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Palace, Arsenal Clash In EPL Opener


The 2022/23 Premier League actions resume today with Arsenal travelling to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace in a London derby in their opening game.

For the third season in a row, Arsenal will begin their new campaign with a London derby; the Gunners eased to a 3-0 success at Fulham behind closed doors in 2020, but Brentford ran out convincing 2-0 winners over Arteta’s side in their first-ever Premier League fixture last term.

Patrick Vieira’s side thumped the Gunners 3-0 in this fixture only a few months ago, but Mikel Arteta has worked to plug the gaps in his Gunners XI during a productive summer.

Taking four points from a possible six against his former club last season, Patrick Vieira slammed the Emirates turf in frustration when his side gave away two points in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal before witnessing his side outclassing the Gunners in April.

By leading the Eagles to a 12th-placed finish last season and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals, former Invincibles captain Vieira earned a manager of the season nomination, and optimism is high around Selhurst Park under the Frenchman.

While witnessing Conor Gallagher return to Chelsea was a bitter blow, Cheick Doucoure and Malcolm Ebiowei are ready to make their mark in the English capital, and the end of pre-season was largely positive for Vieira’s side.

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The Eagles enter this game after back-to-back wins over Queens Park Rangers and Montpellier HSC in friendly battles, and their only defeats of the exhibition period came at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester United.

Liverpool will once again kick off another Premier League season against a newly-promoted side, as Fulham play host to the Reds at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were forced to accept second best again last season, while the Cottagers are aiming to avoid a swift demotion back down to the second tier.

Proving that they no longer hold the label of a yo-yo team will be the ultimate goal for Fulham and Marco Silva this summer, with the Cottagers determined to make their latest Premier League journey last longer than 12 months.

With 90 points and 106 goals – 43 of which came from Aleksandar Mitrovic – to boast from the 2021-22 Championship season, Fulham blew the competition out of the water to return to the big time, although winning just two of their final seven matches took some gloss off of their trophy.

Liverpool have already kicked off their 2022-23 season with a much-deserved win over the reigning champions in the Community Shield and have also secured a number of victories off the field, winning the race to sign Darwin Nunez and finally convincing Mohamed Salah to put pen to paper on a new deal until 2025.

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As previously hinted at, Fulham’s most recent Premier League win was a 1-0 success over Liverpool at Anfield in 2021, and they also held the Reds to a draw at Craven Cottage that same year, but Liverpool are going in search of their fifth opening-day win with at least three goals scored in succession this weekend.

Bournemouth vs Aston Villa

Resuming life in the top flight after a two-year hiatus, promoted Bournemouth welcome Aston Villa to the Vitality Stadium for their Premier League opener on Saturday.

While the Cherries took the second spot in the Championship last season, to regain their place in the English elite, Villa had to settle for a mid-table finish after a campaign beset by inconsistency.

A baptism of fire awaits Bournemouth upon their return to the rarefied air of the Premier League, and the pressure is on to at least avoid defeat in their opening game, given a formidable fixture list through much of this month.

Soon faced with trips to Manchester City and Liverpool, as well as a visit from Arsenal, Scott Parker’s side will hope to hit the ground running against Aston Villa, who they also played in the club’s first Premier League match some seven years ago.

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However, despite last season’s relative success, many Cherries fans feel uneasy about a lack of signings this summer, and pundits are lining up to condemn them to relegation before a ball is even kicked in the 2022-23 campaign.

With few new faces forthcoming, Parker will rely on established regulars such as Jefferson Lerma, Lewis Cook, Philip Billing and captain Lloyd Kelly to excel at a higher level, while Dominic Solanke is expected to provide goals upon his top-flight comeback as a more experienced striker.

Leeds vs Wolves

Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers get their Premier League campaign underway with a fixture at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.

The home side is hoping for a much-improved season after dramatically avoiding relegation in 2021-22, while Wolves are under pressure to bounce back from a number of deflating performances during the run-in.

Since Jesse Marsch replaced Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds boss, the American has divided opinion, particularly when his side was on the brink of losing four successive games during the run-in.

However, Pascal Struijk’s last-gasp equaliser against Brighton & Hove Albion and the 2-1 triumph at Brentford which followed put a positive spin on Marsch’s short tenure, freeing up the Yorkshire giants to make widespread changes during the summer.

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Newcastle vs Forest

Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest commence their 2022-23 Premier League campaign with a fixture at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

While the Magpies are targeting European qualification this season, newly-promoted Forest are simply looking to make a statement on their return to the top flight after more than two decades away.

With six wins coming from their final eight matches in 2021-22, Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe would not have wanted the season to end as his side consistently impressed during the run-in.

However, it led to the Magpies moving onto the next stage of their progression, putting plans in place to launch a bid for European football over the next nine-and-a-half months.

These two clubs have met on seven occasions since Forest last competed in the top flight back in 1999, six of those games coming in the Championship.

Tottenham vs Southampton

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to make the perfect start to their 2022-23 Premier League campaign when they welcome Southampton to North London on Saturday afternoon.

Spurs finished fourth in the table last season and are therefore preparing for a return to the Champions League, while Southampton were 15th, just five points clear of the relegation zone.

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Tottenham won four of their final five Premier League games of the 2021-22 campaign to claim fourth position in the table ahead of Arsenal, ultimately finishing two points clear of the Gunners in fifth, with Antonio Conte’s side managing to secure a spot in the group stage of this season’s Champions League.

Spurs were only actually three points behind third-place Chelsea, and the North London club will be looking to again challenge high up the table this season, potentially seeing themselves as the best of the rest behind Manchester City and Liverpool, who could go head-to-head for the title again.

Hasenhuttl’s side have a difficult opening month of the campaign, also taking on Leeds United, Leicester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea in their first five matches, so there is a chance that they could be in a lowly position in the table heading into September.

Everton vs Chelsea

One of the most intriguing fixtures on the opening weekend of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign will take place at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Everton welcome Chelsea in the late start.

The Toffees finished down in 16th position last season, only narrowly avoiding relegation to the Championship, while Chelsea were third, five points clear of fifth-place Arsenal in the battle for the Champions League spots.

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Everton will be looking to improve on what was a hugely difficult 2021-22 campaign in the coming season, with the team finishing 16th in the Premier League table, just four points above the relegation zone, as they faced the prospect of dropping into the second tier of English football.

The Toffees remain one of six English clubs to have never been relegated from the Premier League, but they had been picked out as possible European challengers last term, and the only real positive was that they managed to finish above the bottom three, with Frank Lampard helping to secure survival after being appointed in January.

The London giants will enter this match off the back of a 3-1 win over Udinese last Friday, but they lost to both Charlotte FC and Arsenal during their pre-season tour of the United States, with the Gunners beating them 4-0, which led to a host of criticism from Tuchel.

Chelsea will welcome Tottenham Hotspur in their second match of the season next weekend, so there is pressure on the team to start the campaign with a positive result, but it remains to be seen whether the capital outfit are entirely ready for the return of competitive action.

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