Premier League

Premier League preview & predictions 2021/22: Gameweek 1

Jude Summerfield
Man City are the defending Premier League champions
Man City are the defending Premier League champions / Pool/Getty Images

The Premier League is already back. That didn't take long, did it?

The summer has been dominated by international tournaments, drawn out transfer sagas and skipped training sessions, but we can finally bin all that faux camaraderie felt during the Euros, Copa America and the Olympics and start arguing with each other over club rivalries instead.

Manchester City are once again the defending champions and begin their campaign with a trip to Tottenham on Sunday, though the curtain raiser comes on Friday night when newly promoted Brentford host Arsenal.

Excited? Thought so. Here is 90min's preview and predictions for the opening weekend of the 2021/22 Premier League season.


Brentford vs Arsenal

Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank has led Brentford into the Premier League / Alex Burstow/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Brentford Community Stadium
TV channel? Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)

This really is a brilliant fixture to open up the season.

Brentford finally made the jump out of the Championship to reach the Premier League last season, going up via the play-offs. Ivan Toney has been scoring goals for fun in the second tier and now has the chance to test himself against an Arsenal side who can be calamitous in defence, even if they did have the third best defence last year.

Ben White is expected to slot straight in at centre back, but aside from that it's a pretty similar Gunners outfit. A win on Friday night would ease some of the pressure on Mikel Arteta, but it might not be so straightforward.

Prediction: Brentford 1-1 Arsenal


Manchester United vs Leeds

Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Man Utd have backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this summer / Henry Browne/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 12:30 (BST)
Where is it being played? Old Trafford
TV channel? BT Sport 1 (UK), fuboTV (US)

This is an absolute whopper to kick Saturday's action off, if it's anything like last season's corresponding fixture anyway.

Manchester United thrashed Leeds 6-2 that day, though the return at Elland Road ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been backed this summer with the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane - though the latter still needs to be officially completed - and big things are expected after three seasons of gradual progression.

Leeds will play the game at their own rigorous pace, with forwards like Raphinha and Jack Harrison more than capable of hurting their hosts, but United should start their campaign with a win.

Full match preview
Man Utd predicted lineup
Leeds predicted lineup

Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Leeds

Burnley vs Brighton

Sean Dyche
Get a load of that smile! / Lewis Storey/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Turf Moor

That seventh place finish aside, Burnley have mostly occupied positions in the bottom third of the Premier League during their time in the top flight. 17th last season was too close for comfort for Sean Dyche, but the squad will largely be the same bar the arrival of Nathan Collins at centre back.

Their resident evil strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes will continue to make dents in defences in their own unique way, something which Brighton will need to pay attention to.

The Seagulls have lost Ben White to Arsenal for £50m but have plenty of options to fill their three man defence. However, it's up front where changes really need to be made.

All too often last season Graham Potter's outfit wasted golden opportunities in front of goal, and with Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly hardly the most clinical of strikers, they may struggle to score at Turf Moor.

Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Brighton

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Reece James, Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa was Chelsea's midweek hero / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Stamford Bridge

There's plenty of buzz around Stamford Bridge right now.

Thomas Tuchel can do no wrong as Chelsea manager, following up their Champions League triumph with another success in the Super Cup earlier this week. Add to that the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Inter and Blues fans have every reason to be excited.

They're definitely one of the favourites for the Premier League, but while things look promising for Chelsea, it's tough to know what to expect from Crystal Palace.

It's been a summer of major upheaval at Selhurst Park, and while exciting business has been done by the Eagles, it remains to be seen how well the new players will gel together under new boss Patrick Vieira. Regardless, Chelsea should win comfortably.

Full match preview
Chelsea predicted lineup
Crystal Palace predicted lineup

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace

Everton vs Southampton

Will Everton fans take to Benitez? / LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Goodison Park

Rafa Benitez should get an interesting reception at Goodison Park when he takes charge of a competitive Everton game for the first time.

His old ties with Liverpool won't be forgotten quickly, though he hasn't been given a particularly high standard to improve upon by predecessor Carlo Ancelotti. The Toffees slumped to tenth after a promising start when they were even talked up in some corners as potential title challengers.

