Betting: Dream debut or a day to forget? The Premier League strikers hoping to make an impression

With a number of big money attacking signings making their debuts for new clubs this weekend, Al Hain-Cole has taken a look at those hoping to make the headlines


After a busy summer transfer window, a number of high-profile signings will be hoping to make an immediate impact when the Premier League recommences this weekend.

Having controversially left Liverpool for Manchester City in the most expensive move of the window, Raheem Sterling must be keen to let his football do the talking against West Brom.

The England international scored within two minutes of his unofficial debut for Manuel Pellegrini’s men in a friendly against Roma, and is on offer at 6/1 (7.00) with bet365 to open the scoring once again for real this time, or 15/8 (2.88) to strike anytime.

bet365 offer unlimited places on each way first goalscorer wagers so you can be assured of a return no matter when your selection scores, unlike other bookmakers where only the first three goals will be paid as winners.

Brought in to help replace Sterling’s goals at Anfield, Christian Benteke is the 9/2 (5.50) favourite to get the ball rolling when the Reds take on Stoke seeking to avenge last season’s 6-1 defeat, and available at 6/4 (2.50) merely to mark his debut with a goal.

Meanwhile, fellow debutants Danny Ings and Divock Origi are priced at 9/4 (3.25) to find the net for Brendan Rodgers’ men, with Roberto Firmino a slightly longer 5/2 (3.50) shot.

Manchester United fought off a number of rivals for the signature of Memphis Depay, and the Dutch youngster can be backed at 5/1 (6.00) to reward their persistence by scoring the first goal of the Premier League season against Tottenham on Saturday, or 6/4 (2.50) anytime.

Despite failing to make the grade at Old Trafford, Radamel Falcao is available at 9/2 (5.50) to make an immediate impression at Chelsea by hitting the net first against Swansea.

With Diego Costa struggling with injury, the Colombia international is under a certain amount of pressure to come good at Stamford Bridge, and is priced at 11/8 (2.38) to add to the mere four Premier League goals he struck last campaign.



Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

What to expect from Chelsea in 2015-16

Depth remains an issue for the champions but their strongest XI is unmatched in England and, in Jose Mourinho, they boast the Premier League’s smartest navigator


GOAL COMMENT   By Liam Twomey

The new season presents Jose Mourinho with a challenge daunting even for modern management’s greatest winner: how to inspire a team of dominant champions to do it all again. His first great Chelsea side achieved back-to-back titles with relative ease but the Premier League of 2005 was not the Premier League of 2015.

Manchester United continue to spend vast sums in order to provide Louis van Gaal with the tools to catapult them back to title relevance, while Arsenal have the generosity of Roman Abramovich to thank for being one crucial piece closer to a first Premier League crown in 11 years.

Manchester City have supplemented an ageing but classy spine with the most exciting English talent to emerge since Wayne Rooney and Liverpool’s post-Luis Suarez rebuilding job continues apace. Even clubs outside the Premier League elite, enriched and emboldened by the current TV deal and promise of another record bonanza in 2016, can attract coveted talents such as Yohan Cabaye, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andre Ayew.


GALLERY | Chelsea’s pre-season reviewed


It is this uniquely formidable landscape that prompts Mourinho to insist that his players must improve while suggesting that this year’s Premier League could be won with the lowest points tally since 2011. “I have to be better, these players have to be better and maybe our squad needs some fresh blood to put the current squad under a bit of pressure,” he told Sky Sports during Chelsea’s coronation in May.

Signings have since arrived but there has been nothing to match the masterclass of the 2014 summer transfer window. Radamel Falcao is a deeply divisive capture, even on a relatively low-risk one-year loan. Mourinho is convinced that he can introduce English football to the real Colombian goal machine and the pressure will be on to succeed if Diego Costa’s troublesome hamstrings continue to deprive Chelsea of their long-awaited successor to Didier Drogba.

Asmir Begovic was merely a box that needed to be ticked in the wake of Petr Cech’s defection to Arsenal, while Baba Rahman or Alex Telles will fall into the same category should they replace Filipe Luis. John Stones is a more intriguing prospect but the unavailability of transcendent targets Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale means that Mourinho’s core will remain unchanged beyond August.

