The likes of Everton, Leicester, West Ham, Bournemouth, and Wolves will all have aspirations of finishing in the top half of the table this season, and they're all in action on Saturday afternoon. Mike Norman provides his best bets...
"My opinion is that Everton are the better side, they look stronger in attack, they have home advantage, and a price just shy of even money for them to beat a goal-shy Southampton side looks a decent bet."
Toffees to get their first win against toothless Saints
Everton [1.98] v Southampton [4.7]; The Draw [3.5]
There was plenty of encouragement in Everton's 2-2 draw at Wolves last week. It's never an easy task going to the home of one of the newly-promoted clubs on the first day of the season, but when that club is one that has invested heavily and fancied to finish top half of the table, and you go down to 10 men during the first half, then a draw is a perfectly acceptable result.
Expensive summer signing Richarlison was the star of the show for Everton last Saturday with a brace of goals and he looks a significant acquisition as the Toffees attempt to improve on last season's relatively poor goals tally. Fellow Brazilian attacker Bernard also looks a positive signing, while former Barcelona defender Yerry Mina - along with Lucas Digne - is sure to strengthen Everton's defence and is likely to make his debut on Saturday.
I fancy Marco Silva's men to claim their first three points of the campaign when Southampton arrive at Goodison park this weekend.
Mark Hughes' men escaped by the skins of their teeth last term and a bit like Everton, a lack of goals was cited as their main reason for underachieving. But whereas the Toffees strengthened in attack during the last two transfer windows, Southampton's only significant signing up until last Thursday was a defender. They did bring in Danny Ings on loan from Liverpool on Deadline Day, but the former Burnley man was only deemed fit/good enough for a place on the bench last weekend.
And it was a familiar story for the Saints against the Clarets last Sunday. They squandered a few good chances and looked to run out of ideas in the final third more often than not, eventually settling for a slightly disappointing goalless draw.
My opinion is that Everton are the better side, they look stronger in attack, they have home advantage, and a price just shy of even money for them to beat a goal-shy Southampton side looks a decent bet.
Foxes and Wolves to serve up a treat
Leicester [2.12] v Wolves [4.0]; The Draw [3.5]
Leicester performed quite well I thought at Old Trafford last Friday, eventually losing 2-1 in a game that could easily have had more goals, while Wolves were involved in a very entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Everton, showing some excellent attacking intent but also displaying some vulnerability at the back.
So I'm very surprised that we can back Over 2.5 Goals at [2.14] in this match, in what should be another highly entertaining affair.
Wolves boss Nuno Santo said after last week's draw that he won't compromises his beliefs now that his side are in the Premier League, and that his men will continue to play the swashbuckling attacking style of play - normally in a 3-4-3 formation - that saw them run away with last season's Championship.
Santo has plenty of attack-minded players in his squad and a couple of excellent goalscoring midfielders, not least the very exciting Ruben Neves, and it's easy to see the Wanderers getting amongst the goals regularly this term. But how many they can keep them out at the other end will be key to where Wolves finish this term.
I'm not convinced Santo's men will be able to keep the Foxes at bay at the King Power Stadium in what should be an end-to-end match, and I'm quietly confident that we'll witness at least three goals.
Kane can break August duck but Hammers the final bet
West Ham [2.22] v Bournemouth [3.6]; The Draw [3.6]
Once again there's just four Premier League games kicking off at the traditional time of 3pm on Saturday, and although Tottenham should get the better of Fulham with the minimum of fuss it's hard to be confident about any bet at the prices in that particular game.
Backing 2/7 shots (Spurs to win) is not for this column, and backing Spurs -1 on the handicap comes with a bit of risk as Fulham will raise their game on two accounts; one the fact that they're new to the Premier League and will play with that extra enthusiasm that all newly-promoted teams play with in the early weeks, and secondly the fact that they're playing at Wembley.
And we can't back Harry Kane to score either because as we know, he never scores in August! Actually, backing the England striker to score two or more at 6/4 was the closest I came to a bet in the game, but I'm happy to let it go without an investment.
My final wager then will be on West Ham to get the better of Bournemouth at the London Stadium.
Going on last week's results alone there won't be many punters out there willing to back Manuel Pellegrini's men after their sound beating at Anfield, but it's very easy for me to simply ignore that effort and and go back to my pre-season thinking that the Hammers will be in and around the top 10 throughout the campaign.
The club have made some eye-catching signings, have a Premier League-winning manager in charge, and they shouldn't be in any danger at all of being an early season relegation candidate like they were in the first few months of their last campaign.
Bournemouth started with a comfortable win over Cardiff on home soil last week but with all due respect to the Bluebirds, that will probably be one of the Cherries' easiest assignments all season. Eddie Howe's men will survive again, and probably finish around mid-table themselves, but if the Hammers have any aspirations of finishing top 10, or even bridging the gap to the big six, then this is a game that they simply have to win.
You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73
Staked: 4 pts
Returned: 1.95 pts
P/L: -2.05 pts
- 2017/18 P/L = +20.09 pts from 128 pts staked (15.69% ROI)
- 2016/17 P/L = +42.63 pts from 160 pts staked (26.64% ROI)
- 2015/16 P/L = +14.99 pts from 234 pts staked (6.4% ROI)
- 2014/15 P/L = +35.30 pts from 215 pts staked (16.42% ROI)
Back Everton to beat Southampton @ [1.98] (best bet)
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [2.14] in Leicester v Wolves
Back West Ham to beat Bournemouth @ [2.22]