As I sit down to begin writing this preview, the 2022-23 Premier League season is already underway, with the first goal of the season in the bag also courtesy of a terrible defending set-piece from Crystal Palace. The best league in the world, isn’t it?
Chelsea have to wait until Saturday night to get the ball rolling, as we head to Merseyside to take on Everton at Goodison. On paper, Chelsea should be favourites. But once that whistle sounds, everything goes, as usual.
It promises to be a rather unique and potentially historic season, with a month-long winter break for a Winter World Cup. No one knows how this will affect the league season. Many are predicting strange things – including a Spurs title challenge, even, because Conte – so we better fire up some Kate Bush and keep climbing that hill.
Date hour : Saturday, August 6, 5:30 p.m. BST; 12:30 p.m. EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
Arbitrator: Craig Pawson (in the field); John Brooks (VAR)
Provide: Warm, with a slight breeze
On TV: Sky Sports main event (UK); United States Network, Universo (United States); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); somewhere else
Diffusion: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv now (NGA)
Everton squad news: Perhaps no team celebrated more than Everton after escaping relegation on the final day of last season, but the task at hand only got tougher after the two Richarlisons left ( to Spurs). The only notable arrivals so far, centre-back James Tarkowski and winger Dwight McNeil were both part of a Burnley side not good enough to stay in place last season.
Everton are sure to be busy again in the transfer market this month but at the moment they are not in great form, especially as they also have to deal with injury to striker Dominic Calvert -Lewin and midfielders Andre Gomes and Tom Davies. . Meanwhile, another striker, Salomon Rondon is dealing with a suspension from last season.
Frank Lampard certainly has his work cut out for him, and we can only wish him well – starting next weekend of course.
View of the enemy: royal blue mersey
Chelsea team news: Marc Cucurella has become our fourth big-money signing of the summer, although even if he’s registered in time he’s unlikely to play much of a role in tomorrow’s game just yet. Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly (replacing Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Rudiger/Andreas Christensen) are expected to start, though, with youngster Carney Chukwuemeka likely also making the day’s 20-man squad. With five substitutes (out of nine) now available, bench players should also have plenty of opportunities to make an impact.
Much like Everton, albeit at the happier end of the table, Chelsea’s task of repeating last year’s arrival has only grown more difficult. The top two have both acquired marquee forwards, while the rest of the top six have only gone from strength to strength. Of course, it’s easy to forget that we not only led the league for a few months at the start, but were ‘invincible at half-time’ despite everything that happened last season – that’s to say we’ve never trailed in any of the 38 league games at half-time – so if we can improve our ability to close out teams, games and seasons, we may not have too far to go to get back to the top.
It’s been a dramatic few months at Chelsea, in the boardroom and in the transfer market, but now is the time for football to speak.
Previously: We’ve lost four in a row at Goodison and haven’t won there since 2017. Instead, here are some happier Opening Day highlights (which somehow don’t have the Mario Stanic goal from 2000).