The StanJames.com Premier League Predictor Competition is back! That's right! After a summer of shopping centres, traffic jams and tennis the Premier League returns, just in time to save our sanity! Our hair may be thinning, and the clock's aging, but our passion's undiminished!
Our predicting skills left a lot to be desired last year, leaving many of you delighted as we dished out the free bets left, right and centre! Undaunted, we're back for more this year and hoping for a better performance ahead of the big kick off this Saturday, with the first game this time round the clash between Watford and Liverpool, which kicks-off at 13.30pm.
You'll need your scores in before then as we cover all seven of Saturday's matches for Week 1 of the Predictor.
New for 2017/18, as well as the weekly free bets we'll be giving away prizes for the top three players each month and the overall season. Additionally, there will be surprise prizes awarded on an ad hoc basis throughout the season, so make sure you keep up-to-date!
So, what do I have to do to enter this FREE COMPETITION?
All you have to do is head over to our Predictor Competition, complete the quick registration form then simply enter your selections for the upcoming Premier League fixtures. Three points are awarded for a correct score and one for a correct result. The overall winner will bag a £25 Free Bet and anyone who finishes in the top 25 players will receive a £5 free bet.**
Don't forget, in order to collect your prize you must have placed at least one bet (any stake) in the 14 days prior to playing. Full T&Cs can be found here!
A magnificent seven Premier League matches to predict for Week 1. If you please, all predictions to be entered before 1.30pm on Saturday, August 12th. Don't have an account yet? Click here to open one.
** Free bets will be credited within 48 hours.
Watford welcome Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool to Vicarage Road in a glamorous opening tie for the Hornets. Both teams will have different expectations for the season, with the Redmen believing that 'this will be their year' once again. Liverpool have a cracking record on the opening day of the season, averaging just under two points a game since the Premier League's inception. However, they certainly won't get it all their own way, as Watford boss Marco Silva has focussed on making the Hornets a tough team to beat, as witnessed in their final four preseason friendlies, where they posted four clean sheets.
In Gomes Watford have a strong and reliable 'keeper, whilst a back four of Cathcart, Prodl, Kaboul, and Mason will always be competitive. It's up front where they might struggle, with both Zarate and Deeney likely to miss the opener through injury. With just two goals in those four friendlies, a lot will be asked of new signing Andre Gray to trouble the Liverpool backline playing as a lone striker and he'll need support from the likes of Cleverley and Okaka if Watford are to get anything from this game.
Liverpool, on the other hand, will have no such reservations. They will be itching to get the new season started and, despite injuries to Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, they'll be confident of getting something from this game. Their new signing from Roma, Mohamed Salah has particulary impressed with four goals in pre-season and it will be interesting to see how he takes to life in the Premier League.
Whilst Watford may have struggled with goals, the same cannot be said of Liverpool. They won the Premier League Asia Trophy, while they beat the mighty Bayern Munich 3-0 away from home, no mean feat. In fact, they only lost one game pre-season, and that was on penalties to Atletico Madrid in the final of the Audi Cup. Yes, it's safe to say Liverpool will be itching for the game to start!
What We Sayin'?
It's hard to see anything but a Liverpool win, to be honest. With only Andre Gray available it won't be easy for Watford to get goals. Liverpool, on the other hand are scoring for fun, so we're plumping for Liverpool to win to nil (6/4). We can see goals, and Salah to score at anytime appeals at 7/5. Lastly, we'll have a cheeky punt on the Reds to get their season up-and-running with a comprehensive 0-3 win (9/1).
Champions Chelsea come into this game with everything not quite rosy under Conte. Contract talks with their in-demand manager have stalled, Costa looks one text away from being an ex-blue and they've lost talisman John Terry, still a huge influence in the dressing room if not the pitch these days. Factor in Hazard's injury and Moses' ban and you can see why some Blues are getting tetchy. Oh, and let's not forget the back-to-back defeats at Wembley to Arsenal, the latter in the Community Shield; seeing the entire Chelsea team sink to the floor in despair after Arsenal took the win on penalties. A glorified friendly? Not to these players!
