It’s finally back. The English Premier League kicks off on Saturday with Manchester United taking on visiting Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. There will be plenty of action for soccer lovers to enjoy this weekend. Here are a few games to keep an eye on.
Manchester United – Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League Matchday 1):
Time to use that timer on your coffee pot on Saturday as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur kicks off the new Premier League season at 7:45 a.m. Eastern time. United finished fourth last season and manager Louis van Gaal has been active on the transfer market this summer, bringing three big signings in Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton and Memphis Depay from PSV.
The Red Devils also got Matteo Darmian from Torino and picked up Sergio Romero on a free transfer from Sampdoria. The club also sold Angel Di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain after just one season at Old Trafford.
Tottenham finished fifth last year, six points behind United. Harry Kane got his breakthrough last season, scoring 21 league goals and finishing second in the scoring race behind Sergio Aguero of Manchester City. The pressure will be on Kane to keep banging in the goals for the Spurs, as they haven’t made any offensive signings during the summer. They’ve brought in three defenders in Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer.
United won the last meeting between the sides at Old Trafford 3-0 after goals by Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney.
Bournemouth AFC – Aston Villa (Premier League Matchday 1):
Bournemouth won the Championship last season and gained promotion to the Premier League. The team played an attacking minded brand of soccer, and it will be interesting to see if they will stick to their guns when playing in the top flight.
They recently added winger Max Gradel, who scored 17 goals in the French Ligue last season for Saint-Etienne. Although it’s unclear if he will get his work permit in time for opening day, he will be a great addition to the team. They also added familiar names like veteran defender Sylvain Distin from Everton and Artur Boruc from Southampton.
Aston Villa struggled under Paul Lambert during the first half of the season. Tim Sherwood took over the managerial position on Valentine’s Day and under “Tactics Tim” the team played a lot better and got to the FA Cup final where they were defeated by Arsenal.
The team lost its top scorer in Christian Benteke, but there’s hope that new signing Jordan Ayew will be able to replace him. The team has made quite a few signings, including to former Manchester City players in Micah Richards and Scott Sinclair.
Chelsea – Swansea City (Premier League Matchday 1):
Defending champions Chelsea will open up the season at home, as Swansea will make the trip from Southern Wales to London. After the impressive showing last season by Chelsea, the team only lost three games all season, the Blues will be the favorites to win the league back-to-back seasons.
The club has Falcao on loan from AS Monaco, and after a horrible loan spell at Manchester United last season, manager Jose Mourinho has to try to find a way to get Falcao back into scoring form. Diego Costa and Eden Hazard are the big offensive pieces for Chelsea, and they will have to perform in Chelsea is to defend the crown.
Swansea made one of the most interesting signings of the summer in Andre Ayew. The Ghanaian winger has been a top performer for Marseille in the French Ligue 1 for a long time, along with being a key member of Ghana. A
yew could become one of the best new players in the league this season, as he looks to be a good fit for the ball moving type of play that Swansea is known for. It’s always tough to start the season against the champions, but if all the fanfare of the occasion takes away some of the focus from the Chelsea players, Swansea could surprise.
Arsenal – West Ham (Premier League Matchday 1):
A London derby is a great way to start the season, as fans will be extra pumped up with the possibility for early bragging rights. Arsenal has been quiet on the transfer front, but they made a key addition in goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The 33-year-old Czech international left Chelsea after 11 seasons, and will be a huge upgrade in net for the Gunners. Arsenal won both meetings last season between the sides, 3-0 at home at the Emirates Stadium and 2-1 away.
Jack Wilshere will be out for up to eights weeks with a hairline fracture that he got after a heavy tackle in training last week. Arsenal has a very strong midfield, but missing Wilshere is a definite loss.
West Ham has made some big changes during the summer, including changing managers. Slaven Bilic has taken over after Sam Allardyce, and the team has made some relatively big moves on the transfer market.
Dimitri Payet was brought in from Marseille and Angelo Ogbonna from Italians champions Juventus. Carl Jenkinson is back for another loan spell with West Ham from just Arsenal, and he will be eager to prove himself in this game.
NY Red Bulls – New York City FC (MLS):
NYCFC will be looking for revenge in the New York derby against the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have won the two first meetings between the two clubs, but with Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard now in the fold at NYCFC, they will be looking for a win and start climbing up the table.
NYCFC is currently four points behind the Montreal Impact in the last playoff spot. The team won a crazy 5-3 game against Orlando FC in late July in Andrea Pirlo’s debut for the club. They followed that up with a 3-2 loss at home to Montreal.
The Red Bulls sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind leaders D.C. United. Just like NYCFC, the Red Bulls are coming off a meeting with the Montreal Impact, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.