Five games to watch in the opening month of the 2016/17 season

Arsenal v Liverpool (14th August)

The last meeting between these two sides was the thrilling 3-3 draw in January. This will be Jurgen Klopp’s first full season as Liverpool manager and the signing of yet another Southampton player, this time Sadio Mane, shows that he means business as he continues to reassemble his squad for the season ahead. Arséne Wenger and his team currently have a whole host of injuries before the season has even begun and have still not signed a striker. For the last five seasons, the result of their opening match has been poor (W1, D2, L2).With other teams around them making big statements during the transfer window, Arsenal may struggle to secure their annual spot in the top four. They have made one big signing, Granit Xhaka, who should be just what Arsenal need in this type of match. He successfully retains possession and puts in plenty of tackles as well as interceptions to win the ball back.

Match prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool

Leicester City v Arsenal (20th August)

Leicester City lost just three matches in the entirety of last season and two of those defeats were thanks to Arsenal. Even thought the Gunners won’t have Danny Welbeck available to come up with the winner on this particular occasion, it is still a match they should win. Last season’s Premier League champions will be without Kante who has joined Conte at Chelsea but they have made some smart signings during the transfer window and even though they are not likely to retain their title, they could finish in the top four for the second consecutive season. Even though I’ve predicted Leicester to lose this fixture, I don’t think it will have a major impact on their season.

Match prediction: Leicester City 0-1 Arsenal

Tottenham v Liverpool (27th August)

Tottenham Hotspur finished third last season in what was seemingly a two-horse race as they capitulated in their final five games and allowed North London rivals Arsenal to finish above them. Mauricio Pochettino will hope that his side has learnt from the experience and are able to use it to spur them on to great things this season as they compete in the Champions League. Facing two top four opponents within their first three games of the season, Liverpool have a tough start to Jurgen Klopp’s first full season at Anfield. Klopp oversaw some very impressive results from his side last season, including the 3-1 win over Chelsea and the 4-1 win over Manchester City. This could be his first victory over Tottenham since becoming Liverpool manager.

Match prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Liverpool

Everton v Stoke (27th August)

Finishing 11th and being unable to hold onto a lead were just some of the reasons that Roberto Martinez was sacked by Everton and Ronald Koeman has since replaced him. The Merseyside club have many young talents, and while it remains to be seen how many will be there when the season starts, Everton have to improve. Koeman is the man to do this, having helped Southampton achieve their highest ever finish last season (6th) and a place in the Europa League. Stoke finished in the top 10 last season (9th) for the third consecutive season and Mark Hughes should be looking to do even better this season. They have signed Joe Allen, the Welsh midfielder who was named in the UEFA Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament and with regular game time, he could become a very important player for the Potters as they aim to improve their league position.

Match prediction: Everton 1-2 Stoke

Manchester United v Manchester City (10th September)

Jose v Pep; the England edition. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola has been rivals before, when they managed Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and despite how much they try and downplay it, the rivalry between them is there for all to see. The match will be even more intense because the clubs were supposed to play in China but the terrible condition of the pitch stopped that meeting from taking place. Both teams have been tipped to win the title and their managers have made key signings in their quest to make this happen e.g. İlkay Gündoğan, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Leroy Sané. This game won’t just be about those who are new to the Manchester derby either, one of Wayne Rooney’s best ever goals (the overhead kick in 2011), came in this fixture as Manchester United went on to beat their local rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford. Expect fireworks and plenty of drama as two of the most passionate and successful managers in the world come head to head in Manchester.

Match prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Manchester City



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