The start of any Premier League season brings with it a renewed sense of optimism for the gruelling campaign ahead.
With the English top-flight kicking off this weekend for its 2021/22 season, fan anticipation is reaching fever pitch.
There’s an abundance of questions to be answered from now, until May.
Who will put it up to Manchester City, as they look to defend their title? How will the newly promoted sides fare, in what’s shaping up to be a tight relegation battle? What new signings will emerge as genuine talents?
Well, fellow football fans, strap yourselves in, as those questions get answered when the twenty top tier teams fight their way through this upcoming edition, of the Premier League.
For now, the Big Kick Off has you covered on what to expect from the opening weekend.
Friday, 13th of August 2021
Brentford vs Arsenal
Venue – Brentford Community Stadium
Kick Off – 8.00 pm
Odds – Home 16/5 Draw 13/5 Away 5/6
Watch On – Sky Sports Main Event
The newly minted Brentford Community Stadium will become the 59th venue to host a Premier League game, in this year’s opening encounter.
After some near misses, Brentford find themselves rubbing shoulders with the elite of English football.
The ‘Bees’ will need to rely on their dependable defensive record from last season, bolstered by new recruits, like Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic.
There’ll also be ample pressure on Ivan Toney. As he set a goalscoring record in the Championship last season, bagging 33 league goals. He’ll need to produce double figures once again if Brentford want to make themselves comfortable in the top-flight.
Arsenal are severely falling behind the big boys in terms of realistic title challengers.
Consecutive eight place finishes simply aren’t good enough for a club of this magnitude. They are without European football for the first time in 26 years. And seem way off in their valuations in the transfer market with Ben White, and incoming goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale.
This all results in Mikel Arteta needing to continue their strong finish from last season to silence the critics.
Brentford are without midfielders Josh Dasilva and Mathias Jensen. While the ‘Gunners’ will be missing the services of Thomas Partey, Gabriel, Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding.
Prediction – Extremely tight Arsenal win.
Saturday, 14th of August 2021
Manchester United vs Leeds United
Venue – Old Trafford
Kick Off – 12.30 pm
Odds – Home 8/15 Draw 10/3 Away 9/2
Watch On – BT Sport
This seasons Saturday fixture list begins with these old rivals, for the first time on the opening weekend, since 1970.
Last years runners-up Manchester United will look to be in the chasing pack once again. With the signings of Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane set to arrive any day now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is sending out major signals of intent.
However, that also brings its pressures. The club have now undoubtably financially backed the manager, and major questions will be asked if this turns out to be another trophyless campaign for the red side of Manchester.
Leeds impressively made their long-awaited Premier League return last season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were fearless on route to their top ten finish back in May. Nailing star-man Jack Harrison down to a permanent contract, will certainly put hope in the hearts of the Elland Road faithful.
Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Dean Henderson, Phil Jones, and Edison Cavani are all expected to be out for the home side. While Jadon Sancho still isn’t quite ready to make his Old Trafford debut.
Questions surround the fitness of Leeds defenders Diego Llorente and recruit Junior Firpo as they’re carrying knocks.
Prediction – Home win, in an entertaining match.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
Venue – Stamford Bridge
Kick Off – 3.00 pm
Odds – Home 1/4 Draw 9/2 Away 12/1
Watch On – Premier Sports
Fresh off their UEFA Super Cup victory over Villareal, Chelsea will be looking to kick start a campaign, which many expect them to be the main force pushing Man City for the title.
Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge looks like the missing piece, to a title calibre puzzle. Just adding to the incredible strength in-depth at Thomas Tuchel’s disposal.
Crystal Palace are somewhat of an unknown quantity ahead of this season.
Bringing in league legend Patrick Vieira as their new manager, after four years of dependable service from the now retired, Roy Hodgson.
The ‘Eagles’ also have a wealth of fresh faces in their squad, with their previous aging names been released or moved on in their droves.
It truly is a new era at Selhurst Park, if key figures like Wilfred Zaha and Christian Benteke can form quick partnerships, that’ll help Vieira in is inaugural season in a Premier League hotseat.
Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech picked up a shoulder injury during Wednesday’s Super Cup and will be out.
