Football

Upcoming EPL season promises fireworks

Our writers discuss the different sub-plots in the opening round of matches

 GARY LIM: What a start to the new season when Arsenal take on Liverpool on Aug 14. I feel it's important for teams to get off to a winning start, not just for the three points but also to set the tone for the rest of the season.

NEIL HUMPHREYS: The issue for both is not so much the result, but the performance and attacking complexion of both teams. Liverpool and Arsenal were not decisive enough in the box last season. If the Gunners still stick with Olivier Giroud as the main man up front, that might bother supporters more than the three points.

RICHARD BUXTON: Early momentum is pivotal, but it offers no guarantees of success, as Liverpool discovered on last season's opening day (a 1-0 away win over Stoke). Juergen Klopp has been proactive in upgrading his squad but goalkeeper Loris Karius' injury (up to 10 weeks out with a broken hand) leaves Anfield's season once again starting in earnest later than planned.

GARY: With the hype surrounding their new managers, fans will be watching Man United, Man City and Chelsea with interest on the opening weekend. If you ask me, the Chelsea-West Ham fixture on Aug 16 (Singapore time) looks most intriguing. It is Antonio Conte's first competitive match in charge of a non-Italian club, so this should give us a pretty good indication of how fast he will adapt to the Premier League.

NEIL: I'm utterly fascinated by the United-Mourinho partnership, because this is clearly a relationship of convenience rather than choice. Both reputations are on the line, both face uncertain futures, both can't fail again. It has the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy!

RICHARD: How Pep Guardiola copes with a robust Sunderland led by David Moyes on the opening day is, for me, the most intriguing prospect. Moyes has a reputation as a defensive organiser and may deliver a culture shock for the new City boss.

GARY: Speaking of new managers, Everton have Ronald Koeman leading them out against Tottenham Hotspur on Aug 13. I know it's early days, but he seems to possess the right credentials to rebuild the sleeping giants.

NEIL: This is one of the toughest games to call. Tottenham's England core may still be suffering Euro 2016 fatigue after a truly awful tournament, although Vincent Janssen looks like a solid signing. Everton, on the other hand, have poached a fine manager but they appear to be potential victims of player poaching, with key players such as Romelu Lukaku and John Stones linked to Chelsea and Man City respectively.The Toffees seem preoccupied with keeping restless stars rather than signing new ones. That said, they'll never get a better chance to beat Spurs.

GARY: I'll definitely keep a look-out for the newly-promoted teams - Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City - too. Hull couldn't have asked for a tougher re-introduction to the Premier League, with a clash against defending champions Leicester City on the opening day.

RICHARD: Hull's fear of the unknown this season is reminiscent of what Crystal Palace encountered in the wake of Tony Pulis' 2014 departure. Losing Steve Bruce has left a club already in chaos now facing a potential crisis.

eplliverpoolmanchester cityFootball