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New season, new hope – Premier League Opening Weekend Preview

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The 2016/17 Premier League season gets underway this weekend, in what promises to be the most fascinating year yet in England’s top-flight.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, a new season always brings so much anticipation, excitement – and hope!

2015/16 was possibly the most unpredictable season in English football history, with Leicester‘s title-winning heroics almost impossible to fathom.

With Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho taking over at the Manchester clubs, and some world-renowned players also moving to the Premier League, we are all set for a memorable nine months.

It all gets started on Saturday lunchtime.

Can Leicester silence the doubters?

Leicester’s team manager Claudio Ranieri and Leicester’s Wes Morgan lift the trophy as Leicester City celebrate becoming the English Premier League soccer champions at King Power stadium in Leicester, England, Saturday, May 7, 2016.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Following their remarkable title triumph, there have been many who have dismissed their chances of making an impact in 2016/17.

Most are tipping the Foxes for a mid-table finish, and barely anyone expects them to finish anywhere close to the Champions League places.

Claudio Ranieri’s men get their campaign off and running away to a beleaguered Hull side, and it represents a great opportunity for the champions to start with a win.

Can they prove that last season was far from a freak year?

Liverpool take part in game of the weekend

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 18, 2015: Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger during the Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of the 10 matches taking place over the next few days, none stand out as much as Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.

It is match-up that pits two the country’s heavyweight clubs, with some early bragging rights on offer for both sides.

The Reds will fancy their chances of causing a shock against a defensively-depleted Gunners outfit, but they have still only won once at the Emirates, back in August 2011.

It could either be a dull, cautious draw, a high-scoring classic or a comfortable win either way.

Manchester clubs looking for flying starts

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, February 3, 2014: Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho before the Premiership match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Man City and Man United are, unsurprisingly, the bookies’ favourites to win the Premier League this season, and the Manchester derbies promise to be quite a spectacle.

With rivals Guardiola and Mourinho in charge, there are sure to be plenty of fireworks in the coming weeks and months.

Both have very winnable opening fixtures this weekend, with City hosting Sunderland on Saturday evening, and United visiting Bournemouth on Sunday lunchtime.

Mourinho is famed for making very fast starts to seasons, so Guardiola cannot afford to take too long to adjust to the pace and power of English football.

Newly-promoted clubs begin quest for survival

Middlesbrough Grant Leadbetter lifts the cup with Aitor Karanka as they celebrate returning to the Premier League RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday July 22, 2016. For promoted trio Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull, the primary aim is simply to remain in the Premier League.

Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull all managed to escape from the Championship in 2015/16, and their primary aim will be to ensure Premier League survival this time around.

Hull look in dire straits currently, with no manager, a horrible lack of signings and disputes between the fans and owners.

Their curtain-raising showdown with Leicester could prove to be a long afternoon, especially if things don’t start well.

Burnley and ‘Boro look more well-equipped to enjoy good seasons, however, and they have inviting home games against Swansea and Stoke on Saturday.

Three points would give the two clubs a huge injection of belief heading into the remainder of the campaign.

New era at Goodison Park

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 17, 2014: Southampton's manager Ronald Koeman during the Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The exit of Roberto Martinez at the end of last season had a predictability about it – much like Brendan Rodgers’ final days at Liverpool, a change of manager was needed.

Ronald Koeman looks an excellent capture, and Toffees supporters will hope the Dutchman can bring happier, more successful times back to Goodison Park.

Their squad looks a little thin for the visit of Tottenham on Saturday – new signings will arrive before Deadline Day – and the north Londoners will be desperate to start strongly, having shone in 2015/16.

This is a fixture that has an eye-catching, old-school feel to it, and it should be an entertaining contest.

Fixtures & TV Info

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2016: Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the third goal against Barcelona during the International Champions Cup match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hull vs. Leicester – KCOM Stadium, Saturday 12:30pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 0-2

Burnley vs. Swansea – Turf Moor, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 2-1

Crystal Palace vs. West Brom – Selhurst Park, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 1-1

Everton vs. Tottenham – Goodison Park, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 1-1

Middlesbrough vs. Stoke – Riverside Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 1-2

Southampton vs. Watford – St Mary’s Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 2-0

Man City vs. Sunderland – Etihad Stadium, Saturday 5:30pm, BT Sport 1

Prediction: 4-1

Bournemouth vs. Man United – Dean Court, Sunday 1:30pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 0-2

Arsenal vs. Liverpool – Emirates Stadium, Sunday 4pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 1-1

Chelsea vs. West Ham – Stamford Bridge, Monday 8pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 1-1

EVERY Premier League team previewed in our biggest every season guide, herepl-201617

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