Finally after the entertainment of Euro 2016 and a demented summer transfer window that shows no signs of slowing down, the Barclays Premier League season is upon us with the opening fixtures beginning tomorrow morning starting with Leicester City against Hull. With so many players still not fit after the Euros and so many transfers taking place in the summer, the opening round of the Premier League could not only be a very entertaining one but could also provide an opportunity for several unexpected talents to showcase their abilities. Here are my predictions for Gameweek 1 of the 2016-17 Barclays Premier League season.
Hull 0-3 Leicester City
Leicester City should have no difficulty getting their feet off the ground and running in their first match, as they face a Hull side in misery and despair even before the season begins. Vardy and Mahrez should have no problem running the show like they did in their opening day 4-2 win over Sunderland last season, while a clean sheet may also be on the cards as Leicester’s defense continues to look strong and Hull’s attack looks anything but strong.
Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Key Matchup: Andrew Robertson vs. Riyad Mahrez
Hull – Jakupovic, Elmohamady, Livermore, Davies, Robertson, Clucas, Huddlestone, Meyler, Snodgrass, Hernandez, Diomande
Injuries will probably force Hull to play Ahmed Elmohamady and Jake Livermore as defenders while Adama Diomande could also earn a place up front with all of Hull’s injury concerns looking a serious problem at the start of the season.
Notable Missing Players: Allan McGregor , Michael Dawson , Moses Odubajo ,
Leicester – Schmeichel, Simpson, L. Hernandez, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, King, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Vardy, Okazaki
Suspension to Robert Huth will mean that Lucas Hernandez will likely get the nod to make his first Premier League appearance. Meanwhile, Andy King may earn a place in the side ahead of Nampalys Mendy to replace N’Golo Kante who left for Chelsea but other than that the lineup looks pretty similar to the one that won Leicester City the title last year.
Notable Missing Players: Robert Huth
Crystal Palace 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
With two teams that could finish right next to each other in the table when all things come to an end playing each other on opening day, a draw is a likely result. West Brom’s defense are typically very resilient, while Crystal Palace’s attack tend to be very explosive, making this a very intriguing opening day encounter.
Man of the Match: Jonny Evans (West Bromwich Albion)
Key Matchup: Darren Fletcher vs. Yohan Cabaye
Crystal Palace – Mandanda, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Ledley, Cabaye, Townsend, Bolasie, Zaha, Wickham
Mandanda and Townsend should come straight into the side after arriving during the transfer window, while the front three in behind Wickham provide for a pacey and powerful trio. James McArthur’s injury also means Joe Ledley could come into the side after performing well at Euro 2016 for Wales.
Notable Missing Players: James Tomkins , Bakary Sako , James McArthur ,
West Bromwich Albion – Foster, Dawson, Olsson, McAuley, Evans, Fletcher, Yacob, Phillips, Morrison, McClean, Rondon
West Brom’s lineup looks almost identical to their 2015-16 starting 11, with Matty Phillips coming in on the right wing and James Morrison coming in as a number 10 as an impending transfer surrounds Saido Berahino at the start of the season once again.
Notable Missing Players: Chris Brunt
Middlesbrough 2-2 Stoke
With both teams missing players and just finding their feet with a new setup in 2016-17, a draw could be a likely result in Middlesbrough’s first home game of the season against Stoke City.
Man of the Match: Gianelli Imbula (Stoke City)
Key Matchup: Alvaro Negredo vs. Jakob Haugaard
Middlesbrough – Valdes, Barragan, Fry, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, de Roon, Fischer, Ramirez, Downing, Negredo
Middlesbrough make several changes to the side that earned them promotion to the league last season, most notably ex Man-City striker Alvaro Negredo coming in up front and ex-Barcelona & Champions League winner Victor Valdes starting in goal. Injuries to Daniel Ayala and Grant Leadbitter should also mean that Dael Fry and Marten de Roon earn their first starts in the Premier League.
Notable Missing Players: Daniel Ayala , Grant Leadbitter
Stoke City – Haugaard, Johnson, Wollscheid, Shawcross, Pieters, Allen, Imbula, Diouf, Bojan, Arnautovic, Joselu
Jack Butland is still injured so Jakob Haugaard will continue to start in goal in the mean time, while Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay are both doubts which could mean Joselu and Diouf come into the side.
Notable Missing Players: Ibrahim Afellay , Jack Butland , Xherdan Shaqiri
Everton 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur should be able to get off to a good start in the 2016-17 Barclays Premier League season as they take on an Everton side that is still a work in progress.
