3 minute read
Mick Bennett takes you through each match of the opening round of the English Premier League.
Welcome to the 2022/23 EPL season!
From a betting viewpoint these early rounds are traps. It is best to get a feel for new signings and the performance of promoted clubs before dipping too heavily into wagering. However, for those wanting to play we'll do our best!
Home team listed first. Kick off times are AEST.
CRYSTAL PALACE v ARSENAL 5.00am Saturday 6 August
Palace had a pleasing first season under Patrick Viera in 21/22. One of their highlights was a 3-0 thumping of the Gunners in this corresponding fixture. Goals flowed freely for Palace at Selhurst under the former Arsenal great, and they failed to find the net only three times (against City, Chelsea and Leeds).
Arsenal chalked-up some strong away wins after Xmas before their run petered out near the end of the campaign. Few other teams have strengthened in the off-season to the extent of Arteta's side. I expect Arsenal to hit the ground running this season, led by Gabriel Jesus who has made an immediate impact since his move from City. There should be a few goals in this one.
Suggested bet: Both teams to score - $1.90
FULHAM v LIVERPOOL 9.30pm Saturday 6 August
The odds of it happening are around 48,000/1, but remarkably Liverpool draw a promoted side on opening day for the fourth straight season!
Fulham caused the Reds some headaches when last in the top flight but it was during lockdown and Liverpool were in the doldrums. A 3-1 win over City in the Community Shield suggests Liverpool are back bigger and better than ever, although I get a strong sense that this might be like the Leeds/Liverpool epic opening day encounter two years back with goals flowing. The game could be in the balance at some stage.
Should be a cracker on the day Fulham open their new Riverside Stand.
Suggested bet: Over 3.5 goals - $2.40
BOURNEMOUTH v ASTON VILLA 12.00am Sunday 7 August
Not a bad match-up for the newly promoted Cherries. Villa lost away to Watford on opening day last season but quickly established themselves as a solid mid-table side.
Bournemouth were tough to beat at home in the Championship last year, losing only three times in their 23 appearances.
While I think their survival changes are slim, the thrill of the return to the Premier League might buoy Bournemouth through the early rounds.
Suggested bet: Draw $3.70
LEEDS v WOLVES 12.00am Sunday 7 August
Leeds barely survived last season and may face a difficult job staying up again in 22/23.
It is interesting to note that, until February last season, their only losses bar one were against teams that finished in the top half so their form against 'like' opposition was sound through the early and middle stages.
This fixture ended 1-1 in October, with the reverse match in March a shock 3-2 win for the Whites at Molineux.
Wolves' problem in 21/22 was scoring goals – only the relegated sides found the net less times. A dormant off-season in the transfer market must be a worry for supporters.
Markets have this as the tightest match of the round. Best to leave it alone.
NEWCASTLE v NOTTINGHAM FOREST 12.00am Sunday 7 August
Two of the more interesting sides to follow this season.
Newcastle is at the dawn of a Saudi-funded revival and Forest, everyone's second favourite team during their stunning rise to the top of European football in the late seventies, are back in the top flight for the first time this century.
The Magpies look to be one quality striker away from having a squad that can pressure the top six. While Forest has the defensive capability to survive this season, I expect Newcastle to open with a win. Only 1.70 is on offer so perhaps use them in multis.
SPURS v SOUTHAMPTON 12.00am Sunday 7 August
The betting has this is the most lop-sided match of the round and it is hard to argue.
Tottenham has spent big and spent wisely in the off-season. The two-man show of Kane and Son that has carried Spurs for a few years now has an excellent support cast. Southampton's fate might hinge on Nigerian international Joe Aribo's ability to find the net.
Spurs opened last season with a shock 1-0 over Man City. They were bossed all over the pitch that day but got the result. If they kicked off last year's prep in a Group One, they open this campaign in a Benchmark 78.
An impressive 25 goals in their last ten home games in 21/22 shows how tough they are to hold out at their shiny new stadium. Their spread of goals is quite even too between the two halves. Hard to see anything but a comprehensive win to the home team.
BEST BET - Spurs to lead halftime/fulltime - $2.00
EVERTON v CHELSEA 2.30am Sunday 7 August
Everton stayed in the EPL by the skin of their teeth last season. Tarkowski in the middle of defence and enterprising left midfielder McNeil come in from Burnley, but the loss of Richarlison cannot be understated.
Chelsea was meek last season after Champions League success. Sterling's signing is a coup but across the park they don't have the menacing look of City or Liverpool. Kante has been great for them and Leicester but surely his best days are behind him.
Not expecting anything special from either club this season. The Toffees upset The Blues at Goodison last time they met at the old ground and forced a draw in London.
An unappealing match betting-wise.
LEICESTER v BRENTFORD 11.00pm Sunday 7 August
Leicester has been rocked by financial hardship that has meant no new players coming in and an exodus on the cards, with Schmeichel already gone and strong rumours of Tieleman, Barnes and Maddison following suit. They will be hard pressed to finish in the top half this season.
Brentford's 21/22 fortunes turned around with the arrival of Eriksen in the January window, but he won't be there this season. An enterprising side nonetheless and they can match any side in the league on their day.
Leicester won both encounters last season by 2-1; however, it is a different kettle of fish this year. A hard one to pick so best to sit this out.
MANCHESTER UTD v BRIGHTON 11.00pm Sunday 7 August
It is a real make or break season for Man U. New coach Erik ten Hag is the sixth manager since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 12/13 and since then the club has had just three top-three finishes. Last year's points total of 66 was their lowest in the EPL era.
Some pretty big names have gone out the door in the off-season. Two of the three new signings are defenders from the Dutch Eredivisie, the other is the mercurial Dane Christian Eriksen.
Brighton has lost Bissouma which is a blow but their squad is still talented and manager Graham Potter is one of the more astute in the league.
This fixture went 2-0 to the home side last season before Brighton embarrassed Man U 4-0 in the return in the penultimate round. Man U were quick out of the blocks at the start of 21/22 and should do the same this time around.
Suggested bet: Taking the 1.64 about Man Utd to win in a multi
WEST HAM v MANCHESTER CITY 1.30am Monday 8 August
Probably the match of the round with last year's winners and seventh clashing.
The first EPL appearance of exciting young striker Erling Haaland is of great interest. City has not played with a target man up front in recent seasons so their tiki-taka style may be modified to a degree. Although they have lost a few key players in the off-season their depth and the addition of Haaland and Kalvin Phillips earns them favouritism for a third straight title.
West Ham has been active in the player market in the off-season. Moyes is usually conservative when it comes to introducing new players but he must be tempted to throw Italian striker Scamacca straight into the #9 spot.
These two clashed in London in May and the Hammers almost derailed City's title defence, leading 2-0 at half-time before it finished 2-2. In fact, the last three clashes at West Ham's home have been deadlocked. The Hammers would be delighted with that result, but if City click they should get the money. It is worth noting that West Ham found the net in all 19 EPL home games last season, so both teams to score is a good option.
Suggested bet: Both teams to score - $1.90
And while you're here, check out our R&S Punters Pod - English Premier League Season Preview with Jimmy Buckley and Ken Rutherford....