JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, August 17, 2012
Geoff Cameron looks to debut in Stoke City's opener against Reading, while Tim Howard and Everton take on Manchester United on Monday as the English season get underway.
Everton - Manchester United
Tim Howard and Everton host Premier League heavyweight Manchester United at Goodison Park on Monday.
Howard, having just starred in the US national team's win over Mexico at the Estadio Azteca, should start the Premier League opener for the Toffees.
Everton had a solid 2011-2012 season and they look to build on it. They finished in seventh place and hope to challenge for a European spot this season.
United are still recovering from heartbreak after the way last season ended, but they believe they can challenge their cross city rivals for the Premier League crown.
Victor Anichebe will miss for the Toffees, while Darren Fletcher, Anderson, and Chris Smalling will miss for United.
Reading - Stoke City
Geoff Cameron looks to make his Premier League debut, as Stoke City travels to play newly promoted Reading.
The former Houston Dynamo star arrived at Stoke City this summer and hopes to find the field on the opening game.
Stoke finished last season in 14th place, nine points above the relegation zone. They look to take the next step and push for a European spot this season.
These two teams last played in 2008, as the Potters won their League Cup matchup against Reading.
Reading undoubtedly finished last season strong, having won the Championship and earned a spot in England's top flight. They look to make a splash in the Premier League this season and notch three points in front of their home fans on Saturday.
West Ham United - Aston Villa
Eric Lichaj, Brad Guzan, and Aston Villa take on West Ham United on the road to their open the Premier League season on Saturday.
Lichaj is expected to feature, while Guzan looks to be on the bench as starting keeper Shay Given's backup.
The young American defender was injured for much of last season, but Lichaj was back for the final months and saw much playing time.
Guzan was expected by many to make a move to another team for playing time, but the ‘keeper resigned with Villa during the offseason.
Villa barely escaped relegation last season, finishing just two points above the drop zone. They hope to have a stronger campaign this time around and move up the standings.
West Ham is back in the Premier League after reaching promotion through the playoffs following successful Championship season. They look get off on the right foot and start off strong in front of their fans with a win this weekend.
Newcastle United - Tottenham Hotspur
The ageless Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur take on Newcastle United this weekend.
Friedel is expected to be in the starting eleven once again.
Spurs started last season's campaign extremely strongly, but the London club could not keep pace down the stretch and were pushed out of a Champions League spot thanks to fifth-place Chelsea lifting the European crown.
Newcastle also had a solid season, finishing just four points behind Spurs and qualifying for a Europa League spot. They will do their best to make the next step and compete for Champions League qualification this season.
Danny Simpson looks to miss for Newcastle, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Tom Huddlestone are injured for Spurs.
Both teams squared off in February, with Tottenham winning easily on a 5-0 scoreline.
Burnley - Bolton Wanderers
Tim Ream and Bolton start their Championship journey as they take on Burnley.
Ream consistently saw the field last season and should start once again this weekend. Stuart Holden is still recovering from injury and will miss the game.
Bolton finished a difficult season and ended up relegated from the Premier League, but the team looks to bounce back and make it to the English top flight once again.
Burnley finished in the middle of the Championship standings, though this season they hope to challenge for promotion.
Barnsley - Middlesbrough
Seb Hines and Middlesbrough look to start the season off in style as they take on Barnsley.
Hines was a regular starter last season for Boro and should see the field in this weekend's league opener.
Boro barely missed out at promotion last season, but this season the team is looking to make it to the pinnacle of English soccer.
Barnsley had a tough 2011-2012 season, finishing just above the relegation zone. They look to improve and finish further up the standings and possibly challenge for promotion.
Middlesbrough won both encounters between the teams by a combined scoreline of 5-1.
Mido, Toni Silva, and Jim O'Brien will miss for Barnsley.
Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Bennett look to miss for Boro, while Mustapha Carayol has recovered form a hamstring injury and is available.
Crawley Town - Scunthorpe United
Mike Grella and Scunthorpe United travel to play Crawley Town in League One play.
Grella arrived at Scunthorpe this offseason after playing at Bury. The American forward has been starring in the preseason friendlies and should feature this weekend.
Scunthorpe finished last season in the bottom half of the League One standings and will need better results if they want to challenge for promotion.
Crawley Town is still on a high after being promoted from League Two, but they will have to play good soccer this season to compete this season.
Clint Dempsey will not suit up for Fulham as he awaits a transfer to a new club
Robbie Rogers hopes to feature in Leeds United's opener against Wolverhampton.
Will Packwood is questionable to feature in Birmingham City's game against Charlton Athletic. Jonathan Spector is injured and doubtful.
Zak Whitbread is injured and looks to miss Leicester City's game against Peterborough United.
Robbie Findley and Nottingham Forest host Bristol City.