After weeks of torturous pre-season, the Premier League is nearly upon us yet again, and we couldn’t be any happier, but just in case you switched off over summer months, here’s five things you’ll need to look out for, over the course of the weekend.
Rain or Spain?
David De Gea to Real Madrid is the transfer saga of the summer. It’s dominated every newspaper inch, gossip column and fan forum, throughout the summer and the rumours refuse to go away.
So you have to ask the question will he start against Spurs tomorrow? Yes, you say? Well, don’t be so certain. If anyone is brave enough to leave the Spaniard out, it’s Louis Van Gaal and it would be justified following De Gea’s performance against Paris Saint Germain, where he looked disinterested and clearly wasn’t at his best.
If he is left out, United will be relying on new signing Sergio Romero to take replace him, despite a lack of match practice in pre-season. Either way this dilemma is going to make interesting viewing.
Just to add an extra spice, Hugo Lloris, who’s been tipped to replace De Gea should he leave, will be showcasing his talents at the opposite end for Spurs.
Cherry on the cake?
This season AFC Bournemouth will become the smallest club to ever compete in the Premier League and all eyes will be fixed on The Cherries as they prepare for life in the big time, starting with Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa.
Eddie Howe’s side certainly deserve their Premier League spot after an impressive season, which saw them capture the Championship title on the last day. The Cherries were immediately tipped to struggle once gaining promotion, but a summer of solid recruitment has altered people’s perspective about the club, who are now fancied to outperform their fellow promoted teams.
Bournemouth begin their campaign at home in the newly named Vitality Stadium and many fans tuning in will be surprised to see the size of the stadium. The capacity is only 11,700, the Premier League’s lowest ever. Lots of neutrals will warm to the south coast club this season, and many will be hoping they can upset the odds on a regular basis. All I know is, it will be fascinating to watch.
After signing Ibrahim Afellay, Potters chairman, Peter Stokes, joked ‘that Barcelona and Stoke City go hand in hand’. All jokes aside though, Stoke have built a genuine alliance with La Liga champions Barcelona, which could prove valuable.
Last season Mark Hughes brought in former Catalans Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa, and this summer he’s also convinced Ibrahim Afellay and Moha El Ouriachi to swap life at the Nou Camp, for The Britannia Stadium.
The Potters often fly under the radar, but since Mark Hughes has been in charge of the Midlands club, they’ve become easy on the eye, especially when compared to the Tony Pulis era. Stoke-on-Trent certainly can’t compete with the Spanish weather, but these boys are joining a club on the up, so don’t be too surprised if Stoke City turn heads this year.
The Magpies had a turbulent season last time round, under then manager John Carver, they were almost relegated and facing life in the Championship. The fans were extremely vocal in voicing their frustrations about the running of the club, with more protests to get major shareholder, Mike Ashley out.
The entrepreneur has responded over the off-season by appointing manager Steve McClaren and backing his man financially bringing in Georgino Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba, but with that backing comes expectations and the club have made it clear they want a top eight finish.
McClaren’s CV is an indifferent one, failures at Derby, Wolfsburg and England have created doubters, but trophies at Middlesborough and FC Twente will give the Tyneside fans hope, he can deliver on his promise of silverware. The pressure will be on his shoulders from day one and you’ll want to keep a close eye on all the action starting with Southampton at home.
Costa’s pain, Falcao’s gain?
You could argue that Radamel Falcao was the biggest flop of last season, yet he finds himself with another opportunity to impress in the Premier League, this time under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
Falcao has joined The Blues on loan from Monaco and accepted a huge pay-cut after disappointing at Manchester United last season. On first glance, people found this to be a strange signing, but it wasn’t so long ago that Falcao was one of the hottest strikers on the planet, during his time at both Porto and Atletico Madrid.
Ever since a lengthy injury, Falcao has struggled to rediscover his form of old, however with Diego Costa’s suffering his own injury problems, the door will be open for the Colombian to impress and showcase his true potential. So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the Radamel Falcao show.