Champions Liverpool set for teatime cracker
It has been said that football and the business of football have evolved into year-round sport, with off-seasons becoming shorter and shorter.
Well, the only memorable 2020 hindsight is that it will go down ingloriously as the Year of Covid, and the period that yielded the most brief period of downtime for professional footballers in history.
It was only weeks ago that Liverpool celebrated being crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years — obviously a first in the Premier League era — and now captain Jordan Henderson and Co are back at it again, albeit still with no supporters in the stands.
There are only eight matches scheduled for Matchday 1 because the Manchester teams, City and United, have been given more time to prepare after reaching the latter stages of European competition.
Fulham v Arsenal
Fulham may be happy to be back in the Premier League, but they won’t be necessarily happy to see Arsenal, given their woeful record in London derbies. Arsenal have outscored their hosts 15-3 in their past five matches — all wins. Early doors, but not much to recommend the Cottagers.
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Southampton developed a reputation last season for being road warriors, a trait that steered them clear of the relegation zone after a troubling first half of the campaign. The Saints have won on their past two visits to Selhurst Park and Palace have never won at home on the first day of the season.
Liverpool v Leeds United
Match of the day. Premier Division champions v Sky Bet Championship winners. Marco Bielsa couldn’t have imagined his first coaching experience at Anfield to be behind closed doors, but may be grateful for it by the end of this teatime cracker.
West Ham United v Newcastle United
Expect goals in this one at the London Stadium. Newcastle won by the odd goal in five last season, but West Ham have scored twice against the Magpies in each of their past five meetings.
West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City
The first Midlands derby of the season features promoted West Brom attempting to prevent the Foxes from enjoying success at The Hawthorns for a fifth match in a row. They will also looking to keep out Jamie Vardy, the former England striker, who has scored in four straight matches against the Baggies.
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
Everton’s ranked have been bolstered by the marquee signing of Colombia forward James Rodrigues from Real Madrid, but they couldn’t have asked for a more difficult fixture. The Toffees are winless against Spurs in their past 15 league meetings, and Harry Kane has a bit of a sweet tooth against them with nine goals in the past nine.
Sheffield United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
A pair of clubs who punched well above their weight last season and will be looking to kick on. The Blades held the upper hand in their first season back but have a few injury concerns that limited the manager’s options. Wolves have the best striker on show in Raul Jiménez, but have not won in Yorkshire for almost 40 years.
Brighton&Hove Albion v Chelsea
Expectation will be high of Chelsea and manager Frank Lampard after their splash into the transfer mark to sign Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. To start with, they will want to improve on the 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium in January. New Brighton signing Adam Lallana, a product of nearby Southampton, will be back in familiar surroundings on the South Coast after six years at Liverpool.
• Note to Fantasy League contestants: to be eligible for prizes, please ensure that you have registered at http://www.royalgazette.com/section/fantasy-form and not just with the official https://fantasy.premierleague.com/ site. Remember also that matchday squads have to be finalised 90 minutes before the first kick-off instead of the previous 60 minutes
Woman’s ‘execution’ a new low
Edgar Wilkinson (1929-2020)
Studio concept doomed from the start
Teenager caught with knife at school
A fighter and survivor
Children’s retailer born out of lockdown
Health comes first for Brown
PLP hits back over $800,000 loan to Blakey
Plans for healthcare pushed to voters
Take Our Poll