After 87 days since the last ball was kicked in the top flight, the new season is few hours away from kicking off.
It’s almost been a dour off-season for most avid followers of the most popular league in the world. Not even the European Championships, the International Champions Cup or the Olympics football games could whet appetites well enough while our darling EPL was on break.
Now the banters, arguments, betting, screaming et al can begin. It’s been a long time coming.
Saturday raises the curtain for the new session, with Premier League Champions, Leicester City paying newly promoted and EPL returnee side Hull City a visit.
An emphatic win for the visitors would definitely set the course for a possible title defence challenge for them despite many belittling their chances of doing that successfully. An upset or draw, then it could signal trouble. It’s the EPL, and anything is quite possible. But we just keep our arms crossed.
Here are the other games slated for later in the day.
Burnley v Swansea
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Everton v Tottenham
Middlesbrough v Stoke
Southampton v Watford
Man City v Sunderland
Burnley and Middlesbrough are also making a return to the top flight after a season and 7 seasons away respectively.
Led by Sean Dyche, last season’s Championship winners Burnley might prove too hard a nut to crack for the visiting Swans. Given that the Welsh side has lost (former) captain, Ashley Williams to Everton and Andre Ayew to West Ham, it remains unseen how the relegation survivors of last season will navigate through this season successfully.
A win tomorrow and they can concentrate on getting just 37 more points as their survival philosophy continues.
The Everton – Tottenham game pits 2 former Southampton managers, Koeman and Pochettino against each other, and with many tipping both sides for nothing less than a top 6 finish given where the 2 coaches have finished on the table since stepping onto the EPL scene, it promises to be a cracker as the battle to garner points begins pronto.
Guardiola’s first ever EPL game is something being eagerly anticipated. Happening right at the Etihad in front of thousands who are rooting for the club’s EPL win and bright future under the Spaniard, how he starts life in the dugout will matter a lot.
Sunderland were different as the relegation war intensified last season, and if they bring that same fire in their bellies along, it won’t be a walk in the park for a City side still learning the ropes of Pep’s new style.
On Sunday, it’s these fixtures
Bournemouth v Man Utd
Arsenal v Liverpool
Eddie Howe and Jose Mourinho will both bring their tactical nous to the fore as United continue from where they stopped last season.
Bournemouth were their last challenge last season, and they drew blood in a 3 – 1 win after losing the first leg against the then newly-promoted side. With Zlatan and Mkhitaryan set to start against the hosts, it won’t be an easy task containing their attacking threats.
Later in the day, Jurgen Klopp’s men will storm Emirates hoping to unleash mayhem as they aim for their first ever EPL title win. Considering the Gunners squad dilapidation at the moment, it’s very much possible. And it’s definitely a cracker of a match not to miss.
Monday night football can’t start any better than getting Chelsea and West Ham face off. Conte and Bilic are 2 of the best managers around, and it interests many how they fare at the end of their debut and sophomore EPL reigns respectively. It all starts with what result the match produces.
Match day 1!!!