Take Man United on all fronts

It's the first day of the English Premier League season, so it will take some time to shake off the rustiness.

No team, though, will be more motivated than Man United to start off with a bang. The humiliation of last season is still fresh, so players such as Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata will want to erase the stain as quickly as they can.

Swansea, known for their free-flowing football, may hit the ground hard after losing influential players such as Michu and Chico Flores. Manager Garry Monk hasn't been convincing since taking over from Michael Laudrup last season, and he won't be too excited about starting this campaign with a trip to Old Trafford.

Team update: The two teams last met in 2011. They drew 1-1. In their first seven games last season, Hull were beaten just twice. Nothing much wrong with both Queens Park Rangers and Hull. Both can parade fully-fit squads for this tight opener.


United will home in convincingly

United will be off to a flyer. Last season, Man United opened their campaign with an away match against Swansea.

A certain Scotsman was in charge and, boy, was he popular with the fans that day. United won 4-1. Enough about David Moyes. United again tackle the Swans on the opening day - with Louis van Gaal in the hot seat. Just as sure as van Gaal is not Scottish, Man United are going to win this - hands down.

Yes, look no further than a resounding performance from the Red Devils. They have been working hard during the pre-season and their Dutch manager has reclaimed the dressing room. Like they did last season, they will want to be off to a flyer. Have them on all fronts.


Unsteady Palace will be slayed

Crystal Palace are only in the Premiership this season because of the shrewd, tactical hand of manager Tony Pulis.

Bottom of the league at the halfway stage last season, Pulis came in, worked wonders, and managed to steer the club to an 11th-placed finish.

The Gunners almost always start the season well, and they showed no signs of bucking that trend when they thrashed Manchester City 3-0 in the Community Shield last week.

The favourites here are feeling confident and in good form, while the underdogs are uncertain and distracted.

The value on Arsenal on the -½ handicap is already dropping fast.



Arsenal have too much quality

There's a certain steel about Arsenal these days. Arsene Wenger has knuckled down to reinforce his squad with proven quality rather than gamble on potential, and Arsenal will benefit from this change in philosophy.

Any team containing Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Oezil and Aaron Ramsey have to be treated as title contenders. Crystal Palace won't be overawed, as they showed last term with some good results against the big teams.

But the difference in quality may be too vast for them to overcome, especially since the match will be played at the Emirates Stadium.

If Arsenal settle down into the match fast, Palace are staring at at least a two-goal defeat.


Gunners will feed off Crystal

Sure, Arsene Wenger's a happy man. Last Sunday, his Gunners shot down Man City with a barrage which resounded from the Thames in London to the Mersey in the north-west.

What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago, Wenger was wailing like a wounded banshee when Aston Villa made his team look like second-raters in a 3-1 rout at the Emirates.

It's that time again - only this time Wenger's whistling. Arsenal's living the dream. There's another piece of silverware in the cabinet and they see themselves dining off crystal when they entertain Palace in tonight's late show.

Take the Gunners to win this and and go for Over-2.5 Goals.


Winning start for Chelsea

Both my colleague, Brian "The Veteran" Miller and I are confidently predicting a glorious season for Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho whined all of last season about how his side weren't good enough to win the league. Well, he's gone out of his way to strengthen the team, especially in attack with the acquisition of Diego Costa.The return of Didier Drogba is also a sign that Chelsea have strength in depth this season. Drogba won't start too many games, but he'll certainly play a big role off the bench.

On almost everyone's accounts, Burnley are the weakest of the three promoted teams in the league. No big names, and an inexperienced manager in Sean Dyche, expect the Clarets to spend a lot of time at the bottom this season.