The first weekend of the Premier League was everything we expected. A sluggish start post-World Cup was nowhere to be seen, the standard was high and there was plenty of entertainment.
Next weekend should be much the same. Fixtures, on paper at least, almost all seem exciting at this time of year.
Everything is a bit of an unknown, the summer overhaul of squads gives a chance to see players many might not have watched much before.
The Saturday 3pm kick-offs have the potential to be thrilling this weekend. Here are a few thoughts and tips…
EVERTON vs SOUTHAMPTON
Despite Phil Jagielka being sent off, Everton battled to a 2-2 draw with Wolves last Saturday.
Richarlison was the star man in Marco Silva’s first league match at the helm, but it was an impressive team performance, something Everton fans have seen all too infrequently in the last couple of seasons.
Southampton were involved in probably the worst match of the weekend as they played out a goalless draw with Burnley.
Everton’s good record at home means Saints might have to wait another few days for their first win of the season.
Everton should control this match. Southampton need a special performance from one of their midfielders to stand a chance.
TIP: Everton to win @ 19/20
PREDICTED SCORE: Everton 2-0 Southampton (Priced at 15/2 with 888sport)
LEICESTER CITY vs WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Leicester played well against Manchester United in the season opener, but the absence of Jamie Vardy left them short on cutting edge.
James Maddison was excellent at Old Trafford, his eye for a pass with Vardy’s speed and timing of runs could make for a lethal combination.
Wolves were vulnerable at the back against Everton and could be caught out in transition by Vardy.
With the ball, though, the Championship winners last term were accomplished as expected. Portuguese duo Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will win them plenty of matches this season.
This Midlands clash could be a great match to watch. It’s a tough one to predict as a result, however. Sitting on the fence might be the best way to go.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 10/13
PREDICTED SCORE: Leicester 1-1 Wolves (Priced at 11/2 with 888sport)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs FULHAM
It looked like Spurs were going to name a makeshift line-up on opening day, but Mauricio Pochettino was able to name a near-full-strength XI to face Newcastle.
It was impossible to tell that many of the squad had had a shortened preseason. Spurs played with their trademark intensity and looked every bit the side we have seen for the last few seasons.
Fulham, as often happens when a team make such significant changes to the squad, looked a bit disjointed at home to Palace.
Defensively the west Londoners were disorganised. A similar performance at Wembley could result in a pretty ugly scoreline.
Goals are the way to go in this one. Fulham could trouble Spurs’ defence, but the hosts should win this one. Unfortunately, their 27/100 price means there’s no value in backing a home win.
TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ 8/15
PREDICTED SCORE: Tottenham 3-1 Fulham (Priced at 9/1 with 888sport)
WEST HAM UNITED vs AFC BOURNEMOUTH
West Ham’s defeat to Liverpool was not surprising. The manner of it, however, gave cause for concern as their midfield was blown away. Manuel Pellegrini has a tricky job to get a balanced trio in the middle third.
Bournemouth, on the other hand, got off to a flyer. Sure, beating Cardiff at home was a minimum requirement, but Eddie Howe’s side looked good in the process.
Ryan Fraser’s performance was particularly impressive. The winger is 21/2 to open the scoring.
West Ham’s revamped attack will have a better chance to influence the match this weekend. Marko Arnautovic will be pivotal again this year - the Austrian is a good price to score anytime.
TIP: Marko Arnautovic to score anytime @ 8/5
PREDICTED SCORE: West Ham 2-1 Bournemouth (Priced at 15/2 with 888sport)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*