The Premier League is back on Friday, and it has surely been a busy summer around England’s top flight.
Most of the league’s big boys went out and spent to refuel for the 2017/18 campaign, while newcomers Brighton, Newcastle and Huddersfield look to leave a lasting positive impression on the PL in their first season.
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PST takes a look at the top 5 storylines around the opening weekend of PL action.
Champions look to Morata as Costa’s future still floating around
Chelsea vs. Burnley — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN
If one thing is certain from the PL offseason it’s that Antonio Conte‘s handling of Diego Costa was completely misjudged. With the Spanish striker still on the Blues roster, despite his clear willingness to head back to Spain, Chelsea looks to another Spaniard to fill the void left by Costa.
Alvaro Morata is a different type of striker, one that relies more on his pace and technical abilities than Costa. Only time will tell, though, how the 24-year-old acclimates himself to England’s top flight after playing for the La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners at Real Madrid a season ago.
Morata bagged 20 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos, despite often playing second fiddle in the starting XI to Karim Benzema. There’s no question Morata is a reliable scorer, but without playmaker Eden Hazard on the pitch this weekend against Burnley it may make things a big more challenging for the new forward.
Arsenal must cope with injuries
Arsenal vs. Leicester City — Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Gunners coped with the loss of several of their top players in last weekend’s FA Community Shield win over Chelsea, but Arsene Wenger and Co. will again be at a disadvantage on Friday when Arsenal faces Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.
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Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are just some of the high-profile names that are expected to miss Friday’s clash against the Foxes, while Per Mertesacker will also be missing from the team’s back line.
Wenger will have to get creative with his tactics against a Leicester squad that boasts plenty of attacking firepower, including Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
The good news for the Gunners, though, is Alexandre Lacazette will make his PL debut up front, with the club hoping he can bring his Ligue 1 scoring form to England.
Will Spurs perform up to par after quiet summer?
Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Mauricio Pochettino‘s side was invisible over the summer when it came to hitting the transfer market, and his choice of leaving his squad be was not met well by pundits.
With Chelsea, Man United, Man United and the rest of the league’s elite all making significant moves, it raised the question as to why Spurs wouldn’t add more depth to its roster.
Although Spurs are likely expected to beat Newcastle given Harry Kane, Dele Alli and the rest of the Tottenham attacking contingent, we’ll get a better look at how the back line adjusts itself without Kyle Walker. And moving forward, the club may have to perform without Danny Rose as well after his recent claims of wanting a wage increase.
New boys earn first chance to impress
Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC
For Brighton and Newcastle, they probably didn’t get the opening weekend matches that they would have liked, but if they can pull off an upset then that feeling will surely go away.
Huddersfield, on the other hand, has a much more manageable fixture against Crystal Palace to open its PL account.
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New-look Hammers head to Old Trafford
Manchester United vs. West Ham — Sunday, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Outside of the top seven from last season’s PL finishers, it’s an easy argument to make that West Ham has had the best summer of the rest of England’s top flighters. The club managed to bring back Mexico striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, while also acquiring Stoke attacker Marko Arnautovic and others.
The Hammers finished 11th in 2016/17, and while it was often the team’s back line that was the club’s biggest concern last season, West Ham now boasts a much more formidable attack heading into this campaign after scoring 47 goals in 38 matches last year.
Meanwhile, Hernandez will have the opportunity to play against another one of his former clubs on Sunday, with the Hammers taking on Manchester United — where the El Tri finisher played over five seasons.