With August approaching, pre-season friendlies underway and deals being done in the Transfer Market you can’t help but begin to get excited for the new Premier League season.
Yes that’s right, the opening weekend of Premier League action is just around the corner and the 11th August will see the first kick of a ball as Burnley take on Manchester City at Turf Moor. There were plenty of twists and turns in the 2022/23 season including a title race, the battle for European spots and a relegation scrap that went right down to the wire. So can we expect something similar this season? Let’s take a look at the opening weekend’s fixtures.
Kicking off the 2023/24 Premier League season will be Pep Guardiola’s treble winners as they travel to newly promoted side Burnley. A somewhat fitting way to begin the campaign as the Premier League Champions take on the Championship winners. Burnley manager, Vincent Kompany, will host the side he used to captain for the first time in the league. The only other time he has faced his former side was in the FA Cup quarter finals at the Etihad
when Burnley were trounced 6-0 courtesy of an Erling Haaland hat-trick.
Guardiola will be hoping Haaland continues his fine form from last season on the opening night after he scored 36 goals last term breaking the Premier League single season record. If the Norweigan is on form, it could be a long evening for The Clarets. With that said, Kompany has created a well-drilled project at Burnley picking up 101 points in the Championship last season as well as finishing 10 points above second-placed Sheffield United. It may be a closer game than it appears on paper.
Next to begin their campaign will be Premier League runners up Arsenal as they play host to Nottingham Forest on Saturday in the 12:30 kickoff. After leading the league for much of last season the Gunners will be determined to make amends and go one better. They have made a statement of intent in the transfer market after agreeing a deal to sign Declan Rice from West Ham for £105 million after seeing off competition from Manchester City and Manchester United for the England man’s signature. The signing of Rice as well as Kai Havertz from Chelsea will make Arsenal a team to be feared next season.
Forest, on the other hand, will go into this one with their tails up. Against all of the odds, Steve Cooper’s side avoided relegation last season after going their last four games unbeaten including a victory over Arsenal. It will be a difficult opening fixture for both sides but one that could mean so much at both ends of the table.
In the three o’clock kickoffs, two newly promoted sides are in action as Sheffield United take on Crystal Palace while Luton Town travel to the South coast to take on Brighton. After the news that Luton’s first home game against Burnley has been postponed due to the lack of progress in upgrading the ground, you can’t help but feel the Hatters will struggle this season, especially with a tough start away at Brighton. They will play in the first division for the first time since 1992, a year before the Premier League’s inception. The Seagulls, who achieved 6th place last season securing their place in the Europa League, will be keen to get a good start to the campaign and perhaps go one better as they hunt for a possible Champions League place.
Sheffield United are another team who may struggle to stay in the Premier League as they open their run of fixtures with a home game against Crystal Palace. Paul Heckingbottom’s side were relegated in 2021 with just 23 points and they were promoted automatically after finishing runners up in the Championship, however, they could be facing the season without starman Iliman Ndiaye. The Senegalese international scored 14 goals and assisted 10 times in the league last season, and there are reports he could be on the move to French giants Olympique Marseille which would be a huge blow in The Blades’ hopes of a successful season.
Also, starting the season with a 3pm kickoff will be Everton as they play host to Fulham at Goodison Park. The Toffees stayed up again by the skin of their teeth once again last season as they saw themselves in a battle to stay up midway through. However, after the appointment of Sean Dyche, things slowly started to change and they managed to avoid relegation with a victory over Bournemouth on the final day. It is vital that Everton start strongly this season and pick up points in quick succession, otherwise they could find themselves face to face with ‘the drop’ for the third year running and at some point their luck must run out.
Meanwhile on the South Coast, Bournemouth welcome David Moyes’ West Ham United as they will make the short journey south without captain Declan Rice after his move to Arsenal. The England international guided the Irons to European glory last season as they were victorious over Fiorentina in the European Conference League Final. He will be a big miss for many West Ham fans and all eyes will be on David Moyes to see how they perform without him. Likewise football fans will be interested to see how the Cherries perform in their second season back in the first division after promotion last year. After what appeared the harsh sacking of Gary O’Neil as he ensured survival last season, supporters will be interested to see new manager Andoni Iraola’s vision for the club over the next season and where they will end their campaign.
