Wigan v Chelsea 1.30pm
This wasn’t a fixture that Chelsea were able to win last season, with Wigan managing to hold their opponents to a draw and it would be no surprise to see this game end all square.
The Blues defence were at sixes and sevens in the Community Shield match as Manchester City claimed a 3-2 win and they did manage just six wins in their nineteen away games last term, even if their domestic form did tail off as they went for an unlikely Champions League triumph.
Nevertheless, the bookies are taking few chances with their quotes about Roberto Di Matteo’s team and the best odds available are 8/15 (William Hill free bets), while some firms go as short as 4/9 about the visitors claiming all three points.
There is clearly a big gulf in class between the two teams on paper, although the Latics will be hoping to continue where they left off last term as Roberto Martinez once again helped the north-west side perform the Great Escape as they claimed wins over Manchester United and Arsenal to ease themselves away from the drop zone.
Wigan are overpriced at 13/2 (Stan James) to win the game and the 3/1 about the contest finishing all square looks very backable even if the manager hasn’t invested too much in squad reinforcements following the departure of Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame.
One man that the Latics defence will be looking to silence is Fernando Torres who is a best price 4/1 to score the first goal, just as he did in the Community Shield match, although perhaps Juan Mata can offer more of a threat from an attacking midfield position.
Manchester City v Southampton 4pm
Last time the Sky cameras were at the Etihad Stadium, pandemonium broke loose among supporters, players and management staff as Sergio Aguero found the net in injury-time to secure a first Premier League title for Manchester City.
Three months down the line and Roberto Mancini’s team start their title defence, with the fixture list being kind to the Citizens a few days after several players were on international duty, even if Southampton will turn up with nothing to lose.
Unsurprisingly, City are no bigger than 1/5 (BetVictor) to start off with a win and they were practically untouchable at home last term, with Sunderland the only team to stop them claiming a maximum haul which ultimately led them to title glory.
It’s hard to imagine much changing this time around, even if Manchester United did beat them to the signature of Robin van Persie, although it’s hard to see how the Dutchman would have fitted in considering that Argentina duo of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez should wreak some havoc.
All seems to be well with Tevez after an acrimonious campaign where the player effectively went on strike following a disagreement in Munich, although the former United player is 7/2 to score first on Sunday and scored a peach against Chelsea in the Shield match.
At a bigger price, the tricky Samir Nasri could be a good bet to score first, although the Saints are determined not to make up the numbers in the Premier League this term and manager Nigel Adkins will have identified this as a potentially good time to be facing City.
Perhaps there is a chance that the champions will be caught cold and they will certainly have to use their initiative to break down the Saints ranks, although you can get odds of 18/1 if you think a shock Southampton win is on the cards.