Northampton Saints v Gloucester RugbyMay 8 LIVE
5 Premier League talking points ahead of the opening weekend
Frank Lampard faces a trip to Old Trafford in his first game as a Premier League manager.
The new Premier League season kicks off with Liverpool, last year’s runners-up, hosting newly-promoted Norwich.
Here, PA looks at some talking points as the action gets underway.
One better for the Reds?
Falling just a point short of Premier League Champions Manchester City last season, Liverpool will be hoping to go one better than that runners-up spot. Manager Jurgen Klopp has been criticised by fans for a quiet transfer window, with only youngster Sepp Van Den Berg and back-up goalkeeper Adrian added to the squad. The Champions League winners face newly-promoted Norwich and will be keen to gain confidence and points before tackling stiffer opposition later in the season.
Lampard and Solskjaer meet as managers
Manchester United are set to debut new signing Harry Maguire against Chelsea, having paid a record £80million for a defender to sign him from Leicester. United begin life without striker Romelu Lukaku, who departed to join Inter Milan in a deal worth an initial £74million. Rivals Chelsea will also debut a new face in the shape of manager Frank Lampard, who left his first managerial role at Derby to replace Maurizio Sarri at the club with whom he spent the majority of his footballing career. United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fits a similar profile to Lampard, having clocked up 235 appearances for the team he now oversees, adding a fascinating subplot to the season opener. Solskjaer came out on top in their 11 encounters as players, winning five and drawing three.
New teams test the water
Sheffield United, Norwich and Aston Villa make their Premier League return after gaining promotion from the Championship last season. The Blades broke their own transfer record four times over the summer, signing Luke Freeman, Callum Robinson, Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie. Mousset was bought for £10million from opening weekend rivals Bournemouth. The other two promoted clubs face a stiff introduction to top-flight football, as Norwich take on Liverpool while Aston Villa play Tottenham.
Tottenham for a title challenge?
Tottenham have little time to ease themselves into the season, as their clash with Norwich is followed swiftly by a visit to the Etihad Stadium to face reigning champions Manchester City. With the new stadium complete and large sums invested over the transfer window, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have little excuse not to challenge for the trophy this season. They will line up without new signing Ryan Sessegnon though, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The arrival of VAR
Video assistant referees will be introduced to the Premier League for the first time this season. Having been trialled for two years, and used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, VAR facilities are now present at all 20 Premier League grounds. However, its function has been slightly altered so as not to unnecessarily disrupt match action. The on-pitch referee will communicate covertly with the video assistant, only halting play in the case of a ‘clear and obvious error’ or a ‘serious missed incident’. In the case of contentious off-side play, assistant referees are advised not to raise their flag and allow the decision to be corrected by VAR if required.