Fulham vs Arsenal
Craven Cottage, London
Saturday, 12-09-2020 @2:30pm
Ref: Chris Kavanagh
Fulham enter Saturday’s game having lost their past five Premier League matches against Arsenal. They conceded nine goals in the two meetings during their most recent top-flight campaign in 2018-19. Arsenal’s only defeat in the past 13 Premier League meetings was 2-1 at Craven Cottage in January 2012. The two sides have met once before on the opening day of a top-flight season, with the Gunners coming from behind to win 2-1 in 2007.
Fulham coach Scott Parker has reported no injury concerns before Fulham’s Premier League return, with loanee Alphonse Areola pushing for his debut. Fellow summer arrival Mario Lemina could also make a first appearance.
Arsenal defender David Luiz has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a neck injury sustained in the Community Shield win against Liverpool. Emile Smith Rowe and Sokratis are sidelined with shoulder and calf injuries respectively.
The Championship play-off winners have avoided relegation in only 12 of the previous 28 Premier League seasons. Fulham finished 19th and were relegated in each of their last two Premier League seasons, in 2013-14 and 2018-19. They conceded the most goals in both of those campaigns. They have lost their opening game in successive seasons: 2-0 to Crystal Palace in 2018-19 and 1-0 against Barnsley last year. The Cottagers are currently on a top-flight record run of 10 successive London derby defeats. Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 49 goals since making his Fulham debut in February 2018. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (54), Mo Salah (54) and Jamie Vardy (50) have scored more often in England’s top four divisions during that period. Mitrovic scored five goals in Fulham’s opening six Premier League matches of 2018-19, but managed just six in the following 31 games.
Arsenal are aiming to win their opening match in consecutive seasons for the first time in 11 years. The Gunners are undefeated in all four of their previous opening Premier League matches versus newly-promoted opposition (W3, D1). Their last opening day league defeat against a promoted side was a 1-0 loss at Highbury to Bristol City in 1976. They have not lost any of their last 24 matches in the month of September in all competitions (W19, D5) since a 3-2 home defeat by Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2015. Arsenal have already won two trophies in their 29 matches under Mikel Arteta: the FA Cup and Community Shield. They scored 56 Premier League goals last season, their lowest total since 1995-96. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 54 goals in 85 Premier League appearances since his debut in February 2018, a joint-league high during that period with Mo Salah.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Selhurst Park, London
Saturday, 12-09-2020 @5pm
Ref: Jonathan Moss
Palace’s new £16m signing Eberechi Eze is a doubt because of a groin injury, although he has returned to training this week. Nathan Ferguson also faces a fitness test but Michy Batshuayi could start.
Southampton forward Danny Ings and midfielder James Ward-Prowse are available after returning from England duty without any injury concerns. New arrival Mohammed Salisu is in contention to make his debut in defence.
Crystal Palace have won just three of their 22 Premier League matches against Southampton, and two of 11 at home (D3, L6). Southampton are on a three-match winning run without conceding a goal away to Palace in the league. They have never won four consecutive top-flight away matches against one opponent.
Crystal Palace’s tally of 16 points in 2020 is the worst return of any current Premier League side. They took only one point from their final eight Premier League fixtures last season. Palace failed to score in the first half of a league-high 29 of their 38 top-flight fixtures in 2019-20. The Eagles are winless in all six previous opening day Premier League matches at home (D2, L4). Wilfried Zaha registered just four Premier League goals and three assists in 38 appearances last season, compared to 10 goals and five assists in 2018-19.
Southampton’s opening-day win ratio of 9.5% is the worst of any team to have played at least 10 Premier League seasons. They have earned 30 points in 2020 (W9, D3, L6), ranking them sixth in the Premier League. Saints earned a club record nine wins and 31 points away from home last season – only Liverpool and Manchester City had better records. They can win three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since 2016.
Liverpool vs Leeds United
Anfield Stadium, Liverpool
Saturday, 12-09-2020 @7:30pm
Ref: Michael Oliver
Liverpool will monitor Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip, both of whom have recently returned to training following injuries. Leeds are without injured pair Gaetano Berardi and Adam Forshaw.
