The 2016/17 Premier League season gets underway this weekend, in what promises to be the most fascinating year yet in England’s top-flight.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, a new season always brings so much anticipation, excitement – and hope!
2015/16 was possibly the most unpredictable season in English football history, with Leicester‘s title-winning heroics almost impossible to fathom.
With Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho taking over at the Manchester clubs, and some world-renowned players also moving to the Premier League, we are all set for a memorable nine months.
It all gets started on Saturday lunchtime.
Can Leicester silence the doubters?
Following their remarkable title triumph, there have been many who have dismissed their chances of making an impact in 2016/17.
Most are tipping the Foxes for a mid-table finish, and barely anyone expects them to finish anywhere close to the Champions League places.
Claudio Ranieri’s men get their campaign off and running away to a beleaguered Hull side, and it represents a great opportunity for the champions to start with a win.
Can they prove that last season was far from a freak year?
Liverpool take part in game of the weekend
Of the 10 matches taking place over the next few days, none stand out as much as Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.
It is match-up that pits two the country’s heavyweight clubs, with some early bragging rights on offer for both sides.
The Reds will fancy their chances of causing a shock against a defensively-depleted Gunners outfit, but they have still only won once at the Emirates, back in August 2011.
It could either be a dull, cautious draw, a high-scoring classic or a comfortable win either way.
Manchester clubs looking for flying starts
With rivals Guardiola and Mourinho in charge, there are sure to be plenty of fireworks in the coming weeks and months.
Mourinho is famed for making very fast starts to seasons, so Guardiola cannot afford to take too long to adjust to the pace and power of English football.
Newly-promoted clubs begin quest for survival
Hull look in dire straits currently, with no manager, a horrible lack of signings and disputes between the fans and owners.
Their curtain-raising showdown with Leicester could prove to be a long afternoon, especially if things don’t start well.
Burnley and ‘Boro look more well-equipped to enjoy good seasons, however, and they have inviting home games against Swansea and Stoke on Saturday.
Three points would give the two clubs a huge injection of belief heading into the remainder of the campaign.
New era at Goodison Park
The exit of Roberto Martinez at the end of last season had a predictability about it – much like Brendan Rodgers’ final days at Liverpool, a change of manager was needed.
Ronald Koeman looks an excellent capture, and Toffees supporters will hope the Dutchman can bring happier, more successful times back to Goodison Park.
Their squad looks a little thin for the visit of Tottenham on Saturday – new signings will arrive before Deadline Day – and the north Londoners will be desperate to start strongly, having shone in 2015/16.
This is a fixture that has an eye-catching, old-school feel to it, and it should be an entertaining contest.
Fixtures & TV Info
Hull vs. Leicester – KCOM Stadium, Saturday 12:30pm, Sky Sports 1
Burnley vs. Swansea – Turf Moor, Saturday 3pm
Middlesbrough vs. Stoke – Riverside Stadium, Saturday 3pm
Arsenal vs. Liverpool – Emirates Stadium, Sunday 4pm, Sky Sports 1