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 By Derek Bilton

Leicester plot Arsenal shock, Lukaku can hammer the Hammers

The ESPN FC crew has all the best preview analysis ahead of the new campaign.
The ESPN FC crew has all the best preview analysis ahead of the new campaign.
The ESPN FC crew has all the best preview analysis ahead of the new campaign.

A look ahead to the best bets for the opening weekend of the Premier League season ...

It's back

It's been a long old summer without a World Cup or European Championships for fans get excited about and while watching the Lions battle it out Down Under, Roger Federer roll back the years at Wimbledon and Jordan Speith wowing the crowds at the Open has been enjoyable, the new football season can't come quick enough. Thankfully the 2017-18 Premier League season returns with a bang this weekend, where on Friday evening Arsenal host Leicester City.

Arsenal, of course, are famed for losing opening day fixtures and were exposed during last season's Premier League opener as a makeshift defence was embarrassed during a thrilling 4-3 loss to Liverpool.

It was a tough season for Arsenal fans as Arsene Wenger's men failed to qualify for the Champions League. Their stock has plunged so dramatically they can be backed at double figure odds to win the title this year and are fifth favourites in the outright betting behind Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham.

If you fancy an upset at the Emirates the Foxes can be backed at 6/1 with bet365 to win, which on paper at least is a big price for a team who won the league the season before last.

However, this looks a Leicester side in decline with the mercurial Riyad Mahrez almost certainly on the way out. Jamie Vardy is still around though and his pace is bound to cause Arsenal problems but in Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal have a red hot striker of their own and the Frenchman can fire Wenger's men to victory here.

Lukaku to hammer Hammers

Manchester United face a tricky start to their domestic campaign when they host West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday. Jose Mourinho has against spent big in the summer and the Portuguese will know his team needs to mount a serious title challenge this time around after limping to a sixth place finish last season. To be fair, Mourinho's record as manager in his second full season in charge of clubs is excellent, having won the league with Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Romelu Lukaku, a £75million buy from Everton and the man tasked with filling Zlatan Ibrahimovic's boots, looks the obvious choice in the first goalscorer betting given he has scored against the Hammers in seven of his last eight appearances. The classy Belgian has been finding the net with regularity in preseason for the Old Trafford outfit and looks a good thing at 11/4 with bet365 to score first.

Best of the rest

Of the Saturday fixtures, Everton look a rock solid proposition to beat Stoke City. Ronald Koeman has spent north of £100m and given they've already got two Europa League games under their belt, they should be primed for battle.

Mark Hughes is favourite with most firms to become the first Premier League boss to lose his job this season and seems to be feeling the strain of a tough transfer window. Everton have won nine of their last 10 home games in the league and a 3-1 result can be backed at a tasty 14/1 with bet365.

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