August 18, 2006
Tomorrow, It Begins…EPL Round 1 Preview
Sheffield United v. Liverpool (7:30 am ET) – Brian Deane scored the first goal in the history of the Premier League for Sheffield United in 1992 and in that time the whole landscape of English football has changed. Midfielder Phil Jagielka will have to have the same impact as Steven Gerrard if the Blades hope to come away with something.
Liverpool sealed the signing of Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt and he will go straight into the lineup for the match at Bramall Lane. If the Reds can play at anywhere near the level they did in the Community Shield they should win by 3 or 4 goals easily.
Everton v. Watford (10:00 am ET) – Everton have reinforced last season’s aging squad with signings like Andy Johnson and Joleon Lescott from the Championship. An injury to David Weir means that Phil Neville will likely be playing at right back.
Watford have a good team chemistry that was considered one of their keys to promotion last season, but will constant failure destroy it? American Jay DeMerit is expected back from an ankle injury which could have made the trip to Goodison even worse for the Hornets.
Newcastle United v. Wigan Athletic – Newcastle continue to falter in their search for a natural striker to partner Shola Ameobi. A lot will be riding on him to find the early season goals that the Magpies could not score last season.
Wigan lost Jason Roberts to Blackburn and have replaced him with emile heskey. More importantly it appears as though Pascal Chambonda will be named in the side tomorrow since no one wants to pay the Latics price for the French defender.
Reading v. Middlesbrough – Steve Coppell guides Reading into their first ever top division match with high expectations. Very few pundits are predicting relegation for the winners of the Championship and they could very well beat Boro to open the season.
New manager Gareth Southgate made his professional debut for Crystal Palace when Coppell was their manager. The man with no coaching badges was given a five-year contract by chairman Steve Gibson and a poor preseason has already raised doubts of Southgate’s worthiness.
West Ham United v. Charlton Athletic – The Hammers suffered their first blow of the season when striker Dean Ashton broke his ankle in the buildup to England’s midweek friendly. This does mean that 40-year-old Teddy Sheringham could quite possibly be seeing plenty of playing time in the early months of the season. Whether that is good or not depends on who you ask.
Iain Dowie begins his reign at Charlton with lowered expectations. The monotony of finishing midtable has been replaced with early predictions of a relegation battle. The former British Aerospace engineer will also be counting on the impossible, good performances from Djimi Traore.
Portsmouth v. Blackburn Rovers – Pompey are not expected to fight relegation this season. David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson should all start in the opener.
Mark Hughes has raised confidence at Ewood Park as he is widely acknowledged as their best manager since Kenny Dalglish. The loss of Craig Bellamy it is hoped will be reduced by Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts. Also, they gave Francis Jeffers yet another shot at playing for a Premiership side.
Arsenal v. Aston Villa – A new era begins for the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium. But it looks set to begin without Ashley Cole who may be going to Chelsea, but only when Arsenal has no chance to spend the money. The injury list is already long for Arsenal, but the new Villa are not strong enough to cause problems.
Martin O’Neill returns to the Premiership with Villa in what appears to be an impossible mission. The fans will be happy for a while now that the departures of Doug Ellis and David O’Leary have raised hopes in the Abyss that is Midlands Football.
Bolton Wanderers v. Tottenham Hotspur (12:15 pm ET) – Bolton did very little to reinforce their squad from last season. Kevin Nolan should continue to be at his near-England midfielder best for the Trotters and hoofball may very well see them win this match.
Spurs have chosen to harken back to the days of the late 70s when Coventry graced the pitch in their infamous chocolate brown kits with their third kit. It marks a departure from traditional that they hope also means a departure from mediocrity in the league. Despite the departure of Michael Carrick, it can be argued that Didier Zokora and Dimitar Berbatov make this a stronger team.
Manchester United v. Fulham (Sunday, 8:30 ET) – United begin their season with what should be an easy three points. Wayne Rooney will take part and then sit for three matches due to a preseason red card, so he may be motivated more than normal.
Fulham are just simply content with being a Premiership side, nothing more than that. That meaning anything from the trip to Old Trafford; a point or slim defeat, would be acceptable.
Chelsea v. Manchester City (Sunday, 11 am ET) – Chelsea appear to be at their most vulnerable in some time. Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko are their only first-team strikers so an injury spell could mean more Robert Huth up front.
Manchester City really fell off at the end of last season and the pressure may be on Stuart Pearce to do better. They upgraded significantly at goalkeeper where David ‘Calamity’ James has been replaced by brilliant Swedish shotstopper Andreas Isaksson.
Arsenal 4-1 Aston Villa
Bolton 0-2 Tottenham
Everton 1-0 Watford
Newcastle 2-0 Wigan
Portsmouth 2-2 Blackburn
Reading 3-1 Middlesbrough
Sheff Utd 0-4 Liverpool
West Ham 2-1 Charlton
Chelsea 1-1 Man City
Man Utd 3-0 Fulham