This weekend sees the return of the Premier League, with a bumper fixture list over the weekend. The Sunday afternoon football sees Arsenal face Liverpool in the biggest opening fixture of the weekend. The Monday Night Football sees Chelsea host West Ham in another huge fixture this weekend.

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Arsenal vs Liverpool – Sunday 14th August 2016 – 16:00 - Sky Sports 1 

Arsenal take on Liverpool in the biggest opening match of the season.
Arsenal take on Liverpool in the biggest opening match of the season.

Arsenal kick off the new season by facing Liverpool in an explosive game at the Emirates Stadium, with the biggest game of the weekend.

Arsene Wenger is preparing for another huge season in the Premier League and he is under some pressure given the managerial changes and the player recruitment drives that have happened at all the clubs around.

Arsenal fans will be delighted at finishing above Tottenham last season and retaining their status as the best side in North London. As per usual though it was a season of what if for Arsenal, what if they had signed a world class striker, what if they had signed a world class central defender.

Yet again they have remained frustratingly inactive in the transfer market and the feeling among fans and pundits is that with a few world class signings they have the makings of a Premier League winning side.

They have had a huge problem with injuries even at this stage of the season, with Per Mertesacker ruled out for an extended period of time and Gabriel has picked up an ankle problem, meaning they are ruthlessly exposed at the back.

They will realistically be looking at their squad in comparison with their rivals and they are lacking a 20 goal a season striker, a midfield enforcer and a world class central defender.

They have made some signings this summer already with the Granit Xhaka joining from Borussia Monchengladbach for £34 million and Rob Holding has been signed from Bolton.

This will not encourage the fans or pundits alone and they will be targeting a few serious signings before the end of the transfer window, with their squad simply not enough to mount a domestic and European challenge as it stands.

The departures of Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky mean that there are some vacancies in midfield and they will need to find leaders with experience as well to cover those losses.

They are looking to sign Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia to cover the defensive frailties and the German will cost in the region of £30 million as well.

Arsenal will be looking to better their record against Liverpool in the Premier League and overall in 186 meetings they have won 68 and lost 67 and drawn 51 and they will be hoping to produce a first win in three matches.

Arsenal remain favourites at 13/10 with Olivier Giroud the favourite to score first at 9/2.

Arsenal

 

Liverpool kick off another new season with Jurgen Klopp enjoying a full pre-season programme with the Anfield club and there is huge anticipation ahead of the new season.

German Klopp is the man tasked with finally bringing the good times back to Anfield, and after reaching two finals last year with Brendan Rodgers side he will be encouraged having brought in a few of his own recruits.

They finished in 8th position last season and after their 3-1 loss in the final against Sevilla, they have been left with no European football at Anfield this season, something that could work in Liverpool's favour.

They like Chelsea will have plenty of time to recover during the week and train together meaning that Klopp can instil his philosophies and methods onto the players. His high pressing game means that the players will have enough time to recover between games as well, which should benefit the club enormously.

Liverpool have already done some excellent business in the transfer window and secured signings early in the form of Sadio Mane from Southampton, Loris Karius has arrived from Mainz, Ragnar Klavan signed from Augsburg and Joel Matip has signed from Schalke.

They have had some bad luck in the injury department with Karius and Matip both sustaining injuries with the keeper out for at least two months with a broken hand and Matip sustained an injury very early on in pre-season.

The big news on the transfer front is how many players have left Liverpool, with as many as 12 players having left the club and there are many more linked with exits, with Christian Benteke the most high profile among those.

Joe Allen has left for Stoke, Jordan Ibe has joined Bournemouth, Jon Flannagan has joined Burnley, Martin Skrtel has joined Fenerbahce and Kolo Toure was released to Celtic.

Jurgen Klopp will have a huge job on his hands to challenge for the top spots in the Premier League, with all of the top sides resurgent and the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Leicester all improving on the managerial and player fronts.

The minimum goal will be a fourth-place finish to qualify for the Champions League, but given the strength of their rivals this year that will be an enormous task.

They will need to improve their record against Arsenal, they have failed to win against the Gunners in their last five matches and that will need to change if they are to progress this season.

Liverpool are the underdogs at 2/1 with Daniel Sturridge the favourite to score first at 5/1.

