Previews, predictions and everything you need to know about this weekend’s fixtures.
Let’s be honest. In soccer, we all like to think that we can predict what the scores will be and take unrivaled joy in correctly guessing the outcomes of the biggest games. That sentiment is echoed by the soccer writers here at SQ, so we have decided to put our claims to the test with a weekly competition in which we will try and predict the scores for all of the Premier League games.
The outcome of each week’s predictions will be decided in a points format with a subsequent rankings table that will run until the end of the season to see who is the best predictor. The scoring system is as follows:
No points - for failing to guess the correct result. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win against Aston Villa, but the match ends in a draw or a win for Aston Villa. Likewise, if you picked a draw but one of the sides wins)
One Point - for correctly guessing the result without the score line. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win 3-0 but they win 4-0 instead, or you pick a 2-2 draw but it finishes 1-1 instead)
Three Points - for correctly guessing the result and score line. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win 3-0, and they win 3-0)
New ‘Banker’ Feature
Ahead of the 2015-16 season, we here at SQ have decided to give all of our predictors the chance to earn even more points. The ‘banker’ is designed to double the points of one particular prediction and can be used only once per week by each player. The aim is to choose the prediction you are most confident in, select it as your banker and hopefully earn double points from that game. The following image will indicate which game each player has chosen as their banker:
Game of the Week
Stadium: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Kick-Off: Saturday 12.45pm (GMT), 7.45am (CT), 8.45am (ET), 5.45am (PT)
Last Meeting At Old Trafford: Man Utd 3-0 Tottenham (Mar. 15, 2015)
Preview: It’s been a long 76-day wait, but the Premier League makes its return this weekend with a cracker of an opening fixture at Old Trafford. The most decorated club in its history will kick-off the new campaign against perennial fifth-place finishers Tottenham, with both sides looking for a good start.
That sentiment is particularly applicable to the visitors after they were blown away by United in the same fixture last season. Goals from Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney had the hosts 3-0 up within 35 minutes and Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that his new defensive signings can help avoid a similar fate on Saturday.
German Kevin Wimmer, Burnley’s Kieran Trippier and Belgian international Toby Alderweireld have all been brought in to bolster a defence that leaked 53 goals last year. No other team in the top half conceded more and it was exactly the same amount of goals shipped as that of 16th-place Sunderland and relegated Burnley, with Hull City actually conceding two less on their way through the trap door with them.
But Spurs aren’t the only ones who have dipped into the transfer market, as United continue to splash the cash this summer. They have spent the most out of all the Premier League clubs to date, bringing in a host of big names in the shape of Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmain, Memphis Depay and Sergio Romero. Dutch boss Louis Van Gaal will have them all at his disposal for the game this weekend and it will be interesting to see if the new boys can make an instant impact at the theatre of dreams.
Two injury doubts for United ahead of the season opener. Anders Lindegaard has an unspecified muscle injury and the much-sought-after Javier Hernandez is still feeling the effects of a broken collarbone. Marouane Fellaini will begin his three-match ban after a red card on the final day against Hull City.
Same as United, just the two injury concerns for Mauricio Pochettino. Andros Townsend suffered a shoulder injury against Reading and is doubtful, while key man Hugo Lloris is touch-and-go after fracturing his wrist during the off-season. Both will be monitored up until kick-off.
SQ Prediction: It’s a great match to begin the 2015-16 campaign and with a flurry of new signings potentially on show it could well be a cracker. The opening day is always hard to judge as some sides can be slow out of the blocks, namely United last year when their new look team were humbled by Swansea at Old Trafford. But it’s hard to look past the hosts this time around despite Spurs winning in consecutive years on this ground until last season’s thrashing. Van Gaal seemed to have the measure of Pochettino that day and even though Fellaini misses out I’d expect another high tempo display from the Reds. Spurs have done well to strengthen their back line and I can’t see a big score on the cards but with Lloris a doubt and a revamped United midfield, I’m going for a slender home win.
Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Other Games to Watch
Stadium: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
Kick-Off: Saturday 3pm (GMT), 10am (CT), 11am (ET), 8am (PT)
Preview: The Cherries will kick-off their Premier League adventure on Saturday with a very winnable home tie against Tim Sherwood’s remodelled Aston Villa.
The hosts were surprise winners of the Championship last term and were widely praised for their exciting, attacking style. Now they make the big jump into life in the top tier and inevitably there are question marks as to whether or not they can continue to be as effective against better opposition. Eddie Howe has made some very shrewd moves in the transfer market by bringing in long-time Premier League defender Sylvain Distin to shore up the back four, as well as adding two attacking players who have it all to prove in the shape of Max Gradel and Lee Tomlin.
