Leicester v Brentford
Leicester have had a poor transfer window in the grand scheme of things, though they’ve managed to keep the bulk of their squad after a disappointing 2021/22 campaign, and that in itself is a bonus, though murmurs of some of their biggest stars leaving are still circulating, so we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the window plays out.
For this game at least, they look strong. They’ve not been shy in front of goal, scoring in each of their last 11 outings, averaging 2.55 goals for per game in that run, while each of their last six goals in pre-season have come from different sources as they look to be less reliant on Jamie Vardy up top.
Brentford were the surprise act last season, with Thomas Frank’s side often proving incredibly difficult to get the better of in finishing 13th, though the loss of Christian Eriksen to Man United is a blow considering just how influential the Dane was in their run in.
Indeed, from the day Eriksen was signed, the London side picked up 2.2 points per game in the 10 matches that he started, while that drops to just 0.1 ppg in the eight that he didn’t (D1-L7), and if they can’t replace that creative influence they could struggle here.
Leicester tend to start campaigns off well under Brendan Rogers’, going unbeaten in Gameweek One under his tutelage, while Brentford performed some heroics against Arsenal on the opening day last year. Ultimately, Leicester look the stronger of the sides for all the uncertainty surrounding them in the transfer window, but on home soil they’ll be determined to give their fans something to cheer about on the opening day.
Leicester to win
Man United v Brighton
A new era dawns for Man United with Erik Ten Haag taking the reins. The former Ajax man is tasked with saving what was effectively a sinking ship under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralph Rangnick last campaign, and if pre-season is anything to go by, they look like they could cause some damage this year.
Convincing wins over Liverpool (4-0), Melbourne Victory (4-1) and Crystal Palace (3-1) have been somewhat marred by less impressive results against Aston Villa (2-2), Atletico Madrid (0-1) and Rayo Vallecano (1-1), though there remains a positive feeling around the club under new management.
Brighton were fantastic on the road last season, losing just four games with only the top four managing to pick up more points on their travels than Graham Potter’s side. They’ve had a relatively strong pre-season, with big wins over Estoril Praia (4-1) and Espanyol (5-1), and while there’s been a relative lack of transfer activity, a more settled squad could make for an even better season.
The Seagulls have lost all five league outings at Old Trafford since their return to the top-flight, though they did thrash them 4-0 in the penultimate game of last season, and that will do them the world of good.
There’s little value in getting behind the hosts when considering the danger Brighton can cause, and the both teams to score market offers more. Brighton scored in 15 of their 19 away games last year, while excluding at home to Liverpool and City, United scored in 14 of their 17 at home.
West Ham v Man City
Defending champions Man City kick-off their campaign away against a tricky West Ham side who’ve proven over the last couple of seasons that they can compete with the best. The addition of Erling Haaland has brought with it anticipation that the citizens are heading for their fifth title in six years, with him being touted as the missing piece for Guardiola’s men.
David Moyes’ side have finished in the European spots in each of the last two seasons, and don’t look like they’re going anywhere, especially with the addition of Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo up top. They’ll have to make do without the Italian for the first couple of games at least as he looks to get back up to full fitness.
The Hammers have not beaten City in the top-flight since September 2015, though are certainly getting closer as the 2-2 draw last season suggests. They went unbeaten at home against last year’s top four, (W3-D1), while they rarely get torn to shreds at home either, not losing by more than a single strike in any of their last 27 home matches since Liverpool visited in January 2021.
This is a repeat of the opening fixture three years ago, a game which City ran out 5-0 winners, though West Ham are a completely different outfit now and we’d expect them to at least keep this one close.
West Ham +1 Handicap
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