The good news is that Chelsea’s strongest XI – physically dynamic, tactically versatile and impeccably balanced – are still unmatched in England and capable of beating any of the European superpowers on a favourable day. They also boast Eden Hazard, a class above anything outside of La Liga last season and, at 24, a star perfectly positioned to make another giant leap forward in his game.

Then there is Mourinho, the Premier League’s smartest navigator of a season since Sir Alex Ferguson and the sharpest tactical mind in the land. He has lost none of his 12 league matches against top-four opponents since returning to Stamford Bridge. If that record holds, so should Chelsea’s supremacy.

Depth remains the biggest concern. Mourinho has repeatedly asserted his preference for a “tight squad” but Chelsea used just 20 players in the Premier League last season – the joint-fewest in the division. Seven of those started more than 30 matches and creeping fatigue undeniably played a role in football that degraded from art to attrition after Christmas.

Mourinho needs more players he trusts, particularly in the heart of defence and on the flanks; John Terry cannot defy the ageing process indefinitely and injury may come calling on Hazard, the most fouled player in the country. Both started every Premier League match last season and their burden – particularly in the final weeks – often verged on crippling.

Paris Saint-Germain exploited Chelsea’s wavering intensity to end their European charge at Stamford Bridge in March and the Champions League remains the competition most likely to punish any tiring of legs – as well as any indulgence of Mourinho’s most negative tactical impulses.

Creativity may be required in the search for viable reinforcements. Victor Moses, so productive under Rafael Benitez, has returned to Stamford Bridge and youngster Bertrand Traore will be given a chance. Mourinho’s talk of building a dynasty would also carry more weight with a greater show of faith in Ruben Loftus-Cheek and others in a Chelsea academy brimming with potential.

A repeat of last season’s fast start would be ideal, though the preparations of the last 10 days – four games across two continents – are no match for the focused nine-game pan-European schedule of a year ago. Arsenal were slicker and sharper in Sunday’s Community Shield and few who watched will be confident of Chelsea hitting the ground at full pelt against Swansea City.

Yet Mourinho’s problems are dwarfed by those of his Premier League rivals. Chelsea remain clearly the team to beat and, after a summer devoid of drama, can look forward with confidence to the defence of their title.

Cech decisive but Walcott and Falcao doubts – five talking points from Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal

The former Blues goalkeeper received adulation from both sides on his way to silverware at Wembley but both London teams have issues to address with the new season looming


GOALCOMMENT    By Liam Twomey at Wembley

The new season has brought with it fresh optimism for Arsene Wenger. His Arsenal side produced a dynamic and disciplined performance at Wembley to earn their manager a first victory over Jose Mourinho in 14 attempts as well as, of course, edging out the reigning Premier League champions.

Arsenal were slicker and sharper all over the pitch than their London rivals, who only arrived back from a pre-season tour of the USA on Wednesday and went through their first training session at Cobham on the following day.

Yet despite a lack of peak Premier League quality, Sunday’s events yielded plenty to ponder for both sides. Goal takes a look at five of the biggest talking points…

WALCOTT VERSUS GIROUD (AND BENZEMA?)

While much of the reaction to the team news announcements at Wembley centred around the “discomfort” in Diego Costa’s hamstring, Wenger also sprung a surprise up front. Theo Walcott, buoyed by the recent signing of a new contract that reportedly puts him on par with Arsenal’s highest earners, was given the nod in a central role over Olivier Giroud, scorer of 14 Premier League goals last season.

This is the kind of opportunity for which Walcott has been dying and, after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain brilliantly fired the Gunners into the lead in the 24th minute, it seemed like a stage set up for him to shine. Chelsea were forced to move away from their deep defensive line and press for an equaliser, necessarily leaving space for Wenger’s jet-heeled attacking unit to punish them on the transition.

But while others forced Thibaut Courtois to show exactly why he has usurped Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge, Walcott’s only effort of note was a glancing header with which the Belgian dealt relatively comfortably. More menace than he produced in 66 minutes will be required if Giroud – who achieved little more against a tiring and stretched Chelsea defence late on – is to be consigned to the substitute’s bench permanently.

Hovering over both men is the spectre of Karim Benzema. Recent reports in Spain suggest that a renewed Gunners push for the Real Madrid striker Wenger has always admired, though he was dismissive of the story in his post-match press conference, replying: “Honestly, no. I don’t know who brings that up.”