Man of the Match: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Key Matchup: Christian Eriksen vs. Seamus Coleman
Everton – Stekelenburg, Coleman, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines, Gueye, McCarthy, Deulofeu, Barkley, Cleverly, Lukaku
New signing Ashley Williams is unlikely to feature in the opening match for Everton as he recovers from Wales’ exertions at Euro 2016. However, new signings Idrissa Gueye and Maarten Stekelenburg are expected to feauture for the Toffees right from the start. Romelu Lukaku is also a doubt ahead of the match against Spurs and if he doesn’t play, Kevin Mirallas could come into the side with Deulofeu being pushed into a number 9 role.
Notable Missing Players: Muhumed Besic , Ashley Williams
Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Wanyama, Lamela, Alli, Eriksen, Kane
Only one change from the side that helped Tottenham finish in third in the table last season as a suspended Mousa Dembele misses out and new signing Victor Wanyama comes into the mix.
Notable Missing Players: Mousa Dembele , Clinton N’Jie , Heung-Min Son
Burnley 1-0 Swansea
With Swansea’s horrible off-season and in contrast Burnley’s stellar preparations for the start of the 2016-17 season, we could be set for a home win in this fixture. Both of these sides could be battling for relegation this season but if Burnley can stop Swansea’s two new strikers from scoring, they should be set to keep a clean sheet and win their opening match.
Man of the Match: Ben Mee (Burnley)
Key Matchup: George Boyd vs. Angel Rangel
Burnley – Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Gudmundsson, Arfield, Jones, Boyd, Vokes, Gray
Only one change for Burnley’s lineup that earned them promotion to the league last season as Joey Barton is replaced by Icelandic midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson. Andre Gray will lead the line and be the Clarets best chance of scoring.
Notable Missing Players: Ashley Barnes , Jon Flanagan
Swansea – Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Van der Hoorn, Naughton, Ki, Cork, Montero, Fer, Routledge, Llorente
Swansea’s lineup looks a shambles at the start of the season as not only have they lost their two best players in Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams, but they also have Neil Taylor and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured. Fernando Llorente is expected to the lead on opening day but Borja Baston may also have a role to play.
Notable Missing Players: Neil Taylor , Gylfi Sigurdsson
Southampton 2-1 Watford
Southampton look a well functioning unit under Claude Puel and could be prepared for an opening day win against Walter Mazzari’s Watford who may take time to adjust to their new 3-5-2 formation.
Man of the Match: Shane Long (Southampton)
Key Matchup: Virgil Van Dijk vs. Troy Deeney
Southampton – Forster, Martina, Van Dijk, Fonte, Pied, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Davis, Tadic, Redmond, Long
Southampton could be set to play a diamond in midfield under Claude Puel with Nathan Redmond playing as an unorthodox striker alongside Shane Long. Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand could also miss out and may be replaced by Martina and new singing Jeremy Pied.
Notable Missing Players: Ryan Bertrand , Cedric Soares
Watford – Gomes, Nyom, Kabasele, Britos, Prodl, Zuniga, Watson, Capoue, Behrami, Deeney, Ighalo
Italian manager Walter Mazzarri brings with him the 3-5-2 formation that is so heavily featured in Serie A but hasn’t exactly bred success in the Premier League in the past. Record signing Isaac Success is a doubt but new signings Christian Kabasele and Juan Zuniga should be prepared to come straight into the side.
Notable Missing Players: Brice Dja Djedje , Craig Catchart , Isaac Success
Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland
Manchester City could get off to a flying start under Pep Guardiola as they take on a new look Sunderland side. Sergio Aguero and co are prepared to help win City the title this season and are certainly going to want to make a statement to the rest of the league in their opening day fixture.
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Key Matchup: Sergio Aguero vs. Lamine Kone
Manchester City – Hart, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy, Fernandinho, Fernando, Sterling, Silva, Nolito, Aguero
New signings John Stones and Nolito should come straight into Guardiola’s side on opening day while Ilkay Gundogan still has an injury to get over before he can make his first appearance in the Premier League. Raheem Sterling could play instead of a tired Kevin de Bruyne who is still trying to get up to match fitness while Yaya Toure sits on the bench and Vincent Kompany recovers from his latest injury.
Notable Missing Players: Vincent Kompany , Ilkay Gundogan , Samir Nasri ,
Kevin de Bruyne
Sunderland – Mannone, Yedlin, Kone, Kaboul, Van Aanholt, Rodwell, McNair, Januzaj, Khazri, Borini, Defoe
New signings Paddy McNair and Adnan Januzaj should both be set to start for Sunderland despite only arriving at the club within the last few days. Defoe is still likely to lead the line and be Sunderland’s main provider of the goals while Jan Kirchhoff will be a big miss in the centre of midfield as he sits out with injury.
