The waiting is finally over. The 2009/10 Barclays Premier League season starts this weekend and it is time to bring out our crystal ball and get some week one predictions.
With Manchester City spending big over the summer and Everton, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur all improving their squads, will this be the season that the big four has a new member?
The Premier League also welcomes back Burnley, who will be playing at the top level for the first time in 33 years, while Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City are once again back in the Premier League.
The season kicks off with a lunch-time meeting between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge.
CHELSEA V HULL CITY
Carlo Ancelotti takes charge of his first Barclays Premier League match and he has already got one trophy under his belt after winning the Community Shield last weekend. Hull City have never won at Stamford Bridge but last season they did manage to earn to a goalless draw at the Bridge. That will not happen this year as I expect Chelsea to win this one easily 3-0.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0
ASTON VILLA V WIGAN
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez will also be making his Barclays Premier League managerial debit, but he faces a much harder task that Ancelotti as his Wigan side travel to Villa Park. Villa’s home form last season was terrible as they won only seven matches in front of their own fans last season. Wigan have never won on the opening day in the Premier League and I expect that streak to continue.
Predction: Vila 2-1
BLACKBURN V MAN CITY
This is a game that everyone will be watching as the expectations for Manchester City are huge this season. A local derby is going to be physical and with City not having won at Ewood Park since 2003 I think this will be a tight game, but a piece of magic from Robinho will seal the pints for City.
Prediction: Man City 2-1
BOLTON V SUNDERLAND
I don’t expect this game to be a footballing classic. Neither team, plays the ball on the ground a lot and both managers like to play physical football. Sunderland will be better this season under Steve Bruce, but I think he is still finding out what he has at Sunderland. I expect a tight game with few goals here, and both teams getting a share of the points.
PORTSMOUTH V FULHAM
It has been a terrible summer at Portsmouth and I think that they will really struggle this season. Fulham on the other hand are really doing well under Roy Hodgson, and they have already played two competitive games in the Europa League competition. Fulham are unbeaten in their last three visits to Fratton Park and I expect that streak to continue.
Prediciton: Fulham 2-0
STOKE V BURNLEY
This is an interesting game as new-boys Burnley travel to one of last years surprise teams Stoke City I think it will be a struggle for both these teams this season and I can see them sharing the points here.
WOLVES V WEST HAM
Another newly promoted team is Wolves, who are lead by manager Mick McCarthy who has twice been relegated in last place while in charge of Sunderland. Can he make it three? West Ham play some good football and I like the job that Zola and Clark are doing there. The weather will be warm, the field in great condition and I think that all points to a win for the more stylish team.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1
EVERTON V ARSENAL
This is a huge game for two teams that battled hard for a Champions League place last season. Bad news for Everton is that this is the sixth successive season they have started the season at home, but have lost four of those five fixtures. Arsenal on the other hand have only lost at Goodison Park four times in 17 Premier League matches. This one will be tight game, and I expect it to end in a draw
MANCHESTER UNITED v BIRMINGHAM CITY
Manchester United begin the defence of their Barclays Premier League crown at home to newly-promoted Birmingham City. It will be interesting to see how United adapt this season without Cristiano Ronaldo and how Michael Owen fits in. It will be a long season for Birmingham fans and I cannot see them getting anything from this game.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-0
SPURS v LIVERPOOL
This is the other big game of the weekend. White Hart Lane is where Liverpool suffered one of their only two Barclays Premier League defeats last season in what was Harry Redknapp’s first outing in charge of Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool have title aspirations again this season, but injuries will play a role in this game. Steven Gerrard is a doubt while Spurs will be looking to find two fit bodies to play center-half. In what should be an exciting game, I expect to see Liverpool shade the game slightly and take home all three points.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1