A New Season Beckons – World in Sport

Updated 11 Aug 2023 6:02 pm:

We take a look at the first round of fixtures for the 23-24 season, including Vincent Kompany’s return to Man City when Burnley hosts the champions on Friday night, and a big top 6 tie on Sunday, as Chelsea host Liverpool.

Check out the last edition of my “A Season In Review” series, featuring Wolves, here!

This Week’s Premier League Fixtures

Burnley v Man City
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest
Bournemouth v West Ham
Brighton v Luton
Everton v Fulham
Sheffield United v Crystal Palace
Newcastle v Aston Villa
Brentford v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Liverpool
Man United v Wolves

Burnley v Man City

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What a game to get us underway this season. Last season’s Championship winners, against the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winners. To add to that, Kompany returns to face the club he loved so dearly as a player. You could not ask for more.

Burnley was brilliant in The Championship last year. They were outstanding going forwards with Benson and Tella. Unfortunately, they have not been able to bring Tella back to the club yet, with him returning to play for Southampton, but Burnley has brought in some exciting players.

The likes of Jordan Beyer and Dara O’Shea are likely to shore up an already strong defence, with Michael Obafemi joining their attacking ranks from Swansea.

It is going to be a big ask for Burnley to get anything from this game, but it would be some statement to the rest of the league if they do manage anything. Their home form will be crucial this year.

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Man City capped off an incredible season last year with their first-ever Champions League win. Completing the treble is a major feat for them, and it is amazing how far they have come under Pep.

City have not done much business in the transfer window, but have brought in Kovacic from Chelsea to replace Gundogan, and have signed highly-rated defender Gvardiol from RB Leipzig.

This season will go one of two ways for City now. They can either continue to dominate the domestic scene, or they could drop off. They played a lot of games last season, and their intensity may not be the same as it was last season to compensate for this.

Pep is a serial winner, and he has turned Man City into a serial winner as well. Come to the end of the season, I would be surprised if they were not involved in the title race in some capacity. It will be intriguing to see how they fare this season.

Overall, this is a difficult game for both sides. It is never easy travelling to the team who won the Championship. Burnley will be in high spirits, buoyed by the visit of a big team, and the reigning champions, on opening night.

I do think this will be one step too far for Burnley, especially this early in the season. I do not think it will be entirely straightforward for Man City, but come the final whistle, it should be comfortable for them.

Prediction: Burnley 0 – 3 Man City

Brighton v Luton

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Brighton were one of the better teams to watch in the league last season. The way they went forward, with the quality of players they had, it was a pleasure to watch. It was concerning when De Zerbi took over after Potter left, but he proved everyone wrong.

They have done some smart business in the transfer window so far. They have added James Milner and Mahmoud Dahoud to their midfield ranks, without having to spend a penny on either of them.

They also signed Joao Pedro from Watford, who, in my opinion, was one of the more exciting players to watch in the Championship last season. If he has a good season, Brighton will do well again.

Where does Brighton go from here though? They did well to finish 6th last year, and have gained themselves a spot in the Europa League. But what constitutes a success this season?

It would be brilliant to see them win something on the international stage, but is the Europa League a step too far? Especially considering the strength of some of the teams that drop into it? The Carabao Cup or FA Cup may be Brighton’s best chance of silverware this season.

In terms of Premier League position, they do not want to do what West Ham did, where their European fixtures impacted their chances of Premier League survival. They are better equipped than West Ham, and so I think a top-half finish would be a success.

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Who would have thought Luton would be a Premier League team? They surprised everyone last season by even achieving a spot in the playoffs, let alone winning them. They will be a brilliant addition to the league this season.

They have hired brilliantly this season. They may not have signed many big names, and they may not have splashed the cash in an attempt to stay in the league.

They have signed players, where even if they do fail to stay up, they will drop into the Championship with them and give them a really good chance of coming straight back up. It could go either way for them this season.

The obvious question is whether Luton can stay up this season. Everyone has them nailed on to finish bottom, but I do not think they will. I do they will go down, but I do not think they will be as bad as everyone is making out.

This is a good test for both sides on the opening day of the season. Brighton has a chance to get the ball rolling, to show everyone how they have improved, and how their new signings will fit in.

For Luton, it is a very good test, away from home against a team that performed out of their skin last season. Even a point here may change some people’s opinions on how they do this year. It is going to be a rough welcoming for Luton here though.

Prediction: Brighton 3 – 1 Luton

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United may be in for a rough season. They were unconvincing for me towards the end of last season. They nearly dropped into the playoffs, and if they did, I do not think they would have won them.

To add to that, they have not really added to their squad. The names coming in are not convincing, and it will be interesting to see if they will hit the ground running.

They are also starting to lose key players that helped them to promotion last year. Sander Berge has inexplicably moved to Burnley, and Iliman Ndiaye, who grabbed 14 goals and 6 assists in the Championship last season.

They have come into this season much weaker than they were last year. Now Berge and Ndiaye have moved, which should get them spending, and I cannot wait to see who they bring in to replace them.

