Premier League returns with intriguing twists
The English Premier League marks its 30th anniversary season with some intriguing storylines. As a consequence of the unique scheduling of the World Cup in the winter — due to heat concerns from host nation Qatar — the first half of the season is marred with serious fixture congestion. Also, Manchester City secured the mammoth signature of Erling Haaland, after the Norwegian striker rejected moves to rivals Manchester United and Chelsea.
The season begins today with a London derby, when an exuberant Crystal Palace host Arsenal at Selhurst Park. The pick of the Saturday kick-offs sees Everton manager Frank Lampard welcome his former employers Chelsea to Goodison Park. The marquee match-up of Week 1 showcases European hopefuls West Ham United hosting champions Manchester City on Sunday.
Fantasy managers must be careful due to the crowded nature of the early months of the season, and the increased possibility of long-term injuries. Strong early suggestions for your initial team would include Brighton forward Leandro Trossard and Manchester City attacker Phil Foden, who gets additional points for goals and assists given he is recognised as a midfielder in Fantasy Premier League.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Crystal Palace will be pushing for a higher mid-table finish, after completing the signings of combative midfielder Cheick Doucoure from French side Lens and American talent Chris Richards from Bayern Munich. Manager Patrick Vieira could miss Jack Butland, James McArthur, Sam Johnstone and Michael Olise for the visit of his former employers.
Arsenal have bolstered their attack with Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus, as well as young Brazilian winger Marquinhos from São Paulo. Manager Mikel Arteta has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
Last term, the Eagles were a bogey team for their capital counterparts, snatching four points from their two league meetings, including an emphatic 3-0 win from this corresponding fixture.
Fulham v Liverpool
Fulham have made a few interesting moves this summer, strengthening their midfield with Portuguese box-to-box João Palhinha from Sporting Lisbon and attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira from Manchester United. Joe Bryan, Nathaniel Chalobah and Harry Wilson are all doubts for the promoted side on opening weekend.
Liverpool replaced Sadio Mané with Uruguayan forward Darwin Nuñez from Benfica, as well as making the move for Fabio Carvalho from this week’s hosts. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and back-up goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher are both out. Diogo Jota, Ibrahima Konate and Curtis Jones are also doubts for the long trip south to West London.
Fulham may have won just seven of the previous 30 meetings, but they went unbeaten against the Reds in their last Premier League campaign, winning at Anfield and drawing 1-1 at Craven Cottage.
Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Bournemouth return to the Premier League with low expectations, after two seasons in the second tier. The Cherries’ most recognised recruit is Ryan Fredericks from West Ham. Midfielder Joe Rothwell, who joined from Blackburn Rovers, is out with a thigh injury. Fredericks himself and David Brooks are doubts for head coach Scott Parker.
Aston Villa look to push for a top-ten finish this term. The West Midlands club have been fruitful this summer, most notably acquiring midfielder Boubacar Kamara on a free transfer from Marseilles and signing defender Diego Carlos from Sevilla. Manager Steven Gerrard has no new injury concerns.
This weekend’s hosts have won three of the previous four meetings, all those victories coming by a 2-1 scoreline.
Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leeds, who barely survived last term, have bolstered the squad for manager Jesse Marsch. Key recruits include Tyler Adams, who the American previously managed at RB Leipzig, and forward Luis Sinisterra from Feyenoord. Daniel James is suspended, while Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas, and Junior Firpo are also out. Adam Forshaw and Sinisterra are both doubts.
Wolves enter the second full season under Bruno Lage, having kept key players such as Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto. Their only recruit is defender Nathan Collins from Burnley. Chiquinho and Raul Jimenez are both out, while Nelson Semedo and Adama Traore are doubts.
This is a very even match-up, though Wolves edge it with three wins to Leeds’s two from six total meetings.
Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest
Newcastle have greatly improved their defence this window, notably signing Nick Pope from Burnley and Sven Botman from French side Lille. Jonjo Shelvey is the only injury doubt for the Magpies.
Nottingham Forest have made a statement of intent with their recruitment this summer, especially acquiring Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United and Omar Richards from Bayern Munich. English left back Richards is the only injury concern for manager Steve Cooper.
Newcastle are unbeaten in eight meetings with Forest, winning five and drawing three. They last met in the 1998-99 season, with the Magpies winning this corresponding battle 2-0 in September 1998.
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
Spurs have illustrated their target of Champions League football next term, specifically with the additions of Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan (free) and Yves Bissouma from Brighton. Oliver Skipp is the only doubt for Antonio Conte.
Southampton have been thrifty this window, notably signing youngsters Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia from Manchester City, and Joe Aribo from Rangers. Tino Livramento and Nathan Tella are both out with knee injuries, while Theo Walcott is doubtful with a muscle strain.
Spurs have won 24 of their 46 battles, though Saints came from behind twice to win 3-2 on their last visit to North London.
Everton v Chelsea
Everton lost key forward Richarlison to Spurs, but have failed to reinvest those funds. James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil are the two main arrivals for the Toffees. Salomon Rondon is suspended, while Andros Townsend and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are also out with knee injuries. Seamus Coleman is a doubt with a groin strain.
Chelsea have invested heavily over the past few weeks, with Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly their marquee recruits. Thomas Tüchel has a full squad to select from for the trip to Merseyside.
Historically, the Blues dominate this match-up. However, the Toffees have gained positive results in three of the past five meetings (two wins and a draw).
Leicester City v Brentford
Leicester are the only Premier League team yet to make a signing as of Wednesday, and key players Youri Tielemans and James Maddison could be on their way out of the East Midlands club. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has already left for Nice in France. Ryan Bertrand is out with a knee injury, while Ricardo Pereira is a doubt for Brendan Rodgers’s side.
Brentford, despite losing Christian Eriksen to Manchester United, have signed Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee to strengthen their defence, from Bologna and Burnley respectively. Keane Lewis-Potter is a solid young midfield signing for the Bees. Sergi Canos is suspended, while Kristoffer Ajer and Ethan Pinnock are out with hamstring and knee injuries.
The Foxes have won both Premier League meetings by an identical 2-1 score.
Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester United are slowly fixing key positions for new manager Erik ten Haag, with Lisandro Martinez the most recognised signing so far this summer. Facundo Pellistri is the only injury worry for the Dutchman and former Champions League semi-finalist.
Brighton have made three effective signings, despite losing key midfielder Bissouma. The Seagulls added young forward Julio Enciso from Paraguay, permanently signed winger Benicio Baker-Boiatey from Porto, and acquired Simon Adingra from Danish side Nordsjaelland. Jakub Moder is the only injury doubt for Graham Potter.
Although the South Coast side smashed United 4-0 on their last meeting, the Red Devils are unbeaten in five match-ups at Old Trafford. Will the new ideas pay off?
West Ham United v Manchester City
West Ham have backed manager David Moyes for another push for Champions League football, particularly with the signature of Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo, as well as the renewal of French back-up goalkeeper Alphonse Areola from Paris Saint-Germain. New recruit defender Nayef Aguero is the only injury absentee for Moyes.
Manchester City ended the Erling Haaland saga by meeting his release clause with Borussia Dortmund, as well as adding midfielder Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United. Aymeric Laporte is the only injured player out for Pep Guardiola.
Although City have dominated the match-up overall, the Hammers have grabbed draws from the past two meetings at the London Stadium.