COSTA’S HAMSTRING WOES, REMY AND FALCAO

As Chelsea marched inexorably towards the Premier League title in April, Mourinho insisted that surgery was not an option to cure Diego Costa’s fragile hamstrings. 

“We don’t believe in operations,” he told reporters. “I always believe it is the last decision for every injury. We try to be conservative, to train, recover and work – we don’t believe we will go the surgery direction.”

Mourinho may well be regretting such bullishness now. Costa begins his second season in England in much the same way as he began his first: with a huge question mark hanging over his fitness and durability.

“I don’t know,” the Chelsea boss replied when asked whether his star striker would be fit to face Swansea City on Saturday. 

“You think I’m lying but I’m not lying. When I told you two days ago [in the pre-match press conference] that he was ready to play, he was ready to play. Two days ago he trained normally. Yesterday he trained normally and, at the end of the session, he told us he was not feeling [the hamstring].

“Falcao will play against Fiorentina [on Wednesday] from the start, Remy again too, so if we don’t have Diego I’m happy with the strikers we have.”

More than a few Chelsea fans are less content with the situation. Remy provided an excellent – and vital – squad option last season but has a troubled muscular history of his own and was too easily pushed into wide areas by Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny on Sunday.

Falcao’s second-half cameo was full of running and enthusiasm but he failed to test Cech and has now gone 18 matches for club and country without a goal – almost certainly the worst scoring run of his life. It is too early to tell whether his confidence can be rebuilt but, with every game that Costa sits out, the pressure on him will grow.

CECH’S PRESENCE, ARSENAL DEFENDING

In many ways this was Petr Cech’s day. Applauded by the Chelsea fans and roared on like a favourite son by the thousands in red, he began the afternoon assailled by affection on all sides and ended it holding silverware.

Events might have taken a different course had Ramires not headed over Cech’s crossbar when it seemed easier to score in the first half, or if Eden Hazard had not blazed a shot over when well placed in the second.

Wenger had his own interesting theory to explain Chelsea’s profligacy. “He did well and maybe he had an influence on the Chelsea players as well, because they may feel that to score against him they have to score the perfect goal, particularly when Hazard had his chance,” the Frenchman mused.

If true, Cech is already making the biggest contribution that many expected him to bring to Arsenal: his aura. World-class goalkeepers exude calm and make opponents panic. The 33-year-old’s presence fits the bill perfectly and that, allied to his exceptional quality – highlighted when he brilliantly palmed an Oscar free kick wide in the second half – should ensure that the Gunners are a different beast defensively this season.

Even more crucial to this transformation is a shift in Wenger’s own mindset, prompted by the long overdue realisation that brains cannot be sacrificed in pursuit of beauty. Arsenal doggedly defended the lead that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s moment of magic had given them and even Mourinho could only afterwards credit the Gunners’ resilience – even if he tempered his praise by snidely suggesting that they had “left their philosophy in the dressing room”.

“We abandoned nothing,” Wenger insisted afterwards, though he freely admitted that his side’s burning desire to win the game at times inhibited their attacking instincts. This was more than a Community Shield for Arsenal and hopes must now be high in the red half of north London that the Chelsea inferiority complex has been banished for good.

OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN POISED FOR BIG SEASON

We have been waiting three years for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to enjoy his breakout season. For one reason or another, it never quite happened and almost all of those reasons took the form of injuries.

Months were missed and momentum was slowed; a knee problem kept him out of last summer’s World Cup in Brazil only weeks after scoring a brilliant goal to secure England a friendly draw with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men in Rio de Janeiro. Durability became such a concern that outspoken Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen was moved to suggest that Oxlade-Chamberlain might have become “structurally injured” at Arsenal.

It would be tempting the most dangerous kind of fate to claim that those troubles are behind him but, on Sunday, Oxlade-Chamberlain looked fitter, more confident and more explosive than ever. Cesar Azpilicueta made the mistake of showing the Englishman onto his ‘weaker’ left foot in the 24th minute, only to find out that he doesn’t have one.

His moment of magic won Arsenal the game but Oxlade-Chamberlain was the most dangerous player on the pitch throughout, terrorising Azpilicueta at every opportunity and fearlessly charging at Chelsea defenders whenever he found himself leading a rapid Gunners transition.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has never started more than 25 matches in a season for Arsenal but, at 21, time remains on his side. If his body will allow, his potential is frightening.

