The Premier League returns to action on Friday evening and Charlie Nicholas is here to give us his predictions for the opening weekend of the season.
The 2019/20 campaign gets underway with newly-promoted Norwich City’s trip to face European champions Liverpool at Anfield on Friday Night Football, a match you can see live on Sky Sports Premier League.
- VAR in the PL: The ultimate Q&A
- Essential reading for the new PL season
- Most expensive signings of the summer
Manchester City travel down to the capital to take on West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, while Aston Villa, another side up from the Championship, and Tottenham then go head to head later that day – again, another game you can see live on Sky Sports Premier League.
On Super Sunday, Newcastle host Arsenal at St James’ Park, before Manchester United and Chelsea clash at Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
And this is who the former Arsenal and Scotland striker has tipped for opening-day victories…
Liverpool vs Norwich – Friday Night Football, live from 7pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off at 8pm
I don’t think Liverpool have been overly ambitious in the market – they did not need to be. We know they are pretty impressive at the back, though I don’t think they will be as good this year.
Norwich will be thinking ‘Welcome to the Premier League’. Where will they pitch their defensive base? It is going to be 18 yards from their own goal and they will be thinking of counter-attacking and nothing else?
Eventually when Liverpool score, what will the final scoreline be? I think Sadio Mane will still be missing but Liverpool will want to make some sort of statement here and put it to Manchester City. The adrenaline and enthusiasm will be there from Norwich, but so will the pressure and mistakes.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 5-0 (14/1 with Sky Bet)
Tottenham vs Aston Villa – Live PL, Saturday from 5pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off at 5.30pm
Aston Villa have done a lot of business. Villa are a big club. Dean Smith likes to play with a nice, attacking style. His number two is based upon a strong defensive unit and John Terry knows what that is about.
They have a bundle of energy in midfield and decent options up front. They create a lot of chances and miss a lot of chances too. They look promising and I don’t see them being in the relegation battle.
Harry Kane always tends to start slow and people ask questions. It has taken time for Tottenham to adjust to this stadium and it will take them time to break Villa down, perhaps the 70th to 75th minute. Spurs’ goals will come late on.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Newcastle vs Arsenal – Renault Super Sunday, live from 1pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off at 2pm
The Gunners surprised me with the signing of Nicolas Pepe, they will be very exciting going forward after that. I am glad that Laurent Koscielny has been shipped out, Carl Jenkinson has gone so the ones Arsenal don’t need are going.
Is David Luiz better than what Arsenal have? Absolutely. On his day he is world-class. On another day he is an absolutely ridiculous defender. It suits Arsenal to a tee! He is better than what Arsenal have so if they do get him, then I see no problem with that.
I am just looking for an improvement from Arsenal. They have to challenge for the top four after blowing it on a number of occasions last season. Arsenal are not going to challenge for the title. If Luiz comes in I will applaud it and I think they will finish third.
Steve Bruce is just through the door at Newcastle. Jacob Murphy is going away from St James’ Park and they have made some interesting new signings. He is not Rafa Benitez and he will not play as cautious as him. I see both teams scoring, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ushering in the new season with a goal apiece.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)
Man Utd vs Chelsea – Renault Super Sunday, live from 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off at 4.30pm
What an absolute belter of a game to start the campaign. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to get certain players out and certain players in. We will know the formation and style by Sunday. Romelu Lukaku is going and he will have to sell Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez too – he has another three weeks or so to do that.
Chelsea are under the transfer embargo and so the youngsters will come in. If they lose Luiz, they will have issues defensively. Chelsea will want to go to Old Trafford and walk away with something, with Frank Lampard getting through his first assignment without a defeat to his name.
