by Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Football Writer
The new Premier League season begins on Friday, when Arsenal travel through London to meet Crystal Palace, and there are plenty of storylines to watch across the Premier League as the action begins.
Here are five pressing questions heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Can Erling HaalandAnd the Manchester Reach new heights?
The wealthy got even richer this summer, as two-time Premier League champions City added Haaland, the 22-year-old Norwegian goal machine who was the most coveted player of 2022.
Haaland scored almost a goal during his 2.5 seasons with Borussia Dortmund, averaging almost a goal per match in the Bundesliga. His UEFA Champions League numbers were even more outrageous, scoring 23 goals in just 19 matches (Haaland also scored 20 times in 21 matches for Norway).
City are looking to win their fifth English title in six years this season, but are really hoping that Haaland on the net leads them to a more coveted prize: the first-ever Champions League title for an Emirates-backed. club.
But Haaland will be challenged like never before in the Premier League, where his physical features will be minimized and where his only weakness – his ability in the air – can be amplified.
He could easily have set Brim on fire, establishing himself as a bona fide world star and the most feared striker of the match along the way. After all, Haaland only took 12 minutes of play before the start of the season to score his first goal for City:
how it’s going to be Liverpool fare without Sadio Mane?
In theory at least, the Reds shouldn’t miss Mane much. The 30-year-old Senegalese striker wanted to leave Liverpool – whom he helped secure his first English title in three decades in 2020 – after nearly 200 Premier League games for a new adventure with Bayern. Liverpool duly spent $100 million to be replaced by Darwin Nunez, the 23-year-old Uruguayan.
Problem solved, right? we will see.
Nunez is a different kind of attacker than Fleet owner Mane, who has developed an almost telepathic understanding with right winger Mohamed Salah on Merseyside. There is no guarantee that the same kind of chemistry will develop between Nunez, who is more of a net striker than a striker who excels at counter-attacks, and Salah and the rest of his teammates.
There is hope though: after struggling on his first pre-season outing, Nunez scored a goal as Reds topped Man City in the Community Shield last weekend. He then credited Salah for helping him settle down.
Liverpool have come painfully close to adding another league title over the past two years, but have been shy each time. If Nunez manages to surpass Mane’s 16 goals last season, it could be enough to bring the Reds back to the top.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo stay in Manchester United?
A certain level of drama is to be expected within any club that hires Ronaldo, but the Portuguese star has taken his role to telenovela levels in the lead up to the new campaign. Just a year after returning on his second assignment with the Red Devils, Ronaldo wants out.
United finished sixth in May and failed to qualify for the Champions League this season, despite Ronaldo’s 18 goals, the third most in the league. It is understood that the player, who turns 38 in February, wants to compete in Europe’s biggest club competition. But for the second time in two years, the late timing of Ronaldo’s transfer request has put his bosses in a tough spot.
Juventus managed to transfer Ronaldo on the last day of the last summer transfer window, but there has not been much interest in him this year. Champions League pillars Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain do not seem to want. In the meantime, Man United cannot replace him at this point and he may have to keep him. Ronaldo is not happy. He left Old Trafford before the end of Sunday’s final against Spaniard Rayo Vallecano, much to the chagrin of new United manager Eric Ten Hag.
How or when the confrontation will end is anyone’s guess. But for a club desperate to return to the elite in the Premier League – one that has been completely rudderless since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement a decade ago – it’s a circus they don’t need on the eve of a new campaign.
Can Gabriel Jesus Help Arsenal get back into the top four?
Having finished fifth and eighth in each of the past six seasons, Arsenal are a far cry from the club that had previously qualified for the Champions League for 20 years in a row.
This may be the season they are back there. Arsenal have fallen behind Tottenham Hotspur in north London in recent years, but their acquisition of winger Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City this summer indicates their ambition to improve. The Brazilian is not a racket for the world, that’s right. But he is good enough to make a difference in Mikel Arteta’s side, and he has a lot to prove after instigating the move in search of more playing time than he got under Pep Guardiola.
The way Arteta sees it, Arsenal added a proven winner.
“He’s a tremendous talent, a player with a very infectious mindset,” said third-year coach and former Arsenal midfielder He said earlier this week. “He will give us a lot.”
Has Chelsea improved enough to challenge the title?
If any team can compete for the title with Liverpool or Manchester City, it is Chelsea. The Blues-led new US ownership group has shown a willingness to spend money to that end this summer as well.
Thomas Tuchel’s team added Rahim Sterling from City. Like Jesus at Arsenal, Sterling’s experience and championship pedigree should match a team that has won the Champions League and Club World Cup over the past 18 months.
Tuchel has also secured Napoli superb centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, and has added a subtraction by returning Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan on loan after the striker’s disastrous return to Stamford Bridge.
On Thursday, the Blues announced the signing of 18-year-old prodigy Karne Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa.
Would that be enough to upset the power structure atop Prem, though? This is hard to say. Chelsea also lost two important veterans, Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid) and Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), on free transfers this summer.
Doug McIntyre, one of North America’s most prominent football journalists, has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at several FIFA World Cups. Prior to joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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