Spurs to start with a win over miserable Magpies
Newcastle 5/2 v Tottenham 19/20; The Draw 11/5
With just four games kicking off at the traditional time of 3pm on Saturday, and my good self off on holidays by the time you read this, I'm sure my bosses won't mind me commencing this season's tipping column with a selection from an earlier kick-off.
I fancy that team news - something I don't have privy to at the time of writing - could be quite important in a few of the later games so my tactic on Saturday is to largely take on a few clubs that don't seem to have their house quite in order ready for the big kick-off, namely Newcastle and Chelsea.
The Magpies have endured a torrid pre-season, on and off the pitch. On it, they failed to score a single goal in three consecutive matches, drawing 0-0 with Porto, losing 4-0 at Braga, before losing 1-0 at home to Augsburg last Saturday. Boss Rafa Benitez looks like he's found a fiver and lost a tenner and continues to bemoan the lack of summer signings, making a couple of sarcastic digs at the powers that be at the club, something you expect won't have gone down too well.
Newcastle start their season against Tottenham in Saturday's early kick-off, and at around even money Spurs have to be backed.
Mauricio Pochettino has also been less than busy in the transfer market but with Tottenham you feel that they have a very settled squad, know exactly how the manager wants them to play, and once again they'll be a force to be reckoned with this season. The Lilywhites won 2-0 at St James' Park this time last season, and a similar result looks very much on the cards.
Stalemate expected at the Cottage
Fulham 13/10 v Crystal Palace 21/10; The Draw 23/10
It's a brave call to say that of the three promoted teams Fulham have enjoyed the better transfer window - and remember I'm writing this prior to Thursday's Deadline Day - given what Wolves have done in the transfer market, but not only do I think that, I also believe that the Cottagers have had one of the best windows of all Premier League clubs.
As a Middlesbrough fan I know better than most that spending £50-60m on new signings when you get promoted to the Premier League can be a bit misleading if you spend it on players who have never experienced the division before. And that's exactly what my fear is for Wolves. But Fulham have done quite the opposite, and I really like their signings.
Obviously turning the loan deal of Aleksandar Mitrovic into a permanent signing is a big plus given he already has experience of English football and indeed the Premier League, but also signing Alfie Mawson from Swansea, and former Chelsea man Andre Schurrle, are very eyecatching transfers.
Having said all that I'm a big fan of Crystal Palace doing well this term also. To finish 11th last season after losing their first seven games was a terrific achievement, and I fancy they'll improve on that this campaign.
Cheikhou Kouyaté is an excellent addition in central midfield, while the very promising German international Max Meyer could be one of the Premier League's best young additions if he finds his feet in England.
All in all, this promises to be an entertaining game between two sides I fully expect to finish around mid-table this season, if not higher. There won't be much between them come May, and there might not be anything between them on Saturday.
Sarri to quickly understand the size of his task
Huddersfield 5/1 v Chelsea 1/2; The Draw 11/4
This is a match between two clubs that I expect to struggle this term; okay, in Chelsea's case not so much struggle but fail to reach market expectations in terms of them being one of the four most fancied clubs to record a Top 4 Finish.
Huddersfield have a really tough start to the campaign - as mentioned in my Team-by-Team Bets preview - so they'll desperately be hoping to catch Chelsea cold on the first weekend of the new season, especially given they have home advantage.
The Terriers survived narrowly last term but they'll surely take heart from the 1-1 draw that they achieved at Stamford Bridge on the second last weekend when it appeared that the Blues' players had just given up. True, this is the start of a new campaign and Chelsea very much have reason to be on the ball, but there was very little evidence of that being the case against Manchester City last Sunday.
I know it was 'only' the Community Shield but Chelsea's tracking back and pressing for Sergio Aguero's opening goal was pretty much as bad as it gets, and if that's a sign of things to come this term then I expect Maurizio Sarri to be under immense pressure a lot sooner than he'd ever have expected to be.
I find it intriguing that, after sacking Antonio Conte, Roman Abramovich has turned to a much-travelled manager in Sarri, who has won absolutely no major silverware in his near 30-year managerial career. I just feel that a few of Chelsea's stars might not exactly be incentivised by the Italian's appointment, and that the whole club will receive a bit of a reality check by failing to win at one of the league's relegation favourites.
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