A new season kicks off this weekend and see’s the return of Walker’s Word. Another 10 months of non-stop top flight football action begins on Saturday with both the opening and closing matches ripe for picking a couple of shock results at great odds writes David Walker.
Saturday 19 August
Sheffield United vs Liverpool
Sheffield United make their Premiership return after a 12 year absence at lunch time, to kick off another 10 months of top flight action. The bookmakers are predicting a cakewalk for visiting Liverpool, but Blades boss Neil Warnock will have other ideas. During the 2002/03 Carling Cup, United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Bramall Lane, drew 0-0 at home in 1993/94 and beat the Reds 1-0 the previous year in the Premiership’s debut season. Liverpool may have one eye on their Champions League tie against Maccabi Haifa dominoqq three days later which still hangs in the balance at 2-1 in the Reds favour.
Walker’s Word: A “shock” draw to go against the bookmakers @ 12/5 (Coral)
Arsenal vs Aston Villa
There is unlikely to be any such shock result at the new Emirates Stadium however. Arsenal have beaten the Villains for the past eight seasons on home soil, including a 5-0 thumping last April. With the takeover at Aston Villa still not completed and new manager Martin O’Neill only recently installed, Villa could continue the form which saw them lose three of their last four matches at the end of last season.
Walker’s Word: Arsenal to christen their new ground with a win @ 3/10 (VCBet)
Everton vs Watford
Watford travel to Goodison Park on their Premiership return in the knowledge they have never beaten Everton on their home turf. Even more daunting is the in the eight times the pair have met in Merseyside, the Toffees have won every single encounter. The last time these two met was in the Premiership was during the 1999/00 campaign where Everton ran out 4-2 winners thanks to two goals apiece from Mark Hughes and USA striker Joe-Max Moore.
Walker’s Word: Everton like playing Watford so back them @ 4/6 (Totalbet)
Newcastle United vs Wigan Athletic
Newcastle beat Wigan 3-1 last season in the middle of their five-match winning run towards the end of the campaign. The Magpies will be without the injured Michael Owen and the retired Alan Shearer, who scored twice in that match, but strikers Alberto Luque and Shola Ameobi have been in good form pre season. The Wigan squad has seen numerous changes this summer, including the arrival of record signing Emile Heskey, but it will be the home side cheering by 4-45pm.
Walker’s Word: Newcastle to continue their good form @ 8/11 (Paddy Power)
Portsmouth vs Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers have not lost at Fratton Park on league or cup duty since an old second division clash in 1990 which saw Pompey win 3-2. Since then, Rovers have enjoyed good fortune on the south coast, including three wins and two draws in their past five visits. Mark Hughes’ side should find the Pompey defence a bit sterner since the arrivals of Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson but new strikers Jason Roberts, who scored at Fratton Park last season, and Benni McCarthy will give them plenty to think about on Saturday afternoon.