity that can nullify Bournemouth’s creative style. This has all the makings of a gritty 1-1 draw that sends all supporters home relatively content. I think $3.60 represents excellent value for the draw, and Both Teams to Score is strong as both a hedge and complimentary bet. Combine that with the Sheffield United +1 handicap, and there is a trio of solid bets for this early morning Sunday tilt.
Burnley vs Southampton
Burnley: After an excellent 2017-18 campaign, the Clarets had a relatively weak last season, finishing in just 15th place. They struggled mightily to start the season with their Europa League commitments, ultimately surging late to remain safe by 5 points. They haven’t made too many additions in the transfer market, although the return of Jay Rodriguez should provide a different dimension up front. For what it’s worth they did have a solid pre-season, losing just once in 7 hit-outs. Sean Dyche teams are notoriously tough to beat at home, and I expect a very competitive Burnley side again this season.
Southampton: After battling relegation for much of the season, Southampton narrowly edged to safety in 16th position. A lot of this is attributed to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who got better results and showcased more attractive football than Mark Hughes. Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo were their main additions this Summer, with Danny Ings now permanently making a move from Liverpool. This trio, along with Nathan Redmond and James Ward Prowse, will provide most of the creativity for the Saints this season.
Betting Analysis: This game has all the makings of your typical Sean Dyche 1-0 home masterclass. Burnley have been a consistently reliable home side since rejoining the Premier League, and I think they’re great value at $2.50 here. Even with Southampton’s attacking additions, Burnley’s low block and combative playstyle should result in a low-scoring affair here. A very high proportion of Burnley’s wins tend to be by a single goal, making me like the look of the handicap draw (essentially Burnley by 1) at $4.20. Under 2.5 goals and No on BTTS round out our bets in a game that does look high in value.
Crystal Palace vs Everton
Crystal Palace: Palace enjoyed a relatively stellar and comfortable season in 2018-19, finishing in 12th place and 15 points clear of relegation. Roy Hodgson has done an excellent job since taking over and will likely keep Palace around mid-table throughout his reign. They haven’t had the best of pre-season preparations, getting tonked by Barnet and Hertha Berlin, while also losing to Nottingham Forest. Winger Wilfried Zaha is unsurprisingly the key man, although transfer speculation means he may miss this clash. They appear to have weakened slightly over the transfer window, selling Aaron Wan-Bissaka and bringing in Jordan Ayew.
Everton: Marco Silva enjoyed a strong first campaign as the Everton manager, managing 54 points, a +8 goal difference, and 8th position. With all the teams above them playing in Europe this season, I believe they have an outside shot at the top 6. Their transfer business has been excellent, adding four substantial contributors in Fabian Delph, Andre Gomes, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and former Juventus starlet Moise Kean. They join an already talented squad featuring the likes of Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson, and Walcott.
Betting Analysis: While I think Everton is the better of these two sides, Selhurst Park is never an easy place to play for the opposition. Their new additions will take some time to bed in, while Palace are returning a very similar cast of players. They work together effectively as a unit and have a lot of talent up front in the form of Zaha, Benteke, and Townsend. I see a relatively tight affair, with 1-1 looming as the most likely result. $3.20 for the draw looks like the best value bet on the board, while Crystal Palace +1 and Both Teams to Score also look tasty at their current odds.
Watford vs Brighton
Watford: Watford are also embarking on their fifth straight season in the top flight, buoyed by a decent 11th placed finish last season. They’ve rarely faced relegation despite numerous managerial changes, although Javi Gracia looks like a man who could take them forward. Their pre-season finished nicely, managing a trio of consecutive wins over Bayer Leverkusen, QPR, and Real Sociedad. They didn’t invest too heavily in the transfer market, with Craig Dawson and Joao Pedro their only purchases. That said, players like Gray, Deulofeu, Deeney, and Success should provide great attack this season.
Brighton: The Seagulls narrowly escaped relegation last season, sitting in 17th place and edging Cardiff by just 2 points. Manager Chris Hughton was replaced after a mostly successful spell, with Swansea manager Graham Potter taking the top job. They had a bit of a mixed pre-season, but a 4-0 thumping of Birmingham and win over Valencia showed promising signs. They’ve made three significant additions in the transfer window, adding in Defender Adam Webster, alongside attackers Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay. Glenn Murray and Pascal Gross will provide most of the quality up front, while Aussie Keeper Mat Ryan and CB Lewis Dunk will handle the defence.
Betting Analysis: Brighton looks like one of the weaker Premier League squads on paper and will likely be around the relegation zone all season. Vicarage Road has emerged as a very tough place for visiting sides in recent seasons and I see Watford starting this one with a win. The main difference here is their immense attacking quality, who I expect to control this one throughout. 2-0 is my projected scoreline for this one, making Watford at $1.91 look like excellent value. For a bit of extra value, Watford -1 at $3.60 and No in the BTTS market make for a good fill-up.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa
Tottenham: Spurs are coming off yet another solid campaign, where they made both the top 4 and the Champions League Final. While they haven’t made a ton of signings over the Summer, getting Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon was a considerable coup. He fills a significant weakness for Tottenham and adds to a squad that looks very likely to achieve at least a top 3 finish. Manager Mauricio Pochettino also returns with four more years on his contract, while the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium offers a much stronger home-field advantage than Wembley.
