EPL 2018-2019 Matchday 1, Part 1

Disclaimer: This series is examining the games days prior to matchday, there is always the possibility for injuries, coach selections, etc. They may be updated to reflect most accurate starting lineup.

Manchester United 
Manchester United is a sizable favorite (although it’s decreased somewhat in light of a dismal transfer window) in what’s being billed as a low scoring game, likely under 3 goals. I think that Manchester United’s ability to run this game depends on if more of the World Cup players choose to come home early.
Although the feuds within the United squad and the board with Mourinho are highly publicized, I anticipate that these are blown out of proportion. Mourinho is a very polarizing figure, and I think that the media is far more apt to jump on negativity. One specific example is when Mourinho stated (regarding the US friendlies) that he thought the “fans were wasting their money” — however, the real statement had to with Manchester United having to field a whole bunch of academy and reserve players due to World Cup players and injuries. Remember, the same stories surfaced last season about the “awful season to come” in 2017, and United ended up finishing 2nd in the league. That being said, I think they still haven’t addressed their primary “hypothetical” shortfall (which has become their current shortfall — again — with the Baily injury, you can see more here), they brought in a youth prospect (Diogo Dalot) but I don’t expect him to slot in with the first team (plus — he, too, is currently injured).
From the Foxes’ side of things, I don’t doubt the potential of this squad and I’ve spoken very highly of some of their new signings (You can read more here). I do however, think that due to the late-arriving nature of their right back and right-winger/midfielder signing, I expect some mistakes to be made early in the season. And given how Manchester United has played the last few seasons, I expect Leicester to have too many forward and get caught on the counter attack. I think the Foxes will be out to get early goals due to well publicized “shortfalls” in the United defense.
Bold Predictions (tally will be kept on players identified and teams at the bottom of this running series):

  • Winner: Man United
  • Final Score: 2-1
  • Goalscorer(s):
    • Manchester United: Marcus Rashford/Fred
    • Leicester City: Jamie Vardy (Update: Vardy started on the bench so we’re switching to Maddison.)

Saturday, 11 August 2018
Newcastle United v. Tottenham Hotspurs
Location: St. James’ Park, Newcastle
This match is being billed as a much closer fixture than the Man United/Leicester match, with the most likely goal-scoring total being 2.
This Spurs side, while good, has shown inconsistencies — especially with scoring, and I worry about a newly bolstered Newcastle lineup. With much of the squad on rest from World Cup duties, I think their attacking flow will be somewhat lacking. I’m not sure this is a team I’ll place a prediction for not scoring this season often, if ever, and I don’t think this is a good place to start. They come in as slight favorites to the match, however, I think that they will have to deal with Kane and Erickson being man-marked (or at the minimum, closely marked) for the entire game. To me the question is, who will step up? We’ve seen Dele Alli do it at times, Heung-Min Son at others. I think that Tottenham will seek to neutralize the proven goal scoring threats — likely Muto and Ayoze Perez, I think this will leave Joselu open to capitalize.
Rafa Benitez is in an awkward spot starting this season, he is the only manager I’m aware of with a positive transfer balance (yes — he’s received more than he’s spent) but is also leading a mid-table candidate. I think that he needs a strong performance out of the gate to prove to his management that they need to invest in the Winter Transfer window. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but I think that Rafa needs to remind them of his abilities and remind him why they need to trust him. I think the way that Rafa proves to his management that he is spending wisely is by setting his team up to rectify their goal scoring deficit. If I were to guess, Newcastle will go after the first goal and then try to protect their lead. That said, I don’t think they’ll be able to keep Tottenham off the score sheet.
Bold Predictions (tally will be kept on players identified and teams at the bottom of this running series):

  • Winner: Draw
  • Final Score: 1-1
  • Goalscorer(s):
    • Newcastle: Joselu
    • Tottenham: Dele Alli

The series continues… here!
Last Updated: August 10, 2018

Leave a Reply