Premier League – Watford vs Liverpool

Preview

The second game of the new Premier League season sees Watford entertain Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday morning. Both sets of fans will be excited heading into the new season, but both have vastly different ambitions. Watford fans will be hoping that the club can consolidate their position in the league and avoid another relegation battle, whilst Liverpool fans will have their sights set considerably higher. The Anfield club return to the Champions League this season and will also have their eye on a Premier League title challenge, so a fast start is essential for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Watford

Watford made the move to change their manager again this summer, with Marco Silva coming in to replace Walter Mazzari. The Hornets have found success in changing their manager every season, but in Silva, they may have now found a coach for the longer term. Silva has been busy in the transfer market bringing in Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Kiko Femenia and Richarlison amongst others for a combined total spend of £36m. Fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing all these new players and it will be interesting to see how many of them Silva gives debuts to on Saturday. One established name who will miss the game though is Troy Deeney, who is nursing an injury ahead of the season opener. The striker has only missed one of the last 76 Premier League games for the club.

Liverpool

It has been a slightly frustrating summer for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp so far. The club managed to get deals for Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke over the line early but have spent most of the summer seeing deals for Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita scuppered. With Barcelona now expected to push through a deal for star man Phillipe Coutinho in the coming week and injuries to first teamers Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge, what started out as a very bright summer has been soured in recent weeks. Liverpool still have a very strong team though and Mohamed Salah looks to have settled very well in pre-season, but if Coutinho leaves and Lallana is injured until November, then the club will have to move for another attacking minded midfielder.

Talking Points

  1. Will Coutinho play? The Brazilian maestro has been linked with a big money move to Barcelona to replace Neymar, but will he start the season for Liverpool?
  2. Liverpool have won each of the last three Premier League meetings between these two clubs by an aggregate score of 9-1.
  3. Watford are yet to win on the opening day of the Premier League; drawing twice and losing twice.

Prediction

Liverpool have been extremely impressive in pre-season, especially going forward and I would expect them to have too much attacking talent at their disposal here, even without Adam Lallana. It remains to be seen whether Phillipe Coutinho will play, but even if he doesn’t, I would still expect Liverpool to wrap up a comfortable victory here on Saturday morning.

Betting Tips (Bet365)

Liverpool are favourites to pick up an away win here with odds of 8/15, whilst Watford are 5/1 to secure an unlikely victory. Liverpool have regularly scored heavily against Watford and they are available with a -2 handicap for 7/2 (Odds from Sportwetten24.com) if you fancy them to win by at least 3 goals on Saturday. Everyone is expecting goals this weekend, but Liverpool are never too solid at the back, so -2 might be too much of a stretch for the Anfield club, the 7/5 on them to win with a -1 handicap looks like a safer bet.

My pick – Liverpool (-1) – 7/5

Top Flight Action Returns in England

The 2017/18 Premier League season does not begin for another week but the first trophy of the English football season will be decided this Sunday.  Arsenal meet Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.

Arsenal qualified for this match thanks to defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup final last season.  It was a good end to the season for the Gunners, who had struggled since being eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

Chelsea earned the right to contest the Community Shield by winning the Premier League last season.  The Blues will be hoping a win in this game is the start of a successful title defence.

Arsenal Form

Arsenal began their preseason in Australia with a 2-0 win over Sydney and 3-1 win against Western Sydney.  They have also defeated Benfica and picked up a draw with Bayern Munich.

However, there was a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in a friendly match towards the end of July and a 2-1 loss at home to Sevilla in the Emirates Cup last weekend.

Most of the talk in the summer has been around the possible departures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.  Both players have been linked with moves away from the Gunners but they have managed to keep hold of both players, for now.

Arsene Wenger has not been afraid to splash the cash in the transfer market, adding Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and left-back Sead Kolasinac.

Chelsea Form

Chelsea have had a quiet build up to the new season with their three main matches starting with the 3-0 victory over Arsenal.  Since then they have lost 3-2 to Bayern Munich and 2-1 to Inter Milan.

Most of the action for Chelsea has come off the pitch, with Antonio Conte attempting to bring players in while also sorting out the future of Diego Costa.  The Spanish international seems set to leave Stamford Bridge but has not completed a transfer.

Conte has brought in defender Antonio Rudiger, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and striker Alvaro Morata.  These three players are set to replace John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa respectively this season.

Team News

Arsenal are set to continue their development of playing three at the back in this match.  However, with Gabriel Paulista injured Shkodran Mustafi a doubt, Laurent Koscielny could be joined by Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal.  Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to start which could mean a place in the team for Danny Welbeck.

Chelsea are without Tiemoue Bakayoko and Eden Hazard who are injured.  Both Alvaro Morata and Pedro are doubtful which should mean a place up-front for Michy Batshuayi.

Top Betting Tips

Arsenal have the superior record in the Community Shield and have the recent memory of defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley.  This makes Arsenal a decent bet at 12/5 with Bet365 to win the match.

Without Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, Chelsea are missing two of their key attacking players from last season.  It will be interesting to see how they cope with their loss in this game and whether they can create the same number of chances in their absence.  Arsenal to win the match to nil is 5/1 at Ladbrokes.

Alexandre Lacazette is the man on the edge of every Arsenal fans lips now.  The Frenchman would love nothing more than to score and introduce himself to Premier League fans.  Lacazette is 11/2 with Ladbrokes to score the first goal.