What to Watch: Opening Weekend Edition
It is finally here! The Premier League has returned, and while all Liverpool fans will be looking forward to seeing the Champions return to the the field, there is much to be excited to about. Chelsea is full of young exciting players, Arsenal has made improvements, and of course there are the newly-promoted teams. Each week, I am going to take a look at some of the key matchups and what to look out for.
Fulham v Arsenal
Saturday 7:30am EDT
Arsenal ended their season much better than how they began and are looking to transfer last season’s form into a run at the top four. On the attacking side, Willian has joined from Chelsea and will slot in easily into the front three. At the back, Saliba has joined the club after his season long loan at St. Etienne. Gabriel was also brought in from Lille, and both he and Saliba will be charged with improving that backline. How quickly can two young centre backs adjust to the league?
Newly-promoted Fulham FC brought in few familiar faces including Anthony Knockaert and Mario Lemina, but the team is going to struggle this season. Antonee Robinson has been brought in to play left back, but if they are going to depend on the likes of Tim Ream at the back, they are going to ship goals left and right. I expect a big win for Arsenal.
Tottenham v Everton
Sunday 11:30am EDT
Tottenham and Everton endured tough campaigns last year, as both changed managers during the season. On Sunday, both clubs will get a chance to restart their seasons. Tottenham will be itching to get a win over the Ev, but how well will their defense hold up after the loss of Vertonghen? Can Pierre-Emile Højbjerg add some much-needed steel to the Spurs midfield?
For the Blues, it will be interesting to see how well they start the league off after a full preseason under Carlo Ancelotti. James Rodgriguez is the marquee signing, and he will be under pressure to contribute from the start. James is the big name but the signings of Allan and Adboulaye Doucoure in the midfield will be where the Ev see the most improvement. It should be a very interesting midfield battle.
Sheffield United v Wolves
Monday 1:00pm EDT
Two of the biggest stories last season were the successes of both Wolverhampton Wanders and Sheffield United, as they each vied for a spot in Europe. Ultimately , both teams just missed out finishing seventh, and ninth, respectively. Chris Wilder will be without the services of Dean Henderson this year, as Manchester United chose not to renew his loan. The question is whether Sheffield can sustain the success from last season without him?
For Wolves, Adam Traore and Raul Jimenez both remain at the club… for now. Any chance of success this year depends on the presence of those two players. Both have been touted for moves away, but the asking price has been the sticking point. With no European distraction, Wolves could easily challenge for a top six spot. The player I am most excited to see in this game is Fabio Silva, an 18-year-old striker Wolves signed from Porto for a club-record fee. The youngster has 12 senior appearances with 1 goal. How will he fare in the Premier League?
Brighton v Chelsea
Monday 3:15pm EDT
Chelsea have been the story of the transfer window, with the signings of Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Ben Chillwell, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech. We will finally get a chance to see how they come together on the pitch. How will they all adjust not only to playing in a new league, but gel as a team in general? With all of the attacking talent added, Chelsea have yet to strengthen their biggest hole, the goalkeeper.
For Brighton, Adam Lallana will be lining up for the first for the Seagulls and it will be interesting to see how he fits in to this Brighton team – and whether he is going to be required to chip in with goals. This should be a fun match, filled with goals and a fine attacking display from the Blues.