Former Saint-Etienne winger Gradel was a star performer in Ligue One last season and will need to live up to the £6 million price tag that the Cherries have paid for his services. But the real gem could well be Lee Tomlin, a wonderfully gifted — if not misunderstood — attacking midfielder who can couple a moment of sheer magic with another of mind-boggling frustration. His temperament, weight and stamina have all been called into question numerous times throughout his career but there is no doubting that he can have a serious influence in attacking areas if Bournemouth can fit him into the formation.
For Villa, they will be hoping to avoid another relegation scrap like last year and prove to their critics that they are back on an upward curve. Rookie boss Sherwood was a huge risk when Villa appointed him on Valentine’s day but he rewarded the board’s faith in him by securing their top flight status and steering the club to the F.A Cup Final. All eyes will now be on the former Tottenham caretaker as for the first time as a manager he is overseeing pre-season and trying to shape a squad capable of beating the drop.
The loss of key men Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke was disappointing, if not expected, and Sherwood has reacted with a whole host of signings to bulk out the side. There is a quiet optimism that the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi, Rudy Gestede and Scott Sinclair can step up to the plate and deliver when needed, but it may take a few games before we really see what this Villa side can do.
Eddie Howe has a few worries ahead of the big kick-off as influential midfielder Harry Artur and powerful striker Yann Kermorgant look set to miss the opener due to hip and ankle injuries. Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu should recover from a knock in time to make his debut.
Villa have several doubts ahead of the weekend with Jores Okore, Gary Gardner and Jose Angel Crepso all out of the Bournemouth match due to injury. Jack Grealish, Gabby Agbonlahor and Carlos Gil have all picked up knocks in pre-season but should be available on Saturday.
SQ Prediction: These are two of the hardest teams to predict this season and the same applies to the opening fixture. Bournemouth are built to play quick, attacking football and the adrenaline of a first-ever match in the Premier League should see them come flying out of the blocks. Villa are a bit of an unknown quantity right now after so many ins and outs but Sherwood also favors the attacking style and we may well be in for a belter. I’m going to go bold and say that this will be an opening day treat as these two focus on their strengths going forward rather than their weaknesses in defense. Goals galore and a perfect start for the hosts.
Bournemouth 4-3 Aston Villa
Stadium: Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Kick-Off: Sunday 4pm (GMT), 11am (CT), 12pm (ET), 9am (PT)
Preview: The first match day begins with the chance for Liverpool to lay to rest the ghosts of last season after their humiliating 6-1 defeat in the final game in May. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for Stoke to carry on from a fantastic finish to the last campaign and prove that they are ready to make a European push.
Brendan Rodgers’ side will be without two of their most iconic stars on Sunday as they begin life without Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. Instead, the Reds have dipped their toes into the transfer market to capture Christian Benteke (£32.5M), Roberto Firmino (£29M) and Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5M), amongst others. It’s a show of faith from the owners towards Rodgers, who was rumored to be on the way out after the hammering at the Britannia. He now has the chance to gain his revenge and get Liverpool off to the perfect start as they go in search of reclaiming a top-four spot.
For Stoke, they’ve been equally as busy this summer, strengthening the squad with six new signings that include the likes of Joselu, Marco Van Ginkel, Glen Johnson and Ibrahim Afellay. They’ve also spent most of the off-season chasing more reputable targets such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko but despite having the funds from the new TV deal, none of the above have seen the proposition of joining Stoke as the right career move. However, one thing is for sure, the Potters will be a strong opponent for most sides this year and should comfortably achieve mid-table at the very least.
Club Captain Ryan Shawcross is a major doubt for Sunday’s game with a back injury that may even require surgery. Marc Wilson and Marko Arnautovic are more likely to make an appearance as they try to recover from ankle and hip injuries.
Liverpool’s three missing men could all be out for some time. Daniel Sturridge is already out until October and John Flanagan is expected back in November. Joe Allen is the other concern and his hamstring injury sustained at Swindon could be worse than first feared.
SQ Prediction: Can the Reds gain revenge? It all depends on how their new boys adapt to not just the Premier League, but Stoke’s combative and pressurizing style. The Potters are usually formidable at home and will be no pushovers here, with the return of Bojan in attack a welcome sight. I think the away side may need to wait a little longer for revenge as their new-look team is coming up against a sturdy, well-knitted side that relishes these occasions. Liverpool will come good, just not on Sunday.
Stoke City 2-1 Liverpool
Think you can do better?
We here at SQ want to know what you think. Send us your predictions for all 10 Premier League games in the comments section below and we will add your name to the rankings table and weekly scores, so you can go head-to-head with our writers to earn the title of “SQ Predictor Champion.”
The person in first place at the end of the season will win a Premier League jersey of their choice! Send us your predictions each week to be in with a shout!
Edited by Emily Berman.
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