English Premier League Kicks Off Its 26th Season This Weekend with 10 Matches

West Ham United

Kevin Stott

Thursday, August 10, 2017 3:34 PM GMT

The English Premier League begins play on Friday when Arsenal welcome Leicester City to Emirates Stadium for the first match of the new 2017/18 Regular Season. Let’s look at that fixture and make a Side and Totals picks.

 

Friday, August 11, 2017Arsenal FC vs. Leicester City FC

Fresh off an invigorating Penalty Kick-Shootout win over city rivals and defending EPL champions Chelsea in the FA Community Shield, Arsenal welcome the miracle 2015 Premier League champions, Leicester City (12-8-18, 48 GF-63 GA) to Londontown to kick off the 2017/18 EPL season on Friday. Although the Gunners will be without the electric Alexis Sánchez (Abdominal) who is out with an Injury and CB Laurent Koscielny (Suspended), have Aaron Ramsey listed as Doubtful and Manager Arsène Wenger saying playmaker Mesut Özil won’t be able to start—Per Mertesacker, Francis Coquelin and Gabriel are also reportedly Doubtful and Jack Wilshere is lacking in match fitness—Arsenal has been too dominant against Wes Morgan and the Foxes, going 32-13-4 (114 GF-48 GA) at Home against Leicester City (250/1 to win EPL, Intertops) and in this opening season, high-profile spot, the Gunners will want to set a proper tone after finishing 5th in the EPL and a spot away from a precious UEFA Champions League spot.

And with the energy from that past weekend win over the Blues and still enough able bodies and talent in Granit Xhaka, Danny Welbeck, 21-year-old Nigerian Winger Alex Iwobi, Olivier Giroud and record-signing Striker Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), who could be the shining star here and possible even score a brace if he starts up top in a Regular Season Gunners debut. Arsenal is unbeaten in its L21 EPL matches vs. Leicester City outscoring the Foxes, 48-16 in the process and with Leicester City earning just 2 Road wins last season, even with so many Arsenal players out, Wenger has one of his best Rosters in years so expect some new names to shine in a high-scoring Gunners victory to start off the new season.

Predicted Final Score: Arsenal 3 Leicester City 1Free EPL Friday Picks: Arsenal -227, Over 2½ -167Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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Saturday, August 12, 2017Watford FC vs. Liverpool FC

You’ll probably have to get up really early if you want to watch this opening Saturday fixture (NBCSN) from Vicarage Road between Liverpool (22-10-6) and Watford (11-7-20). With Reds’ heartbeat Philippe Coutinho likely staying at Anfield after the Reds rejected a £90m offer from Barcelona for the Brazilian MF on Wednesday, Liverpool should be able to find a way to score somehow—as they did in this fixture last season on a fantastic overhead kick from Emre Can, winning 1-0—knowing perceived “easier” EPL Road dates like this will need to be must-wins for Jürgen Klopp’s UEFA Champions League-bound Reds. Doing a deep handicapping dive on this matchup we see Liverpool is a dominating 15-1-4 (W-D-L) lifetime against the Hornets, outscoring them 46-20 along the way and going 6-1-3 here at Vicarage Road with the Reds last Loss here coming in the 2015/16 season (WAT 3-0 LIV). Since then, Liverpool and GK Simon Mignolet have W3 straight against Troy Deeney and Watford, outscoring the Hornets, 9-1. Even with the Coutinho rumors occluding this rebuilding Merseyside Soccer club, expect manager Kloppo to keep his kids’ head right in a game which could end up having few quality scoring chances at Watford despite all the speedy talent the pitch.

Predicted Final Score: Watford 0 Liverpool 1Free EPL Saturday Picks: Liverpool -189, Under 2½ +100Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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Sunday, August 13, 2017Manchester United FC v West Ham United FC

Coming off a somewhat humbling UEFA Super Cup loss to two-time defending UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid in Skopje, Macedonia on Tuesday (2-1), Manchester United (23-9-6, 54 GF-29 GA in 2016) should be in a good yet angry and motivated frame of mind heading in here—at Home at Old Trafford playing in the last fixture of EPL Matchweek 1 with the best second-year Manager (José Mourinho) in the sport’s history on the sideline along with new Summer Transfer window additions Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Victor Lindelöf (Benfica) and Nemanja Matic (Chelsea). With that trio all ready to prove their worth and others like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, the Red Devils finally have an abundance of guys that can score.

And if GK David De Gea seems like the one superstar that The Special One can count on, expensive playmaker Paul Pogba and scorer Lukaku both need to show they create some solid flow on the United attack. On Sunday (MSNBC), West Ham United (12-9-17, 47 GF-64 GA) will be looking for its first win in the L11 trips to Cherry Red Mancunia (0-2-7, 4 GF-19 GA), but in this spot with Mourinho harping Defense and De Gea in goal, new-signee and former Red Devils Striker Javier Hernández (Bayer Leverkusen) and André Ayew and the Hammers (5-5-9, 28 GF-33 GA on Road in 2016) should have trouble scoring.

MUFC is 39-8-8 lifetime at Home vs. West Ham (127 GF-50 GA) and the Red Devils (+325 to win EPL, Intertops) gave up the second-least Goals in the EPL in 2016 (29 GA) behind GK Hugo Lloris and Tottenham Hotspur (26). Many players will want to try to impress Mourinho here to try to earn Playing Time in the future, so expect a stellar effort from the hosts who know they need Wins and not Draws—like the EPL-leading 15 last season—in spots like this against clubs like the Hammers (500/1 to win EPL, Intertops). With the Three-Way line at -357 (Intertops), laying a goal on the Asian Handicap (MUFC -1 -122, Intertops) with the defending UEFA Europa League champions—coming off a very impressive Preseason and a last match against Soccer Computer Real Madrid—seems like the only approach here but note the last two meetings between these two at Old Trafford have resulted in 1-1 and 0-0 Draw scores (and Unders).

Predicted Final Score: Manchester United 2 West Ham United 0Free EPL Sunday Pick: Manchester United -1 -122Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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