Huge weekend for… Arsenal fans, Brendan Rodgers, Steve Clarke and Jermain Defoe
Of course they have every right to be worried. They have lost the Player of the Year and their captain. Without Van Persie last season they would have finished 12th. But there are reasons for optimism. Olivier Giroud was the top scorer in Ligue Un last season and Lukas Podolski has only four less international goals than Gary bloody Lineker.
Never has an opening game dictated the mood so effectively. If Arsenal win by three or more goals, both of the new signings get a goal and Santi Cazorla looks as dangerous as he most certainly has the potential to be, Arsenal may have a new dawn. Draw 1-1 while trying to pass the ball in, and with Walcott et al offering little but frustration, and fans may share Piers Moron’s view of the situation.
When neither of your two predecessors have lasted more than two years in the job despite having infinitely more experience, nerves would be forgiven, especially as Rodgers has spent £30million on Borini, Allen and Assaidi.
A trip to West Brom is the sort of game that Liverpool need to win if their top four (or even six) hopes are genuine, and with a potential front six (Suarez, Borini, Allen, Downing, Henderson, Carroll) costing over £110million, the former Swansea manager will be under pressure to achieve results.
It may not be his squad and it may not be his fault, but with their first three league games at Anfield against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, Liverpool need to hit the ground running away from home.
He may have plenty of experience at sitting on the bench in a supporting role, but at the age of 48 Steve Clarke will take charge of his first ever game as a full-time manager. Given that he is managing a club that were guided to eighth ahead of expectations last season, there are slight concerns as to his aptitude.
Clarke has only ever managed a team for one match previously (at Newcastle), and he lost it 5-1. Until he gains his first victory, that statistic will hang over him like an axe. And football fans aren’t known for their sympathy.
Spurs might have a new manager and hopes of a top four finish, but they also actually only have one first team striker. Louis Saha has moved on and Emmanuel Adebayor has not been signed, so if AVB wants to play two up front then Rafael Van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe are the only options.
Defoe has always been an excellent finisher, but was only given 11 starts in the Premier League last season. Given that Spurs will surely sign at least one forward by the end of August, he may have just three Premier League games to impress the new manager and press for a consistent starting berth.
A fantastic goal against Italy in midweek will surely provide confidence.