Sunday 16 December 2018

5 key talking points ahead of the new Premier League season

England captain Harry Kane will be among several Premier League players getting back to club action after the World Cup.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris captained France to victory in the World Cup final. (Adam Davy/PA)
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris captained France to victory in the World Cup final. (Adam Davy/PA)

By Jim van Wijk, Press Association Sport

The new Premier League campaign kicks off again with Manchester City aiming to retain their dominance, while promoted clubs Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all be out to hold their own.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some key talking points ahead of the opening round of top-flight fixtures.

World Cup hangover

Football may not have come home this summer, but just how quickly the likes of England captain Harry Kane and the rest of the Premier League’s World Cup stars can focus on club matters again remains to be seen. Burnout will be a worry, certainly over the winter months, and after lifting the greatest prize of them all in Moscow on July 15, an opening-day trip to Newcastle might not provide much inspiration for Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

City slickers

Pep Guardiola’s men swept everyone aside last season on the way to amassing 100 points in their record-breaking Premier League campaign. While City might not hit such heights again this season, the bar has been set and it is up to their title rivals to offer a sustained challenge. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will hope his squad – despite claiming to not have made enough signings during the transfer window – can raise their game and look to quieten down the noisy neighbours.

Will the Reds cash in?

Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker was one of several big-money signings by Liverpool during the summer transfer window. (Niall Carson/PA)

Jurgen Klopp is not concerned with critics who suggest he is looking to buy Liverpool’s way to the title, but with more than £170million spent in the summer – including a short-lived world record fee for a goalkeeper of £65m to bring Brazilian Alisson Becker to Anfield from Roma – the pressure is now firmly on the German’s team to deliver. While Europe will again offer Liverpool an outlet to entertain, getting themselves back into the Premier League shake-up is the priority, both in the stands and the boardroom.

In Unai we trust

New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery faces a tough opening to the Premier League season. (Niall Carson/PA)

After 22 years with Arsene Wenger at the helm, Arsenal enter into a new chapter this season with head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners have improved the defence with some positive summer transfer business. However, the fixture list has not been kind, with the visit of champions City on Sunday followed by a trip to Chelsea. No points from Emery’s opening two games is a distinct possibility – and one which would give the divided fanbase something new to rant about.

New kids on the block

Battling to get out of the Sky Bet Championship was hard enough, but Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all have to raise their game to yet another level when taking on the elite. All have bolstered their squads, and should expect to again in January, but whatever the next 38 games bring, you can bet the fans cannot wait for kick-off.

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