West Brom v Bournemouth
Baggies could make slow start in opener
It has been a very quiet summer at the Hawthorns with West Brom failing to make significant inroads in the transfer market. Experienced midfielder Darren Fletcher has moved on after joining Stoke City on a free transfer while the most notable arrival is Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez but his signing comes with a health warning due to his tendency to suffer injuries.
Tony Pulis' side finished tenth last season but most of this outcome was achieved in a strong first half of the campaign. The Baggies failed to maintain their form after Christmas and limped over the finish line with a nine-match winless run. With the squad looking no stronger than last year, their lack of momentum heading into the season opener could be a slight concern.
Cherries boosted by summer signings
Opponents Bournemouth should have no such hangovers and come into the new season off the back of an excellent summer of recruitment. Jermain Defoe is the headline signing, after the veteran England striker left relegated Sunderland to head south. Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and defender Nathan Ake will also add some strength to the backline.
Bournemouth's second season in the Premier League ended in ninth place which was further evidence of the progress made under Eddie Howe. There is plenty of firepower in the side with last year's top scorer Josh King joined in attack by Defoe. Bournemouth appear to have more than enough quality to maintain their top flight status again with something to spare.
West Brom are [2.5] favourites for the first match of the season but their price offers no real appeal. The Baggies ended the season poorly and there is every chance they may get off to a sluggish start in the opening weeks. The hosts look too short in the betting and there is no real temptation to side with them.
Bournemouth have done strong business over the close season and definitely merit consideration at [3.3]. The additions of Defoe and Ake are certain to enhance the belief and quality in the side providing a useful mixture of youth and experience. The Cherries ended the season with a five-game unbeaten run and a trip to West Brom will hold no fears.
The draw is also available at [3.3] and is a more attractive proposition than supporting the hosts. It is a contest which could be fairly evenly matched and an opening draw certainly would not be considered a damaging start for either team. But only one of the last 12 clashes has ended in a stalemate.
As outlined already, the visitors appear to have more in their favour especially from a value perspective. Bournemouth have won three of their last five games against West Brom and will fancy their chances of extending this record. But the Cherries were held six times on the road last season and it could be worth having the safety net of money back if it is a draw at [2.3].
Cherries striker Josh King has scored 13 Premier League goals in 2017 - only Romelu Lukaku (15) and Harry Kane (21) have found the net more often this calendar year. King is available at 11/4 to score this weekend.
Bobby Madley takes charge of this game fresh off an eventful afternoon at Wembley on Sunday. The referee booked Chelsea's Willian for a dive before sending off Pedro for a late challenge on Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny in the Community Shield.
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Simon Mail's 2016/17 Season P/L
Staked: 45 pts
Returned: 47.90 pts
P/L: +2.90 pts