While Palace are missing star boy Eberechi Eze, along with Nathan Ferguson, who are both out with long-term Achilles’ injuries. New loanee Conor Gallagher is also ineligible against his parent club.
Prediction – Solid start for Chelsea.
Leicester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Venue – King Power Stadium
Kick Off – 3.00 pm
Odds – Home 4/6 Draw 13/5 Away 4/1
A very game Leicester team come into their opener full of confidence, after beating Man City in the traditional curtain raiser, the Community Shield, last Saturday.
In what looks to be a real battle for top four, Brendan Rodgers hasn’t rested on his laurels in terms of bringing in new talent. But most importantly, they’ve retained the services of sought-after names like James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu, for now.
Wolves are another side entering the season with a new boss. After Nuno Espirito Santos left for Tottenham. With his fellow countryman Bruno Lage coming in as his replacement.
It’s going to be a big ask for the former Benfica gaffer to guide his new side into the top half. With a growing injury list, and plenty of clubs sniffing around midfield maestro, Ruben Neves.
In positive news, striker Raul Jimenez is back in the squad after the horrific head injury he suffered against Arsenal last season.
Both sides have lengthy injury list. The ‘Foxes’ are missing Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana and James Justin. With Nampalys Mendy and Timothy Castagne also unlikely to be involved.
For Wolves, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Jonny, Willy Boly, Yerson Mosquera, Hugo Bueno and Owen Otasowie are all out with injuries.
Prediction – Leicester win.
Everton vs Southampton
Venue – Goodison Park
Kick Off – 3.00 pm
Odds – Home 20/23 Draw 13/5 Away 3/1
The sharp decline of Everton has been something to behold.
Despite improvements in all aspects under Carlo Ancelotti, his surprise return to Real Madrid shocked the club to its core.
Replacing him with the always underrated Rafa Benitez was a headline grabbing move, but uninspiring signings have seen the Everton supporters already turn sour on the new boss.
Of course, his connection with cross-city rivals Liverpool may have done him no favours either.
Southampton will be weakened with the departure of last seasons top scorer, Danny Ings. This puts major pressure on Che Adams, and new arrival Adam Armstrong to step up for the Saints.
An away day to start their fixture list won’t be ideal for Southampton.
They finished last season on a five-game winless run on the road.
Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite will be missing. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes, Moise Kean and Jean-Philippe Gbamin are all carrying slight knocks and will be individually assessed ahead of this one.
Irish underage international, Will Smallbone is still out with a knee injury. While club captain, James Ward-Prowse’s availability is believed to be 50/50.
Prediction – Everton have enough to beat a thin Southampton side.
Watford vs Aston Villa
Venue – Vicarage Road
Kick Off – 3.00 pm
Odds – Home 11/5 Draw 9/4 Away 6/5
After just one season away, Watford make their return to the big time.
If the past has anything to go by, Watford will be desperate to avoid defeat. They’ve only ever lost twice on the opening weekend and were subsequently relegated at the end of those seasons.
Xisco Munoz’s men will need to carry over their rigid home record from last season, if they want to stay clear of the drop.
The likes of Will Hughes, Josh King, Ismaila Sarr, Tom Cleverley and Craig Cathcart will have to lean of their previous Premier League experience too.
Aston Villa now must start life without Jack Grealish. But bringing in Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia will go some way to replacing their former club captain.
Dean Smith has been spot-on in the current transfer market, and there’s no reason why a top ten finish isn’t realistic.
Domingos Quina and Kiko will undergo late fitness tests for Watford.
While Villa will be without Trezeguet, Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson. Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendia and Frederic Guilbert are questionable.
Prediction – Tight draw, should be a good game.
Burnley vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Venue – Turf Moor
Kick Off – 3.00 pm
Odds – Home 2/1 Draw 2/1 Away 6/4
Potentially a very early relegation six pointer for these two sides.
Burnley just dangled outside of the drop zone upon finishing their previous season.
Sean Dyche’s men enter their sixth consecutive season in the top tier. In a nice change of pace, Dyche has been awarded funds to improve the squad. With more promised in the remaining weeks of the transfer window.
Nathan Collins, and Wayne Hennessey look like sensible signings, on paper at least.
Brighton also struggled in the league standings, last season.
