With the 2021/22 Premier League getting underway this weekend, we take a look at what’s new in the top flight this time around.
Liverpool then begin their season with a trip to fellow newcomers Norwich on Saturday, in what is hopefully another title-winning campaign for the Reds.
While the focus is unsurprisingly on Jurgen Klopp‘s men, there is so much else to look forward to in a wider sense.
Here’s what’s new in the Premier League ahead of the new season…
There is now a trio of new outfits to look forward to, with one side tasting Premier League football for the first time in their history.
They are Brentford, who will bring with them an attractive playing style, an impressive new stadium and former Liverpool man Sergi Canos.
Meanwhile, Norwich are back in the big time after a title-winning campaign in the Championship, but how will they cope without star man Emiliano Buendia?
The Argentine has moved to Aston Villa, leaving a gaping creative void.
Finally, Watford have bounced straight back like the Canaries, with Xisco Munoz the latest manager looking to avoid a sacking at Vicarage Road.
Here’s hoping a repeat of that awful 3-0 defeat for the Reds in 2019/20 doesn’t happen again.
From a Liverpool perspective, it’s fair to say the summer has been a low-key one.
Ibrahima Konate remains the Reds’ only signing to date, but the 22-year-old looks a hugely exciting prospect who will add much-needed depth at centre-back.
Liverpool’s rivals have spent big, however, which is cause for some concern at Anfield.
Champions Man City have brought in England maverick Jack Grealish and will likely add Harry Kane, too – you have to feel for those paupers down the M62!
Man United have also strengthened significantly, with Jadon Sancho arriving from Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid colossus Raphael Varane coming in.
Romelu Lukaku is set to re-sign for Chelsea in a big-money move, making the European champions undoubtedly stronger considering the Belgian looks at the peak of his powers.
Away from the so-called ‘big six’, Brendan Rodgers continues to do good business at Leicester, with midfielder Boubakary Soumare and electric striker Patson Daka outstanding additions.
Ryan Bertrand looks a smart free signing, too, even if the move didn’t exactly make the headlines!
Elsewhere, other standout purchases include Barcelona’s Junior Firpo joining the Marcelo Bielsa revolution at Leeds, fellow flying left-back Romain Perraud moving to Southampton and stylish Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer signing for Brentford.
As for managers, a number of figures will be on show for the first time in the Premier League.
Xisco has been a revelation at Watford since replacing Vladimir Ivic last December, inspiring the Hornets’ automatic promotion.
It will be interesting to see how long he lasts if his side starts badly, though.
Bruno Lage has taken charge at Wolves, following Nuno Espirito Santo‘s exit – will he continue to make them a solid top-flight outfit or will they plummet?
Speaking of Nuno, he has a huge job on his hands at Spurs, especially if the north Londoners lose Kane as expected.
A top-four finish would be an outstanding effort, but it is easier to envisage them struggling to break into the top six.
Then, of course, there’s a certain Rafa Benitez, who has crossed Stanley Park and joined Everton, in a move that has divided opinion among Liverpool supporters.
Blues fans were predictably fuming about the appointment, but a strong start to the campaign could swiftly change that opinion.
Then again, a couple of defeats will only increase the number of supporters wielding pitchforks in the Spaniard’s direction.
Lastly, Patrick Vieira has replaced Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace, which looks intriguing – frankly, anything could happen there!
The Arsenal legend has only had stints in charge at New York City FC and Nice, so he remains unproven at the top level.
We can all agree that not only was last season awful in terms of no supporters, but also that VAR ruined much of the campaign.
The much-criticised technology was a main talking point far too often, with Liverpool on the receiving end of many baffling calls.
Fortunately, the rules have been tweaked, the main one of which will see thicker lines added for offside decisions.
This means some of those infuriating armpit and toenail-related calls will become a thing of the past, thankfully.
Accidental handball in the lead up to a goal will now not see it ruled out, but if it directly leads to a goal being scored it can still be disallowed.
Slightly confused? Same here.
Penalties may not be as generously awarded as last season, either, following a Premier League record of 125 spot-kicks being given last time around.
PGMOL chief Mike Riley has stated that those in charge “want it to be a proper foul and not the slightest contact that someone has used to go over to get a penalty,” which is refreshing.
Football fans go wild over new kits, and as always, there is a plethora to look out for in 2021/22.
Liverpool’s latest Nike home strip has received a mixed reception – probably more positive than negative, to be fair – while their popular ecru away kit may not get its debut league showing at Norwich because of a likely kit clash.
City’s new home shirt is annoyingly easy on the eye, but Chelsea‘s yellow stripe up the side feels needless and looks ugly.
Meanwhile, Arsenal‘s attempt to seemingly copy Ajax hasn’t paid off – hopefully, that will be the latest thing to irk the Gunners’ famously hysterical fanbase!
It’s fair to say Premier League referees aren’t the most popular people in the world, especially considering some of the decisions made last season.
Even when aided by VAR, some were still incapable of making the correct calls!
The pleasing news is that four new officials have been added this season, those being Jarred Gillett, Michael Salisbury, Tony Harrington and John Brooks.
Gillet is arguably the most interesting addition, having impressed in his native Australia in the A-League, and becomes the first person to referee in the Premier League from Down Under.
It means there are now 22 regular officials in the division, while Wade Smith joins as an assistant referee.
A new Premier League season wouldn’t feel right without a new ball being introduced.
Manufactured by Nike, for the 22nd year in a row, the latest Flight effort apparently “sets itself apart with a bold graphic designed around the sphere and not locked into the panels.”
The ball also lets players “read the pace and spin of the ball, react quicker and feel confident in their decisions” – basically, the total opposite of what we all experience at seven-a-side!
You can buy it for a cool £124.95 – yes, you heard me correctly…
Fans are back!
The most welcome change of all sees full stadiums return in the Premier League, following the worst season in the history of the competition.
It was better than having no football at all to watch during such a grim period around the world, but it wasn’t the game that we all adore.
Fans being back inside grounds up and down the country is what truly makes this the return of proper football and Anfield will be rocking when Burnley visit on August 21.
The Norwich game will no doubt be a special occasion as well, with the home supporters creating a great atmosphere and the away end fizzing with anticipation and optimism.
Football without fans may not quite be nothing, but it is very close to that. Bring it on.