This weekend sees the return of the Premier League, with a bumper fixture list over the weekend. Everton host Tottenham Hotspur in the battle of the former Southampton managers, newly promoted Middlesbrough face Stoke and Southampton begin life under new manager Claude Puel against Walter Mazzarri's Watford.

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Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur – Saturday 13th August 2016 – 15:00 

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Can Harry Kane guide Tottenham to a first victory of the season?

Everton kick off the new season by facing Tottenham at Goodison Park, in one of the biggest ties of the opening weekend, with both sides looking to kick off their new seasons with a win.

Ronald Koeman is the new man in the Everton hotseat, following Roberto Martinez' sacking towards the back end of last season. He enjoyed another excellent season with Southampton and that prompted Everton's new owners to appoint him as the man to take the club forward.

The Toffee's endured a disastrous season last year, with a final placing of 11th nowhere near good enough for the Goodison Park faithful and their woeful home record eventually cost the Spaniard his job.

With 6 wins, 7 losses and 5 draws at home, the Dutchman doesn't have to look too far into the first place that he needs to improve the side and their defence will also be one of the first areas that he casts his eye over.

There have been a few exits with the high profile departure of John Stones from Goodison to Manchester City for £47 million, the deal is an enormous one for the club but ensures that they will need to utilise that money to try and bring in a central defender.

That process is already beginning with the move for Swansea City club captain Ashley Williams now finalised , with a fee in the region of £12 million accepted for the experienced Welsh defender.

Romelu Lukaku has also been linked with a big money move to Chelsea and if he were to leave Everton they would need to also make a marquee signing up front to ensure that they are not left with two large holes as both business ends of the pitch.

Merseyside based Everton will be looking to slightly improve on their record against Tottenham, in 157 meetings they have won 48, lost 58 and drawn 41 matches.

Everton are the underdogs at 2/1 with Romelu Lukaku the favourite to score first for the Toffees at 5/1.

Goodison Park hosts this huge Premier League fixture on the opening weekend.
Goodison Park hosts this huge Premier League fixture on the opening weekend.

Tottenham kick off the new season on the back of a 3rd placed finish last season, they will be disappointed with how they ended the season and they finished 11 points behind eventual champions Leicester.

Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to build on his excellent season, that saw his Tottenham side truly dominate for large parts of the season, the only alarming aspect will be how his side fell away when the league title race drew to a close.

He will also be bitterly disappointed that they fell behind Arsenal in the final league standings by one point, meaning they have failed to finish above the Gunners during the Arsene Wenger era.

Tottenham already had an excellent squad but they have made two key signings both in central midfield with Victor Wanyama, who has been a long term signing for Pochettino, having worked with him at Southampton.

The additional signing of Vincent Jaansen from AZ Alkmaar is also a welcome addition, with the break down of Harry Kane now well covered.

Spurs have also agreed a fee with Marseille for Georges-Kevin N'Koudou but that deal has not been finalised, despite the agreement being reached over three weeks ago.

Pochettino will have a huge job on his hands to challenge for the Premier League again, with all of the top sides resurgent and the likes of both Manchester Clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool all improving on the managerial and player fronts.

Tottenham are the favourites at 7/5 with Harry Kane the favourite to score first for Spurs at 4/1.

 

Middlesbrough vs Stoke City – Saturday 13th August 2016 – 15:00 

Middlesbrough Stoke
These sides meet for the first time since 2009

Middlesbrough kick off the new season by facing Stoke at the Riverside Stadium, in a match that sees Premier League football return to the Riverside for the first time since 2009 when they were relegated from the top flight.

Aitor Karanka is the man in the Middlesbrough hot seat and he has done an excellent job in ensuring that Middlesbrough finished runners up to Burnley last year and secured automatic promotion.

He has enjoyed two excellent seasons with Middlesbrough and that culminated in a campaign that saw Middlesbrough accumulate 89 points, with an incredible 26 wins, 11 draws and 9 losses in an exceptionally competitive Championship.

They will look to adopt the Bournemouth model and style of playing as they look to survive in the Premier League in style and out of all of the promoted sides, Middlesbrough are the best equipped to do so.

They have signed Alvaro Negredo from Valencia, Brad Guzan has joined from Villa, Victor Valdes has signed after his United hell, Martin de Roon has signed from Atalanta, Bernardo Espinosa has joined from Sporting Gijon and Viktor Fischer has signed from Ajax.

They have recruited in all areas of the pitch but particularly with the class an experience provided by Valdes and Negredo this side has a serious Spanish flavour and with Karanka learning from Mourinho at Madrid expect the style of football to be very good.

North East based Middlesbrough will be looking to continue their record against Stoke, in 58 meetings they have won 26, lost 20 and drawn 12 matches.

