Leeds vs Everton, Saturday August 21st, 3:00pm
If one thing is for sure with Leeds, their games are rarely devoid of entertainment. Therefore, it was no surprise to see them involved in an action-packed opening game at Old Trafford last weekend. Unfortunately for Bielsa’s side, they were on the wrong end of the goal rush and their defence will need to improve to avoid an overreliance on the likes of Patrick Bamford, Rafinha and Jack Harrison, who guarantee a constant attacking threat. Leeds fans will be hoping the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ Kalvin Phillips is back in the starting line-up against Everton after an impressive summer, with the midfield battle likely to be crucial this weekend.
In contrast, Everton got off to a great start, coming from behind in a second-half turnaround to beat Southampton 3-1. Rafael Benitez’s side are disciplined at the back, and early signs show the team is very much built around the supremely talented Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with the likes of Digne, Gray and Richarlison swinging plenty of crosses into the box for the target man to attack. After getting off to a flyer last year and falling away somewhat, the Toffees will be hoping they can launch a sustained attack on European qualification this year.
Patrick Bamford OR Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score first @ 7/4
Arsenal vs Chelsea, Sunday August 22nd, 4:30pm
The Premier League has barely been back a week and Arsenal look to be in a bit of trouble. The Gunners’ defending in their opening 2-0 defeat to Brentford left a lot to be desired, and perhaps people expected too much from £50 million man Ben White in just his first game. The arrival of Martin Ødegaard with Aaron Ramsdale set to follow suit offers cause for optimism, whilst the youth of Emile Smith-Rowe and Buyako Saka seek to build on impressive breakout seasons. However, Arsenal’s inconsistency – particularly defensively – over the past few seasons has been their undoing, and I fear a certain 6ft 3in Belgian striker could cause more carnage this Sunday.
That towering Belgian is of course, Romelu Lukaku, who returns to Stamford Bridge in a £97.5 million deal, 10 years after first joining the club as a teenager. Since leaving the Premier League, Lukaku has developed into a different animal, powering Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years and cementing himself as Belgium’s all-time leading scorer. The Champions of Europe will be confident of another successful season and will be keen to take advantage with the door with slightly ajar after City slipped up at the hands of Spurs. Kai Havertz will look to build on an impressive Euros, whilst Mason Mount and Timo Werner will also provide support around Lukaku.
Romelu Lukaku to score last @ 4/1
West Ham United vs Everton, Monday August 23rd, 8:00pm
Monday night sees two of the Premier League’s most underrated sides face-off in an intriguing clash to end the second round of fixtures. The Hammers got their season off to the perfect start with a frantic 4-2 away win at Newcastle, with David Moyes’ side showing no signs of missing Jesse Lingard. Instead, Said Benrahma and Jarod Bowen provided support to the monster that is Michail Antonio. Tightening up their defence will be crucial this season but with Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek offering a solid midfield base, they have a real chance of making European football for a successive season.
FA Cup winners Leicester, on the other hand will be desperate to go one further and qualify for the Champions League this year, having missing out on the final day of the season for the past two years. Top marksman Jamie Vardy was back amongst the goals in their season opener, and he’ll once again be imperative to their top-four push.
Michail Antonio OR Jamie Vardy to score first @ 9/4