Notable Missing Players: Lee Cattermole , Jan Kirchoff , Sebastian Larsson ,
AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester United
After winning the FA Community Shield and confirming the signing of Paul Pogba all in the same day, Manchester United will be full of confidence going into their opening day fixture against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. Although Bournemouth are a good side and are expected to survive again this season, don’t expect them to get anything at all out of this match. Mourinho and Manchester United are just far too confident at the moment.
Man of the Match: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)
Key Matchup: Steve Cook vs. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
AFC Bournemouth – Boruc, B. Smith, Francis, S. Cook, Daniels, Ibe, Arter, Surman, Gradel, Wilson, King
After a very good summer off-season Eddie Howe now has a lot of different options he could go with for his starting lineup against Manchester United. Nathan Ake and Lewis Cook could both come into the side after arriving this summer while Brad Smith and Jordan Ibe may be prepared to feature in the xi straight away. Up front, Joshua King may get the nod ahead of Benfik Afobe alongside Callum Wilson who had a very bright start to the 2015-16 season before getting injured.
Notable Missing Players: Junior Stanislas , Tyrone Mings , Emerson Hyndman
Manchester United – De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial, Ibrahimovic
Jose Mourinho was beyond foolish to not play Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the FA Community Shield but after Jesse Lingard picked up a knock in that game, the Portuguese manager surely won’t make the same mistake again. Paul Pogba is suspended for a ridiculous reason (picking up a yellow card in the Coppa Italia final for Juventus last season) so Marouane Fellaini is likely to retain his place in the side from that FA Community Shield game.
Notable Missing Players: Chris Smalling , Paul Pogba , Jesse Lingard ,
Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool
Arsenal look in serious trouble for their upcoming match against Liverpool as they come into the season without several key players. Jurgen Klopp’s side on the other hand have had a good pre-season and are raring to go with a load of new signings. We may just be in for a shock away win as Jurgen Klopp’s side take complete control over Arsenal’s B-team.
Man of the Match: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Key Matchup: Hector Bellerin vs. Roberto Firmino
Arsenal – Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Monreal, Gibbs, Xhaka, Elneny, Walcott, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez
Arsenal are in serious trouble going into the start of the season with a heap of starting players out injured. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel have incurred long term injuries while Laurent Koscielny is still recovering from Euro 2016, meaning Rob Holding and Monreal could feature together at the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Cazorla could come into the side instead of Elneny while Giroud and Ozil’s lack of fitness make for a very strange set of attackers.
Notable Missing Players: Per Mertesacker , Gabriel Paulista , Laurent Koscielny , Mesut Ozil , Olivier Giroud , Danny Welbeck , Jack Wilshere
Liverpool – Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno, Can, Henderson, Mane, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Firmino
Karius’ horrible hand injury means that Simon Mignolet will retain his place in the xi and will need to be on top of his game in goal again. Moreno meanwhile also retains his place despite being heavily criticized at the end of last season. Ragnar Klavan, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum should also all come straight into the side as Liverpool play a 4-2-3-1.
Notable Missing Players: Loris Karius , Joel Matip , James Milner , Daniel Sturridge , Lucas Leiva , Mamadou Sakho
Chelsea 2-1 West Ham United
Despite all the new signings that have come through the window this summer for West Ham United, Antonio Conte may be able to rally his side and get them off to a winning start against the Hammers. This will certainly be a very close game that could be decided by a moment of magic.
Man of the Match: Eden Hazard
Key Matchup: Eden Hazard vs. Michail Antonio
Chelsea – Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Kante, Hazard, Fabregas, Willian, Costa
Antonio Conte should be able to put his arm around certain players and get the most out of them this season unlike Jose Mourinho did at the club last season. Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic will be looking for an improved 2016-17 campaign while Cesc Fabregas will have to fight for his place in the side against Oscar after having a disappointing pre-season. N’Golo Kante meanwhile should come straight into the lineup as well.
Notable Missing Players: Kurt Zouma
West Ham United – Adrian, Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Nordtveit, Kouyate, Feghouli, Ayew, Carroll
Slavan Bilic is likely to stick with a 4-3-3 formation despite making several new signings. Nordtveit should come in as the deepest of the midfield three, while Arthur Masuaku fills the void that was left by Aaron Cresswell after he got injured. Dimitri Payet also might not be fit to start in Monday’s encounter and so ex-Valencia midfielder Sofiane Feghouli may be prepared to start instead.
Notable Missing Players: Dimitri Payet , Aaron Creswell , Manuel Lanzini ,
So there it is! The preview for the opening day of the 2016-17 Barclays Premier League season! It should be as the British say, absolutely brilliant! Check back later for Team of the Week after Gameweek 1 comes to a close and we’ll definitely see you next time for a preview of Gameweek 2.