Despite losing the services of Ben White to Arsenal, Brighton will look to keep their well-regarded defensive record in place again, throughout this campaign.
Scoring was the issue last season, and once again, the ‘Seagulls’ will be desperate for Neal Maupay to step-up in that department.
Burnley will be missing Kevin Long, and former Brighton man Dale Stephens for this match.
Brighton find themselves amid an injury crisis. Tariq Lamptey, Danny Welbeck, Dan Burn, Moises Caicedo and Kjell Scherpen are all out of action.
Prediction – Honours even, hard to separate them.
Norwich City vs Liverpool
Venue – Carrow Road
Kick Off – 5.30 pm
Odds – Home 17/2 Draw 9/2 Away 2/7
Watch On – Sky Sports Main Event
Like Watford, Norwich return to the Premier League after a one season absence. They host the first Saturday night game of this season too.
These pair met on the opening day of the 2019/20 campaign, but Norwich will be hoping to avoid a similar 4-1 defeat. In fact, the ‘Canaries’ haven’t won in their last eight opening Premier League games.
Both Norwich and Daniel Farke have a lot to prove this season, as they look to avoid a third consecutive immediate relegation.
On the other hand, Liverpool are unbeaten on the opening weekend under Jurgen Klopp. They’ve also beaten their opposition in the last 14 league meetings between the two.
Despite their quiet transfer window, the Merseyside outfit will aspire of a top four finish. Building on their fantastic run-in to last season is vital.
Especially with others around them greatly improving their teams, while Klopp focused on keeping the core of a somewhat aging squad together.
Sam Byram is out with a thigh injury for the home side. Todd Cantwell is also struggling with a knock, while several squad players are reportedly suffering with an undisclosed illness and will be monitored ahead of the game.
Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, and Curtis Jones are out for the visitors.
Prediction – Comfortable Liverpool win.
Sunday, 15th of August 2021
Newcastle United vs West Ham United
Venue – St. James Park
Kick Off – 2.00 pm
Odds – Home 11/5 Draw 12/5 Away 23/20
Watch On – Sky Sports Premier League
This years Super Sunday line-up starts with this intriguing clash.
It’s been very muted on the transfer front for Newcastle fans, with incoming Joe Willock extremely close to changing that. But retaining exciting players like Callum Wilson, and Allan Saint-Maximin will go a long way to keeping their Premier League status.
Ryan Fraser turned out to be one of the most disappointing signings from the last campaign. The Toon Army will be desperate to see him perform to the level he previously showed at Bournemouth.
West Ham certainly over-achieved last season under David Moyes, and now find themselves in the draw for the Europa League group stages.
They’ll now have to find the difficult balance of remaining consistent both domestically, and in Europe. Adding Craig Dawson and Alphonse Areola will add strength to the depth of the squad, and so far, hanging on to Declan Rice could be as good as any new face.
Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett are set to miss out for Newcastle. While Karl Darlow is struggling with a knee injury, disaster for them to be missing both goalkeepers.
West Ham have some slight concerns around Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku, but they could still play.
Prediction – Scored draw.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
Venue – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Kick Off – 4.30 pm
Odds – Home 4/1 Draw 3/1 Away 6/10
Watch On – Sky Sports Main Event
The opening weekend concludes with this mouth-watering tie. As champions Manchester City travel to North London to face Nuno Espirito Santos’s Spurs side.
Santos will be under the microscope from the bigwigs in North London from the word go.
Massive decisions still must be made, regarding the future of Harry Kane. Until he’s ready to be involved, Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn will all be depended on to provide the magic.
While Bryan Gil will be hoping to make a big bang after arriving from Seville. Select few will get that little reference there, anyway, swiftly moving on.
Champions Man City will have all eyes on retaining their title and adding in European success too.
The mega bucks were splashed on bringing in Jack Grealish, maybe a tad overpriced, but still a huge marquee name that will make a difference, if giving the freedom he was afforded at Aston Villa.
The strength in depth is there for Pep Guardiola’s side to win the treble, or even the illusive quadruple. They could even sneak Harry Kane on the bus back to Manchester, no denying them if they can pull that heist off.
Spurs are pretty much full strength. While City are without Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden in their midfield.
Prediction – Why not, Spurs with the upset victory.