With the World Cup over, it’s back to business in the domestic football leagues and the first Premiership fixtures take place this weekend. Read on to find out more about the opening matches and discover which teams are being heralded as potential title winners.
The 2018/19 Season Openers?
Last year’s runners-up, Manchester United, take on Leicester City at Old Trafford tonight in the first Premiership tie of the season. Despite having won the famous sterling silver football trophy a record 13 times, the Reds haven’t triumphed since the 2012/13 season, so they’ll be keen to get their campaign off to a flying start.
Saturday sees Newcastle United play Tottenham Hotspur, with the match kicking off at 12.30. Spurs fans will be hoping that, with a host of World Cup heroes in their squad, including Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, they’ll be able to secure their first away win of the season at St. James’ Park. Five other matches also take place that day: AFC Bournemouth vs. Cardiff City, Fulham vs. Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea and Watford vs. Brighton & Hove Albion all kick off at 15.00, and Wolverhampton Wanderers meet Everton at the Molineux Stadium at 17.30.
Liverpool, who finished fourth in the Premiership in 2017/18, face West Ham United at Anfield at 13.30 on Sunday, while Southampton play Burnley at St. Mary’s Stadium at the same time. The final match of the weekend sees Arsenal take on Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium at 16.00 that day – and it’s going to be one to watch. How will the Gunners fare in their first Premiership outing under Unai Emery? Can Pep Guardiola’s men start their title defence with a win away from home?
The 2018/19 Premier League – Who are the Pre-Season Title Favourites?
Manchester City were so dominant last season that many pundits are already backing them to retain the trophy for another year. Earlier this week, Alan Shearer, the former England striker, told the BBC: “I think City will win the Premier League again because of Pep – he won’t want their standards slipping. He will play exactly the same way and they are going to be very hard to stop…”.
Interestingly, Liverpool are being named as the Blues’ main rivals for the title, with the BBC reporting that Ian Wright, Ruud Gullit and Martin Keown all believe they’ll seize the trophy this year. Gullit told the BBC that Liverpool “are contenders because of the way they play, and how they control games but they also want to entertain and they want to attack – they play the right way”. With Klopp having recently signed Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson for a whopping £66.8 million, as well as Naby Keita and Fabinho, could this be Liverpool’s year?
According to the experts, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal could also be in the title fight. However, Paul Merson told Sky Sports that all may not be well at Old Trafford: “This season, it just doesn’t seem a happy camp”. Could that affect the Reds’ title chances? We’ll have to wait and see.
Are you looking forward to the first Premier League matches of the season? How do you rate your team’s chances of claiming the trophy in 2018/19?