A win on the opening weekend shouldn't result in any more grand predictions like the above, but they should get all three points against Southampton. With Danny Ings gone there is a worrying lack of goals in their side. Will Che Adams and Nathan Tella step up this season? The Saints' Premier League future may depend on it.

Prediction: Everton 1-0 Southampton

Leicester vs Wolves

Kasper Schmeichel
Leicester beat Man City to win the Community Shield / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? King Power Stadium

Everyone loves Leicester these days. They get smart business done nice and early in the transfer window and are always well compensated if they end up losing a star player.

They're a little short at centre back with major injuries suffered by Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana, though Jannik Vestergaard is expected to be brought in to join summer signings like Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare and Ryan Bertrand.

On Saturday they face a Wolves side beginning life under new manager Bruno Lage. The Wanderers went a little stale last season after the departure of Diogo Jota and the injury suffered by Raul Jimenez left young Fabio Silva with too much responsibility up front.

Wolves won't be boring this season. In truth, they could be brilliant or downright awful, but they'll likely be defeated here by a Leicester side further along in their progression than the West Midlanders.

Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Wolves

Watford vs Aston Villa

Danny Ings
Danny Ings was picked up by Villa this summer / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Vicarage Road

Last season's Championship runners-up Watford are aiming to improve on their last Premier League stint, where they lasted four campaigns before their relegation. They jumped back up at the first time of asking, but have been given a tough assignment for their return.

Villa may have lost Jack Grealish to Manchester City, but in Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings they've recruited some top talent to help share the goalscoring and creative burdens around the squad.

How they'll all mesh together is still a little uncertain and there remain question marks remain over some of their defenders, but they should come away from Vicarage Road with all three points.

Prediction: Watford 1-2 Aston Villa

Norwich vs Liverpool

Jürgen Klopp
Klopp will want to improve on last season's disappointing campaign / Visionhaus/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 17:30 (BST)
Where is it being played? Carrow Road
TV channel? Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)

Norwich have been a yo-yo side for a while now, and to the casual viewer it doesn't look like they've recruited well enough in the summer to avoid another quick drop back down to the Championship.

They've been given a tough opening assignment to deal with, too. Liverpool were hamstrung by persistent and season-ending injuries to a number of their first team squad last term. Whether Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have built up enough fitness to feature on Saturday is uncertain, but the fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane remain.

The last time the Canaries returned to the Premier League they were beaten 4-1 by Liverpool, and it may be a similarly convincing display from the Reds here.

Full match preview
Norwich predicted lineup
Liverpool predicted lineup

Prediction: Norwich 0-3 Liverpool


Newcastle vs West Ham

David Moyes
West Ham finished seventh last term / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 14:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? St James' Park
TV channel? Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)

West Ham were last season's surprise package, finishing sixth and earning a spot in the Europa League. They haven't recruited hugely, just nabbing Alphonse Areola on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, but there should be some more incomings towards the end of the transfer window.

The spine of their impressive squad from last term remains - bar Jesse Lingard who returned to Manchester United after his loan - and a trip to Newcastle looks promising.

The Magpies' transfer window has been pretty disappointing, though Joe Willock has all but officially rejoined the club, this time on a permanent deal.

Their prospects may be brighter if Allan Saint-Maximin is available more often, but the Hammers may take the spoils in this one.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 West Ham

Tottenham vs Manchester City

Pep Guardiola
City begin their title defence at Tottenham / Visionhaus/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 16:30 (UK)
Where is it being played? Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
TV channel? Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)

City get their title defence underway at Spurs with a number of fitness concerns over their international stars. Not that it makes too much of a difference though, given their ridiculous squad depth.

It has taken Pep Guardiola's side a few weeks to get up and running in previous seasons, which could help Nuno Espirito Santo's new Tottenham side.

Whether Harry Kane will play is still up in the air. The England captain wants a move to City but has returned to Spurs training in time to be available for the game.

Nuno has enjoyed victories against Guardiola in the past, but City should leave north London with the victory on Sunday.

Full match preview
Tottenham predicted lineup

Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Manchester City

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