Premier League new boys hope for flying starts at home
Coral writers preview the betting as newly promoted clubs Leicester City and QPR kick off their Premier League campaigns against Everton and Hull City respectively, in fascinating fixtures that should include a host of intriguing debuts.
Leicester v Everton
The Foxes prepare for their Premier League bow aiming to improve on their impressive home record of 17 straight wins, following a sensational season that saw them lift the Championship title to secure top-flight status again, after a decade-long absence.
Wily Foxes boss Nigel Pearson is 11/5 to help the Midlands club continue their formidable home form and defeat top four pretenders Everton. The main conundrum for coach Pearson is whether to take a cautious approach against the Toffees, rather than risk exposing an ageing defence to the Blues’ rapid counter attacks.
Leicester secured silverware success with flamboyant football last term, boasting the highest number of league wins and most consecutive games scored in a Championship campaign. However, it remains to be seen whether their strength will now become a weakness, as such a gung-ho approach could be their downfall against top opposition.
Summer signing striker Leonardo Ulloa, 7/4 to score anytime, faces significant pressure in his first competitive start for the Foxes, after Pearson smashed the club’s transfer record to poach the £8m Argentine attacker from Brighton and Hove Albion.
Fans eyes will be focused on whether Ulloa, who netted 14 Championship goals for the Seagulls last term, can now take his fine form to the next level.
Everton, meanwhile, are favourites at 6/5 to continue where they left off last season, and put the Foxes to the sword with more swashbuckling football.
The Toffees have spent wisely this summer, with Bosnia and Herzegovinia starlet Muhamed Besic and Chelsea loanee Christan Atsu in line for debuts, and also hold the head-to-head record, having emerged as victors in 36 previous league clashes.
New Everton signing Romelu Lukaku, who scored 16 times on loan at Goodison Park last campaign, is 8/1 net two or more and show why Roberto Martinez splurged a significant portion of his transfer warchest on the Belgium hitman.
If the Toffees trio all pass a late fitness test, Lukaku’s strength, supported by the guile of compatriot Kevin Mirallas and pace of Seamus Coleman, could truly terrorise a Leicester defence containing veterans Wes Morgan and Matthew Upson.
QPR V Hull
The Hoops have an excellent record against Hull in recent times, having only lost once to the Tigers in their last 13 encounters, and are 6/4 to extend that by securing an opening win at Loftus Road, or 2/1 to eke out a draw.
QPR have bounced back into the top flight after just one season in the wilderness, and coach Harry Redknapp will be keen to test his team against Premier League opposition before the transfer window slams shut.
Redknapp is rumoured to be considering a switch to the currently fashionable 3-5-2 formation, with savvy new backline signings Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker expected to form part of defensive trio alongside one of Richard Dunne or Nedum Onuoha.
This new tactic could be key to extracting the best from loan acquisition Mauricio Isla, who has joined from Italian giants Juventus, and was rampant down the right flank in a similar position for Chile at the World Cup.
He will be tasked with supplying the fearsome forward pairing of Charlie Austin, available at 6/1 to score first, and Loic Remy, who is 6/4 to net anytime and appears set to stay at Loftus Road after a failed switch to Liverpool.
Austin, 33/1 to hit a hat-trick, excelled as a sensational striker at every level so far, and struck 20 times for QPR last term, but will now be looking to establish himself as a proven Premier League poacher.
QPR’s latest acquisition, Jordon Mutch, will also likely be handed his debut in midfield, after joining the Hoops from Championship side Cardiff City for a fee of around £6m.
Nikica Jelavic, meanwhile, is 7/1 to fire home first for the ferocious Tigers and will be expected to take over the mantle of leading man after the surprise departure of Shane Long to Southampton.
Hull boss Steve Bruce will also be backing new signing Tom Ince to make an instant impact. The former Blackpool winger, 11/4 to score anytime, should be able to create more opportunities for a side who only registered 38 league goals last term.
Bruce’s boys are the only top flight team to have played a competitive game so far this season, having embarked on their exploits in the Europa League. Whether this will leave them sharp or jaded remains to be seen, but this clash should be fairly even with the two teams expected to play similar systems.
The Tigers’ experience and consistency could see them over the line in this encounter, with the Humberside outfit at 11/5 to seal victory.