Therein is the pickle we find ourselves in with Chelsea at present. A little of last season's swagger seems missing, with defeats to Inter and Bayern Munich underlying what was a poor pre-season 'campaign' for them. Morata has yet to find the form that saw Chelsea sign him and a lot of the goalscoring responsibility will rest on Willian's shoulders.
So what of Burnley? Last season it was their home form that helped retain their Premier League status and despite manager Sean Dyche's bullish claim about his team's mental strength this time round we can see the 'ginger Mourinho's' men having a long season on the road. Jack Cork and Jon Walters are decent additions to the side, but The Clarets will miss Michael Keane, who was sold to Everton for £30million this summer. In Tom Heaton they have a fine and capable 'keeper and we're expecting big things from the Fantasy Football favourite.
What We Sayin'?
Chelsea won the corresponding fixture 3-0 last year (they drew 1-1 at Turf Moor) but Burnley were unbeaten during pre-season, including a fine 2-2 draw with Europa League semi-finalists Celta Vigo. In Sam Vokes they have a player with an eye for goal and we like the look of the 17/4 on offer for him to score at anytime.*
Morata will want to start the season running, but his confidence will have taken a battering after his Community Shield performance. Instead, we also like the look of Willian to score at anytime (7/5). Given those predictions, we'll plump for both teams to score and Chelsea to win at 11/5.*
Frank de Boer is quietly building a squad of note at Selhurst Park and the south Londoners could be a surprise package this season. The Dutchman's steely determination has shone through in his early interviews, but the new boss will want to hit the ground running. The loan signing of Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be a masterstroke, and they have pace to burn in Zaha and Townsend. Benteke will always be a threat, whilst at the other end Jairo Riedewald looks to be a very astute buy.
Pre-season was a little underwhelming for The Eagles, who had their wings clipped somewhat with a few uninspiring draws, but there are signs that this team could gel. They'll be tough to beat at home, for sure!
Huddersfield join the elite of English football under the stewardship of the most coveted young managers around, David Wagner. Once Jurgen Klopp's assistant, the German has bought a pleasing blend of bright attacking football and teutonic toughness to the Terriers. This hasn't gone unnoticed by the board, who have backed him this summer, with the accquisitions of Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince, and Steve Mounie particulary enterprising. Those three really could take Huddersfield up a level and there seems to be goals in this team, as witnessed by their 2-2 and 3-3 draws in pre-season against Torino and Stuggart respectively.
What We Sayin'?
As the draws showed, Huddersfield promise goals this season, at both ends! Palace have strengthed their defence, but they are still vulnerable. Given this, we'll take the BTTS on offer at EVS. We can also see a bright, open game, so despite our heads saying a tight 2-1 home win, we'll take honours even at 2-2 (16/1)
Everton, to finish seventh? That seems to be the general consensus but Koeman has bought decisively this summer, including the likes of Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane. Lukaku will be a big miss, but Wayne Rooney could be a masterstroke, the Evertonian returning to his boyhood club with a point to prove... in World Cup year! Sandro is another quality signing and there is a real buzz around Everton, who are match fit having reached the Europa League playoff round, beating Ruzomberok, beating them home and away in the process. A 2-2 draw against Sevilla showed their mettle and the buzz around Goodison is palpable. Plenty of teams will come unstuck against the Toffees this season!
Stoke have been slow to enter the market this summer, and their apathy seems strange. They only won two of their last eleven games at the end of last season and whilst Kurt Zouma will be a welcome addition at the back, Darren Fletcher and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting won't exactly get the fans off their seats. Bojan will be pivitol to the Potters' hopes of having a good season.
What We Sayin'?
Goodison is an intimidating place to go at the best of times. A buzzing Goodison, full of quality players eager to impress? A nightmare. Klaassen is an absolutely class signing and his skill and vision will be instrumental to Everton's season. A resounding, thumping win sees us having a wee punt on Everton to win 3-0 (11/1). And, one for the romantics, Rooney to score at anytime 8/5.*
This could be a really, really good game. Both teams like to get the ball on the gound and entertain, though Southampton did struggle to score at home last term, with just 17 goals in total and none in their final five home games of the season. That will be of a concern to Pellegrino, who will be hoping that Gabbiadini can replicate the form he showed before getting injured last term. The continuing transfer saga over Virgil van Dijk means that the classy Dutchman remains sidelined, though The Saints are planning for the future with the purchase of Jan Bednarek, the big Polish international who is yet to start for his new team.
