Premier League football is back this weekend after the shortest break, but longest summer, that any of us can ever remember.

It was only last month that Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy, after being made to wait longer than anticipated to inevitably secure their first league title in 30 years, but now the most-watched league in world sport is back.

In truth, not much will have changed since last season ended on Sunday 26th July. The stadiums are still empty, the transfer market has been eerily quiet (except at the Bank of Stamford Bridge) and fan groups are in constant battle with the broadcasters to ensure every game can be seen by fans whilst they’re shut out.

Perhaps the biggest story of the close season has been the excitement around Leeds United finally being back where they belong after 16 long years. Whilst Leeds’ fans are chomping at the bit to see their team back amongst the elite, football fans around the world are intrigued to see how Marcelo Bielsa approaches his first ever season in the English top flight. The Argentine is idolised by Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, so look out for his battles against the Spaniard this season as Guardiola looks to regain the title and break City’s Champions League hoodoo with his expensively assembled squad.

Mikel Arteta’s impressive start to life as Arsenal manager has ramped up expectations in the red half of North London.

Scott Parker’s promotion with Fulham during his first season in management seems to have slipped under the radar. The Cottagers, who returned to the top flight at the first time of asking, will be hoping to make far more of an impression this season than they did during 2018/19. West Brom’s return to the Premier League, just, will also see the return of Slaven Bilic, who you can be sure will be looking to get one over on former club West Ham, who once again go into a new season off the back of a pre-season of infighting and fan unrest. Some things never change.

Staying in London, Mikel Arteta’s impressive start to life as Arsenal manager has ramped up expectations in the red half of North London. The Gunners were once again miles behind the Champions League pack last season, but their FA Cup win, defensive additions and a fully firing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fans dreaming of a return to Europe’s elite competition once again.

Just up the road, Jose Mourinho will be aiming to carry on where his team left off at the end of last term in his first full season in charge at Tottenham. As ever at White Hart Lane though, Spurs’ season will largely depend on the fitness of Harry Kane – a player the club still haven’t bought adequate cover for. Their season could be defined by a brutal September of league and European fixtures.

Much like Tottenham, Everton will be hoping their seen it and done it manager will lead them to greater things during his first full season in charge. Carlo Ancelotti, just like his predecessors at Goodison Park, has been well backed in the transfer market. James Rodriguez’s move from Real Madrid could well end up being the signing of the summer if the Colombian can reach the levels that saw him move to Madrid in the first place.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United finished third last season.

The other manager who has been significantly backed this summer is Chelsea’s Frank Lampard. Armed with two season’s worth of transfer budget and a very wealthy owner, Chelsea appear to have abandoned their short-lived youth policy and instead spent over £200m this close season on the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. In the past huge outlays at Stamford Bridge have meant it’s trophies or bust for the manager. After a relative free hit last season, Lampard is now under huge pressure to deliver.

Fellow Champions League hopefuls this term are Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men finished third last season, mainly thanks to the signing of Bruno Fernandes and the collapse of Leicester City. The £40m signing of Donny van de Beek will rightly excite United fans, however Solskjaer knows he needs to add more depth to his squad to make any kind of impact in the Champions League this season, let alone attempt close the gap on City and Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers will still be wondering how he didn’t secure the Foxes Champions League football for only the second time. Cruising in third place for most of last season, their form following the return of the Premier League in June fell off a cliff and so did their Gazprom dream. Instead, Leicester now must find the will to care about Thursday nights in Europe’s second-tier competition. 

Nuno Espírito Santo's Wolves are a genuine top-four contender this season.

The team most likely to benefit from no European football this season is Wolverhampton Wanderers. Armed with a superb manager, further exciting Portuguese (obviously) additions and a 38-game plan, Wolves are a genuine top-four contender this season. Let’s just not mention their away kit – yes, it’s worse than Manchester United’s.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Southampton will hope to stay up, possibly make an attempt to qualify for Europe, but will more than likely finish anywhere between 9th and 16th. Sorry fans of above mentioned clubs, this is the Premier League – some things are just too easy to predict.

And so to the defending champions. The margin of their success last season would suggest little need to tinker with the squad, however Jurgen Klopp wants to build a dynasty and he can’t do that by standing still. The Reds inability to secure Werner will have frustrated him, but his desire to acquire the services of Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich would add further dynamism to his midfield and could be all it needs to retain the title.

Once again, it’s hard to look past the German or Guardiola leading their team to league success come May.