Aston Villa: After three seasons in the Championship, Villa finally managed promotion through the playoff final. They were rather average for vast stretches last season, but some excellent form in the run-in proved enough for promotion. They’ve gone huge in the transfer market, adding 13 players and spending nearly €148 million in the process. Manager Dean Smith has impressed in the Championship with both Brentford and Villa and it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs in the top flight. Midfielders Jack Grealish and John McGinn anchor this side, while new signing Wesley will be tasked with scoring the goals up front.
Betting Analysis: Villa have spent a lot of money over the transfer window, but they could very quickly turn into the Fulham of last season. It’ll take a while for their new additions to settle in and they’ve been given a very tough fixture first up. They don’t match up particularly well with the Spurs midfield, and Harry Kane should have a field day up front. I like Tottenham to win pretty comfortably here and think there is value on the ‘Win to Nil’ market. 3-0 is my projected scoreline here, making Tottenham -2 and ‘No’ in the BTTS market also decent options.
Newcastle vs Arsenal
Newcastle: Newcastle had another solid but unspectacular season under Rafa Benitez, ultimately securing 13th place with 45 points. Rafa ended his feud with owner Mike Ashley in the Summer, with the club choosing Steve Bruce as his replacement. They’ve gambled in the transfer market, with the signings of Joelinton, Aaron Saint-Maxim, and Max Willems bolstering the squad. Their disrupted pre-season hasn’t been the best, with a win against St Étienne on Sunday one of only a few highlights. Miguel Almiron looks like their main creative threat, while Fabian Schar and Keeper Martin Dubravka form a solid defensive backbone.
Arsenal: After a disappointing end to last season, Arsenal fans are confident they can improve on their fifth-place finish in 2019-20. They made a huge splash in the transfer market signing Lille Winger Nicolas Pepe for €80 million. He looks to add another dimension to a potent strike force that already features Aubameyang and Lacazette. The defence does appear to be somewhat of a concern, with a lack of reliable options at both Left Back and Centre Back. With both United and Chelsea in a transition phase, starting this season with a win would be huge for Arsenal’s top 4 hopes.
Betting Analysis: Newcastle have had a rather tumultuous off-season, and with fan protests planned for this one, you have to wonder if there’s much of a home-field advantage here. Despite their well-documented struggles on the road, I think $1.72 represents decent value for Arsenal to start their campaign positively. Their attacking options are some of the best in the division and I expect them to bag at least two goals here. With a leaky and makeshift defence, I can also see Newcastle pegging one back. 2-1 to Arsenal is ultimately my projected scoreline, meaning the handicap draw (Arsenal -1) at $3.60 and BTTS are both also solid bets.
Leicester City vs Wolves
Leicester: While not quite as good as their title-winning season, the Foxes secured a solid 9th place finish last season. Brendan Rodgers is an accomplished manager at this level, who will look to have his squad push for a top 6 finish here. Youri Tiemelmans and Ayoze Perez look like two astute signings that will support Vardy and Maddison up front. There may be some questions at the back after the Harry Maguire departure, although this is still a solid side without any real weaknesses. They had a solid pre-season, going undefeated through 6 matches and capping it off with a win over Atalanta.
Wolves: Buoyed by an aggressive ownership group, an outstanding season from Wolves saw them achieve 7th place and Europa League football. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has been hugely impressive so far and looks like the man to take Wolves even further forward. They’ve made several smart signings in the transfer market, with Jimenez, Neto, Cutrone, and Dendoncker all looking like potential contributors. They join an already very talented squad, headlined by the likes of Jota, Neves, Moutinho, and Rui Patricio.
Betting Analysis: Burnley struggled mightily early on after their Europa League campaign and you have to wonder whether the same fate will await Wolves. While this is a tough fixture, I think their deeper and more talented squad allows them to compete from the get-go. This matchup looks like one of the most exciting on paper for this week, with two teams that should push the traditional top 6 all season. I see 1-1 as the most likely outcome in this one, making a draw at $3.20 look like particularly good value. Both Teams to Score is a solid supplementary bet, as is Wolves +1 at $1.57.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Manchester United: After a solid start to his United managerial career, the Ole wheel fell off a cliff late last season. United finished in 6th position on just 66 points and appeared to mail it in down the stretch. They’ve made a few splashes in the transfer market, with Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, and James all expected to be key contributors this season. They likely still have some more business to do, although I doubt any new additions will start in this clash. Big things will be expected from Martial and Rashford this season, while the mercurial Paul Pogba anchors their midfield.
Chelsea: While he was criticized a lot by the media last season, I’m not sure Sarri did that bad a job with the talent at his disposal. 3rd place in the league and the Europa League title was about as good as could be expected from this bunch, who look in danger of missing the top 4 this season. Frank Lampard was a risky appointment after one decent season with Derby and is likely out of his depth at top 6 level. The loss of Eden Hazard takes away their main creative outlet, although the addition of Christian Pulisic and return of youngsters Mount and Abraham should add some firepower up front.
Betting Analysis: This match looks eerily similar to the 1-1 draw these two sides played out at Old Trafford in April. I expect a relatively defensive affair here, with neither manager looking to make a tactical mistake. Both teams still have some influential attacking players, and I expect them to convert one chance each. As such, I’m going for that same 1-1 scoreline, which can currently be had at tasty $6.50 odds. The draw at $3.20 looks like a good insurance bet, while Chelsea +1 and Both Teams to Score provide additional value.