Engliah Premier League fixtures (EPL)
Aston Villa v Newcastle United
The first of a few tough fixtures this weekend, Aston Villa are for sale with Randy Lerner trying to find a buyer, as such there has been little money to strengthen the squad. You would expect them to have another battle against relegation but got off to a good start last week with a surprise 1-0 win away to Stoke City, never an easy place to pick up points.
Newcastle United seem to be in permanent problems and had a very tough opening fixture against Manchester City which they lost 2-0 at home. They have made some decent signings though, Daryl Janmaat is the Dutch right-back we were linked with, while two move we were strongly liked with goalkeeper Karl Darlow and centre-back Jamaal Lascelles have been loaned back to Nottingham Forest. Dutch attacking midfielder Siem de Jong may hold the key to their season.
Aston Villa would hope to pick up home points but this is a game where Newcastle will feel they get collect three points.
Chelsea v Leicester City
Chelsea are many people's favourites for the title, including mine in what looks a two horse race. Diego Costa is a goalscorer who will bang in the goals and provide them with the ingredient they were missing last season, if he gets injured though the back up options are weak.
Leicester City were promoted last season and look set for a season of struggle as they try to get a foothold in the Premier League. A successful season is staying in the league however it is achieved. Marc Albrighton and Matthew Upson provide some needed Premier League experience but for the rest it will be a tough learning curve when the initial exuberance has worn off. They put in a decent show last week with a draw against Everton but it's impossible to see them get anything at Stamford Bridge.
Result: Chelsea win
Crystal Palace v West Ham United
Crystal Palace were looking like a mid table side under Tony Pulis and then he departs 2 days before the season over transfer money. He turned a side who had a 17% win rate into one with a 40+% win rate with the same players, that says it all. Without a manager having appointed one who has now been reported to the FA and is in the middle of a media circus, they withdrew the offer. A relegation battle now stars Palace in the face.
West Ham ought to be able to see them off, if they can find goals from somewhere. Had Noble scored his penalty they would have beaten out 10 men but they looked toothless after that. Carlton Cole is never going to score a hatful of goals, he's the modern day Emile Heskey, works for the team but doesn't score. They need Enner Valencia as soon as they can get him fit and he'll cause problems with his aerial ability.
Result: West Ham win
Southampton v WBA
Southampton has sold a sack load of players as we know and now reneged on a promise to sell Morgan Schneiderlin according to the player. How they will fare this year is not easy to assess, certainly they wont finish as high as eighth this season but how far they sink down the table remains to be seen. It will be a season of constantly looking over their shoulder and you'd expect a bottom half finish.
WBA are a strong candidate to go down. They have a manager new to the Premier League, have had no money to spend but did do well to get Joleon Lescott on a free transfer. He will be a key figure they must keep fit. If he gets injured I'd expect their results to suffer. Home form will be key, I'd expect them to struggle away, starting today.
Result: Southampton win
Swansea v Burnley
Swansea are a club that play nice passing football and the type of club you want and hope stay in the division. Our own Tom Carroll has now gone there on a season long loan and Gylfi Sigurdsson has returned there, scoring last week in their win at Old Trafford. Importantly they have strikers, Wilfried Bony will always score goals and their free transfer signing on big wages, Befatimbi Gomes banged them in in France.
Burnley simply don't have the budget to compete at this level and you'd expect them to finish bottom of the table, pick up a few years nice parachute payments to put the club on a sound financial footing. Parachute payments basically disappear in wages but if a side keeps its wages under tight control then the payment can actually make a difference to the club, instead of going the way of Blackpool. I'm convinced that is how Burnley have approached this season and picking up points will be a tough task. AS with all promoted side home form is key.
Result: Swansea win
Everton v Arsenal
The late kick-off game sees Everton who generally do very well at home play Arsenal to are trying to bed in new signings. It is important for any side to have goalscorers so Tottenham target Romelu Lukaku was an important signing for them, if a little over priced at £28 million. Martinez did well changing their style quickly last season but with players so used to playing together perhaps that is not so surprising. Gareth Barry has also returned there so beating them is always going to be difficult with so mush familiarity.
Arsenal have spent some money having decided their existing policy didn't work. How Sanchez fares in the Premier League we'll have to wait and see but success is not guaranteed. Their buys with Premier League experience, Callum Chambers from Southampton and Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United look sound buy who won't take long to adapt. Arsenal consistently play to the end and frequently score late goals as they did last week to secure a victory so you'll need to wait until the whistle has blown to pick up your Everton winnings.
Result: Everton win
Rolling AccumulatorThis season I have begun a rolling accumulator where instead of trying to win big off the bookies each week I do it over a period of time. If my bet wins I place it all on the next one stopping when I feel the time is right but trying to turn £10 into £1,000 is the aim.
As it stands at this stage with late research still to do the games I'm interested in are:
Wigan to beat Blackpool
Preston to beat Oldham
AFC Wimbledon to beat Hartlepool