Liverpool v Norwich
Liverpool and Norwich kick-off the season at Anfield on Friday night, as the Champions of the Championship and the Champions of Europe go head-to-head.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool haven’t had the best preparation for the upcoming campaign. They lost the Community Shield on Sunday and suffered three pretty damning defeats against the likes of Napoli, Sevilla and Dortmund on their pre-season tour. It wouldn’t be wise to look too much into those results, but it hasn’t given them much momentum heading into the season.
They’ve also brought just two players this summer, Sepp van den Berg and Adrian, neither of whom will play much of a role in the first-team. There are concerns that Klopp needs to strengthen his team and that they’d be in trouble if they lost any of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane. The latter has been competing in the African Cup of Nations this summer and it doesn’t look likely that he’ll play on Friday, with Divock Origi likely to deputise, just as he did in the Community Shield.
As for Norwich, this is their first Premier League game since 2016 after their promotion last season. They return to the top-flight a completely different side that went down, with a new manager (Daniel Farke) and a different identity. They were an attacking and played at a fast pace in the Championship last season, with a high press that’s not too dissimilar to Liverpool’s.
Teemu Pukki was their main man last season, scoring 29 league goals as he fired Norwich to the top of the league. Full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis are also vital in Farke’s system, as they constantly bomb up and down their respective flanks. Emi Buendia is also someone to keep an eye on – the Argentine winger is fiery and can create something out of nothing for the Canaries.
I think this game might be slightly than what some people might expect, with Liverpool perhaps still experiencing a hangover from last season. But I’m going to go with a goals angle, and over 2.5 goals appeals at a decent price.
With both these sides playing a similar high-intensity style, I think this will be an extremely open game, that will probably suit Liverpool. They scored 55 goals in 19 games at Anfield last season (2.9 per game) and, even with questions surrounding the fitness of their front three, I can still see them creating more than enough chances to find the net. Norwich scored an incredible 93 goals in the Championship last season which just illustrates how dangerous they are in attacking areas, and don’t put it past them to find the net on Friday night.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 Goals at 1.387
Burnley v Southampton
Both Burnley and Southampton were in the bottom-half of the Premier League, but I don’t necessarily see that being the case again for the away side on Saturday.
The Saints sacked Mark Hughes in December, with the club languishing in the relegation zone. They replaced him with Ralph Hasenhuttl, and the Austrian has reinvigorated the club. He guided them to safety last season, and he looks to have prepared them well for the coming campaign. Their record since Hasenhuttl’s appointments isn’t great (W8 D8 L9) but, in those 25 games, they faced Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo are the most notable additions to the squad, which leaves them with plenty of attacking options – a sign that they’ll look to play on the front foot. They’ll be raring to go after a really good pre-season, where they remained unbeaten, scoring 13 goals in the process. If they are to aim for a top-half finish this season, which I have no doubt they will, then this is a game that they can’t afford to lose, especially not on the opening day of the season.
Their opposition, Burnley, finished a point above Southampton last season, as they survived relegation for the third successive season. Things looked like they were on the up for the Clarets in 2017-18, when they qualified for Europe by finishing 7th, but there was clear regression last season. The strike partnership of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood was reasonably prolific, but scoring goals was their problem. They scored just 45 goals in the league and, despite bringing in Jay Rodriguez, I don’t know if that will solve their issue.
I really can’t see Southampton losing this game – it seems like they’re on the up, compared to Burnley. I like the look of Southampton +1.5 on the Asian handicap, which means this will only be a loser if Burnley win by two or more goals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Southampton +1.50 at 1.151
Leicester v Wolves
Leicester and Wolves are highly regarded as the best sides outside of the ‘Big Six’ and will both be chasing European football this season.
Wolves are in Europe this season and played in the Europa League on Thursday, not ideal preparation for this game. They travelled to Armenia and won’t be back until late on Friday, giving them just Saturday to focus on the Leicester game. They haven’t got a massive squad either, which means that a lot of their players will be asked to play two games in four days.
They’ve also won just one of their last seven away games in the Premier League, losing to Southampton, Burnley and Huddersfield. They were also beaten 2-0 at the King Power Stadium at the start of last season, but did beat Leicester 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at the Molineux.
That was around a month before Leicester decided to sack Claude Puel and appoint Brendan Rodgers – a very smart decision, in my opinion. The former Liverpool and Celtic boss has set a clear identity of how he wants to play, bedding in plenty of youngsters into the team since he arrived.
Despite losing Harry Maguire, they still have an impressive line-up. James Maddison is an incredibly exciting player and could potentially run a tired Joao Moutinho ragged on Sunday. Combined with Wilfried Ndidi and Youri Tielmans, I think Leicester could really boss the midfield, and with Jamie Vardy running in behind, there’s always goals in the team.
The Foxes won four of their last six Premier League home games last season, including a 3-0 demolition of Arsenal, and scored ten goals in those matches. I have a feeling that Rodgers will look to make the King Power a bit of a fortress and dominate games at home, which makes Leicester to win look a good bet on Sunday.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: Leicester to win at 2.260
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