Leeds new signings Rodrigo and Robin Koch returned from international duty fully fit, and are available to make their debuts. Head coach Marcelo Bielsa must decide whether to pick Illan Meslier or Kiko Casilla in goal.
Leeds’ most recent win against Liverpool was by 2-1 in the Premier League at Anfield in April 2001. Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer scored for the visitors, while Steven Gerrard netted – and was later sent off – for the Reds.
The Reds are unbeaten in their opening league fixture over the past seven seasons, winning six times. Eighteen-time champions Liverpool have begun their title defence with a defeat just once before, losing 2-0 to West Brom in 1923. This will be the seventh time the reigning Premier League champions have hosted a newly-promoted side in their opening game, with the title holders winning all six of the previous matches. Liverpool are unbeaten in a club record 59 Premier League fixtures at Anfield (W48, D11), with their last defeat coming against Crystal Palace in April 2017. They are one shy of conceding 2,000 top-flight goals at home. Mohamed Salah can become only the second player to score in his side’s opening fixture in four consecutive Premier League seasons. Teddy Sheringham did so with Nottingham Forest in 1992 and Tottenham from 1993 to 1995. Fifteen of Salah’s 19 league goals last season were scored at Anfield.
The Whites have never lost their first game of a Premier League season, winning five and drawing seven. No team has taken part in as many Premier League campaigns without ever losing their opening match. The Yorkshire club last began a top-flight season with a defeat in 1981, when they lost 5-1 at Swansea. The winner of the previous season’s Championship has not won their first Premier League game since Sunderland beat Tottenham in 2007 (D3, L9). The most recent newly-promoted side to win away at the reigning top-flight champions on the opening day were Notts County against Aston Villa in 1981. Leeds conceded 35 league goals last season, the best defensive record of any Championship winner since QPR in 2010-11, and kept 22 clean sheets. Marcelo Bielsa is only the fourth Argentine to manage in the English top flight. Bielsa, 65, will become the second oldest post-war permanent manager to take charge of his first game in the English top flight, behind only Dick Advocaat, who was 67 when he debuted with Sunderland in 2015.
West Ham United vs Newcastle United
London Stadium, London
Saturday, 12-09-2020 @10pm
Ref: Scot Attwell
Newcastle have won nine Premier League away games against West Ham, a tally they have only bettered at Tottenham (10 victories). The Hammers have scored two or more goals in each of their past five Premier League games against the Magpies, although they failed to win either of last season’s meetings.
Tomas Soucek is available for West Ham despite a brief period of self-isolation following international duty. Soucek was in contact with a member of the Czech Republic’s backroom team who tested positive for Covid-19, but the player himself has tested negative.
Newcastle’s lengthy list of absentees includes Fabian Schar, Martin Dubravka, Dwight Gayle and Paul Dummett, while Matt Ritchie is a doubt. Callum Wilson and Jamal Lewis could both make their debuts. Ryan Fraser, who is another recent recruit, lacks fitness and will be monitored.
The Hammers have lost their opening Premier League fixture on 13 occasions, more than any other side. They have started with a defeat in each of the past four seasons, conceding at least four goals in each of the last three. The last top-flight team to lose their opening league match in five consecutive seasons were Wimbledon between 1986 and 1990. Michail Antonio ended last season with eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances – his tally of eight goals in July is bettered only by Luis Suarez (who hit 10 in December 2013) in a calendar month. Mark Noble has scored 46 Premier League goals for West Ham, and is one short of equalling Paolo Di Canio as the Hammers’ all-time top scorer in the division. Declan Rice is set to play his 100th Premier League match.
Newcastle have lost their first league match of the season in six of the past seven campaigns, drawing the other game. They last began with a victory in 2012, defeating Tottenham 2-1 at St James’ Park. Their most recent opening-day away win came against Bolton in 2007. Newcastle have lost 79 Premier League away matches in London, more than any other side. Callum Wilson has scored seven goals in eight top-flight matches against West Ham, all for previous club Bournemouth. Jonjo Shelvey has scored three Premier League goals against West Ham, and netted home and away against them last season.
The other upcoming Premier League games
-West Bromwich vs Leicester City @4pm
-Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton @7:30pm
-Sheffield United vs Wolves @8pm
-Brighton vs Chelsea @10:15pm