The Saints had a topsy-turvy pre-season, though they ended it well with a 2-0 victory over Sevilla. Despite the eventual loss of van Dijk they remain solid at the back, with Fraser Forster a fine last wall of defense. If Gabiadini finds his scoring boots early doors and the Saints build up a head of pressure, they could yet surprise a few doubters.
The loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson to Swansea will be a HUGE void to fill. The Icelandic playmaker is the heartbeat of the team and his vision and eye for a goal will be sorely missed. He sat out of most pre-season as manager Paul Clement builds for life without him. The signing of teenage wonderkid Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea could be a real coup, especially with Fernando Llorente still out injured. However, it's one thing breaking the Championship scoring record as a teenager and quite another enjoying the same success in the Premier League. Whether he can make that transition or not remains to be seen.
Swansea actually come into this game on the back of decent pre-season form: A 1-0 defeat at Barnet was Swansea's only loss pre-season, and they finished their preparations with 2-0 wins at Birmingham City and at home to Sampdoria. Something to build on, for sure!
What We Sayin'?
A tough one to call. On paper Southampton look to be too strong for Saturday's opposition, but this is the first day of the season and anything can happen. Removing the splinters, we'll get off the fence and plump for a 1-1 draw. 11/2*
The Baggies endured a nightmare finish to the season losing seven of their last eight games and fared little better in their pre-season games, winning just two of nine games. Manager Tony Pulis will demand an immediate response from his charges, starting against a Bournemouth team who not only defied all expectations last season when finishing in the top half, but who have also made some rather astute additions this time round.
West Brom will look to Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez, whilst the likes of Chadli and Phillips will weigh in with their fair share, whilst also providing the creative spark to feed the men up front. Livermore is available, and his holding presence will be invaluable against Bournemouth, especially with McCauley and Brunt out injured.
Benik Afobe scored four goals in three games pre-season and manager Eddie Howe has a nice dilemma on his hands, with recently recalled England International Jermain Defoe the star name in a summer of signings. Joshua King, the subject of speculation regarding a bid from Spurs this summer, weighed in himself with 16 goals in 36 games and that trio will be a handfull for any defense in the league.
In Begovic they have a very capable 'keeper and it will be interesting to see how Ake does this term. With just one defeat pre-season (a home reversal to Valencia) Howe is building a young, vibrant and exciting team.
What We Sayin'?
There just seems to be too much about Bournemouth. They have a buzz about them at the moment and evergreen Defoe still has the look of a gunslinger out to right some imaginary wrongs with his own brand of instant justice. We'll take the England striker to score first at 9/5. The Baggies do have goals in them, but we'll take Bournemouth to steal the win! 1-2 Bournemouth win: 9/1
Welcome to the Promised Land, Brighton! An opening day fixture against pre-season favourites Manchester City doesn't get much bigger for the high-flying Seagulls, who have prepared for life in the fast lane by spending money like a sailor on shore leave. Matthew Ryan, from Valencia is an excellent 'keeper, whilst Pascal Gross and Izzy Brown are shrewd additions. They also added Davy Propper and Jose Izquierdo, both this week, while Glenn Murray, who scored 20 goals last season, will have a point to prove and he could be an unsung hero for the 'Gulls.
Pep Guardiola hasn't been quiet himself this summer, with Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy star names joining the Citizens. Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are the midfield geniuses who'll pull the strings, whilst Jesus and Aguero up front have given, and will continue to do so, legions of defenders and 'keepers nightmares.
What We Sayin'?
Quite simply, if there are chinks in this City team, it will take a better team than Brighton to expose them. After a blip against rivals Man United, City wrapped up their pre-season with a 4-1 thumping of Super Cup winners Real Madrid before 3-0 wins against both Tottenham and West Ham. A harsh reality check for Brighton as City run out comfortable winners. 0-4 | 11/1
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