Well that wasn’t a bad start.
I told you Leeds wouldn’t be pushovers, that Newcastle looked a solid unit - and that Chelsea and Arsenal fans are in for a decent season. Job done I’d say - well, not quite. There’s a long way to go in the 2020/21 Premier League!
Leeds were great and, but for a mistake from new signing Rodrigo giving away the penalty late, they’d have taken a point from fortress Anfield - how many teams could say that in the last two seasons? They’ve steamrolled most teams - not Leeds.
I loved Bielsa-ball in the Championship and now I’m loving it in the Premier League. They play to win, whoever they come up against, and Klopp knew he’d been in for a tough evening against one of the game’s best coaches - some say the best.
Anyway it’s Fulham at Elland Road this weekend, a battle between two of the promoted sides. Fulham came unstuck against Arsenal and I’m sure Scott Parker will have learned plenty, but whether they can hold Leeds away from home is unlikely.
Arsenal looked good and tight and should beat West Ham this weekend. The Hammers look in trouble already and it’s not just me saying it, their fans are worried this could be a long, hard season - and it might be for Spurs as well.
They looked poor against Everton. Carlo Ancelotti had Jose’s number and the Toffees always looked in control. James Rodriguez is a top, top buy and I fancy they’ll have too much for West Brom this weekend.
So what about Chelsea? They beat Brighton away from home, but I’d only give them six out of ten. They will get better but these new signings need bedding in, although Timo Werner doesn’t. He's off and running already - boy he’s quick!
The Blues have got Liverpool at the Bridge this weekend. I’m not sure it’s come at a good time for either of them - they’ve both started slowly but will improve and can fight for the title with Man City. I’m giving Chelsea a very, very slight edge - with Werner the difference.
Man City and Man Utd are back this weekend after getting an extra week after their European games. I think both will win, but it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if both are off the pace slightly. They might be fresh, but they’re a week behind the others.
Of course, their pre-season was rather different to mine. A lot of the lads would be off on the lash straight after the last game - usually a week with the boys abroad, then with the families. It’d take a week to sweat the booze out some seasons!
Times have changed - and for the better. I’m sure most of the players did get away - but they have fitness programmes all year round now and know they won’t get back in the team if they f*** around. You see how intense the games are these days.
We know from the papers some players had livelier times than others. I take most of it with a pinch of salt - it’s often b******* - but the hardest part of the close season seemed to be finding holiday islands and resorts not on the quarantine list!
I’m alright, I’m here in Sussex and enjoying the countryside again. Work will take me back to LA soon no doubt, but this is home. I’ve got my friends around me, which has been important in recent weeks with all the press around the book.
Again, thanks to everyone for their messages of support - and it’s been great to hear how Tans’s story has helped people in similar situations. That was always the intention.
I’m playing plenty of golf - and would have loved to be a Winged Foot, New York, this weekend for the US Open. Because of coronavirus and lockdown it’s three months later this year - and that’s made the course even harder my spies tell me.
It could be brutal. Generally the US Open is a tough ask and it’s those players who can keep it tight who succeed - and probably not dissimilar to the recent USPGA. Birdies were in short supply then - it was more a question of survival and keeping it in play!
I’m liking our Paul Casey again. He played well in the USPGA and has played Winged Foot well in the past. He’s still one of the best players to never win a major - there’s a few of them still - but this could be Paul’s time if he can stick with them. He’s tough.
I think generally the European players will go well - and you can see Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton or Martin Kaymer making a charge. Justin wasn’t far off the pace behind Collin Morikawa in the USPGA - we tipped him, remember! - and he’s a previous US Open winner, too.
However, I reckon Tommy Fleetwood might go even closer. He sharpened his game in the Portugal Masters last week - and probably should have won there. He played there to fine-tune his game before flying back to the States - and it seems to have worked.
Okay, Tommy might have lost a practice round because of the travelling, but is competition-fit now and can go well. He’s another major-winner-in-waiting.
Favourites to win the US Open are the two best players in the world - Dustin Johnson and Big John Rahm - and only a fool would discount them. But neither are value at the current odds - so I’m looking elsewhere for someone to go with the English boys.
Throw in Cameron Champ. He’s a talented boy who they tell me has recently changed caddies. He’s got Matt Kuchar’s ex-caddie so there’s plenty of experience there to help this young man - definitely needed to get round Winged Foot.
Don’t ever underestimate caddies - they’re like a manager, offering advice or acting as a calming influence when needed. Just don’t ever use my pal Wally Downes. He caddied for me at the BMW PGA Pro-Am at Wentworth a few years back - and was f****** useless.
You see, Wally knows everyone - and he’s great company. But it’s no good when you’re marching down the fairway or stepping on to the green. You’re looking for your 7-iron or putter - and there’s Wally 50 yards back chatting to some random about racing!
Anyway, enjoy some fantastic football and golf this week - and keep it real folks. Keep yourselves safe and, remember, play for fun!
All the best,
Everton v West Bromwich Albion: EVERTON WIN
Leeds v Fulham: LEEDS WIN
Manchester United v Crystal Palace: MAN UTD WIN
Arsenal v West Ham United: ARSENAL WIN
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur: DRAW
Newcastle v Brighton: DRAW
Chelsea v Liverpool: CHELSEA WIN
Leicester v Burnley: LEICESTER WIN
Aston Villa v Sheffield United: DRAW
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City: MAN CITY WIN