WEEK one in any campaign is often the hardest to profit from in any season and the fixtures haven't been kind for the start of the league seasons in England and Scotland. With no form to go on any bets this week are a bigger punt than normal so keep stakes low and take plenty of notes.

Going in search of goals might be safer than seeking out wins and I'm focusing on teams that appear to have invested well in forward positions to get us off to a winning start.

Middlesbrough to score 2+

After a disastrous Premier League campaign last term, in which they scored just 27 goals, Boro will be looking to bounce back right away and have invested heavily in an attempt to make a quick return to the top flight. Gaffer Garry Monk could be owner Steve Gibson's best signing and he's tied up one of the most prolific strikers at this level in Britt Assombolonga.

The 24-year-old Congolese striker has banged in almost one in two during his career and if he can steer clear of injury the hulking hitman could be a key figure. Featuring alongside him at Wolves on Saturday could be former Man Utd Academy graduate Ashley Fletcher who was signed from West Ham for around £6.5m.

Danish internationalist Martin Braithwaite should be key in the supply chain to Assombalonga and Fletcher after his arrival for almost £10m from Toulouse whom he captained to Ligue 1 survival last term.

An opening-day trip to Wolves will be a tricky Test for Boro. It'll be interesting to see how former Porto boss Nuno Espirito Santo fares in the Championship and if he'll be given the time which wasn't afforded his predecessors to build a team capable of challenging at the top of the table.

He too has added some quality in the shape of Ruben Neves and Jota but their squad still feels a little short for a sustained tilt at the title or even top six.

I'll take Middlesbrough to get their promotion-chasing campaign off to good start with a couple of goals at Molineux.

Hibernian to score 2+

After three years in the Scottish Championship wilderness Hibernian make their return to the top flight with a home match against Partick Thistle and boss Neil Lennon has described the excitement as palpable.

There's a definite feel-good factor around the club and the return of 2016 Scottish Cup Final hero Anthony Stokes this week has elevated expectations among the fans even higher. A top-six finish is definitely in their sights but you feel that topping city rivals Hearts would be seen as successful enough.

Jason Cummings may have departed but new arrival Simon Murray has impressed in the Betfred Cup, banging in seven goals in four matches and he could be set for a big season in the Premiership.

Opponents Thistle had a great season last term, arguably overachieving by finishing top six. That'll be tough act to follow and they'll need to kick the habit of shipping late, costly goals if they want to repeat that success.

In the end the Jags comfortably qualified from their Betfred Cup group and were hugely impressive in a 5-0 win over Championship side St Mirren but they laboured a little in a draw against Livingston and single goal wins versus Airdieonians and Stranraer.

With a record number of season tickets sold for Easter Road I expect a raucous home support to cheer Hibs to an opening day win that'll see them score two or more in the process.

Chelsea to Score 2+

The Community Shield sees London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal meet for the fourth time this year in the season's traditional curtain-raiser. Champions Chelsea will be aiming to avenge May's FA Cup Final defeat and after an indifferent pre-season campaign Antonio Conte will want to lay down a marker for the season ahead.

One highlight of their pre-season tour was a 3-0 thumping of the Gunners in Beijing albeit Arsenal fielded mostly fringe players.

Uncertainty over Alexis Sanchez future has cast a shadow over Arsenal's build-up but the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon could be a good bit of business by Arsene Wenger but the problem is, does he know is favoured line-up when he also has the likes of Walcott, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck and Iwobi to choose from?

With Diego Costa's time at Stamford Bridge seemingly at an end it looks like Alvaro Morata will spearhead Chelsea's title defense, ably assisted by the likes of Hazard (who'll miss this match), Pedro, Willian, Moses and the increasingly impressive Batshuayi.

Although these showcases matches are often hard to call I can see Chelsea edging this. They have more stability at the back and Kante and Fabregas in the midfield give them a platform to build from in midfield. Their forward line can get at a creaky Arsenal back-line. Back them to score two or more.


  • Middlesbrough to score 2+ 19-10
  • Hibernian to score 2+ 21-20
  • Chelsea to score 2+ 31-20
  • 1pt Trixie = 4 x 1pt bets. Best Odds at Boylesports £1 stake pays £33.73

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