Premier League preview: August 18th

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Football News

The big Premier League kick-off is finally here, with seven games set to take place on the opening day.

Arsenal v Sunderland

Arsenal host Sunderland in one of six 3pm kick-offs, with Thomas Vermaelen set to captain the side following Robin Van Persie’s exit to Manchester United.

Louis Saha could feature for the Black Cats, after signing a one-year deal on a free transfer.

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers gets a chance to make an immediate impression for the Reds against the Baggies, with Joe Allen poised to make his competitive debut in midfield alongside captain Steven Gerrard.

On-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is expected to lead the line for the hosts, with Argentine midfielder Claudio Yacob also expected to feature.

Reading v Stoke City; West Ham United v Aston Villa

Two of the newly-promoted sides are in action at home on Saturday, with the Royals and Hammers eager to make a good start in the top flight.

Pavel Pogrebnyak will be key in-front of goal for Reading, whilst Adam federici will be looking to keep the Potters strikers at bay.

The Hammers have the burden of expectation on their shoulders, but are held together by a solid core in the shape of Jussi Jaaskelainen, James Tomkins, Kevin Nolan and Modibo Maiga. Villains boss Paul Lambert will be looking for a good start to burst the East London bubble.

Fulham v Norwich City; QPR v Swansea City

Martin Jol’s side will have their sights on a European place this season, and Clint Dempsey could hold the key if they can keep hold of the American. Hugo Rodallega will also be on the goal trail against the Canaries, who surprised many last look to do the same again this season with new manager Chris Hughton in charge.

QPR survived on the final day last season, and will hope to get off to a better start against the Swans this weekend. Andy Johnson has added to the attacking ranks, whilst Ryan Nelsen has been drafted in to bulk up the defence.

New Swans boss Michael Laudrup will be eager to follow in the footsteps of Rodgers at the Liberty Stadium, and the signing of Michu is a great step forward for the club.

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur

Arguably the game of the day is this late kick-off, with the Toon looking for a repeat of last season’s success. New signing Vurnon Anita and Curtis Good could feature, although it’s Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse who will be expected to score the goals.

New Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is short of strikers, with Jermain Defoe set to lead the line at St. James’ park. Gylfi Sigurdsson will pull the strings in midfield, but Luka Modric should be in Spain when kick-off comes around.

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