In the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, Chelsea beat Leicester City 1-0 with a second-half goal from Ross Barkley to book their spot in the semi-finals at Wembley, where they will face Manchester United.
It only seems like a couple of weeks ago that Chelsea lifted the title at Stamford Bridge, but apparently, we’re supposed to start soon. So here are three reasons to tune in to England’s top flight in 2017.
1) The new boys
Yeah, every year we have these guys who turn out to be less interesting than advertised. However, these upstarts look like they will sustain our interests past the first few weeks of the season.
Aaron Mooy’s vital presence in the Huddersfield XI means that our appetites for an Australian footballer to be in and amongst a big European league are satisfied, at least a little.
With the Terriers being directed by another touchline-running German, who instils the fun and excitement of a pressing game into a small, yet passionate Yorkshire fanbase, Huddersfield’s will be a delight to watch in the coming months.
David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp’s bromance is also set to challenge the greats, such as Joe Biden and Barack Obama, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, or even Matthew Guy and Tony Madafferi.
Add that to Mathew Ryan being a part of Brighton and Hove Albion’s plans and Australian football fans start to feel a bit like this.
French winger Anthony Knockaert will have a point to prove in the Premier League. After mostly being known for missing the penalty which led to Troy Deeney’s crazy game-winner in 2013, the former Leicester man won the PFA Championship player of the year in 2016/17 and provides a short, yet exciting edge to Chris Hughton’s side.
Heavyweights Newcastle are back with their ever-so passionate fans and world class manager, Rafa Benitez. Whatever drama occurs at St James’ Park, it always tends to be entertaining.
2) Completed teams
Last season saw an influx of managerial talent into the top end of the Premier League, each wanting to put their own stamp on these wealthy clubs.
Although all were not all disappointments, many gaffers struggled with holes in their squads.
Pep Guardiola found it tough with ageing fullbacks in Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov and Bacary Sanga, whose inadequacies were exaggerated with City’s philosophy of playing inverted full-backs. Another transfer window gave Pep the credit card of Sheikh Mansour to acquire more players based on his taste, regardless of how expensive it is.
Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy solved the full-back issue by adding improved athleticism and excellent crossing ability, particular in the case of Mendy. Brazilian Danilo and ex-Monaco winger Bernardo Silva provide even more depth to an already unbelievable squad.
Oh yeah, and they actually have a goalkeeper. Not an outfield player with a coloured shirt.
Ederson is the modern-day YouTube keeper, smashing half-field passes to the feet of attackers with elegance while acrobatically diving to almost anything, regardless of the difficulty of shot coming his way.
On the other side of town, Manchester United added more depth in key areas with Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku.
Matic is the perfect pairing in defensive midfield with Ander Herrera, offering both Matic’s brute strength and Herrera’s 12-year old annoyance to disrupt opposing midfields. His signing allows Paul Pogba to more freely roam Old Trafford to utilise his vast attacking arsenal, in what I believe will be a dominant season for the French superstar.
Even title winning Antonio Conte isn’t completely satisfied with his team, adding Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger to bolster all areas of attack, midfield and defense.
It is scary that a dominant title winning club isn’t satisfied with key elements of its roster. Even a 20-goal forward and a commanding midfielder in Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic were pushed to the side.
Conte now has been able to continue the construction of his ideal squad, which now lacks depth. A weakness that may result in their fall this season, as they balance Champions League football with holding off other wealthy challenges to their Premier League crown.
Overall, it seems like all of the big clubs have peaked in talent at the same time.
3) More teams playing entertaining football
As money continues to fly around the top European leagues, it seems like the rich will get richer and the gap will widen between the top of England and the rest. However, acquisitions made by non-traditional powerhouses continue to give every game a sense of intrigue.
West Ham’s key buys of Chicharito and Marko Arnautovic offer exciting attacking options for one of the biggest clubs in London. Pablo Zabaleta continues his stay in England’s top flight with fellow Guardiola reject Joe Hart, who offers much needed security between the sticks for the Hammers.
Such a combination of Premier League experience ensures this window will be much improved for West Ham compared to last years collection of unproven talent, such as Gokhan Tore and Havard Nordtveit.
Everton’s amassing of depth has been one of the shocks of the transfer window.
Returning wonderkid Wayne Rooney, gives Toffees fans both overpriced wages and idealistic romance to look forward to.
A collection of additions in Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Sandro Ramirez allow for more quality depth in all areas. These signings are also a testament to Everton’s smart usage of the money received from the John Stones and Romelu Lukaku transfers.
Lower down the table, Crystal Palace’s appointment of former Ajax boss Frank de Boer will lead to a youthful Eagles side running up and down Selhurst Park this season.
Recruitment of highly rated Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a nice pick up, along with Ajax academy product Jairo Riedewald.
Expect de Boar’s time to be full of highs and lows, which could send him packing in this highly competitive league.
Leicester City have added Manchester City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho for £25 million, giving them one of the most striker heavy organisations in the Premier League with Leonardo Ulloa, Islam Slimani, Jamie Vardy, Ahmed Musa and Shinji Okazaki all preferring to play up top.
Whatever happens, this season looks to become another epic ‘Clash of the Titans’ with a lot of extra entertainment on the side.