World Most Glamorous League, EPL Kicks Off Again | Independent Newspapers Limited
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World Most Glamorous League, EPL Kicks Off Again

Posted: Aug 13, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Steve Oma-Ofozor

Lagos – It is over ninety days going by BBC Sports calculation after the curtain came down on a season full of surprises and drama, the English Premier League (EPL) is back with a bang.
The new season yet will start with some interesting developments, there are new faces in the dugout and on the pitch, new rules to grasp and shows to watch – plus the arrival of the most expensive player in the world.
The new arrivals includes, Jose Mourinho, who has taken over at Manchester United and signed former Paris St-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and £89m Paul Pogba – while across town former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola is the new man in charge of Manchester City.
The other new managers to keep an eye on are David Moyes at Sunderland, Antonio Conte at Chelsea, Claude Puel at Southampton, Ronald Koeman at Everton and Walter Mazzarri at Watford.
Arsene Wenger’s total of 752 Premier League games in charge of Arsenal dwarves the rest of the Premier League, with 12 managers racking up just 236 games between them. That is an average of 19.6 games each.
So, Pogba is back at Old Trafford just four years after the 23-year-old midfielder left United for Juventus for £1.5m – that’s a cool £87.5m profit for the Italian champions.
Shortly after that deal was announced in the early hours of Tuesday morning, John Stones was named in Manchester City’s official Champions League squad, published on the UEFA website before City confirmed that the 22-year-old England international had indeed joined for £47.5m.
Ibrahimovic, Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka, Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi, Germany’s Leroy Sane, Armenia’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pogba – some big names of European football have arrived in the Premier League this summer.
At the end of July, before Pogba’s record arrival and Stones’ move to City – and exactly one month before the close of the 2016 summer transfer window – Premier League gross spending stood at £475m according to Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. That was actually slightly down on £515m at the same stage last year.
However, three months on, it still hasn’t sunk in for many that Leicester City really are the defending Premier League champions. Their whole lives were a 5,000-1.
One of their holy trinity of star players – N’Golo Kante – has left, but Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy remained and the Foxes have a Champions League campaign ahead of them this year.
And if the history books are anything to go by, then they certainly won’t lose their opening game against Hull on Saturday lunchtime.
The defending Premier League champions have never lost their opening game the following season. In fact, the defending champions have won all but four games on the opening weekend.
Chelsea recorded the biggest win on the opening weekend by a defending champion when they beat West Brom 6-0 in 2010.
Last season Chelsea drew 2-2 with Swansea – a game that was marked by the fallout between Jose Mourinho and physio Eva Carneiro – and in 2008 Manchester United drew 1-1 with Newcastle.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were also held by Reading 12 months earlier, and after winning their treble in 1999 United drew with Everton.
Guardiola’s Manchester City side are favourites at the bookies, while Chelsea – not in Europe this season – could have an advantage.
If Leicester retain their title it would be the seventh time the feat has been achieved, while Chelsea’s 10th-placed finish last season is the worst defence.
Yes, the set is now complete and there never need to be a day of the week without live football again. Live Premier League matches on a Friday night are perhaps the biggest change to the top-flight season this year as a new £5bn TV deal kicks in.
Under the new contract, 168 games will be shown live per season, at an average cost to the broadcasters of £10.2m per match.
The first Friday night game of the season comes on 19 August when Manchester United host Southampton, while Chelsea face Liverpool on 16 September.
The now sponsorless Premier League has a new logo to mark the new season, while there are some rule changes which kicked in on June1.
Kick-offs can now be taken backwards, a professional foul in the penalty area is not now necessarily a sending-off and players who feint to kick the ball once they have taken a run-up when taking a penalty will now get booked for unsporting behaviour.
Though, perhaps the most significant is a red card will be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive language or make gestures towards them.
Believing the teams are abreast with these developments, it going to be a fun fare season.