The Premier League is back this weekend with a number of exciting fixtures to kick-start the new season.
Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa travel to Bournemouth on Saturday (6 August), with Liverpool taking on newly promoted Fulham and champions Manchester City heading to the London to face West Ham as the new season begins. Mike Arteta’s Arsenal face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Friday (5 August) evening on the first day of the new campaign.
In his first Sportskeeda column of the 2022/23 campaign, former Villa man Paul Merson has given his Premier League opening weekend score predictions.
Here’s what he said
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal
I know Arsenal didn’t start their Premier League campaign well last year, but they had several COVID cases in their squad back then. I don’t see how Crystal Palace are going to stop Arsenal from scoring this weekend. Palace are a hard team to visit under lights, but this is a summer night.
Mikel Arteta will probably go with his tried and tested team. Ben White played in midfield in pre-season, but I think he’ll play alongside Gabriel in defence. As the season went on last year, the two of them did really well for the team.Arteta’s best forward line at the moment should have Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli. There’s Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah as well - they have a lot of options now. The most important thing for them was for Gabriel Jesus to settle in, and he’s hit the ground running.
Arsenal need to make a statement now. This is a big game for them, because they need to lay down a foundation. If they lose here, people will assume that they’re flaky and still the same old Arsenal. If they want to make it to the top four this season, they need to win this game.
Prediction: Palace 1-3 Arsenal
Fulham vs Liverpool
I couldn’t think of a worse way for Fulham to start their Premier League season. They played so many games just by attacking teams in the Championship. Now, they’ve got to put eleven men behind the ball, and that’s going to be a problem.
I would start Darwin Nunez in this game. I only say that because this is not a game against one of the big six, and you know that Liverpool are going to dominate. Nunez needs to play in games where you know he’s going to score, and this is a great game for him to make his Premier League debut.
Prediction: Fulham 0-2 Liverpool
Bournemouth vs Aston Villa
It’s still early in the season, but this is a big game for both teams. I don’t buy into what people say about it being a long season - get your points now! When Mourinho was at his peak in the league, he won seven or eight games right at the start.
This is a good game for Philippe Coutinho, and I expect him to dominate this match. Bournemouth have just come up and they’ll be full of energy. The gulf between the Premier League and the Championship is massive, however, and Aston Villa should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 Aston Villa
Newcastle United vs Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest needed an X-factor after they got promoted, and I think Jesse Lingard fits the bill. I can see why they’ve given him the money - they need something different. When you’re a Championship team coming up to the Premier League, you need to sign a player like this and hope he meets expectations.
Lingard has spent his entire career playing for big clubs that dominate football matches. Now, he’ll be working on scraps - he hasn’t experienced anything like this in his career. He has to stay patient and wait for his chances.
The pressure’s on Newcastle, because everybody is expecting big things from them. They haven’t made many big signings, and I had a feeling they’d take this approach. They were never going to sign superstar after superstar like it’s a game of FIFA. They’ve got to build steadily - it doesn’t help to sign only two big names for a lot of money.
I like what they’re doing at Newcastle, and I think they should aim for a top-half finish and a great cup run. If they want to have an excellent Premier League season, they have to win this match.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Leeds United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves are a funny team - you never know what you’re going to get. One minute they look brilliant and the next, they look like they’re not going to score for a month.
Jesse Marsch did well towards the end of last season, but he’ll have to do without Kalvin Phillips this year. Leeds struggled last year, and they’ll need to win this game if they don’t want another struggle in the Premier League. It’s going to be a hot summer’s day, and this match will likely end in a draw.
Prediction: Leeds 1-1 Wolves
West Ham United vs Manchester City
This is a hard Premier League game for both teams. Manchester City employ a strong press, and this game could work out well for West Ham, with the way they play on the counter.
It’s too early to say anything about Erling Haaland. He’s not a 27-year-old coming into the big boys’ league. He’s still a young kid who’s done well everywhere he’s been. West Ham are going to have 11 men behind the ball, and I’m not sure where Haaland’s power and pace will fit in there. When was the last time somebody scored a 1v1 for Man City? It’s very rare. I think he’s going to score a lot of Premier League goals because he plays for Manchester City, but they’ll be different to the goals he’s scored for Borussia Dortmund and Norway.
I think Manchester City are slightly weaker than they were last season. Between Jesus and Sterling, you knew you were getting at least 25 goals every season. With Haaland and Alvarez, who knows? They could have 30 Premier League goals before Christmas, but they’ll need to prove their mettle.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-1 Manchester City
See Paul Merson’s predictions in full, here.
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