BOTH TEAMS STILL HAVE GAPS TO FILL

The Community Shield rarely provides a spectacle worthy of the best Premier League battles. Sunday’s excitement was more borne out of intensity than dazzling quality or composure but Arsenal’s slight edge in all three areas saw them through.

Yet there was still enough on show to convince that, while the gap between London’s finest might have narrowed, neither are yet rounded enough to look forward to games against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich with unwavering confidence.

Wenger was quick to scotch talk of a club-record bid for Benzema as he basked in his victory but the esteem in which he holds his fellow Frenchman is no secret. Equally obvious is that, for all of the faith placed in Walcott and Giroud, Arsenal still lack an elite goalscorer to match Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa or even Wayne Rooney at his best. If Benzema is available, there can be no hesitation from Arsenal – their Premier League title hopes may depend on it.

From Chelsea’s point of view, it was remarkable to see Kurt Zouma – on for the tormented Azpilicueta – winding up to deliver an in-swinging cross from the left flank as Chelsea pushed for a late equaliser. Mourinho afterwards insisted that he has no clue whether a replacement for the departed Filipe Luis will arrive before Swansea come to Stamford Bridge but, the sooner the Blues can get Baba Rahman, Alex Telles or another genuine left-footed full-back over the line, the better.

On a more general note, Mourinho’s dire need for greater depth heading into this summer has not been addressed. Chelsea’s first Premier League title since 2010 was founded on a pool of, at most, 14 players flogged to within an inch of their lives. Injuries may not be so kind this season and, without more players whom the manager trusts, the Champions League will remain tantalisingly out of reach.

Chelsea delighted to have 'top player' Falcao – Terry

The Colombia international endured a torrid time at Manchester United last season but the Blues defender was impressed by the striker’s performance at Stamford Bridge in 2014-15


John Terry insists that Radamel Falcao can be a “top, top player” at Chelsea, due to his performance against the club for Manchester United.

Falcao endured a disappointing spell at Old Trafford, scoring just four goals in 29 appearances in all competitions following his loan move from Monaco.

Nevertheless, Terry is sure that the 29-year-old can recover the form that made him one of the best strikers in world football in west London, having encouraged Jose Mourinho to sign him.

“When we played him at the Bridge in April, after about 10 minutes, I said to Gary Cahill, ‘We’ve got to be on it today – he’s right up for it’,” he told reporters.

“He was hungry, he was sharp and he has been showing that in training since he has joined us.”

Terry also says that, so impressive was Falcao’s performance for United, he was one of the finest players he came up against in 2014-15.

“For me, him and Harry Kane were the best players I came up against last season,” he added.

“Literally after two minutes of that game, he was backing in, showing the movement as well.

“We had a little tussle on the floor 10 to 15 minutes later. He was up for it. He was hungry and his movement and first touch were excellent. We are delighted to have him here because he’s a top, top player.”

Mourinho: Falcao will be feared at Chelsea

The Colombia international struggled during his loan spell at Manchester United last season but the Portuguese has no worries over the 29-year-old’s ability


Jose Mourinho believes Radamel Falcao will rediscover his scoring touch at Chelsea, despite underwhelming at Manchester United last season.

Monaco loanee Falcao scored just four Premier League goals during his loan spell at Old Trafford in 2014-15, having previously hit 70 in 90 games for Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea secured the signing of the Colombia international in early July and Mourinho is sure that the 29-year-old can once again become a feared striker, with the Portuguese admitting that he was dreading coming up against the forward when he initially sealed his move to United.

“When he went to Man United I have to say I was a bit scared,” Mourinho told ESPN. “Because he’s a predator in the box and a guy who does score goals all the time.

“He did that in every club in every league, so I was convinced he was going to do that in our league, in England.”

Mourinho is also sure that Falcao’s problems at United did not stem from his fitness, and says he has no worries over his new signing’s physical condition – and believes their relationship will serve the forward well.

“We had a very exhaustive analysis of his condition before we made a decision,” Mourinho added. “Our doctor had real work to investigate all of that. He is not, for sure, a physical problem. So if it’s not physical, we can make him score goals again.

“Falcao was in my league when he was in Portugal. We moved to Spain at the same time. When I went to Real Madrid, he went to Atletico, so we spent three years in the same league.

“Then I came to England and he came to England too. So I know obviously this player very well.”