With the 2018/19 Premier League season fast approaching, there will be some new faces, new clubs and new rules to look out for.
The new campaign gets underway on Friday 10 August live on Sky Sports as Manchester United welcome Leicester to Old Trafford, and there will be plenty of new things to catch your eye.
Here, we round-up the changes on the horizon…
Since the end of last season, four Premier League clubs have changed their manager.
Chelsea replaced one Italian with another as Antonio Conte made way for ex-Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri while Arsenal heralded a new post-Wenger era by appointing Unai Emery as their head coach. He is set to make his debut in the dugout live on Sky Sports when he faces a tough opening game against reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday, August 12.
Everton finally landed their man as Marco Silva arrived in place of Sam Allardyce and Manuel Pellegrini – who won the title with Manchester City – has replaced David Moyes at West Ham, bringing in some real talent to boost his squad. More on that later.
The three promoted teams have all graced the Premier League before and will be looking to emulate last season’s new faces by surviving relegation in their first year back.
Wolves ran away with the Sky Bet Championship title with a whopping 99 points last season, ending a six-year absence from the Premier League. The arrival of manager Nuno Espirito Santo and a raft of players from his native Portugal galvanised the Midlands team and they have been rewarded with a spot back in England’s top flight.
Somewhat in contrast, Cardiff have a familiar face at the helm in Neil Warnock, who just pipped Fulham to the second automatic promotion place. The 2018/19 season will be Warnock’s fourth crack at the Premier League, having previously managed Sheffield United, QPR and Crystal Palace in the division. He also has a number of players in his squad who have played in the top flight before, including Anthony Pilkington, Junior Hoilett and Sean Morrison.
Fulham were relegated in the same season as Cardiff in their last Premier League outing (2013/14) while, like Wolves, they also have a manager who is new to the division in Slavisa Jokanovic. But they have a familiar face in their backroom team, with former Fulham, Chelsea and West Ham midfielder Scott Parker joining Jokanovic as a first-team coach.
Usually ones to sit back and observe, Arsenal manager Emery has wasted no time in bringing in new blood, making five signings including goalkeeper Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira, and seems to already be done and dusted in the market.
Liverpool finally have Naby Keita in their ranks with Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri joining him. Man City have also landed a long-awaited target in Riyad Mahrez while Manchester United have brought in Fred and Diogo Dalot.
0:49 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp gives a warm welcome to summer signing Naby Keita on the first day of pre-season. LFCTV is the only place to watch all nine of Liverpool's pre-season matches live, as well as hear first from new signings. Go to www.sky.com
But it’s arguably away from the ‘big six’ where the most shrewd business has been done. Fulham surprisingly beat a number of clubs to Jean Michel Seri while West Ham have also raised eyebrows with their impressive incomings, including Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko.
We will also hope to see some of the players at the promoted clubs shine in the Premier League. Fulham duo Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney are truly exciting talents, Wolves have unearthed some gems from around Europe topped up with some British talent while Cardiff have a good mix of youth and experience to guide them through the next 10 months.
The transfer window
The Premier League will have a new transfer deadline day this year, with the summer window shutting on Thursday, August 9 to avoid disruption to the squads after the season starts. The Sky Bet EFL will also be following suit.
FIFA rules state each league must have a transfer window of at least 12 weeks, although other European leagues are yet to implement the same changes so players can still leave for other clubs outside of English divisions until August 31.
The winter window will run in January as usual.
VAR – yes or no?
In a word – no. VAR is not for use in actual Premier League games, but the technology – which will be used in some FA Cup games and at Premier League grounds during Carabao Cup fixtures – is being trialled behind the scenes once again.
A statement from the Premier League on the use of VAR says: “The decision came after comprehensive discussions regarding the progress made in VAR trials in English football, and key learnings from the many competitions elsewhere using it.
“The clubs agreed that advanced testing will continue to the end of season 2018/19 to make further improvements to the system, especially around communication inside the stadium and for those following at home and around the world.”
VAR has rarely been out of the spotlight this summer after its use at the World Cup, with a penalty awarded to France in the final after referee Nestor Pitana deemed Ivan Perisic had handled in the box following a consultation with VAR.
After a season-long stay, Tottenham will be moving out of Wembley and into the new White Hart Lane in mid-September. Spurs will play three of their first four games away and face Fulham in a ‘home’ match at Wembley, before facing Liverpool in the grand opening of their new venue on Saturday, September 15, live on Sky Sports.
The impressive arena will seat 62,062 spectators and will also be used to host two NFL games per season as well as housing a club museum, a sports centre and other community facilities.
What would any new season be without a new matchday ball? This season’s offering is the Nike Merlin for Premier League stars to work their magic with.
In a world first, the ball will have just four panels – opposed to 32 – meaning fewer seams and eliminating hard spots. They have also integrated their All Conditions Control (ACC) technology and the ball’s colours – a mix of white, black, purple, blue and yellow – will help players identify more easily which way it is spinning, when it will drop, and how fast it is travelling.