The Premier League is back. What questions will be answered on the opening weekend of the new season?
Manchester United kicked off the 2018/19 Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Leicester on Friday night – and there’s more exciting fixtures live on Sky Sports, including Liverpool v West Ham and Arsenal v Manchester City.
2:07 We look at some key stats ahead of the Premier League's opening weekend, which includes Liverpool v West Ham and Arsenal v Man City
Here are the big questions ahead of the weekend…
Will Newcastle take advantage against a weakened Tottenham XI? (Newcastle v Tottenham, Saturday from 11.30am, live on Sky Sports Premier League)
Mauricio Pochettino is expected to be without some key players against Rafa Benitez’s side as he is concerned over the fitness of a number of his first-team stars who featured at the World Cup.
Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Hugo Lloris could all be left out of the opening fixture, which may well encourage Benitez.
Despite another summer of transfer frustration on Tyneside, Benitez will hope new striking options Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto can give Newcastle a greater attacking impetus this season.
Newcastle vs Tottenham
August 11, 2018, 11:30am
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How will Maurizio Sarri fare on his Premier League bow? (Huddersfield v Chelsea, Saturday 3pm)
Chelsea’s pre-season campaign under Sarri has seen the return of Ross Barkley and David Luiz to the starting XI, a starting place for £50m signing Jorginho and the emergence of 17-year-old forward Callum Hudson-Odoi.
However, with Eden Hazard and Willian closing in on full fitness and Thibaut Courtois leaving for Real Madrid, Sarri could field an intriguing line-up on Saturday.
Sarri will hope to see his side take full advantage against Huddersfield on his Premier League debut. David Wagner’s men are without a win in their last eight league meetings against the west London club.
Will Cardiff start their Premier League campaign with three points? (Bournemouth v Cardiff, Saturday 3pm)
Cardiff are one of the favourites to get relegated from the Premier League this season with Warnock admitting at the end of the promotion-winning Championship campaign “we know we’re up against it”.
But Warnock’s side will likely bring their pragmatic approach into the Premier League as the Welsh club look to counter the attacking threat of Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth could hand a start to their £25m signing Jefferson Lerma who should provide Howe’s side with additional defensive cover in central midfield against Cardiff’s new-look attack which may include Josh Murphy and Bobby Reid.
Historically, Bournemouth have a strong record against Cardiff, having lost just one of their last eight league clashes.
Will we see more than one goal at Vicarage Road? (Watford v Brighton, Saturday 3pm)
Questions heading into the season surround Watford’s strength of firepower in attack, meaning the reliance for goals will likely fall to longstanding captain Troy Deeney and Andre Gray.
At Brighton, Chris Hughton has improved his attacking options with the signings Florin Andone and Alireza Jahanbakhsh to relieve some of the goalscoring responsibility off Glenn Murray.
But will Saturday’s fixture see more than one goal scored? In the two Premier League fixtures between these two sides last season, only one goal was registered – a Pascal Gross winner at the Amex in December.
Watford are unbeaten in their last 11 opening league games of a season and will look to improve build on that record on Saturday.
Will Fulham contain Wilfried Zaha? (Fulham v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm)
Fulham have strengthened their squad considerably after successfully making the jump up to the Premier League.
But even with a strengthened line-up expected to be fielded in this London derby on Saturday, Slavisa Jokanovic will surely be wary of the threat Crystal Palace’s star man Wilfried Zaha poses.
Zaha scored nine goals and provided three assists in 29 Premier League games last season and will be looking to open his account at Craven Cottage.
It could be a testing afternoon for Fulham’s new defensive signing Calum Chambers, who is expected to partner Tim Ream at the back for the first time with Alfie Mawson expected to be out injured until September.
Which Portuguese manager will come out on top? (Wolves v Everton, Saturday 5.30pm)
Nuno Espirito Santo will take on his compatriot Marco Silva with a strengthened starting XI after a summer of smart spending. But Silva has every reason to be confident, too, as he has been backed by owner Farhad Moshiri in the transfer market.
Nuno is looking to become the first Wolves manager to win his first Premier League game in charge of the club, but Everton will undoubtedly prove a stern test. Wolves are without a victory in their last six league clashes with Everton and have not recorded a win against the Merseyside club since May 2004 (2-1 at home).
Will European commitments affect Burnley? (Southampton v Burnley, Sunday 1.30pm)
After a disappointing finish to the last campaign, Southampton boss Mark Hughes will look to alleviate any pre-season concerns quickly. A victory against Burnley, who finished seventh last season, could go a long way to do that.
1:48 Kasper Schmeichel believes Joe Hart has been harshly treated, but is convinced he has the character to bounce back at Burnley
Burnley’s attentions may also be more focused towards a historic Europa League qualifying second leg tie against Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday next week, meaning there is the possibility Sean Dyche fields a weakened side at St Mary’s.
Southampton are without a win in their last three league meetings with Burnley, though, with Dyche’s men certain to prove a challenging test.
Will West Ham finally get revenge over Liverpool? (Liverpool v West Ham, Sunday from 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League)
It doesn’t look good for West Ham. Liverpool have won each of their last three league games against them, scoring four goals in each of those victories.
Nevertheless, West Ham have considerably bolstered their squad under new manager Manuel Pellegrini and could well prove a different attacking proposition under the former Manchester City boss. But defensively, West Ham will surely look to tighten up as they aim to avoid the defensive mistakes made in recent games against the Merseyside club.
7:09 Sky Sports' Gary Neville talks to Jack Wilshere about his hopes for the new season at West Ham and his frustration at being left out of the World Cup squad
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp faces a defensive selection headache with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez the only fit central defenders in his squad. Nathaniel Phillips started against Torino and could be in line to make his Premier League senior debut on Sunday.
Liverpool vs West Ham
August 12, 2018, 12:30pm
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Who will win the tactical battle between Unai Emery and Pep Guardiola? (Arsenal v Manchester City, Sunday from 3.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League)
When Emery was in charge of Valencia and Guardiola at Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, Guardiola came out on top in their ten meetings with six victories. Four of those ended in draws and Emery’s side still shone against the Catalan side who had a far superior budget.
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Now the two managers will meet for the first time in the Premier League with Arsenal beginning a league season against the reigning top-flight champions for the first time since the 1970-71 campaign.
Manchester City are unbeaten in their last nine opening Premier League games, but a win for Emery and his new-look Arsenal side would certainly make for a bold statement.
Arsenal vs Man City
August 12, 2018, 3:30pm
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