New season set to kick off

THE English Premier League is upon us and kicks off Saturday (Aug 12) morning with the champions taking on newcomers Burnley. FocusM gives a rundown of the opening weekend’s fixtures.

Burnley vs Manchester City (Sat, 4am)

Reunion for former City captain Vincent Kompany with his ex-employers as newly promoted Burnley look to avoid the 6-0 thrashing handed out in the FA Cup last season.

Kompany led Burnley to the championship last season and has had his playing staff in pre-season training since June 5, while City players are grumbling about fatigue from successfully completing the treble last season.

An upset could well be on the cards which would raise Kompany’s stock considerably and make him a genuine contender to take over from Pep Guardiola when the Catalan does depart from the City hot seat.

Josep Guardiola (Photo credit: Getty Images)


Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest (Sat, 7.30pm)

The Gunners will want to hit the ground running to bury the pain of last season’s title challenge’s late and spectacular collapse. Having acquired Kai Havertz from Chelsea, they aim for his speed and skill to reduce their reliance on the injured Jesus Gabriel.

Nottingham Forest lost this fixture 5-0 last season and will hope to avoid a similar drubbing. Their late charge towards safety will have boosted confidence that they do belong among the elite.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Luton Town (Sat, 10pm)

Fairy tales do come true, as evidenced by Luton Town’s remarkable resurgence to the top tier following a three-decade absence. Surviving successive relegations and administrations has made the climb back to the top nothing short of miraculous.

The Seagulls will look to continue their fine form from last season despite the departures of key personnel. It will be interesting to see if they can juggle European commitments alongside domestic concerns after qualifying for the Europa League.

Everton vs Fulham (Sat, 10pm)

The Toffees secured their premiership place on the last day of the season and will want to avoid a repeat campaign however failure to sign a proven striker capable of filling in for the seemingly permanently crocked Dominic Calvert-Lewin will probably see them sucked into the relegation dogfight sooner rather than later.

Fulham will have to address their own striker issue with main marksman Aleksander Mitrovic being tempted by Saudi mullahs and threatening to go on strike.

Bournemouth vs West Ham (Sat, 10pm)

The Hammers are still floating on cloud nine after winning their first trophy in four decades following their success in the UEFA Conference League last season.

However, they face the challenge of filling a Declan Rice-sized void and in his absence, containing a Bournemouth team with numerous dynamic new signings could prove to be a struggle.

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace (Sat, 10pm)

The Blades return to premiership has been tempered by the loss of key players in the shape of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge while having to make do with young, unproven signings.

Manager Paul Heckingbottom has made his views clear on the need for reinforcements, and his public grouses at the lack of transfer activity may see him axed sooner rather than later. Roy Hodgson is the league’s most senior practitioner and will dip into his vast experience to push The Eagles towards a place in Europe.

Brentford vs Tottenham (Sun, 9pm)

Will he stay or will he go? The annual Harry Kane saga drags on with Bayern Munich testing the Spurs’ resolve with an improved offer for their talismanic target man.

Newly appointed manager Ange Postecoglou is eager to make a strong beginning and win over fans. He has pledged to deliver swift, attacking football that resonates with Spurs’ legacy.

Meanwhile, the Bees encounter striker challenges as their leading scorer Ivan Toney faces an extensive suspension due to flouting gambling rules.

Newcastle United vs Aston Villa (Sun, 12.30am)

The Magpies are the new powerhouse with oil money powering their re-emergence as a genuine top-four team.

Having secured Champions League football they will look to build on that success and, perhaps, even mount a title challenge. Possibly premature, yet stranger occurrences have taken place.

Standing in their way of three points on opening day is the rejuvenated Villa. Under Unai Emery’s astute coaching, the Villans will be looking to challenge for a top four spot themselves, having secured European football after flirting with relegation earlier last season.

Chelsea vs Liverpool (Sun, 12.30am)

Both sides had an underwhelming 2022–23 season for very different reasons. The Blues sacked a manager who delivered them Champions League success and embarked on a destabilising transfer spree that left them with a bloated and unhappy squad.

Liverpool suffered from the fallout of an unsuccessful tilt at an unprecedented quadruple as well as failure to rejuvenate an ageing squad with fresh legs. A titanic battle awaits as both sides seek to right the wrongs of the previous campaign.

(Photo credit: Football.London)


Manchester United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (Tues, 4am)

Erik Ten Haag has gotten rid of the many perceived weak links within Manchester United’s (MU) ranks, chiefly a goalie who was poor with the ball at his feet and the soon-to-depart former captain Harry Macguire.

Both Macguire and David De Gea were culpable for making MU’s backline seem porous and brittle, spreading alarm further upfield.

Wolves have enlisted former Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil, anticipating a positive impact from the new coach that could potentially lead them to secure a favourable outcome at Old Trafford. – Aug 11, 2023


Main photo credit: Reuters

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