Solskjaer wants the crowd to believe they are better. I don’t think United are, so I am going to go for a low-scoring affair. I am looking for Marcus Rashford to be a proper number nine and I see him being the match-winner on the day.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-0 (13/2 with Sky Bet)
West Ham vs Man City – Saturday, 12.30pm
West Ham have lost Marko Arnautovic, their best player. They have pitched highly for players they want to sign and were threatening in the market, only for it not to materialise. I like Manuel Pellegrini and he did a great job last season, but I don’t think he’s done the business in the transfer window. There are a few players that can play and they will not be in trouble or anything like that. It will take West Ham some time to get into the groove, but Manchester City are ready to rip it up and make a statement once more. Kevin De Bruyne will score here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-3 (13/2 with Sky Bet)
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United – Saturday, 3pm
I would have quite fancied this game with two attacking teams involved. How do Sheffield United get the balance of defending and attacking right? Chris Wilder is brave at Sheffield United. He works hard to get them into the shape, their record tells us that, but he is expansive, the wing-backs will be high, and they will squeeze with lots of energy. Bournemouth are very good at attacking and very good on the front foot. Ryan Fraser has progressed very well and Callum Wilson is essential to them. This will be a cracker. I am going low on goals, but it may well be higher. A few cautious minds in this one.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)
Burnley vs Southampton – Saturday, 3pm
This is another intriguing fixture. Certain teams have some insecurities. Burnley had a poor season for the first time in a while last year. They are a strong defensive unit and play two up front which I like to see, but the way they set up may be too predictable. Southampton will be full of energy and ready to go. The youngsters will get a chance and Ralph Hasenhuttl has got the change of style that he wants. Southampton are going to be very decent and I am going to go for an away win. Burnley need to adapt and be able to change their style in a game, something they don’t seem to have, and it could be a very awkward season for them.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-1 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Crystal Palace vs Everton – Saturday, 3pm
I think Zaha wanted the Arsenal move, but Crystal Palace have over-valued him. I don’t think Zaha is interested in leaving London despite the transfer request. I have high hopes for Everton, but it needs time for the team to gel. They still have problems at the back and Zaha will be the match-winner against Everton here, the headlines are already written. Which style will Everton play? How positive will Marco Silva’s Everton be? It is hard to pick a starting XI and they have strengthened in the wrong areas for me. It will be Zaha’s day.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Watford vs Brighton – Saturday, 3pm
Brighton are not jumping out at me. They will be in trouble this year. You can add Aaron Mooy and Neal Maupay to the fold, but the hardest thing in the game is to buy top-class defenders. This is another tough test for them and unless Graham Potter has a style of play that is going to surprise me, I don’t expect this to materialise very well. Watford have been impressive. I don’t see them threatening the top six, but I think they will finish in the top half. They have done very well to keep Abdoulaye Doucoure.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Leicester vs Wolves – Sunday, 2pm
These are two teams that I like watching and two managers that I have a lot of time for. Leicester are at home. Is it drama that Harry Maguire has gone? No. The value they got for him was great. Defenders are replaceable. James Maddison has grown and Brendan Rodgers will make him a better player, not to mention Jamie Vardy, who should be firing this year too. Rodgers could make Filip Benkovic a very decent player, so it is the same as for Leicester really – pass and move, going forward. Wolves will be a strong unit and try the counterattack in this one. There will be goals in both of these teams, but when you start a campaign you don’t go all out. It will be edgy and people will make mistakes at this time of the season.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Our biggest season yet on Sky Sports
The Premier League is back and you can watch more games than ever before on Sky Sports. We’ll show 128 Premier League games exclusively live – and have the first pick of matches every weekend.
We have new Saturday Night Football slots, with games every weekend at 5.30pm, Friday Night Football, Super Sunday and Monday Night Football.
Plus, you’ll be able to watch Premier League highlights shortly after the full-time whistle on the Sky Sports website and app – without being a Sky Sports subscriber.
As well as all that great live action, we’ll also bring you Saturday Social (9.30am, Saturdays), Soccer AM (10.30am, Saturdays), Soccer Saturday (12pm, Saturdays), Sunday Supplement (10am, Sundays), Goals on Sunday (11.30am, Sundays) and The Debate (weeknights) for the best reaction and analysis.