The Premier League kicks off this weekend, and there will be plenty of sub plots to this dramatic soap opera over the next 9 months – but let’s focus our attention on the opening weekend of the season.
With a raft of managerial changes and summer signings taking place there is plenty to get us excited. Premier League new boys Middlesbrough play hosts to Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur travel to Everton, Manchester City entertain Sunderland and in the pick of the bunch, Arsenal face Liverpool on sunday.
With that in mind and us at FFC almost exploding with excitement, we take a look at six of the main stories of this opening Premier League weekend.
There’s been a lot of talk off the pitch regarding whether or not Guardiola can continue his managerial magic in Manchester after success with Barcelona and Bayern. But now the talking has to be done on the pitch as he takes his new look City side to Sunderland on Saturday evening.
This was a City side that stuttered to fourth place last season and they will have to start much quicker than compared to how they finished last time around if they are to regain the Premier League title which they last won back in 2014.
With many new faces entering the Etihad this summer there will be a lot of focus as to who makes Guardiola’s first starting eleven with new signings John Stones, Leroy Sane and Nolito all pushing for inclusion. The Stadium Of Light has thrown up the odd banana skin for City in the past, Guardiola will be aiming to make sure there isn’t an opening day slip on Wearside.
The Special One’s enforced Premier League exile comes to an end as he takes his Manchester United side to Bournemouth with silverware already in the bag this season thanks to their Community Shield win last Sunday.
Of course, the focus won’t solely be on Mourinho down on the South Coast with Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to make his Premier League bow and of course not forgetting world record signing Paul Pogba making his return in a United shirt – though his suspension means we’ll have to wait to see it.
After a disappointing season under Louis van Gaal last time around there is a fresh wave of optimism around Old Trafford. With the squad that Mourinho has now assembled a top 4 place at the end of the season will be the bare minimum but Mourinho will want the personal accolade of being the first man to lead two different clubs to Premier League glory.
For all the focus that has been on Manchester over the past few weeks we should not forget that Chelsea also have a new man at the helm in the form of Antonio Conte, and the former Italy manager is charged with revitalising the west London’s side fortunes after a miserable title defence last time around.
It’s not the easiest of starts for Conte as he is introduced to the cut and thrust of Premier League football with a feisty London derby at home to West Ham on Monday night.
With the Manchester clubs grabbing the headlines for their transfer activity this summer, it’s been a more measured approach by Conte as he has shown faith to the bulk of the squad that he inherited from interim manager Guus Hiddink.
But you can guarantee it won’t be a measured approach once the opening whistle is blown. Conte was kicking every ball of Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign and there will be more of the same come Monday. It’s certainly not going to be dull at Stamford Bridge over the next few months.
After the fairy tale of last season the hard work starts now for Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester side as they set out to defend their Premier League title. Thankfully for them the fixture computer has been kind to them as they take a trip to managerless Hull fully confident of picking up where they left off.
After the disappointment of last week’s Community Shield defeat at Wembley, that minor blip would have already been forgotten about as the focus now shifts fully to kicking the season off as Champions.
Once again much will be asked of their talisman Jamie Vardy as he looks to continue the form that saw him register 24 Premier League goals last season. But it won’t just be about Vardy as record signing Ahmed Musa is ready to be unleashed on a depleted Hull City side. Last season saw a lot of surprise results regarding Leicester this one should be a routine win as the defending champions get off the mark.
After the disappointment of finishing third last season after running Leicester close for so long that would have only been heightened for Tottenham’s England representatives thanks to such an awful Euro 2016 campaign.
Harry Kane and company will be looking to bounce back and the best possible way will be getting off to a flying start to the Premier League season. The trip to Everton is never an easy one but these players will have a point to prove.
And it won’t just be Tottenham’s England players looking to impress as the team came in for criticism after their end of the season collapse. The 5-1 defeat to Newcastle has left a sour taste in the mouths of that Tottenham squad. The best way to rid that will be an opening day win on Merseyside.
The first titanic clash of the season is served up on just the second day of the opening weekend as Arsenal play host to Liverpool with both teams looking to get an early advantage over what looks set to be rivals for one of the Champions League places at the end of the season.
A heavily depleted Arsenal will have to make do with a patched up back four thanks to injuries to all their recognised centre backs while the picture doesn’t look to much better upfront with Alexis Sanchez likely to have to play further forward.
For Liverpool this is the season where Jurgen Klopp will really prove his worth, after working with a squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers last October he has been one of the busier managers this summer as he looks to build a squad he can finally call his own.
It may be the first game of the season but this game could very well give us an insight as to which way these two clubs seasons will pan out.
This article was submitted via our Write For Us feature. Think you can do better? Submit your own article via the link below, and give yourself the chance of winning monthly cash prizes…