HHello and welcome to the 3pm kick-off coverage of the opening weekend of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Last night Arsenal got off to a promising start by beating Crystal Palace 2-0 and now their north London rivals kick off their campaign today. Antonio Conte has made some useful additions to his Spurs side, who finished fourth last season and will be expecting three points from visiting Southampton.
Meanwhile, former European champions Nottingham Forest are back in the Premier League after a 23-year absence and mark their comeback with a tough test at Newcastle United who enjoyed a fine second half last season. Forest will arrive at Newcastle with a new squad after signing 12 players, but manager Steve Cooper has said the club are yet to complete transfer business.
Midfielder Jesse Lingard joined on a free transfer and goalkeeper Dean Henderson arrived on loan from Manchester United, while Forest also broke their transfer record to sign Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin for £17 million.
“I think there will be more ins and outs,” Cooper said. “It’s not a simple process to bring in a player, I don’t know in terms of numbers. If I’m being honest, we would have liked to continue with a lot of the squad from last year and just added there where we thought we needed to add to compete on level, but that was never going to be the case.
“We had no choice but to make the number of changes we had to make – and we continue to do so.”
Elsewhere, Liam Cooper, Luis Sinisterra and Dan James are among the absentees for Leeds’ Premier League opener against Wolves. And Wolves will be without key striker Raul Jimenez and winger Adama Traore, who are both set to miss the opening two league games.
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has challenged his side to step up their game and aim for a first half after receiving backing from the Premier League club’s owners in the transfer market. Villa signed five players, including Philippe Coutinho on a permanent transfer from Barcelona, at the end of the season as they look to improve on their 14th place finish from last year.
“It’s about stepping on the step now. It’s very difficult to assess in pre-season whether you’ve improved or not… but finishing 14th was not acceptable,” Gerrard told reporters before their match. opening at Bournemouth later on Saturday.
“I’ve said that quite clearly to the players and we’re looking for a better level of consistency, and we want to operate in the top half of the table. We also want to have better cup runs. We have to give our fans more.”