Premier League survival will be Sheffield United’s only aim this season, but unless they invest money into their squad, they are going to finish bottom of the league.

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Crystal Palace are doing what they do every season, and surely there comes a time when it will stop working. They have lost one of their best players, in Zaha, and have currently brought in next to nobody.

They seem to do this every season and come to the end of it, they are comfortably safe. They do have a strong team, Eze and Olise will be huge for them again this season, and Hodgson knows his way around the league.

It is difficult to see what counts as a successful season for Palace now. Premier League survival will be the first thing on their mind, but they are better than that. They need to start aiming for the top half of the league, and the latter stages of either cup.

This will be an interesting opening game for both sides, and it could go a long way to deciding how both these teams perform over the course of the season. Sheffield United will want to make their home a fortress, and this is a brilliant chance for them to start the season the right way.

The same goes for Palace. It is a good chance for them to kickstart the season in the right way, and to show that they can manage without Zaha in the team. I think Palace will win this, just, but my head is telling me it will end in a draw.

Prediction: Sheffield United 1 – 1 Crystal Palace

Chelsea v Liverpool

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What a brilliant opening fixture this is, against two sides that massively underperformed last season, and two sides that desperately need to get back on track and prove themselves again. This should be the game of the weekend.

Chelsea won the Summer Series over in America in the preseason and played some good football against other Premier League teams in the process, which bodes well for them for the coming season.

Chelsea has raised some good funds this year, clearing out a large portion of their squad, including some key players from last season such as Havertz and Mount.

They have reinvested this money and brought in some interesting players, such as former Bournemouth target Nicolas Jackson, and RB Leipzig forward Nkunku. If Pochettino can get them to perform, they will be a side to be reckoned with this season.

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Liverpool salvaged their season last year. After a horrendous season, they still managed to finish 5th, achieve a Europa League spot, and were only a few points off a Champions League place.

My issue with Liverpool going into this season is that last year, they were light in midfield. When they picked up an injury or two, they really struggled. This season, they have left 5 midfielders go, with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabio Carvalho, Milner, Keïta and Henderson all leaving the club.

They have signed two midfielders in the transfer window, but it still leaves them incredibly light. They really need to invest more into the squad, or they could end up having another season like last year.

Outside of this match, Chelsea and Liverpool are embroiled in another battle between each other. Chelsea have spent all transfer window trying to sign Caicedo from Brighton, and Liverpool have tried to sign Lavia from Southampton.

As the transfer window has gone on, and bids have been rejected, Liverpool have now, reportedly, put a £111 million offer in for Caicedo, and Chelsea are now the front runners to sign Lavia. I cannot wait to see how this one pans out.

In terms of football, this is an incredibly tough game to try and predict. Either side could carry the hangover from a poor season last year. On the other hand, both sides could come out all guns blazing.

The last 4 meetings between these sides have all ended 0-0. I do not see this happening this time round though, and I am going to go with an entertaining Chelsea win.

Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Liverpool

Man United v Wolves

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Man United have a big season coming up. They have spent big, kept hold of their big names, and improved in places they struggled with last season. They need to challenge for the Premier League this season, or at least go far in the Champions League.

They have signed Onana to replace David De Gea. The change has been coming for a long time, and they have chosen a brilliant keeper to replace him. His shot-stopping is second to none, and, despite conceding a few shocking goals in preseason, he will be massive for them this year.

Mason Mount also made to move to Manchester, and he has a big point to prove this season. After a poor season at Chelsea last year, it is surprising that a big team came in for him. His preseason has been poor. His England position will be in danger if he continues playing the way he is.

United are moving in the right direction though. They have moved De Gea on who cost them many goals over the past few seasons, and they are looking to sell Maguire, who also makes a fair few mistakes.

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It is panic stations at Wolves, and the club seems to be in meltdown at the moment. Lopetegui did a brilliant job last season. He came in, changed how they played, and kept them up comfortably in the end.

Reportedly, the reason Lopetegui walked from the job is because of Wolves’ lack of ambition in the transfer market. They have signed Matheus Cunha from Athletico Madrid, but that was on a loan deal with an option to buy.

Other than that, the only other player that have bought is Boubacar Traore from FC Metz. They have sold a lot of players too, with the majority going to other Premier League clubs. Ryan Giles to Luton, Jimenez to Fulham, and Nathan Collins to Brentford.

They also lost Ruben Neves, who is such a big player for them. They are going into the season with a vastly inferior squad when compared to last season.

To add to all that, they replaced Lopetegui with Gary O’Neil, who, in my opinion, was not entirely convincing at Bournemouth last season. He managed to keep them up, both over the course of the whole season, I am not convinced, and Wolves may be in trouble this season.

This should be a routine victory for United. They are kicking off their season at home, against a team whose manager walked a few days ago, and whose squad has been decimated. It should be comfortable for them.

Prediction: Man United 3 – 0 Wolves

Other Predictions

  • Arsenal 3 – 0 Nottingham Forest
  • Bournemouth 2 – 1 West Ham
  • Everton 1 – 2 Fulham
  • Newcastle 1 – 1 Aston Villa
  • Brentford 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur

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