The Scout: EPL Week 1 Preview

Tottenham v Southampton

Tottenham took just a single point from Southampton last season when a 1-1 draw in December was followed by a dismal 3-2 home defeat in February. Spurs conceded twice in the last 10 minutes to throw away the points.

But under manager Antonio Conte, they had been steadily improving and the wily Italian steered them into the Champions League, losing just twice in their final 13 games of the EPL season. If they are to threaten the front runners this season, a home game against Southampton must result in three points.

Spurs have added to their attacking threat with Richarlison from Everton, although he is suspended for the season opener, and Ivan Perisic, from Inter Milan. Tottenham’s existing dynamic duo – Harry Kane and Heung-min Son – will remain front and centre in Conte’s plans. Kane and Son, who was equal top scorer last season, provide a thrill-a-minute presence.

You never know what you’re going to get from Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton. From a gritty goalless draw away to eventual champions Manchester City to a crushing 6-0 home defeat to Chelsea, the Saints were often sinners during a roller coaster last season. They lost 16 times across the 2021-22 campaign, including a worrying nine defeats in the final 12 games.

Saints can’t expect too much from teenage striker Sekou Mara, signed from Bordeaux, but there will be a weight of expectation on the shoulders of skipper James Ward-Prowse.

Suggested Bet: Tottenham to win and both teams to score @ $3*

Manchester United v Brighton

There was a time when a home game against Brighton would have had Manchester United fans licking their lips in anticipation. And maybe some of those fans have already forgotten the turbulence of last season. A new season; a new sense of optimism, perhaps?

New manager Erik ten Hag was doing his stuff at Ajax last season, while the wheels were falling off at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The spare tyres brought by Ralf Rangnick did little to help arrest United’s slide. But new man Ten Hag will relish the challenge after a lively pre-season schedule and the arrival of Christian Eriksen.

One serious headache remains – Cristiano Ronaldo is still a United player, despite his agent reportedly working overtime to get him a move elsewhere. The best Ten Hag can hope for is a quick exit for the Portuguese striker, so he can focus on those who do want to be at Old Trafford.

Brighton boss Graham Potter will fancy his side’s chances of giving Ten Hag a forgettable debut. Under Potter’s astute guidance, Brighton finished just three places behind United last season with a considerably smaller budget. As the season neared the end, Brighton handed out a lesson to United with a 4-0 thrashing.

Suggested Bet: Draw @ $4.10

Everton v Chelsea

After the nail-biting, nerve-jangling conclusion to last season, Everton fans deserve a nice easy start to the new English Premier League season. Unfortunately, they won’t get it.

With Chelsea over their ownership worries of last season, Thomas Tuchel can focus on closing the gap on champions Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool, who finished the season 19 points and 18 points clear of the Blues.

The arrival of Raheem Sterling from City will add an attacking edge to Chelsea’s hunt for goals, which misfired at times last season. Kai Havertz (eight goals last season) and Mason Mount (11 goals) are likely to be passed by Sterling in the goalscoring stakes. Chelsea will need it with Romelu Lukaku, who scored eight times in 2021-22, having returned to Inter Milan.

The Toffees’ new Burnley connection – Dwight McNeil and James Tarkowski joined from the relegated Clarets – will add a great deal to Frank Lampard’s squad, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is like a new man having missed more than half of last season through injury.

Suggested Bet: Chelsea to win + Over 2.5 goals (Same Game Multi) @ $3.30*

*Odds correct as at 9am, 4th August 2022.

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