The countdown to the new Premier League season is well and truly on with Arsenal set to kick off proceedings against Leicester City on Friday evening.
Can Chelsea avoid a repeat of their 2015/16 defence of their title when then manager Jose Mourinho was unemployed by Christmas and the champions eventually finished in tenth place?
All eyes too will be on Manchester where the Guardiola v Mourinho battle is set to take centre stage now that both managers have had a season to bed in their philosophies at their respective clubs with both once again spending heavily this summer.
At the other end of the scale, Huddersfield Town, Brighton and Newcastle United will be hoping their top flight status will last more than one season, while Swansea City and Crystal Palace will hope to stay clear of the relegation zone where they spent the majority of last season.
Below we take a look at five players who have something to prove this season.
1. John Stones – Manchester City
It is fair to say John Stones’s £50 million move to Manchester City from Everton a year ago has not gone to plan.
The heavy price tag seemed to have had an impact on the young England International.
However the loss of captain Vincent Kompany in the City line up through injury for the majority of the last campaign robbed Stones of the ideal partner to help him settle into life in Manchester.
The Belgian International seems to have put his injury problems behind him and now Guardiola can finally pair the defenders together in the hope of finding a solid partnership in the heart of his defence that was much changed last season.
Playing week in, week out with the experienced Kompany will help Stones no end, and in a World Cup year could prove to be the making of the ball winning defender, who in theory should be the ideal Guardiola player.
2. Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United
Romelu Lukaku has finally got his wish and moved to a club in the Champions League and will play at the highest level next season.
Now the young Belgian has got to prove he deserves his place at Old Trafford and the pressures the famous red jersey brings will weigh heavy as he aims to prove to Jose Mourinho he is now a better player than the one he sold when in charge of Chelsea.
Having come second to Harry Kane in the race for the golden boot last season with 25 goals for Everton, the striker has proven he can score goals in the Premier League. Also, following Manchester United’s poor goals return last season, Jose Mourinho will be hoping the 24-year-old can hit the ground running, starting with West Ham United on Sunday.
The striker will also have the extra game-time in Europe to contend with, something he didn’t have at Everton in what will be a gruelling season.
3. Alvaro Morata – Chelsea
The Spanish striker spent the summer being chased by former manager Jose Mourinho but will start the season in the blue of Chelsea after being priced out of a move to Manchester United.
The fallout between Diego Costa and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has resulted in the Champions League winner with the task of replacing the goals outcast Costa produced in Chelsea’s title winning season just gone.
Costa enjoyed a special relationship with Eden Hazard with the pair linking up well. An injury to the Belgian will see him miss the start of the season to the disadvantage of Chelsea and Morata.
The Spanish youngster has got to hit the ground running for Antonio Conte after his decision to offload Costa, who provided 20 goals and seven assists last time out.
He will now be the main man up top for Chelsea and will have to cope with the demands of the Premier League, very much different to what he would have experienced in Spain and Italy.
4. Saido Berahino – Stoke City
This is probably the first time you have heard a mention of Saido Berahino in this transfer window. This is in stark contrast to the last few seasons where the player failed to leave West Brom despite his best efforts.
The young striker has finally got a period of stability in his footballing career and Stoke City manager Mark Hughes will be hoping this year is when Berahino finally lets his football do the talking.
The 23-year-old will be eager to show his off the field problems, which have dogged his short career so far. He will be out to prove that these are well behind him and he can once again become the player that was linked to Manchester United and Tottenham in the past.
Hughes will be hoping his striker will replace the goals in his side lost by the departure of Marko Arnautovic who has joined West Ham United and Jon Walters who departed for Burnley.
In a World Cup year, Berahino will be hoping his form for Stoke City will catch the eye of England boss Gareth Southgate and make the plane to Russia 2018 in what will be a remarkable turn around in the youngster’s career.
5. Paul Pogba – Manchester United
Despite enjoying relative success last season in terms of winning trophies with Manchester United, Paul Pogba largely failed to live up to his heavy price tag of £90 million.
The midfielder failed to produce the quality his manage Jose Mourinho knows he can on a consistent basis and Mourinho’s decision to bring in ex-Chelsea midfielder Nemamja Matic this summer is seen by many a crucial signing not only for the club but also for Pogba.
The French International will be expected to link up well with his good friend Romelu Lukaku this season at Manchester United and become the leader Old Trafford have been crying out for.
Manchester United’s lack of goals will need to be addressed next season with Pogba expected to get in on the act after becoming something of a specialist in hitting the post last season when it looked easier to score.
While many United fans feel Pogba enjoyed a good first season on his return to the club, he will be expected to step up his efforts this season and become more consistent in the famous red shirt.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The Mixer, Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast, where we spoke with former Bray Wanderers media officer Jillian Godsil.