After months of waiting, the new season of the English Premier League is set to kick off this Friday, August 5 with Crystal Palace hosting Arsenal.
The summer transfer window is still open to EPL clubs and there is still room for teams to bolster their squads ahead of this scintillating new season.
Manchester City are the defending champions after finishing the season with 93 points, one ahead of Liverpool after a heart-wrenching last day of league action.
Liverpool got their revenge as they started their season with a comfortable 3-1 win against their rivals to win the FA Community Shield last Saturday.
We bid farewell to Norwich City, Burnley and Watford who were relegated to the Championship.
While Bournemouth and Fulham earned promotion back into the top flight, as well as Nottingham Forest who are making a comeback after a 23-year hiatus.
As we prepare for a weekend filled with football action, SportPesa’s blog has a look at the top 5 games set for this weekend.
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CRYSTAL PALACE vs ARSENAL – Friday 10pm
There is a lot riding on this being the first game of the season but Arsenal have been very busy during the transfer window and are expected to control proceedings.
New signing Gabriel Jesus is set to make his EPL debut after a convincing pre-season tour with the Gunners.
Palace beat Arsenal 3-0 the last time these two sides met in April and the first leg in October ended in a 2-2 draw, meaning Mikel Arteta’s side are itching to get one over their opponents.
Despite Arsenal winning 10 out of the 20 games played between these two sides, they have only won once in the last 8 matches.
PREDICTION: Both teams are expected to score in this game, though Arsenal may have enough gas in their tank to grind out a win.
FULHAM vs LIVERPOOL – Saturday 2:30pm
Newcomers Fulham have an uphill task in their first match of the new EPL season as they host runners-up Liverpool.
Fulham won last season’s Championship with 90 points as Aleksandr Mitrovic bagged an unmatched 43 goals to be crowned the league’s top scorer.
Liverpool let go of Sadio Mane but brought in Uruguayan forward Darwin Nunez to replace the Senegalese star.
Nunez is already off the mark having scored in last week’s victory over Man City but may have to settle for a place on the bench to allow Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah room to start.
Liverpool have won 19 out of the 31 matches played between these two, compared to Fulham’s 7 wins but Marco Silva’s side were 1-0 winners the last time they met.
PREDICTION: Fulham tend to score more goals at Craven Cottage and it will not be any different here, though Liverpool are more likely to start their season with all 3 points.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs SOUTHAMPTON – Saturday 5pm
Antonio Conte’s side are also a new-look side as they continue their quest to win their first ever English Premier League title.
The hosts have acquired the services of former Everton forward Richarlison, Ivan Perisic and loanee Clement Lenglet as they kick start this new season.
Spurs failed to beat Southampton last season, losing 3-2 at home in the second leg following a 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s.
Southampton have only won one game during pre-season while Tottenham have won three times and lost just once to Jose Mourinho’s Roma in that period.
Harry Kane and last season’s joint top scorer Heung-Min Son are expected to lead the Spurs attacking line.
PREDICTION: This is not expected to be a high-scoring game but Spurs will come out on top and get their season off to the perfect start.
EVERTON vs CHELSEA – Saturday 7:30pm
The visitors come into their first match of the season seeking revenge after failing to beat Everton in either of their league games last season.
Everton beat Chelsea 1-0 in the reverse fixture after both sides played out to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season.
With the loss of Richarlison and barely surviving relegation last season, Frank Lampard’s charges are desperate to start their season in fine fashion.
Chelsea lost Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan but replaced him with Raheem Sterling from Man City, with the latter already scoring for the Blues during pre-season.
The addition of Kalidou Koulibaly has also strengthened their defensive capabilities after losing Toni Rudiger to Real Madrid at the end of last season.
Everton have only beaten Chelsea 11 times out of the 53 games played between the two, compared to Chelsea’s 28 victories.
PREDICTION: Both teams are expected to score but with the steady rise that Chelsea have been on, they are expected to come out on top in this game.
WEST HAM vs MANCHESTER CITY – Sunday 6:30pm
Nayef Aguerd, Alphonse Areola and Flynn Downes are the new signings for West Ham and they sound inferior compared to Man City’s huge signing of Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian forward is already under scrutiny following a below average performance in the Community Shield but is expected to start alongside Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish.
The Hammers have not beaten City in the league for the past three seasons and have quite a lot to do if they are to get all three points from this game.
Their star performer from last season, Jarrod Bowen, will lead the attacking line as they seek a first win in their last four games.
City on the other hand have only lost once, the 3-1 loss to Liverpool, in their last 5 pre-season games and are hoping to bounce back to winning ways.
PREDICTION: This is a tough one to call but a draw could be the most likely outcome for the defending champions.