Newcastle v Man City
Sunday August 17, 16:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports 1
Newcastle United started their campaign last year with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City and it didn't get too much better after that. For a club who almost qualified for the Champions League not too long ago, the 2013/14 season was somewhat of a disastrous one - on and off the pitch.
There is a slight air of optimism on Tyneside ahead of this campaign though and that has been helped by a few shrewd signings, the retention of all their key players - Loic Remy was never theirs - and the owner and manager of the club keeping their respective names out of the news.
Unfortunately, Siem de Jong, has been ruled out by Alan Pardew but there should be debuts for Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback, Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Rivière. The latter pair look like quite exciting imports from France and could hit the ground running.
Manchester City finished top of the pile last season but there are still a few lingering question marks over Manuel Pellegrini and his side as they were practically gifted the title in a year where a couple of their main rivals were in transition.
With an embarrassment of riches up front, the Chilean manager has opted to concentrate the strengthening of his squad in the defensive areas. Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala have come in for big money while Bacary Sagna has headed up north on a free transfer.
Results in pre-season have been mixed and they ended up with a bit of a pasting from Arsenal in last week's Community Shield. City fans will of course point to the fact that they were nowhere near full strength as they had a lot of players who are only just returning from the World Cup, but if they weren't ready for that, an extra seven days won't make a huge difference.
Newcastle 5.85/1 Man City 1.684/6 The Draw 4.3100/30
The Magpies have been touted as potential dark horses to do well this season and while they'll need to improve greatly, I wouldn't necessarily disagree.
The home crowd should be in full voice on Sunday and the players in the black and white stripes will have the edge in terms of fitness. I wouldn't push the boat out and suggest backing Newcastle to win, but laying Man City at around the 1.684/6 mark seems like decent value.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals 1.738/11 Under 2.5 Goals 2.3611/8
The goals tended to flow during City matches last term but Sergio Aguero only returned to training on Monday and Edin Dzeko can be very hit and miss. Stevan Jovetic has impressed over the summer with five goals but friendlies are just friendlies and the Premier League - where he failed to do much last year - is a completely different ball game.
I'm sure Over 2.5 goals will be all the rage here but I'm not so sure. This could be quite cagey early on and I expect Newcastle to apply plenty of pressure in the opening half an hour. The City defence is generally solid though and that means Under 2.5 is definitely the call.
There's only one score that stands out to me in this market and that is a 1-1 draw at odds of 9.417/2. Both managers would probably take a point before kick off as nobody wants to start the season with a loss.
Cashing out is always a valuable weapon to have in your betting armoury as things can change so quickly in a game of football - especially in England. As mentioned above, I have this down as a low-scoring affair, with the game remaining goalless for a sustained period. You can back Under 1.5 goals at 5.24/1 and if things go according to plan, there should be plenty of opportunity to cash out and lock in a guaranteed profit.
Lay Man City @ 1.684/6 (2pts)
Back Under 2.5 goals @ 2.3611/8 (1pt)
Back a 1-1 Correct Score @ 9.417/2 (1pt)
Best Cash Out
Back Under 1.5 goals @ 5.24/1