After an 11-week break, the wait is finally over.
The much-awaited English Premier League season kicks off today, Friday 11th August, 2023.
With a few hours to kick off, Nigerian football lovers are braced up and already basking in the euphoria of the world’s most popular and electrifying football league event – in terms of TV audience.
The opening fixture between Manchester City and Burnley starts at 8pm. All eyes will be on the defending champions to see how they will bounce back from their Community Shield defeat to Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning side travel to Turf Moor to face the newly-promoted side, coached by City legend, Vincent Kompany.
City begin the quest for a fourth title in a row and sixth in seven years. So they would want to take maximum points before their main rivals kick a ball.
However, Burnley has their pride at stake and will give the champions a run for their money.
On Saturday, Arsenal, who were runners-up last year after leading for much of the campaign, will host Nottingham Forest at 12.30pm.
By 3pm it is Bournemouth VS West Ham, Brighton VS Luton, Everton VS Fulham, Sheffield United VS Crystal Palace. While Newcastle United are at home to Aston Villa in the evening, by 5:30pm.
Sunday will throw up two exhilarating matches. Tottenham Hotspur travel to Brentford, with all eyes on Spurs’ new boss Ange Postecoglou, who is renowned for his exciting brand of football and his success in the Japanese and Scottish leagues.
By 4:30pm, Liverpool, who finished fifth last season, will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, where Mauricio Pochettino is now in charge.
Manchester United, third last season, will wait until Monday night for their opening game at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
As usual, this 2023/24 is promising to be another exhilarating season that would be filled with exciting storyline matches, renewed rivalries, twists, turns and scrabbling for points on the league table.
Also, there will be plenty of interest in the performance of the big-money signings and what kind of results new managers bring. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal splashed over 200 million pounds in their signing of England midfielder Declan Rice from West Ham, Kai Havertz from Chelsea and defender Jurrien Timber from Ajax Amsterdam.
Also, Jürgen Klopp has lost captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia. But the Liverpool boss still has some ammunition left, as he too seeks to put behind him the failures of the previous year.
Chelsea, who finished 12th last season, have witnessed a general clear-out with players like Ruben Lofus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and many others leaving.
Aside from Tottenham and Chelsea, Wolves also appointed a new manager, the former Bournemouth coach Gary O’Neil brought in after Julen Lopetegui abruptly left.
“I can’t wait for the English Premier League to kick off,” Fadeyi Ojo, a Chelsea fan, told DAILY POST.
“I am excited over new signings plus the pedigree of our new manager, Pochettino. We were terrible last season, but I can tell you that Chelsea fans are adding weight, and are confident this season.”
Another EPL lover and ardent supporter of the Arsenal Football Club, Comfort Jibunor, in a chat with DAILY POST, expressed belief that her darling club will go all the way to win the league this season.
“Last season, our lack of squad depth affected us and made us lose the league to City, after topping the table for several weeks.
“But I’m excited about this season with the players we have brought. Our manager made key signings to fortify the team.
“So I think our chances of winning the league this season are very high now. Personalities like Manchester United legend, Gary Neville and our former Arsene Wenger have also tipped Arsenal to win the league this season. So we, the Gunners, are all ready for a superb season,” he enthused.
As the Premier League returns, fans should be ready because there will be new things they should get used to.
They should prepare to witness longer matches, referees being stringent and booking players for tactical time-wasting and even punish teams for surrounding a referee, and exhibiting poor behaviour.
For example, anytime a player touches an official or waves an imaginary card, will lead to an automatic yellow card.
Speaking further on these changes, referees chief, Howard Webb explained the decline in playtime due to time-wasting antics of players who deliberately delay the game.
He said, “Effective playing time has decreased pretty much year-on-year in our sport and it got to a stage last season where it was 48 [minutes] in League Two, 50 in League One, 52 in the Championship, 54 in the Premier League, and that’s being seen in other parts of the world as well.
“So we’re asking referees to apply exact amounts of time; for goals that are scored from the moment the goal is scored until the restart, when substitutions happen, we’re asking them to add on the time that takes in totality.
“Alongside that is an approach whereby we are asking the officials to be proactive in getting the game restarted, not just standing by and letting the time tick up, or add up, and also dealing with players who delay the game, who waste time, and to do that in a more consistent way than we might have done in the past.”
Also, EPL coaches that run out of their technical area to complain about decisions, or generally lose their cool on the sideline, will be sanctioned.
This is because a new technical area code of conduct requires managers, coaches and other club staff members to behave in a responsible manner.
For instance, Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta was booked in the Community Shield after waving an imaginary yellow card in an attempt to get a Manchester City player cautioned.
Webb said, “By being consistent and being on the front foot in dealing with those behaviours that are not acceptable, they will diminish. That clearly has to be the intention — it has to be for the unacceptable behaviours that happen in the technical area.
“You’re there to do a job as a coach, that’s to coach a team. And of course, there’s going to be emotion, passion, to want to celebrate, and within that some disappointment or frustration. But it has to be controlled in a professional manner by the individuals. And if that doesn’t happen, then we will step in and sanction people who don’t behave in that particular way.
“We will stick to this, we’re not going to ease off or start to ignore behaviours in October or November. This will be here for good. We have a responsibility to the game at all levels and the future of the game as well, to work together to make it a better place for all participants.”
The English Premier League season will be filled with drama, unexpected results, and memorable moments, making it a captivating spectacle for football fans worldwide.
So, whether you’re a die-hard supporter or a casual observer, the start of a new Premier League season is always an exciting time in the world of football.
Let the games begin!