DID you enjoy your brief break from constant football or did you blink and miss it? Ahh well, no time to think about that now – the Premier League is back!
The 2020/21 season promises to be a season like no other – okay, a bit like 2019/20 – with fans originally unable to attend games, the risk of self-quarantine at any moment, and Mike Ashley being usurped as the Premier League's most unpopular club owner by Davids Gold and Sullivan at West Ham.
But anyway, enough about all that, there's betting to be done. And so, for the first time this season, is our Premier League betting tips.
Last time Fulham were in the Premier League, they 10 straight London derby defeats – the worst such run in top-flight history – including 4-1 and 5-1 defeats to Arsenal. The Cottagers are aiming to avoid opening day defeat for the third season running, but with Arsenal unbeaten in 24 September matches, they are up against a side that tends to start well.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored nine post-lockdown goals, including five in three games at Wembley, generally cashes in against newly-promoted sides. He's been directly involved in 16 goals (12 goals, four assists) in his last 13 matches against Premier League newbies, including three goals and an assist against Fulham in 2018/19.
With the FA Cup in the bag, and two highly promising wins over Liverpool to build on, Arsenal are primed for a strong start. It might be tricky – the Gunners' 28 opening day games in the Premier League have involved more red cards (11) than any other side's – but the feelgood factor Mikel Arteta has developed should see them home.
Leeds have played more opening day games in the Premier League without defeat (five wins, seven draws) than anyone else, but that record will be severely tested on Saturday as they begin with hands down the toughest fixture of the season. None of the six previous Premier League champions who have faced newly-promoted sides on match day one have ever dropped a point, and more pertinently, Liverpool are unbeaten in 58 matches at Anfield.
After finishing their title campaign with a whimper, and losing the 2020/21 season opener to Arsenal in the Community Shield, Liverpool will want to lay down a marker this season. Leeds' pressing will cause the Reds more discomfort than most Premier League teams are capable of, but ultimately quality will prevail. Mo Salah can become only the second ever player – after Teddy Sheringham – to score on opening day in four consecutive seasons.
Mike Ashley will have the rare privilege of only being the second most disliked club owner in a Premier League match on Saturday evening, and West Ham's dreadful summer/ decade threatens to undermine another season. Selling promising young players and missing out on key targets has cultivated a negative atmosphere around the club. Whether fans are in attendance or not, David Moyes will feel it.
Newcastle on the other hand have boosted their attack considerably with the signings of former Bournemouth duo Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. In conjunction with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, the duo gives Steve Bruce the option to encourage Newcastle to sit back, soak up pressure and spring on the counter. Against a slow Hammers defence, that could be lethal.
Other than Tottenham (10), Newcastle have more away wins against West Ham (nine) than any other side. The London outfit have also lost their last four season-openers. Back new-look Newcastle to nick the win.
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— Premier League (@premierleague) September 9, 2020
West Brom's return to the Premier League offers them a chance to snap an unfavourable run against one of their Midlands rivals. Leicester have won at the Hawthorns on their last four trips, and Jamie Vardy has scored in all four. Only Ruud van Nistelrooy (against Newcastle) has scored in more consecutive games against the same opponent (five).
Leicester are coming off the back of a tremendous campaign, but the disappointing way in which it ended left a sour taste. Having at one point amassed 24 points in just eight games between October and December, the Foxes claimed the same amount from their final 22 games as a genuine title bid descended into an unsuccessful scrap for fourth. Having retained all key players bar Ben Chilwell, Brendan Rodgers can reasonably hope for a reset on Sunday.
Albion have splashed out an initial £21m to re-sign loanees, Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana, and with a combined 39 goals and assists in the Championship last season, that looks like money well spent. But Pereira and Diangana, like Albion in general, may struggle to immediately get up to speed. Back Leicester.
Jose Mourinho remains unbeaten in 10 opening day games (nine wins, one draw) while Spurs are unbeaten in 15 games overall against Everton. Only against Arsenal (10) and Leicester (14) has Harry Kane scored more often than he's scored against the Toffees (nine). Inversely, his England teammate Jordan Pickford has conceded more against Spurs (22) than against any other side. He has no clean sheets in eight matches with Tottenham.
Tottenham pipped Everton to their primary midfield target this summer, but if missing out on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was a factor in the bargain acquisitions of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and James Rodriguez for just over £50m, Spurs have done their opponents a favour. The gaping hole in Everton's midfield has been plugged in impressive fashion.
Everton are likely to be without Mason Holgate, although Yerry Mina should recover in time to start. Galvanised by their new engine room, Everton can catch Spurs cold. A win might be pushing it a tad, and I like the odds on the draw.