Chelsea vs West Ham – Monday 15th August 2016 – 20:00 - Sky Sports 1

Chelsea face West Ham at Stamford Bridge in an explosive Monday Night Football.
Chelsea face West Ham at Stamford Bridge in an explosive Monday Night Football.

Chelsea kick off the new season by facing West Ham in an early London derby game at Stamford Bridge on the first Monday night football this season.

Antonio Conte is the new man in the Stamford Bridge hot seat after taking over from Guus Hiddink. The Italian has a huge job ahead of him after Chelsea's horror show in defence of their Premier League title.

Conte enhanced his reputation with his Italian job at Euro 2016, he proved himself to be an excellent tactician and he was very animated on the touchline, he brings with him hunger and desire.

Chelsea fans will be delighted at the appointment in light of this and he will need to prove himself quickly both to the fans and the players as they look to completely eradicate any lingering effects from last season.

They have moved to make signings aimed at increasing the strength of a squad that looked lacklustre for large parts of last season. The arrivals of N'Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi have strengthened the middle of the park and the forward line.

The demise of Chelsea was absolutely incredible, not only because they were the defending champions but also because it resulted in so many players completely losing form. The likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois performed well below par last year and seriously let Jose Mourinho down.

Conte's first aim will be to get those players back and performing and if he can do that they will have a very successful season and the absence of European football much like Liverpool, will allow them time to gel and concentrate on getting their league campaign sorted.

The signings of Kante and Michy Batshuayi are excellent signings, with the presence of Kante in midfield giving them far more dynamism, he was a vital cog in the Leicester title winning side.

Batshuayi will give the Italian more choice up front and particularly given Costa's form last year, suspensions and a loss of form affected Chelsea.

There have been no departures of note meaning that Chelsea will have an excellent base to work from and players that will need to prove themselves again after last season's debacle.

Chelsea have been linked with Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid as speculation about the future of Costa intensifies but that move is looking more unlikely with each passing day.

The Blues will be looking to continue their excellent record against West Ham in the Premier League and overall in 91 meetings they have won 38, lost 34 and drawn 19 and they will be hoping to produce a first win in three matches.

Chelsea are the favourites at 8/13 and Diego Costa is 7/2 to score first for the Blues.

Chelsea
Can Conte bring success back to the Bridge?

 

West Ham kick off another new season with Slaven Bilic at the helm and enjoying a second full pre-season programme with the London club and there is huge anticipation ahead of the new season.

Slaven Bilic enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Premier League and is the man tasked with leading West Ham into the new Olympic Stadium.

They finished in 7th position last season and have ensured they can progress to the Europa League if they can beat FC Astra Giurgiu over two legs starting next Thursday.

This will be a really big test of West Ham's squad because unlike Chelsea & Liverpool who will have plenty of time to recover during the week and train together, West Ham will be unable to do so and will have to rotate accordingly.

West Ham have already done some excellent business in the transfer window and secured signings early in the form of Havard Nordtveit from Borussia Monchengladbach, Arthur Masuaku has arrived from Olympiakos, Manuel Lanzini has signed, Ashley Fletcher has arrived from Barnsley and Sofiane Feghouli has arrived from Valencia.

The signing of Jonathan Calleri on loan from Uruguayan side Deportivo Maldonado, has ended their search for a striker and along with keeping Dimitri Payet the club will be delighted with the business that they have done.

They have had some bad luck in the injury department with left-back Aaron Cresswell out long term but they have more than enough players to cover that loss.

James Tomkins is the most high-profile casualty from last year's squad having left for Crystal Palace but defender Winston Reid will be the key at the back for the Hammers.

Slaven Bilic will have a huge job on his hands to challenge for the top spots in the Premier League and the Europa League. All of the top sides resurgent and the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Leicester all improving on the managerial and player fronts.

The minimum goal to improve will be a fourth-place finish to qualify for the Champions League, but given the strength of their rivals this year that will be an enormous task. A more realistic goal will be a top six finish and progression beyond the Europa League group stages.

They will need to improve their record against Chelsea but they were unbeaten against Chelsea last season and the continuation of that record would be a great achievement for the Hammers.

West Ham are the underdogs at 17/4 with Andy Carroll at 8/1 to score first for the Hammers.

Betting Tips

Sanchez to score first @ 5/1 and a 2-2 draw @ 12/1

Batshuayi to score first @ 9/2 and a 2-2 draw @ 14/1

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