EPL Gameweek 1
It felt like yesterday that Leicester created history by winning the Premier League but they have since been dethroned by Chelsea and the quest for the title begins again. Time flies in football and this off-season has been no exception. Contrary to what we thought the Big 6 have kept their managers and we have seen some major signing as a result. Both Manchester sides have emptied the account to bolster their squads with Arsenal finally signing a quality front man. Rooney has returned to where it all started while the Premier League dream begins for promoted sides Brighton & Hove, Huddersfield and Newcastle.
Feature EPL Match Previews
Arsenal v Leicester – (Sat 4:45am)
Arsene Wenger survived one of the greatest campaigns by fans to have a manager sacked. Instead of ‘Wenger Out’ the Frenchman has managed to sign a new contract and lure Lacazette to the club. Furthermore he will retain the services of Alexis Sanchez for another season and risk losing him on a free transfer. What it does mean is that Arsenal are a genuine threat for the title! Chelsea will not be afforded the luxury of a full week off between games, City have to deal with several new additions to their starting XI while Man Utd are far from the attacking juggernaut they were under Ferguson. The Community Shield win over Chelsea will give them even more confidence and if they can avoid being struck by injuries The Wolf says to ‘look out’! Arsenal are undefeated in their 23 clashes with Leicester including 6 straight wins at home. If Arsenal are going to be as good as The Wolf predicts then this is the type of fixture that should pose no problems.
Best: Arsenal WIN ($1.50)
Value: HT/FT – Arsenal/Arsenal ($2.15)
Watford v Liverpool – (Sat 9:45pm)
Jurgen Klopp has been very patient in the transfer market with Mohamed Salah his only real addition. It is surprising when you consider their defensive frailties – especially on the road. They lost away to Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull and Leicester. They have never struggled collecting points against the top sides but it is when they travel to places like Vicarage Road when it all goes wrong. The Reds did win here in the tail end of last season in a game that mattered very little to Watford who had already secured top flight football. Watford had as many home wins as Man Utd last season (8) and were a genuine Unders team in the second half of the season. 10 of their last 14 failed to produce 3 or more goals and The Wolf can see Liverpool having troubled on then road to start the season.
Best: Under 2.5 goals ($2.00)
Value: Draw ($4.00)
Chelsea v Burnley – (Sun 12:00am)
It has been a preseason to forget for the Blues. Things looked promising when they opened with a 3-0 win over Chelsea but they since lost to Bayern and Inter before going down in the Community Shield. What has The Wolf even more concerned is the fact that Conte played close to full strength sides in all of those clashes. Kante played all but 20 minutes of those matches which highlights how important he is to the structure of the team. Conte would know – after all he virtually played an identical role as a player at Juventus for well over a decade. The warning signs are there for the defending champions and they have a horror run to start the season. They play Spurs, Everton, Arsenal and Man City in the first 7 weeks which makes the result against Burnley all the more important. Burnley have drawn 2 of their last 3 against Chelsea and went undefeated in preseason friendlies. Burnely were one of the worst road teams last season earning just 7 points from 19 away games (only Hull were worse). That being said they did manage to find the back of the net in 10 of their last 12 trips so there is value around both teams to score.
Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($2.10)
Value: Match Result & Both Score – Chelsea ($3.00)
Brighton v Man City – (Sun 2:30am)
There can be no excused for Pep Guardiola and City this season but Wolfy is not convinced that they can go all the way. On paper they have the deepest suqad by a long way but we are yet to see Pep adjust his style. We saw City make calamitous errors at the back last season prompting the signings of Walker and Mendy but how they fit in is another story. Stones struggled last season and with a rotation that includes Kompany, Mangala and Otamendi shared time on the field could see a lack of continuity. Birghton have retained Murray and Knockaer – the two players that led them to promotion and have added Dutchman Davy Propper to bolster their midfield. There will also be some Aussie interest with Matt Ryan making the move from Valencia. The real test for Brighton lies in the defence. It is a real step up to the EPL and they will have no time to adjust! They have averaged almost 85 goals a season over the last 4 years and The Wolf rates them a chance to break Chelsea’s season record of 103 goals. City put 4 goals past Real Madrid at the ICC before netting 3 against both Spurs and West Ham. Pep’s men scored 15 goals in their last 4 EPL games to close out last season so look for them to fire from the get go.
Best: Man City Over 2.5 goals ($2.25)
Value: Man City Over 3.5 goals ($4.25)
Newcastle v Tottenham – (Sun 10:30pm)
There is no excuse for a club of Newcastle’s stature and financial strength to get relegated but it didn’t take them long to get things back on track. As expected they won The Championship last season and did so after being able to retain Rafa Benitez and the majority of the squad. There is no shortage of Premier League experience with names such as Shelvey, Colback, Ritchie, Perez and Mitrovic just to name a few. The additions of Murphy and Atsu will give them an abundance of speed on the flanks which will basically see them be a ‘poor man’s Spurs’ this season. That will be more than enough to get them mid table and with what is a very young squad they will build in the years to come. Spurs on the other hand are built and ready to challenge for that elusive Premier League title. They have the most settled squad of any team in the league and will look to get off to a fast start. They play just one top 6 side in the first 8 weeks (Chelsea) and even that is a home. They key to Tottenham’s season lies in their ability to get results at Wembley – their make shift home while their new home is built. The Wolf believes playing at Wembley will help improve their away form and is expecting them to score even more goals on the road this season. The Kane, Eriksen and Alli show will start at St James’ Park. Both teams have found the net in 8 of the last 12 meetings with at least 3 goals in 10 of those matches. This could be the match of the round!
Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($1.70)
Value: Over 3.5 goals ($3.00)
Man Utd v West Ham – (Mon 1:00am)
A total of 10 teams won more games at home than Man Utd last season including Leicester, Brunley, West Brom and Bournemouth! The Red Devils managed just 26 goals in their 19 games at Old Trafford – the least in the Premier League era. Mourinho’s defensive style was on full display but despite boasting the second best defence in the league they could only manage 6th position. Winning the Europa League salvaged their season but The Wolf believes they will have to do more than add Lukaku to score more goals. The defensive style will not disappear overnight and they hardly set the world on fire with their attack in the preseason. They played almost exclusively on the counter when facing superior opponents and that will not cut the mustard in the Premier League. The Hammers will raise more than a few eyebrows this season. Arnautovic, Chicharito, Zabaleta and Joe Hart have all played at the highest level and The Wolf expects them to challenge for a top half finish. Under 2.5 goals saluted in 7 of United’s last 8 EPL games and until we see otherwise TheWolf says to continue backing the Unders.
Best: Under 2.5 goals ($2.25)
Value: 1st Half Result – Draw ($2.45)