Ajayi vs Ndidi & Iheanacho
West Bromwich Albion return to Premier League action after a two-year absence with a daunting encounter against Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.
Semi Ajayi was one of Slaven Bilic’s trusted centre-backs in last year’s Championship campaign and the towering defender ought to play at The Hawthorns.
He’s expected to come up against compatriots Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, the pair who played contrasting roles in the Foxes’ fifth-place finish last year.
The dominant defensive midfielder cemented his importance in Brendan Rodgers’ side most weeks while the forward showed he also has a part to play in this team regardless of doubts over his place last summer.
With both sides burdened with different levels of expectation this term, Sunday’s opening day meeting will give a glimpse into how their seasons could pan out.
Even though observers have stated that Iwobi will be one of the players to be cast aside by Carlo Ancelotti after the signings of James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Nigeria playmaker has predominantly featured on both flanks since Everton switch last year while James is likely to play in the hole, with Doucoure utilised in central midfield.
Thus, the ex-Arsenal man could play a part in the Toffees’ opening fixture at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday evening.
Spurs ended disappointingly in sixth last season and will want to start this campaign on a better note after last year’s underwhelming start.
Jose Mourinho’s side won this game 1-0 in July and the Portuguese manager will very much welcome the same as he mounts an assault to finish in the Champions League spots.
The Arsenal prospect was a breath of fresh air last season despite the Gunners’ underwhelming eighth-place finish.
How much of a part he’ll play this year remains to be seen, but he’s certainly not going to be cast aside in 2020/21.
Saka is likely to be involved in some way in the club’s short trip to cross-town rivals Fulham, as the North Londoners hope to start this year on a good note after events of the preceding campaign.
The Cottagers, back after one season in the Championship, wouldn’t want to suffer a demoralising defeat by Mikel Arteta’s side on their return to the big time.
Mikel John Obi
Nigeria’s ex-captain is in line to make his Stoke City debut when they travel to Millwall in the first round of fixtures in the Championship.
Mikel featured in Stoke’s 1-0 success over Newcastle United last week and is in contention to start vs the Lions, who are now managed by former Potters boss Gary Rowett.
The Staffordshire outfit finished last season in fine form, claiming 10 points from a possible 12, and they’ll want to begin the new campaign in fine form.
Henry Onyekuru vs Moses Simon
Despite not playing a prominent part in Monaco’s unbeaten Ligue 1 start, Onyekuru is tipped to keep his starting spot in Niko Kovac’s side in this weekend’s clash vs Simon’s Nantes.
The forward was withdrawn at half-time in their opening game vs Stade de Reims and was withdrawn on the hour vs Metz before the international break.
Monaco have remained unbeaten in their opening fixtures and will be keen to make it three on the spin this weekend.
Standing in their way is Nantes, a team also unbeaten after two fixtures. Simon has started both games for the Canaries but is still to open his account for the new season.
With both sides still without blemish after two games, will anything separate them at Stade Louis II this weekend?