There’s an intriguing quirk of the fixture list for both Manchester City and Manchester United – they are each facing the side they played on the first day of the 2013/14 Premier League season.
Let’s start with the champions. They travel up to the North East to play Newcastle United hoping for a repeat of last year’s 4-0 at the Etihad. The head-to-head doesn’t make pretty reading for the Toon Army either, having lost 2-0, 2-0, 4-0 and 4-0 to the Citizens.
Newcastle must be wondering what they’ve done wrong to the fixture generating computer: their last five opening day games have been against Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United in successive seasons. They’ve only lost two of those, beating Spurs and drawing with Arsenal and Man Utd.
When Looking at Premier League betting odds, I always keep an eye out for who Newcastle sign, they usually come up with an intriguing player no-one else has spotted or fought hard enough for. Three I like this close season are Daryl Janmaat, fresh from helping the Dutch get third place in the World Cup final, Ajax captain Siem De Jong and Remy Cabella from Montpellier. We’re still waiting for City to venture into the transfer market in a big way, they have made signings, but everyone always says you should strengthen while you’re at the top and they haven’t done that yet.
Whatever happens by the first weekend, I expect a Manchester City win because despite those signings from Newcastle, I don’t see where the goals will come from with Loic Remy gone to Anfield. He scored a third of their league goals last season.
Manchester United next then and they have a visit from Swansea and their now permanent boss Garry Monk. As well as boasting a head-to-head record of won five, drawn one and lost one (that loss was in the FA Cup), they also hammered the Swans 4-1 in last season’s opener at The Liberty.
If you like betting on goals, Swansea’s openers are a good place to look. Since coming into the top flight, they have lost 4-0 to City, beaten QPR 5-0 and lost in that game to Man United.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they get on with a couple of their better players moving on to pastures new. Michu and de Guzman were key parts of their success. If Wilfried Bony goes, they are relegation candidates in my mind, despite the acquisition of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Louis Van Gaal’s reign as United boss started with a friendly 7-0 win against LA Galaxy, under his new 3-4-3 system in a performance he described as “beautiful” and I expect more of the same against the ‘lesser’ teams in the top flight.
The signings have been good so far, with £60m plus spent on Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera and no doubt we’ll see more too.
Unfortunately for Swansea I can see something similar to August 2013, with a three goal margin win for the Red Devils. If you like goal scorer bets, Robin van Persie and Danny Wellbeck both scored twice in that fixture at Old Trafford. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them both on the score sheet again.
Free Soccer Pick: Overall it will be a good opening weekend for the Manchester clubs, with wins for both.