After what feels like an eternity – even with an excellent World Cup chucked right in the middle of it – the dawn of a brand new Premier League season is finally upon us.
As ever, there is so much to be excited about. Can Pep Guardiola’s irrepressible Manchester City side set the bar even higher? Will Liverpool win their first title in a generation? How long will it take until Arsenal fans start a #WengerIN campaign?
We have nine sumptuous months of top quality football coming up to find out the answers to those questions and many more, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s focus on what’s right in front of us and that’s the Premier League’s opening weekend.
To help us do exactly that, we’ve taken a peek into Paddy Power’s crystal ball to see what drama could unfold on and off the pitch. The first round’s fascinating headline fixture is champions Manchester City travelling to Arsenal, who will be lining up under a new manager for the first time in 22 years.
So let’s start at the Emirates, shall we?
Wild Prediction 1: ArsenalFanTV will go into meltdown
To be perfectly honest, we have no idea how Arsenal vs Man City will unfold on the pitch (our crystal ball is admittedly a little cloudy). Will the Gunners be revitalised under new management or can Pep’s boys will pick up where they left off?
What we can be sure of, however, is what will happen off the pitch: namely ArsenalFanTV going into their inimitable meltdown mode regardless of the result. Beat the champions? “Arsenal are gonna win the title, innit blud!”.
Snatch a point at home? “We would’ve won if that silent American pr*ck hadn’t bought the club and upset our preparations!” Fall to defeat on the opening day? “THE EMERY OUT CAMPAIGN STARTS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!”
Wild Prediction 2: Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be ejected
The size of the task that is rebuilding Chelsea must surely now be dawning on the Blues’ chain smoking new manager Maurizio Sarri. Combine the stress that inflicts with a first taste of the pressure cooker atmosphere that is the Premier League, and it surely won’t take long for Sarri to reach for a soothing stick o’ nicotine (not that we endorse such a thing).
The problem being, of course, is that smoking is banned in all stadiums – and so the stewards will be over in a flash to kick him out when he lights up in the dugout. Not that he’ll likely care, so long as he can keep hold of his cigarettes.
We can picture the headline now: Sarri not sorry.
Wild Prediction 3: Alisson Becker will have a howler
After a summer of heavy spending, all eyes will be on Merseyside to see if Liverpool can deliver off the starting blocks.
In particular, the now second most expensive goalkeeper of all time, Alisson Becker, has been billed as the man who could make the difference to a porous Liverpool defence and transform them into genuine title contenders.
In other words, all the ingredients are there for the Brazilian to have a nightmare debut – flapping at corners, gifting a penalty and letting a tame shot slip through his hands and into the back of the net. Ah, the poetic beauty of football.
Wild Prediction 4: Mauricio Pochettino will have a whip round with the Tottenham fans
It’s fair to say Spurs fans aren’t entirely happy with their summer’s transfer dealings, given the “players in” column boasts a grand total of zero names.
So when their travelling support break into a chorus of “Spend some f*cking money!”, Pochettino – with the weight of Spurs’ new stadium on his shoulders – will take it upon himself to start building funds for the January transfer window.
He will have to climb approximately 4,916 stairs to get up to Newcastle’s mountainous away section and start the whip ground, but hey – no pain, no gain, right?
Wild Prediction 5: Wolves will line up to the Portuguese national anthem
Following heavy investment from the owners, this is a big season for newly-promoted Wolves.
Despite their Premier League inexperience, their squad is laced with talent throughout – the heartbeat of which is their Portuguese manager and SEVEN Portuguese players.
In order to deliver what is expected of them, they’ll need everyone fired up from the very beginning. What better way to inspire than blaring out what should be the club’s new national anthem at Molineux?
Wild Prediction 6: Jose Mourinho to completely lose the plot
The Manchester United manager has had a busy summer stacked full of moaning, sulking, whinging and bitching about everyone and everything. A fair chunk of this ire has been directed at the board over their lack of transfer activity, having only spent a paltry £70m.
So we can just picture the scene at full-time, after Jamie Vardy snatches a late 1-0 win for Leicester at Old Trafford. Mourinho, with hair frazzled and spittle spewing, loses the plot completely and storms up to the boardroom to unleash his anger on CEO Ed Woodward. After completing his foul-mouthed tirade with, “…AND WHO THE F*CK IS LEE GRANT ANYWAY?!” he challenges Woodward to a fight in the centre circle, right there and then.
He’s promptly removed by security and placed in a straitjacket whilst whispering the words “I’m the special one, I’m the special one, I’m the special one…” to himself over and over again.
Bring it on, 2018/19. We’re ready for you.