Middlesbrough are the favourites at 5/4 and Alvaro Negredo is tipped to score the first goal for Boro at 5/1.

 

Premier League football returns to the Riverside.
Premier League football returns to the Riverside.

Stoke kick off the new season on the back of a 9th placed finish last season, they will be disappointed with how they ended the season and they finished 9 points behind 8th placed Liverpool.

Mark Hughes will be looking to build on last season with his Stoke side giving a great account of themselves for large parts of the season, they only need to improve their consistency and sign a few more players to elevate themselves up another level.

Stoke already had a decent squad but they have made a key signing  in central midfield with Joe Allen who had a great European showing joining from Liverpool and they have also completed the signing of Ryan Sweeney from AFC Wimbledon.

The bonus of keeping Marko Arnautovic out of the hands of Premier League rivals will be a huge draw for Mark Hughes but he will need greater consistency from the forward if Stoke are to move to the next level, in what is a highly competitive league.

They have been linked with Saido Berhaino and his goals could prove to be the difference in making that step up, with the young forward looking to prove his critics wrong after his indifferent season with the Baggies last term.

Hughes will have a huge job on his hands to challenge for the top ten in the Premier League again, with all of the top sides resurgent and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and Everton all improving on the managerial and player fronts.

Stoke are the underdogs at 12/5 and Mame Biram Diouf is 13/2 to score first for the Potters.

 

Southampton vs Watford  – Saturday 13th August 2016 – 15:00

Southampton start their campaign against Watford.
Southampton start their campaign against Watford.

Southampton kick off the new season by facing Watford at St.Mary's, in a match that sees two new Premier League managers go head to head.

Claude Puel is the man in the Southampton hot seat and he has an excellent record in playing attractive football, building sides and developing young players, all criteria that you need to hit if you are a Southampton boss.

Saints fans will be visibly annoyed that they have the third new manager in four seasons, with Mauricio Pochettino leaving for Tottenham in 2014 and now Ronald Koeman has left for rivals Everton.

This normally follows a huge player sale, with five players leaving when Pochettino packed up and with three high profile departures in Wanyama, Pelle and Sadio Mane the South Coast club are yet again looking to build a squad capable of challenging for the European places.

They face an enormous challenge in the Premier League this season after their rivals have all strengthened, with the sale of Sadio Mane to Liverpool a prime example of selling to a direct rival.

Their new manager Puel has an excellent resume in France with Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice, where last year he worked with former Newcastle player Hatem Ben Arfa and has seemingly worked wonders with him.

They will need stability, a few decent signings to offset the balance of the departures and as has regularly been the case they will need to play attractive football.

Southampton have signed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich, Alex McCarthy has joined from Crystal Palace and Nathan Redmond has joined from Norwich for a fee of £11 million pounds.

South Coast side Southampton will be looking to continue their excellent recent record against Watford but overall in 25 meetings they have won 9, lost 10 and drawn 6 matches.

Southampton remain the favourites at home at 4/5 with Shane Long at 4/1.

St. Mary's plays host to this fixture
St. Mary's plays host to this fixture

Watford also kick off another new season with a new managerial appointment and on the back of a 13th placed finish last season, which was an excellent performance having been newly promoted and when you tie in their excellent FA Cup run.

Walter Mazzarri will be looking to build on last season with his new side Watford giving a great account of themselves for large parts of the season, they only need to improve their consistency and sign a few more players to elevate themselves up another level.

They ended up in 13th place, which given the position they found themselves in after Christmas will disappoint them and was one of the justifications used in failing to renew Quique Sanchez Flores' contract.

Given the extraordinary cup run, where they got to the Semi Finals and the fact that they had been easily the best of the promoted sides, it was a very harsh decision.

Mazzarri has a wealth of experience in Italian football and has managed as many as seven sides including Napoli, Inter Milan, Sampdoria, Reggina, Livorno, Pistoiese and Acireale.

Watford already had a decent squad but they have made several signings with Isaac Success signing from Granada, Brice Dja Djedje from Marseille, Christian Kabasele from Gent and Jerome Sinclair from Liverpool.

The bonus of keeping the key strikers out of the hands of Premier League rivals will be a huge draw for Mazzarri but he will need greater consistency from the front line if Watford are to move to the next level, in what is a highly competitive league.

Watford will have a huge job on their hands to challenge for the top ten in the Premier League again, with all of the top sides resurgent and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and Everton all improving on the managerial and player fronts.

Watford are the underdogs at 18/5 with Troy Deeney at 7/1 to open the scoring.

 

Betting Tips

Janssen to score first @ 11/2 and a 1-1 draw @ 9/2

Negredo to score first @ 5/1 and Middlesbrough to win 2-1 @ 17/2

Austin to score first @ 9/2 and Southampton to win 2-1 @ 15/2

 

 

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