The season kicks off with Brentford hosting Arsenal at 8pm tomorrow (13/08)Peter Woodentop/Wikimedia Commons

We suddenly find ourselves at the start of a new Premier League season, after spending the past two months gripped by a riveting Euro tournament and the variety of sports on show at the Tokyo Olympics. In the background of these international events, the football transfer window has been busy and it was also announced that fans will be welcomed back into English stadiums, which only serves to raise the buzz and anticipation for this campaign. Last Saturday’s (07/08) Community Shield provided a taste of excitement for football lovers, when underdogs Leicester City defeated reigning Premier League champions Manchester City 1-0.

Some may suggest that the loss exposed City’s need for a striker, which has proved a position of interest for Guardiola yet also a difficult affair, even after showing interest in Harry Kane.

As one of the best strikers in Europe over the last five years and valued at up to £150 million, Kane has conversely won little in terms of club titles. Currently half-way through a six-year contract, he believed that he would be allowed to leave this year after coming to a ’gentleman’s agreement’ with club chairman, and shrewd businessman, Daniel Levy. But this belief now seems ill-judged, as Levy reportedly refuses to settle for a lower fee, consequently sparking an implicit feud between the two parties.

“If Spurs were to lose their highest goalscorer [...] it would be nothing short of a robbery”

Though many fans and pundits are sympathetic, part of the fault for this situation certainly lies with Kane himself. For a player of his calibre and in his prime, signing a long-term contract with a club that didn’t look to guarantee trophies was a miscalculation, and believing in a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is frankly naive. After all, football is a business.

It’s also worth considering this entire dispute from the club’s perspective. If Spurs were to lose their highest goalscorer and club captain in the middle of a long-term contract for a sum less than their valuation, it would be nothing short of a robbery and a huge blow to the club’s credibility amongst its fanbase.

However, City’s interest in Kane took a back seat over the last few weeks, as they secured the signing of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa. For the recipient side, Villa just lost their best player, but the potential upside of this transfer should not be underestimated. The £100 million fee they received was preemptively reinvested earlier in the summer, allowing the club to protect itself from the heightened prices that selling clubs would undoubtedly have demanded after the transfer’s completion.

With Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, and Axel Tuanzebe, Villa has invested in young players who not only have great potential, but are proven performers in top European leagues. Meanwhile, Danny Ings and Ashley Young will fill the void of experience and leadership left after their captain’s departure. These signings could help Villa achieve their European ambitions and, if this transpires, the money exchanged for Grealish would have been instrumental.

“Chelsea look to have acquired that missing piece necessary for a silverware season”

Talking of extortionate transfer sums, Chelsea joined in on the act by signing Romelu Lukaku for £97.5 million from Italy, where he helped carry Inter Milan to their first Scudetto in just under a decade last season. He bagged 24 league goals in just 36 games and won the Serie A MVP award in the process.

Since the departure of Frank Lampard last season and the subsequent appointment of Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea achieved a top four finish and an electrifying Champions League victory over domestic rivals Manchester City. With an excellent tactician at the helm, alongside an array of top players such as Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, and N’Golo Kante, the side will be aiming to stop City winning the premier league title for the fourth time in five seasons.

Tuchel’s side have craved a goal-scoring forward since the start of their 2020-21 campaign. Even after signing Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, goals were in short supply last year, as midfielder Jorginho emerged overall top scorer with seven goals. Now with Lukaku returning to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea look to have acquired that missing piece necessary for a silverware season.


Mountain View

A documentary for Arsenal: is it all for nothing or is there all to gain?

Away from the financially dominant clubs, there are plenty of other sides to keep an eye on. Promoted from the Championship this season, possession-happy Norwich will be hoping that the ‘Pukki-Party’ lasts a little longer this time round, while trigger-happy Watford settle for the hope of seeing Xisco Munoz outlast the tenure of the three managers that led their most recent Premier League campaign.

An intriguing addition to this season comes in the form of new boys Brentford, playing in the top division for the first time since 1947. In just over ten years at the club’s helm, chairman and childhood fan Matthew Benham has taken the Bees from mid-table in League One to the Premier League through a wily, data analysis-based transfer policy, as well as the unique decision to eschew the traditional academy model of youth development in favour of trusting a B team to nurture talent. For the good times to keep rolling for Brentford, sharp-shooter Ivan Toney must maintain his scintillating Championship record, scoring 31 league goals in 45 matches.

Fans will also have to get used to fresh faces in the dugouts. Patrick Vieira is the new Crystal Palace manager and Wolves now turn to Bruno Lage as their latest Portuguese export to the black country. Lage’s predecessor at the Molineux, Nuno Espirito Santo, finds himself at Spurs after what proved to be the summer’s most chaotic managerial search. Finally, Liverpool legend Rafa Benitez was welcomed with open arms by Merseyside rivals Everton - his job has been on the line since the first day of his appointment. One thing’s for certain, whether your club is aiming for title glory or just to stay afloat, whether you’re cautiously optimistic or once-bitten, twice-shy, all predictions will fly out of the window at 8pm tomorrow (13/08) when the first whistle is blown of the 2021-22 Premier League season.