The Danske Bank Premiership 2021/2022 season gets underway tonight, there are some potential crackers lined up for the first game of the season and with supporters back into the ground it will hopefully be a great start to the season.

David Healy’s Linfield side are going for a fourth league title in a row, the Blues were the last time to win the league more than three times on the bounce when between 1982 and 1987 they lifted the Gibson cup a total of six times.

However, it could be a season of transition for the side from Windsor Park with a number of experienced players moving on over the summer and Shayne Lavery heading across the water to Blackpool.

The champions start their campaign tomorrow at home to Crusaders, the assessment for Stephen Baxter’s North Belfast side from last season would simply be must do better.

2020/2021 saw the Crues barely scrap into the top half of the table, in fact they ended up with less points than Glenavon and Ballymena who finished 7th and 8th respectively but were spared by the league split. For the second season in a row there was also no silverware making its way to Seaview for the second season in a row.

There is also a tasty derby taking place tonight (Friday 27th August 2021) between Larne and Coleraine, both sides had strong seasons last time out qualifying for Europe. Larne did manage to win the County Antrim Shield but lost to Linfield in the Irish Cup final, The Bannsiders came 2nd in the league so both sides will be looking to build on that this season.

Here is the full fixture list for the opening weekend, all games kick off tomorrow (Saturday 28th August 2021) at 15:00 unless otherwise stated: –

Larne v Coleraine (Friday 27th August 2021 at 19:45)

Portadown v Glenavon (Friday 27th August at 19:45)

Cliftonville v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts v Glentoran

Linfield v Crusaders

Warrenpoint Town v Ballymena United

Just as a reminder, here are last season’s final league standings: –

POS TEAM P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Linfield 38 24 6 8 83 38 45 78
2 Coleraine 38 21 10 7 57 35 22 73
3 Glentoran 38 20 11 7 65 32 33 71
4 Larne 38 18 10 10 64 41 23 64
5 Cliftonville 38 17 9 12 59 42 17 60
6 Crusaders 38 16 6 16 62 50 12 54
7 Glenavon 38 17 11 10 72 65 7 62
8 Ballymena United 38 18 7 13 67 44 23 61
9 Portadown 38 10 6 22 50 78 -28 36
10 Warrenpoint Town 38 9 9 20 38 74 -36 36
11 Carrick Rangers 38 5 8 25 35 92 -57 23
12 Dungannon Swifts 38 4 5 29 22 83 -61 17

 

Once again, some of our team have been giving their predictions for how the weekend’s games are going to go and how they think the season will go, kicking things off is Richard: –

Richard

Larne 4-0 Coleraine

Portadown 0-0 Glenavon

Cliftonville 2-0 Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts 2-2 Glentoran

Linfield 2-1 Crusaders

Warrenpoint Town 0-2 Ballymena United

League Winner – Larne

League Cup Winner – Ballymena United

Irish Cup Winner – Coleraine

Top Scorer – David Parkhouse

Surprise Package – Dungannon Swifts

Adrian

Larne 3-1 Coleraine

Portadown 0-3 Glenavon

Cliftonville 3-0 Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Glentoran

Linfield 2-0 Crusaders

Warrenpoint Town 1-1 Ballymena United

League winner: Linfield

League Cup winner: Larne

Irish Cup winner: Glentoran

Top scorer: Joe Gormley

Surprise package: Glenavon

Cameron

Larne 2-2 Linfield

Portadown 1-3 Glenavon

Cliftonville 3-1 Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts 0-2 Glentoran

Linfield 3-1 Crusaders

Warrenpoint Town 0-1 Ballymena United

League winner – Glentoran have had problems with consistency the last couple of seasons but I think if they can sort that problem they will be a hard team to beat. I think this could be their season.

League Cup winner – I’ll go with Glenavon

Irish Cup winner – anyone’s to win but I will take a stab on Larne lifting the cup

Top goalscorer – I’ll say Joe Gormley but I am looking forward to seeing how Shay McCartan does at Glentoran.

Surprise package – there could be a few. I think Linfield will certainly challenge for the title and trophies but obviously I’m predicting no silverware for them this season. Glenavon may not be a surprise package so much but they have signed well and I think could move into the top half, maybe at the expense of Cliftonville or Crusaders. I’m also interested to see how Stuart King and Dean Shiels Carrick and Dungannon sides do.

Once again, we plan to award the guys three points for a correct result and a point for a correct outcome for their fixture predictions. The other predictions are just a bit of fun but we may look back and see how we did at the end of the season.

For anyone attending tonight or tomorrow’s games have a great team but remember to stay safe and hopefully it will be the start of another great season.