The 5:30 kickoff brings the clash of two unexpected European sides as Newcastle United take on Aston Villa. Both sides exceeded expectations somewhat last season, as the Magpies secured Champions League football and Villa finished in 7th place to edge Tottenham out of a European Conference League spot. The two clubs with massive history and fan bases have had their fair share of ups and downs over the last ten years, but it is safe to say last season was a success for the pair. Before the appointment of Unai Emery, the Villans found themselves in sixteenth position after 12 games with only thirteen points on the board. However, some wonderful managerial experience from former Arsenal boss Emery saw them rocket up the league to gift the West Midlands side European football next season.
On the other hand, a 4th place finish saw Newcastle secure Champions League football for the first time since 2002. Eddie Howe’s Magpies have been a joy for many to watch with some scintillating football played on course to a finish amongst the Premier League giants. The Magpies have wowed Premier League fans with their turnaround in form since the appointment of Howe when they were rock bottom of the Premier League to a Champions League side in 18 months. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see where the North East club finish this season and their opening fixture will be a real test to see if they can pick up where they left off.
The first Super Sunday of the season will bring us just two fixtures, both of which are in London. In West London Brentford host fellow London side Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs will be manned by newly appointed Ange Postecoglou who, after winning the treble with the Celtic, will be eager to get a win under his belt in his first competitive game after a rather disappointing finish for Tottenham last season. A poor campaign saw them finish without a European spot for the first time since 2009.
Spurs will face a well drilled Brentford side under the leadership of Thomas Frank. In fact, the Bees nearly caught Tottenham last season, only finishing one place and one point behind the Lilywhites. Brentford have fitted right into Premier League football since their promotion in 2021 and much of the credit is owed to manager Thomas Frank and his exciting football that has been applauded by many. However, they will be without talisman Ivan Toney for much of next season. Toney who scored 20 goals last term is currently serving an 8 month ban for gambling offences. It will be a close run game and could give supporters of each club an insight into how one another’s season will pan out.
In the 4 O’clock kickoff, two more teams who had a relatively poor season by their standards as Liverpool make the trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. After spending £600 million last season, Chelsea’s campaign was a disaster and much to the dismay of supporters they finished an abject 12th place. At some stages there was concern from Blues fans that they were going to fall into a relegation battle but after a couple of wins, they managed to avoid that possible calamity. Similarly, if not for Liverpool’s excellent finish to the season they could have found themselves in a mid table finish as well. Jurgen Klopp’s side managed a strong run of form after Christmas to catapult them up the table to a 5th place finish, although missing out on Champions League football.
So below par seasons for both clubs but what will it mean for their 2023/24 campaign? Well Chelsea have made the appointment of former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino in the hope that he can turn their misfortunes around. So far the Argentine has cleared out an incredible nine first team players in an attempt to completely turn the squad around. What will make it difficult for Liverpool is that the Reds will have no idea what team they will face on the opening weekend. With that said, Klopp has been bolstering his own squad with the signing of World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, who could be a key asset if they are to challenge for the title again this season.
Finally, to round off the opening weekend of Premier League football will be Manchester United as they host Wolves in the first Monday night game of the new season. A third placed finish and a Carabao cup win was thought to be a successful campaign for the Red Devils by many fans but after a FA Cup final defeat to City and a lack of any title challenge Erik ten Hag will be hungry for more. There are many imperfections that will need to be ironed out if they are to have any chance of becoming Premier League champions. The Dutchman has got straight down to business in the transfer window including the signing of Mason Mount from Chelsea and closing in on a deal to sign Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana.
Wolves on the other hand will be keen to put a fairly mediocre season behind them as they hunt for a surprise win on the opening day. If Wolves were to cause an upset, it wouldn’t be for the first time after victory at Old Trafford early last year. They certainly won’t be an easy side to beat and United will have to be at the top of their game if they want to make a statement to the rest of the league.
So there you have it, not long to go until the first kick of a football that will pave the way to another thrilling Premier League season with a new title race, new relegation battle and new faces making a name for themselves. At this stage it’s hard to say who will come out on top, however, one thing is for sure it is going to be another exciting 9 months of action.