The Euros were a hoot, and the Olympics were entertaining while they lasted, but don’t we all know where the real drama happens?
Leaving aside the cliches from Sky Sports, the Premier League is where the action is, and we’re in for another exciting ride.
We’ll be chronicling their tales every step of the way as twenty clubs approach the new season with nearly 20 different sets of aspirations, expectations, and concerns.
To get a head start on the upcoming season, we’ve reached out throughout the Reach Sport network to get the scoop from insiders – from local reporters to national journalists to die-hard fans, our contributors know their clubs like the back of their hands.
Allow them to tell you what to expect from each of the 20 clubs in the upcoming season 2021-22.
Arsenal’s hopes and dreams: As they approach their fifth season outside of the Champions League, they must seek to return to the top four.
The biggest fear is that Arsenal will go into the season without signing a number 10 player.
It hurt them in the opening half of last season not having a creative presence, and putting the entire weight on Emile Smith Rowe for the entire campaign would be too much to ask.
Kieran Tierney is incredibly vital to Arsenal’s offense, and if he can stay fit this season, the Gunners will be a much better team as a result.
Keep a watch on Nicolas Pepe, who had a great finish to the previous campaign and could be on his way to delivering on his £72 million price tag.
Bukayo Saka is a young player to keep an eye on. Most fans are already familiar with him, but it’s easy to forget he’s only 19 years old!
He’s accomplished a lot in his short career and could be on the verge of taking it to the next level this season. Smith Rowe is another academy graduate who is expected to shine, while lesser-known talents Folarin Balogun and Miguel Azeez, if they do not go on loan, could be handed opportunities.
The impact of the supporters is as follows: Mikel Arteta was arguably under a lot less pressure than he would have been in normal circumstances during his losing streak in November and December last season.
Despite failing to qualify for Europe, the majority of Arsenal fans still support him, but things can change quickly, and if the Gunners don’t get some early results, we could witness a recurrence of the toxic climate that existed at the Emirates during the Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery eras.
Prediction: Arteta has the board’s complete support, and unless something truly terrible occurs, he will be given the entire season to try to get Arsenal back into the top four.
With the competition in the Premier League this year, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.
Hopes and dreams: It would be a fantastic start if I didn’t hear the phrase “Villa is truly missing Jack Grealish.”
Villa have been brazen for the third summer transfer window in a row, bringing in Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey, and Danny Ings to construct an exciting new attack.
Of course, European qualification is the season’s main goal. Last season, Villa scored 55 points; if that number is increased by ten points to 65, Villa will likely qualify for Europe. I’d also like to win the FA Cup despite missing out last season owing to a Covid outbreak.
Worst fears: Villa might be seriously harmed if they get off to a bad start.
Watford away, Newcastle at home, and Brentford at home are their first three games, followed by Chelsea, Everton, Man United, and Tottenham.
Smith had to isolate since his wife was sick with Covid, and Buendia and Ollie Watkins are also nursing injuries heading into this week. Bailey, the newest arrival, is quarantined after arriving from Jamaica.
Because the new boys haven’t played together yet, preparation has been difficult.
Emi Martinez is a key player. He’s one of the league’s best, if not the best.
Villa will have a terrific season if they keep near to their 15 clean sheet total from last season, knowing that Ings, Watkins, and co. will score goals on the opposite end.
Jaden Philogene-Bidace is a young athlete to keep an eye on. With two assists and two goals in four preseason games, the 19-year-old has been Villa’s highlight. He’s a true winger with blazing speed.
The impact of the supporters is as follows: Many Premier League opponents have wilted due to the raucous atmosphere at Villa Park. There’s no place like it when it’s bouncing.
With sold-out crowds expected this season, Villa can already guarantee a few points thanks to a fantastic, rowdy home support. You’re going to miss playing in B6, Jack!
Smith’s first two seasons as a Premier League manager saw him finish 17th and then 11th. With top-half at a bare minimum, he needs to get going again.
The goal is to get to Europe, so being in and near those Europa League slots would be fantastic. Smith has plenty of credit, but the main question is whether he can do it as Villa’s manager without the help of a certain Mr Grealish. This season could be his most challenging to date. Dean, you have the floor.