Saturday 8/8/15 (4:45 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Tottenham (5)
The Premier League schedule makers got this one right. There’s no better way to start the season than with a clash between sides with lofty ambitions at the league’s biggest stadium, Old Trafford. After consecutive wins at Old Trafford, the first of which broke a long losing streak there, Spurs reverted back to form last season, falling 3-0 at the Theatre of Dreams. Louis van Gaal will likely break out a few of
(7:00 AM PT)
Everton vs. Watford (2)
Watford’s return to the Premier League will take place at Goodison Park, where an Everton team desperate to get back into the upper reaches of the table awaits. The Toffees were poor throughout last season, but an improved defense (without noted mistake-prone backs Antolin Alcaraz and Sylvain Distin) should help Everton greatly. The task begins against a Watford side that has made a litany of intriguing moves this offseason that could help the club survive a BPL campaign for the first time. On the opening day, though, Everton’s top-flight experience gives them a major edge.
Bournemouth vs. Aston Villa (4)
Though this game doesn’t feature any of England’s big-name clubs, this one will be a spectacle nonetheless as Bournemouth open the gates to Dean Court and treat 11,700 paying spectators to BPL football. Dean Court will be the smallest venue in the league this year by far and will play host to a side in their first-ever top flight campaign. Aston Villa will be looking to spoil the opening-day party, and may do so successfully with their much more experienced BPL squad, but except nothing less than a raucous atmosphere to greet the Villains and the Cherries to a new year of English football.
Leicester City vs. Sunderland (2)
Last season, these squads were separated by two places in the table, but following Leicester’s amazing late-season run and some interesting offseason additions, the Foxes look to be in far better shape than their guests this weekend. If the Foxes are able to pick up where they left off last, season it could be a long day for Sunderland, who haven’t made much of a splash this offseason. However, this game is also Claudio Ranieri’s first meaningful match since being appointed Leicester’s manager about a month ago, so we really don’t know what to expect here.
Norwich City vs. Crystal Palace (1)
After a short hiatus, BPL football returns to Carrow Road on Saturday when Norwich host a Crystal Palace that shot up the table over the second half of last season. The atmosphere won’t be quite what it will at Dean Court, but Norwich fans will bring it and make this a tough contest for Palace. Yohan Cabaye could be in line for a competitive debut for the Eagles, and while he’ll be the most talented player on the pitch, Norwich has the ability to match up
(9:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Swansea City (4)
Swansea was a pleasant surprise in the BPL last year, rising up the table and finishing eighth. The Swans have since made some very solid offseason additions, but opening the season at Stamford Bridge will be a monumental task. A win over the Champions would be sweet, but more important than the result, this game could provide a good barometer for the Swans’ offseason. Chelsea, on the other hand, will begin their title defense looking to reassert themselves as top dog, which Jose Mourinho’s side did throughout last season.
Sunday 8/9/15 (5:30 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. West Ham (2)
The BPL season hasn’t started yet, but West Ham are already struggling. This year has begun with an embarrassing exit from the Europa League qualification rounds against Astra Giurgiu for new manager Slaven Bilic. Now, things only get harder, as Bilic takes his side to the Emirates for a London derby to begin the season. Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere, who will miss around two months with a fracture in his leg, but the Gunners should have few problems grabbing a 10th straight league win over West Ham.
Newcastle vs. Southampton (3)
Last season’s skid is officially history. It’s a new year at St. James’ Park, and with an experienced boss and a few exciting talents joining the club, things are looking up for Newcastle. But they’ll begin their campaign with a brutal matchup, as Southampton are looking to improve on last season’s 7th-place finish. Both sides are likely to deploy their new midfield stars from the Netherlands, with the Saints’ Jordy Clasie and the Magpies’ Georginio Wijnaldum expected to take on large roles this term. The battle of former teammates (they came through Feyenoord’s youth system and played together at De Kuip from 2004-11) will be vital in determining which side grabs points to start the year.
Stoke vs. Liverpool (4)
The Britannia will play host to a pair of teams that have revamped squads and look to be on their way up the table. Since Stoke’s 6-1 season-ending thrashing of the Reds, both sides have added major pieces, as Ibrahim Afellay and Philipp Wollscheid have joined Stoke while the likes of Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino now call Liverpool home. With so much new talent on display, this fixture could come down to which
Monday 8/10/15 (Noon PT)
West Brom vs. Manchester City (1)
What looks to be the most lopsided fixture of the opening weekend will take place Monday, when Manchester City travels to West Brom looking for a win on Raheem Sterling’s league debut. Neither team has done a whole lot in the transfer market, barring Sterling, and on paper this has all the looks of a one-sided affair, but a handful of City’s top players — including Sergio Aguero and David Silva — are questionable after getting sick at training this week. West Brom, as with most BPL teams, are good at hanging in games and making life difficult for the elite, but the Citizens seem to possess too much firepower — even without the aforementioned Aguero and Silva — for the Baggies.
Bonus European Game of the Week: AZ Alkmaar vs. Ajax, 8/9/15, 3:30 AM PT
A fascinating opening fixture in the Dutch league pairs a duo of giants who are no strangers to battling it out down the stretch. Both AZ and Ajax compete for the title just about every year, though PSV has recently asserted Eredivisie dominance. Neither team wants to let the defending champions slip away like last year, so this fixture will have an extra incentive for both sides to get a good result. There’s still a full season to be played, but this is about as big as it gets for an opening-day fixture.