Back at last – the new Premier League season kicks off at lunchtime Saturday, and what a blockbuster between two of the most famous clubs in the world – a classic North v South fixture at Old Trafford as Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur. Much-changed £83m United still have de Gea-itus with captain Wayne Rooney swapping Double Dutch partners, trading old master Robin van Persie for new impressionist Memphis Depay, and now Man-fully aided by the Schweinderlin twins in midfield. Problematical posers like anxious Angel di Maria and flopper Falcao have moved on to graze gracefully/gratefully in pastures new. The Theatre of Dreams will be expecting great things now from Louis van Gaal’s newbies, with essential Champions League football back this year. Spurs? With big local competition all over London, not just in the nasty-neighbourly-north of the capital manager Mauricio Pochettino is under huge pressure to perform without any major new purchases. Should be a cracker…

Bournemouth v Aston Villa: who could have forecast that opening fixture this season? Can breath-of-spring south coast newbies Bournemouth do a Swansea or Southampton and survive under sound manager Eddie Howe? And to play one of the UK’s oldest, well-known but well mixed–up clubs like vacillating Villa, aston-ishingly pulled up at the crossroads having sold off some of the family silver in club captain Delph and barnstorming Benteke – who knows where this one will go?

 

Depay

Another Prem puzzle is how thrice-managerially-changed last season Watford made it to the Prem, but they did, and are now operating under another new manager: the much-travelled Spaniard Quique Flores. The Hornets travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton – whose long-suffering supporters are impatiently waiting for improvements in a decent side which had a disappointing season. Leicester has been temporarily re-named Tinkertown as yet another new Prem manager Claudio Ranieri has arrived with an unconvincing reputation of late. Visitors Sunderland are always Short on club direction but grateful for another year of Dick Advocaat’s experience. The Black Cats have just sold off striker Connor Wickham to Palace (eleven goals in 74 matches is hardly prolific though…). Talking of Palace, who had a good reviving season under prodigal Pardew last time out, the Eagles entertain the third newbies to the Prem, East Anglia’s Norwich are back under Alex Neil who has done well to make the Canaries tweet back up to the Prem in a short time.

Finally on Saturday evening, champions Chelsea take on swinging Swansea, the Blues no doubt Arsenily smarting from losing to the Gunners on Sunday in the unCharitable Shield (see over). Cute question: can Swansea keep on punching well above their weight, a perfect example of how-to-do-it, especially for big city neighbours Cardiff? Big game at the Bridge…