It’s finally here! It may have taken 97 days and a disappointing showing from an English perspective at the World Cup, but football is finally back.
Fans have spent the summer debating who their club should buy and sell and what needs to be different this time around, but the time for talk is over. The dawn of a new Barclays Premier League campaign is upon us.
For the first time this season, this is your Barclays Premier League match preview:
Manchester United v Swansea – 12:45 (BT Sport)
It has been another summer of change at Old Trafford, with another new manager taking the hot-seat. Louis van Gaal isn’t the only new face on show for the home fans, with Ander Herrera expected to make his debut for the club.
United’s other new signing, Luke Shaw, will miss the season opener with a hamstring injury. Youngster Reece James is likely to fill in at left wing-back and Tyler Blackett could make his debut. Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick will all miss Louis van Gaal’s first Premier League game in charge.
For Swansea City, there have been a number of changes over the summer, as Garry Monk sunk his teeth into his first pre-season as manager. Unfortunately he lost Michael Vorm and Ben Davies to Tottenham and Michu has joined Napoli on loan. He bought in French striker Bafetimbi Gomis, Columbia winger Jefferson Montero and Arsenal’s Lukasz Fabianski.
Swansea will welcome back Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer from injury, but Leon Britton, Emnes and Jay Fulton are forced to sit this one out.
Swansea managed their first ever win at Old Trafford last season in the FA Cup, but I wouldn’t back a repeat performance.
Leicester City v Everton – 15:00
Leicester Ciy are back in the big time, following an 10 year absence from the Premier League, and they celebrated by smashing their transfer record to bring in Brighton striker, Leo Ulloa. They also bought in Marc Albrighton and Matthew Upson on free transfers.
Anthony Knockaert is expected to feature after overcoming a knock, but Jamie Vardy and Albrighton are unlikely to be risked.
Roberto Martinez has made a massive statement of ambition by spending £28 million on Romelu Lukaku, following the Belgian’s successful loan last season. But they may have to wait before he makes his debut, with the club still unsure about the fitness levels of Lukaku, Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas.
New faces expected to their debuts for Everton include Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu.
QPR v Hull City – 15:00
Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp makes his return to the Premier League, after taking QPR back up at the first time of asking, and has set about trying to prevent relegation by strengthening his defence.
New signings Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker and Mauricio Isla are all in line to make their debuts and Loic Remy should feature, despite his transfer to Liverpool falling through due to a failed medical. Jordan Mutch is also in line to make his debut, following his move from recently relegated Cardiff City.
Hull new boys Thomas Ince and Robert Snodgrass are set for their debuts, but Yannick Sagbo will begin a two match ban for a Twitter post that broke FA regulations regarding social media activity.
Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson may have to wait to pull on the orange and brown stripes for the first time.
Stoke v Aston Villa – 15:00
Mark Hughes has looked to further stamp his mark on Stoke City and step away from the long ball label that still dogs them.
Former Barcelona forward Bojan is in line to make his debut for the club, along with Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell.
Aston Villa have been disappointing in the transfer window so far. The signings made have done little to inspire, but Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho, Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson could all feature.
Interestingly, Darren Bent and Alan Hutton could return from the wilderness for Villa, and Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia could make their long awaited return from injury.
West Brom v Sunderland – 15:00
West Brom have a number of injury problems ahead of their opener against Sunderland. James Morrison, Gareth McAuley and Joleon Lescott are all likely to miss out, although record signing Brown Ideye could be set for his Premier League debut.
For Sunderland, Jack Rodwell will be hoping to reignite his career following a £10 million move from Manchester City and Santiago Vergini could also feature.
Billy Jones will have to wait to make his debut following a hamstring injury and is joined on the treatment table by Emmanuel Giaccherini.
West Ham v Tottenham – 15:00
New West Ham signing Diafra Sakho didn’t sign in time to feature in the opening game of the season and £12 million signing Enner Valencia is short of match fitness, making him a doubt for the game. Ravel Morrison and Carl Jenkinson are also unlikely to feature.
However, summer recruits Aaron Cresswell and Mauro Zarate could make their debuts.
New Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino could hand a debut to Ben Davies at left-back, but other signings DeAndre Yedlin, Eric Dier and Michel Vorm may have to bide their time.
Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker and Vlad Chiriches are all fitness doubts. Belgian contingent Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chaldi have been given an extended leave of absence, following an arduous World Cup campaign – and Brazilian midfielder Paulinho is probably still suffering from shock.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace – 17:30 (Sky Sports 1)
Build up to this match has been dominated by the shock departure of Palace manager Tony Pulis, as a result of a fractured relationship with Co-Chairman Steve Parish over transfer targets. Assistant manager Keith Millen will take charge on a temporary basis.
Arsene Wenger has no such problem this summer, with the club now flexing some of their financial muscle. Newcastle’s Mattieu Debuchy is expected to make his debut, along with other recruits Alexis Sanchez and Callum Chambers. Arsenal’s German contingent are expected to be rested following their summer exploits.
Palace have Brede Hangeland, Fraizer Campbell and Martin Kelly waiting to make their debuts, while Adrian Mariappa could also be set to return from injury.
Liverpool v Southampton – 13.30 (Sky Sports 1)
The random fixture generator over at the FA has pulled an absolute cracker here. Over the summer, Liverpool have signed 3 players from the Saints as part of a mass exodus from the St. Mary’s Stadium.
Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren have moved to Merseyside and could be set to make their Anfield debuts, along with Emre Can, who joined the club from Bayer Leverkusen. Former Southampton captain Adam Lallana misses out through injury, as does Lazar Markovic.
New Southampton boss Ronald Koeman has been busy following the moves away from St Mary’s. England international Fraser Forster could be set to make his debut along with Shane Long, Dusan Tadic, Ryan Bertrand and Saphir Taider.
Florian Gardos misses out with a hamstring injury, but Morgan Schneiderlin could feature despite trying to engineer a transfer move of his own.
Newcastle v Manchester City – 16:00 (Sky Sports 1)
Having lost Debuchy to Arsenal, Newcastle almost immediately replaced him with Dutch fullback, Darryl Janmaat. Other summer signings Remy Cabella and Emmaneul Riviere could feature following impressive pre-season displays.
The Magpies could be without Siem de Jong, Cheick Tiote and Yoan Gouffran, with late issues concerning their condition arising.
City have a tough decision to make – will it be new signing Willy Caballero or Joe Hart in goal? Eliaquim Mangala is unlikely to feature as he will be lacking match fitness. Most of City’s summer work has been tying down their stars to new contracts. Although, Frank Lampard could make his Manchester City debut.
Sergio Aguero is lacking in fitness following his World Cup campaign, while Alvaro Negredo misses out through injury.
Burnley v Chelsea – 20:00 (Sky Sports 1)
Sean Dyche has desperately tried to strengthen his squad over the summer, but there seems to be restrictions on what he can work with. He has bought in Chris Baird, Matt Gilks and Steven Reid on free transfers, while Lukasz Jutkiewicz joined for £1.5 million. Michael Kightly, Marvin Sordell and Matty Taylor all also joined for undisclosed fees.
Burnley’s best bit of business so far has been keeping striker Danny Ings at Turf Moor. It will be interesting to see whether the young Englishman can have the same impact in the Premier League this season.
Chelsea have spent big this summer and are many people’s favourites for the title. They have signed Felipe Luis and Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid and former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas has joined from Barcelona.
A big decision for Mourinho will be who he plays in goal. Will he stick with the veteran Petr Cech, or the returning youngster Thibaut Courtois? Courtois shone during his three season loan spell at Atletico Mardid and won’t be happy with a place on the bench this season.