After the prelude to the Community Shield, in England it’s already time for the Premier League: it will be up to the reigning champions, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, to inaugurate the new season, visiting Burnley on Friday evening. The Citizens, fresh from three titles in a row, five in the last seven years, and from the league-Fa Cup-Champions treble completed last June, are the obligatory favourites, a constant in a season in which the Premier League is its symbolic battle against racism and all forms of discrimination, allowing players to kneel before matches.
The awareness gesture, born in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter rights movement, will not take place before each match but only on special occasions, so as to ensure maximum prominence to the message. It will happen before the kick-off of all matches on the first day but then the players will choose specific moments of the season to repeat the gesture, now an integral part of the pre-match ritual. The owners of Burnley-Manchester City will therefore be the first to re-propose the symbolic act to open the championship dances.
Having left behind the false start at Wembley, where a week ago City were beaten on penalties by Arsenal in the Community Shield, Guardiola seems intent on making the debut of the newcomer Josko Gvardiol, Croatian centre-back bought from Leipzig for 90 million euros . Both Mahrez and Gundogan left, former Real and Chelsea Mateo Kovacic also arrived in Manchester for 30 million. On the other bench there will be an old acquaintance, the former captain Vincent Kompany, today a manager of great prospects who led Burnley on a triumphal ride in the Championship.
Arsenal’s debut is expected on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium against Nottingham Forest, given that the Gunners are indicated by bookmakers as the main rivals of the reigning champions. All the more reason after the sumptuous transfer market that gave Mikel Arteta not only Declan Rice (117 million at West Ham) but also the centre-forward Kai Havertz (75 million at Chelsea) and central defender Justin Timber (40 million at Ajax). New summer of scrooges also for Newcastle, who are expected to make their home debut against Aston Villa: at St James’ Park in recent weeks Sandro Tonali (64 million at Milan) was joined by winger Harvey Barnes (44 million at Leicester) and by full-back Tino Livramento (38 million at Southampton).
Waiting to know the future of Harry Kane, courted by Bayern, Tottenham will make their debut on Saturday at Brentford, while for Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton, called up after a brilliant first English season, the first opponent is the newly promoted Luton. Lost MacAllister (sold to Liverpool for 42 million), the Italian will have to focus on Joao Pedro (taken for 35 million from Watford), and goalkeeper Verbruggen, called in place of Robert Sanchez (sold to Chelsea for 23 million).
The signing match of the first day is scheduled for Sunday, at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea, looking for redemption after a bankruptcy season, receive Liverpool. A challenge between great disappointments: the Blues restart from the ex Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku (60 million), from the central Axel Disadi (45 million at Monaco) and from the ex Villarreal center forward Nicolas Jackson (37 million); Jurgen Klopp, greeted Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita, in addition to Mac Allister can count on Dominik Syobosklai, former Leipzig offensive midfielder paid 70 million. Finally, only on Monday, the Manchester United premiere is scheduled. At Old Trafford, host Wolverhampton, all the new arrivals are expected on the field, from Mason Mount (65 million to Chelsea) to Rasmus Hojlund (75 million to Atalanta) up to Andrè Onana.
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