Hull City v Leicester City – KC Stadium at 12:30 live on Sky Sports 1

The Premier League is back!

We kick off the season at the KC Stadium where newly promoted Hull City start their campaign against last years surprise champions Leicester City. The Tigers couldn’t have got a much tougher opener and things are far from rosy for the Championship play-off winners.

Since their play-off success, returning to the top flight after just one season, manager Steve Bruce has departed, citing the lack of transfers, leaving Mike Phelan in charge whilst they look for Bruce’s replacement. The former Man Utd captain left just 3 weeks ago but Hull’s search for a new manager has been difficult due to the constant talk of a take-over at the club.

The squad has received little investment which is a major cause for concern with long-term injuries still affecting some key players, especially in defence. Michael Dawson, Alex Bruce and Moses Odubajo all start the season injured along with goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

In the Championship last season, Hull had the second best defence, conceding 35 goals in 46 matches. At the KC their record was even stronger, keeping 13 clean sheets in 23 home matches, conceding an average of 0.52 goals per game. With some key players missing at the back though, it’s hard to see them keeping out a Leicester attack that were excellent going forward last season.

So what is expected of Leicester this year? Many are predicting a top half finish but not much more. This is good news for Ranieri and the Foxes though, as they can continue to play without pressure, just as they did last season.

They have the added strain of the Champions League this season as well though, which even affects clubs with huge strength in depth. Claudio Ranieri has added to his squad though and has been shrewd in the market. Ahmed Musa and Raul Uche Rubio have bolstered the attack and Nampalys Mendy has been brought in to replace N’golo Kante who left for Chelsea.

He has also brought in winger Bartosz Kapustka, defender Luis Hernandez and goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler. But, arguably more important that the signings, is that Ranieri has kept hold of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year. It’s clear that Leicester are here to build on the success of last season rather than just being happy with what they achieved last term.

Away from home last season, Leicester held the best record in the BPL, winning 11 of 19 matches, losing just twice, against Arsenal and Liverpool. Their counter-attacking style is set up perfectly for playing away from home, soaking up the pressure then hitting their opponents with pace. In fact, they only failed to score once in their 19 road matches last season.

With Hull’s defensive woes and general selection issues, there is only one winner here for me. Leicester didn’t lose a match against teams finishing in the bottom half last season and won 16 of those 20 matches.

I think Hull are really going to struggle this season and I expect them to make a swift return to the Championship. A comfortable win for Leicester on Saturday won’t do their morale any good and we might have to wait a while to see the Tigers pick up their first 3 points.

Despite Leicester being backed in from 2.16 to 1.98 in the last 8 days, they still offer value on the Asian Handicap betting market -0.5 at 1.98.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Leicester City -0.5 at 1.98

Prices correct at time of writing.

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