It might sound crazy with the European season having only drawn to a close last month, but the new Premier League season is only a few short weeks away. This year, it starts earlier than ever to make time for a six week recess while the World Cup captures our attention in November and December, with the opening fixtures taking place on the first weekend in August.
The English Premier League has followers all around the world, and every pundit and expert from back street bookies in India to an online sportsbook in Canada has been clamouring over the opening fixtures. Let’s take a look at our top three eye-catching match ups on the first weekend of August.
Forest to St James Park on Premier League return
Last time Notts Forest had a Premier League fixture, Tony Blair’s New Labour was still cool, the Spice Girls ruled the music charts and we were all just a little uneasy about whether the Millennium Bug would send our Nokias into meltdown. Forest will be happy with a trip to St James Park for their first Premier League encounter in 23 years – in fact, former Forest striker and current TV pundit Kevin Campbell says they will be “buzzing” for it and that Newcastle will have been one of the clubs they most missed playing during their years in the football wilderness. Unsurprisingly, the bookies fancy a home win, and there are 5-1 odds up for grabs if you think Forest can get off to a winning start.
Hammers ready to dish out some horror
“Just not West Ham” – if the reigning champions could have made a wish regarding their opening fixture, that might have been the most common theme. Last season concluded with City somehow scraping a draw against the East Londoners from 2-0 down and thereby clinching the title by the finest margin. The Hammers fans won’t have forgotten, and the title holders are certain to get a vociferous reception at London Stadium. The home team will feel more than capable of causing an upset, but we like the 15-4 odds being offered for points being shared once again.
Tough visit to the Palace for Arsenal
The Gunners were put through the wringer last year and it was not till the final weeks of the season that they found any sort of rhythm to at least secure their top six spot. They will be desperate for a winning start to the season, and like Manchester City will have been just a little horrified to see who they’ve drawn in the opening week. To most of us, Crystal Palace have been solid mid-table performers over the past couple of seasons. For Arsenal, they are the ultimate bogey team and you have to go back to January 2018 for the last time Arsenal walked away with a win. The bookmakers don’t know which way to go on this one, but we’d back yet another draw all the way at 5-2 odds.