12 August 2016

Match Forecast: Manchester clubs to set tone

Man City 2 Sunderland 0

Pressure to succeed for big spending Manchester clubs is enormous. A financial outlay of 150m pounds on nine players means Pep Guardiola’s moneybags must justify their tag as favourites to win their third Premier League title. Competition for places upfront is certain to be intense.

Hull City 0 Leicester 1

It was a major oversight for me not to predict Hull City’s relegation in last weekend’s column. The Tigers are all over the place; without a manager, no transfer activity and a hesitant owner. On the other hand, champions Leicester City appear primed for another decent, if not spectacular season. The club owner’s decision to buy cars to the entire is top notch management.

Burnley 1 Swansea 0

Swansea is the second team I am tipping for relegation. I don’t know why manager Francisco Guidolin has sold or loaned out his entire striking line of Andre Ayew, Bafetimbi Gomis, Eder and Alberto Paloschi. You just don’t do that even if replacements are on their way. Although Burnley have not thrown their weight around in the transfer market, I expect them to nick this one.

Everton 1 Totttenham 1

I rate new Everton manager Ronald Koeman. Sad the Toffees have spent most of the summer warding off interest in key players John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. A lot more transfer activity is certain to take place before the window closes August 31. Koeman showed in the Wayne Rooney testimonial he hasn’t forgotten how to organise his teams at the back, so I expect them to extract a draw from Spurs.

Boro 1 Stoke City 1

Aitor Karanka did most of his spending last season when he acquired Jordan Rhodes for a hefty sum. Middlesborugh play a continental style of football, so there should not be a very long period of bedding in. Stoke City manager Mark Hughes will meanwhile be hoping to get more traction out of Xherdhan Shaqiri, who has never translated his national team form to the club, like we saw him at Euro 2016 in France.

Bournemouth 1 Man United 2

Jose Mourinho will have no excuses if Manchester United do not launch a sustained assault on the title. The three-time Premier League winner asked for four players and he got them. A team with Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitraryan, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard should have no trouble disposing of Bournemouth. Former Liverpool starlet Jordan Ibe will be the home team’s main threat.

Chelsea 2 West Ham 1
The jury is still out on Antonio Conte. His biggest challenge is going to be adapting to the fast-paced, physical nature of the league. If he continues to trust fading trio John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Diego Costa, he is cooked. He side won’t last a grueling season.

Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 1

Alan Pardew’s Eagles have been imperious in the off-season, beating all comers with relative ease. A quick start to the season and ability to hold onto talismanic winger Yannick Bolassie will determine whether or not they get dragged into a relegation slugfest. West Brom usually give Palace a good game, so this game could prove slippery for punters. All the same I am backing the home team.


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