The Premier League returns this weekend, just seven weeks after last year's season ended. After hardly any offseason, it's tempting to simply assume a rerun of last season. But in Europe's deepest domestic league, a repeat is never guaranteed.
After Liverpool and Manchester City battled the past two seasons for the top of the table, virtually no one thinks either will fall away this year.
Chelsea, having endured a ban on buying new players, has spent almost $250 million this summer, with German strikers Timo Werner and Kai Havertz arriving to go with a forward line that already includes American darling Christian Pulisic.
Manchester United still hopes to supplement its attack by landing English wunderkind Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund before the transfer deadline in October.
Two of England's other super-clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, are confident of making their own pushes for the top four after disappointing campaigns last year. This season also brings the return of Leeds United, which regularly finished in the top five around the turn of the century but — thanks to financial mismanagement — endured 16 seasons out of the Premier League, including three in the third division.
Is Liverpool due for a letdown? Can Man City stop obsessing over the Champions League long enough to win again in England? Can Chelsea buy its way back into the picture? We'll find out, starting this weekend.
• At the bottom of the Premier League, the oddsmakers have both Fulham and West Brom at more or less even odds to be dumped straight back to the Championship. If it happens to Fulham, it'll be the club's fourth consecutive season being either promoted from the second division or relegated from the first. The "English team with all the Americans" bought another this summer to try to prevent it, though, snapping up left back Antonee Robinson from Wigan to shore up its defense, potentially alongside longtime American stalwart Tim Ream.
• Teased for stealing its name from Italian giants Internazionale, Inter Miami now seems intent to get all of its players from another Serie A powerhouse, perennial champions Juventus. Striker Gonzalo Higuaín was announced this week, joining midfielder Blaise Matuidi in south Florida. Both played in more than 30 games for a team that won the Italian title last year.
Premier League: Leeds at Liverpool, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Ch. 11. Plenty of ink has been spilled describing the methods (and madness) of managers Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa. Both should get plenty of camera time — Klopp running, Bielsa sitting— as both teams try to duplicate last season's rocket starts that led to being champions of the first and second divisions.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org