Football is well and truly back!
Premier League MW 1
Brentford vs. Arsenal
Playoff champions and newly promoted team Brentford take on fellow London team Arsenal in the first game of the Premier League season. The Brentford Community Stadium will have a full crowd as they welcome Premier League football to their club. Arsenal travel to Brentford as the favourites in this game and with only Premier League football to focus on they will be expected to perform. An interesting game for sure I think Brentford will get a point or more out of this game.
Man United vs. Leeds
Top four favourites Man United take on historic rivals Leeds in Saturday’s first game. United have had a good summer but out of their signings Sancho is probably the only one who starts. Leeds are now in their 2nd season and will want to improve on their finish from last season. United beat them comfortably last year so they will want to be better defensively but Leeds will play like a Bielsa side without a doubt. Old Trafford will be full and the rivalry will feel like one. You can expect goals for sure but United should edge it.
Leicester vs. Wolverhampton
Leicester take on Wolves who are under new management in Lage as they look to return to the top 10 this season. Leicester will hope they can finally finish in the top four this season after being nearly there’s for the last two seasons. The likes of Daka, Soumare, and Bertrand could be involved while Trincao could play for Wolves. The main return and a feel good one will be Jimenez who should start. It will be interesting to see how Wolves play under Lage but Leicester should just win.
Watford vs. Aston Villa
Watford are back in the Premier League after finishing 2nd in the Championship last season. Villa have replaced Jack Grealish with some quality signings and are looking to finish in the top 10 this season. Watford had one of the meanest defences in Championship and it will be interesting to see whether that carries on into the Premier League. Villa should be favourites in this game but this could go either way.
Everton vs. Southampton
Everton were on the way up at the end of the last season but 3 months later Rafa Benitez is their manager and there is a question mark about where they are heading. Southampton have lost some big players and have replaced them with young talent but Hassenhutl has his job cut out to get his team firing and keep it strong defensively. Benitez will be interesting and it will be fun to see how his relationship with the Everton fans changes depending on results. This could be an interesting one but Everton on paper should be favourites.
Burnley vs. Brighton
Burnley and Sean Dyche are stalwarts of relegation survival and they head into this season looking to survive again in the Premier League. Brighton were massive under achievers last season and Potter will hope the Seagulls can live up to their projected stats and actually finish a distance away from the relegation zone. Brighton are the exciting team in this game but Burnley are defensive and know how to get the job done. With fans back though I think Burnley might edge a win.
Norwich vs. Liverpool
Norwich are the final team back in the Premier League and they were Champions of the Championship last season. I have Norwich doing well this season and first and foremost avoiding relegation but they have a very tough welcome. Liverpool are first up and Klopp has a fit squad to select from with the exception of Robertson who is injured. Liverpool are looking to challenge for the title and all eyes will be on them to see whether last season was mainly due to injuries or is there an underlying problem. On paper Liverpool are favourites but I think Norwich can take something out of this game.
Newcastle vs. West Ham
Newcastle did well to finish mid table last season but no signings means that they are once again tipped to finish in the lower half. Newcastle will hope that Wilson and Saint-Maximin can stay fit for the season if they want to finish higher. West Ham were brilliant last season and they should be challenging for the top 10 once again. The asterisk on West Ham is the fact that they are involved in the Europa League and that always takes a toll on teams that have no depth. For now though West Ham are favourites for this game.
Tottenham vs. Man City
Tottenham under new management and with some exciting signings and crucially with Kane take on Man City with Grealish who want Kane. The big question will be whether Kane starts and where he will end up at the end of the transfer window. It’s a big game and it should be an entertaining one as well. I am interested to see how Nuno sets up Spurs and whether he is more adventurous than he was at Wolves. City are City and are title favourites. City will be favourites for this game as well.
La Liga MW 1
The 21/22 La Liga season also begins this weekend amid the backdrop Messi leaving and Barcelona in financial turmoil. It’s safe to say La Liga have come out of last season looking worse off and the injection of cash into the league only sent a poor message. Let’s focus on the football though as we look at the first time in many years where Messi won’t be terrorising Spanish teams on a weekly basis. The 3 promoted teams this season are Espanyol, Mallorca, and Leganes.
Champions Atletico Madrid have had a decent summer with the only major incoming being Rodrigo De Paul a central midfielder who is rated. Torreira, and Moussa Dembele have also left after their loans ended while Vitolo has been loaned out. Atletico will be looking at the situation and will feel confident that they can retain the title this season. In the Real half of Madrid financial reasons have meant that the only incoming player has been David Alaba. Diaz and Ramos have left while Kubo has been loaned out. Gone is the Galactico Era and Real Madrid are relying on players like Hazard living up to their fee and Benzema along with the remaining players proving their quality. Carlo Ancelotti is also back after Zidane left which should see Madrid scoring more goals. Real are always challengers for the title by default.
Barcelona have brought in Emerson, Eric Garcia, Aguero, and Depay although they haven’t been able to register them due to wage reasons. Until that is sorted out these players won’t be able to play. Firpo, Todibo, Alena, and of course Messi have left the club. Some more players could leave as well. For Koeman the main task will be to guide Barcelona on the pitch without Messi and they have a good enough squad to finish in the top four especially if they can get Depay in. Elsewhere Sevilla have brought in Lamela, and other clubs have made some decent signings.
For the first MW, Valencia welcome Getafe, Real Madrid travel to Alaves, Atletico travel to Celta Vigo, Barcelona take on Real Sociedad, Sevilla take on Rayo Vallecano, and Villarreal entertain Granada. As of now this might be the most open La Liga season in many years.
Bundesliga MW 1
The Bundesliga is back as well with Bayern looking to win another title as the rest play catch up. The last few seasons has seen a pattern where Bayern tend to not do so well up till the New Year and fool everyone into thinking there is a title race. The next 6 months see them dominate the league and become champions while the other teams tail off. So let’s see what business the clubs have done in the summer. The two promoted teams are VFL Bochum and Furth.
Bayern have bought Upamecano from RB Leipzig for their centre back position while Martinez, Alaba, and Boateng have left the club. Leipzig have been busy with Andre Silva, Gvardiol, Angelino, Henrichs, and Simakan coming into the club. These are all talented signings and should add depth and talent to the squad. Leipzig are also under new management with Jesse Marsch coming in to replace Nagelsmann who joined Bayern. Leipzig have lost Upamecano, and Konate. Dortmund are also under new management with Marco Rose coming in after he left Monchengladbach. They have sold Sancho but have brought in Donyell Malen to replace him while keeping hold of Haaland. Rose is an exciting manager and the expectation is that he can finally help them challenge for the title after a disappointing few years. A glaring miss in the league is Schalke who were relegated last season.
Monchengladbach take on Bayern in a fun game to start to the season, Leverkusen travel to Union Berlin, Dortmund take on Frankfurt, and Leipzig travel to Mainz. Some interesting fixtures to begin the season as the everyone asks can anyone beat Bayern to the title.
Ligue 1 MW 2
Ligue 1 began last weekend but of course all the hype this week is around Messi and whether he will feature at all for PSG. Monaco travel to Lorient, Lille take on Nice, PSG entertain Strasbourg, Lyon travel to Angers, and Marseille take on Bordeaux. Clermont, Angers, Marseille, and PSG make up the top four at the moment being the only 4 teams that won last weekend.