premier league

Adrian Clarke - Two Premier League Plays To Kick Us Off This Season

10 min

Adrian Clarke will be here every week sharing his best bets on the weekend’s Premier League action. He starts with a couple of fancies.

It’s brilliant to be back! Yes, in the blink of an eye the Premier League returns this weekend and I’m keen to get off to a winning start in my Insights column. Let’s go…

Leicester City can turn bad vibes into positives at home to Brentford

It’s been an eerily quiet summer for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City in the transfer market.

The Foxes have bought precisely no one, and on the eve of a new campaign, they’ve also just said a fond farewell to club legend Kasper Schmeichel. This means that one of Danny Ward or Daniel Iversen will start in goal at home to Brentford this Sunday.

Not ideal you’d suggest, and nor are the persistent rumours around the futures of Youri Tielemans, James Maddison and Wes Fofana.

What I will say is that Brendan Rodgers still has an outstanding squad of players at his disposal for this weekend.

Flipping bad vibes into positives, I’d also suggest that from a football standpoint Leicester are as stable as anyone coming into the first round of games.

With no new signings to bed in, they have simply concentrated on improving themselves as a team during the friendlies. And by and large results have been excellent in the run-up to GW1.

eddie howe

Eddie Howe will be eager to continue Newcastle’s good form from last season.

On the back of a stressful summer off the pitch, Jamie Vardy will no doubt be pleased to get out of the house to concentrate on his goalscoring role at the top end of the pitch. I expect early-season fireworks from him, and he’s likely to be flanked by Magpies target Maddison and the lively Harvey Barnes.

A spine containing the likes of Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall, Evans and Fofana also looks far from shabby.

At home to a Brentford outfit who they beat twice last season (2-1 home and away) I’d imagine Leicester are feeling quietly confident of getting off to a winning start. And I share that faith.

In front of their own supporters at the King Power Stadium, the Foxes were reliable last term. If you take away home games against the top five, they lost just once, winning nine of those 14 contests.

During that sequence, Rodgers’ men averaged 2.2 goals a game and blanked just once.

So… an odds-against price of 2.06 on the home win this weekend has captured my attention.

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What of Brentford? We know they are tactically astute under Thomas Frank, but they are about to enter the dreaded and treacherous ‘second season phase‘.

One or two good players have come in, Keane Lewis-Potter from Hull City among them, but they will start without injured defenders Ethan Pinnock and Kristoffer Ajer, as well as wing-back Sergi Canos.

They won at Chelsea and West Ham last season but the Bees did lose the other seven road trips to top 9 clubs and you’d have to put Leicester in that bracket.

I don’t see a rout here, but it is not too difficult to envisage a solid hard-fought home win for the Foxes.

There is a fair bit of negativity around Leicester ahead of the big kick-off, but they have an exceptionally strong squad and a terrific manager. I back them to see off the Bees at a decent price of 2.06.

Cooper’s Forest can be competitive at St James’ Park

Play-off winners Nottingham Forest have splashed the cash since earning promotion, bulking up an already strong squad with 13 new faces.

Dean Henderson and Jesse Lingard are the standouts, but young talents such as Neco Williams, Lewis O’Brien and Taiwo Awoniyi can all make a big difference too.

Head coach Steve Copper is a fine tactician. At the City Ground he has built the team’s success around a solid back three and tight shape, and nothing will change on that score.

His team will be hard to break down, hardworking, and menacingly quick on the counter-attack.

This formula helped them pick up good results on the road last season, and most of those matches were tight affairs.

Interestingly, all ten of their away games against sides who finished 11th or above in last season’s Championship featured under 2.5 goals.

Rarely did they crumble, but it wasn’t too often they cut loose in attack either. In top-flight football, I see a continuation of that pattern.

Steve Cooper has done an incredible job at Nottingham Forest and will be looking to keep his side in the Premier League this season.

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle have built steadily this summer. They’ve signed England keeper Nick Pope, central defender Sven Botman and secured full-back, Matt Targett, on a permanent deal.

Defensively they look lovely and secure. But as a goal threat, we don’t yet have compounding evidence to believe they will score bucketloads.

Since last Christmas the Magpies have scored one goal or less in 12 of 20 matches, and that ratio is identical for matches featuring Under 2.5 goals.

Nottingham Forest will have a game plan in mind that centres around solidity at the back and fast breakaways, and as yet, I am not sure Newcastle United have mastered the art of breaking those type of opponents down.

I see this being tight and cagey, with goals at a premium. Taking the 1.84 on Under 2.5 goals is my pick for the opener at St James’ Park.

Recommended Bets:

  • Leicester City to beat Brentford (2.08)
  • Under 2.5 goals Newcastle United vs Nottingham Forest (1.87)

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