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Paul Merson's predictions: Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte to get opening victories

Generic Paul Merson image 10/08/2016

The opening day of the Premier League season is upon us, and Sky Sports' pundit Paul Merson is back with his first round of predictions...

Defending champions Leicester City kick-off the campaign with a trip to newly-promoted Hull City, live on Sky Sports from 12.30pm.

The first slate of 3pm games includes Ronald Koeman's first match in charge of Everton, who welcome Tottenham to Goodison Park.

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Over the course of the weekend, we will also get a glimpse of new eras at Manchester United and Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho's side in action against Bournemouth on Super Sunday and Antonio Conte's outfit hosting West Ham on Monday Night Football.

So who is getting off to a fast start? The Magic Man gives us his predictions...

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Hull City v Leicester City - Saturday, Live Premier League, 12.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

It's a good first game for Leicester but the result does depend how Hull approach it. I think they will probably sit back and be pretty defensive.

Ahmed Musa of Leicester City FC celebrates after scoring the first of his two goals in a 4-2 pre-season defeat to Barcelona in Stockholm.
Image: Ahmed Musa is one of Leicester's summer additions

Still, even if they do, I don't see anything other than a win for Claudio Ranieri's side. I just don't think it is right to get rid of your manager so close to the season, like Hull did with Steve Bruce, and I can't see how they will be able to live with Leicester in attack.

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PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2 (Sky Bet odds 7/1)

Live Premier League

Bournemouth v Man Utd - Super Sunday, 1.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

I worry for Bournemouth this season. They are a good footballing team but opponents got used to facing them, they didn't finish the last campaign well, and they have lost Matt Ritchie too.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jesse Lingard and goalkeeper David De Gea celebrate with the Community Shield
Image: Man Utd beat Leicester to win the Community Shield in early August

I think Man Utd will win this game quite comfortably. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is such a presence, he's full of confidence, and I just don't see how Bournemouth will cope.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-3 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)

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Arsenal v Liverpool - Super Sunday, 4pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

The injuries are a major concern for Arsenal. They have one centre forward in Olivier Giroud when their rivals have three or four each. Don't tell me Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are centre forwards. They might be able to step in for one or two games but you are not going to win the Premier League that way.

Mesut Ozil (left) and Ismael Bennacer in pre-season training with Arenal
Image: Arsenal open their season live on Sky Sports against Liverpool

As for Liverpool, they are decent going forward, they are quick and score goals on the break, but again, defensively they are not too good either. I see plenty of goals in this one.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)

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Chelsea v West Ham - Monday Night Football, 8pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

It's a difficult start for both teams but I'm going for Chelsea to win the league so I'm going for a Chelsea win here too. People say they weren't great defensively last season but Conte is a great tactician and they will improve.

Eden Hazard (L) and Oscar celebrate a Chelsea goal against Werder Bremen during a pre-season friendly
Image: Merson believes Eden Hazard (left) will be key to Chelsea's hopes this season

If N'Golo Kante gets around Dimitri Payet, I don't see Payet touching the ball too often. He's a top player and you don't want to be giving away free-kicks around the box, but he's not really going to run away from defenders.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 6/1)

Live Monday Night Football

Crystal Palace v West Brom - Saturday, 3pm

What Palace need to do this season under Alan Pardew is to break their slumps quicker than they have done in the past. They can reel off six wins in a row but they can lose eight games on the spin too, and that's why they are so inconsistent. If Pardew can sort that out I think they'll have a good season.

Yannick Bolasie celebrates with Freddie Ladapo
Image: Yannick Bolasie (right) has been linked with a move to Everton

West Brom will go to Selhurst Park on Saturday to frustrate their opponents, but I think Palace will just about have enough to break them down before the end of the game.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (Sky Bet odds 9/2)

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124 live PL games in UHD

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Burnley v Swansea - Saturday, 3pm

This is a must-win game already for Burnley. They haven't really bought many players and it's going to be a difficult season.

It will be interesting to see if Andre Gray can score goals in the Premier League because if he can, he could go for a lot of money come January.

Burnley's Andre Gray celebrates scoring his third of the game during the pre-season friendly match at the Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow.
Image: Andre Gray's goals fired Burnley to promotion last season

He won't get as many chances as he did in the Championship so it will be a challenge, and I think Swansea will get a draw on Saturday.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 9/2)

Everton v Tottenham - Saturday, 3pm

I have played at Everton enough times to know this is a tricky first game for Tottenham. It's a difficult place to play, especially on the opening day, and I like Ronald Koeman's business so far - selling John Stones for £47.5m and buying Ashley Williams for £12m, I like that.

New Everton defender Ashley Williams
Image: New Everton defender Ashley Williams has joined the club from Swansea

For Spurs, it depends if there is a hangover from Euro 2016 for players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Tottenham have a team already but I feel they need to add more to their squad because they're a bit light.

I don't think they've done enough yet to go on and win the Premier League.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 9/2)

Middlesbrough v Stoke - Saturday, 3pm

I think Middlesbrough have done alright in the transfer market so far. I like Alvaro Negredo, who I think is a good centre forward that will give them options. If they can play to his strengths, they will be OK.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Middesbrough forward Alvaro Negredo celebrates his goal during the pre- season friendly between Aston Villa and Middlesbrou
Image: Former Man City striker Alvaro Negredo is now a Middlesbrough player

On this occasion, though, the nice big pitch at the Riverside Stadium suits Stoke's style of play and I think they will get a draw.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 9/2)

Southampton v Watford - Saturday, 3pm

Sadio Mane will be a big miss for Southampton but I'm not sure about Watford this season. I know they have always done well after changing managers, but sometimes that can catch up with you and I'm going for a narrow Saints win.

Odion Ighalo (R) and Troy Deeney (L) have formed a potent partnership up front for Watford
Image: Odion Ighalo (right) and Troy Deeney (left) enjoyed a good partnership last year

Towards the end of last season, teams got comfortable playing against Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo and they figured out once you stop those two, you've virtually won the match.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (Sky Bet odds 5/1)

Man City v Sunderland - Saturday, 5.30pm

There won't be a lot between the two teams in this match. David Moyes' Sunderland will go to the Etihad to make it hard for Man City, but as the game goes on, I think Pep Guardiola's side will break them down.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (R) controls the ball during the 2016 International Champions Cup football match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortm
Image: Sergio Aguero in pre-season action for Man City

They will be patient, and to be fair to Moyes, it's not the best of starts for Sunderland.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 5/1)


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