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3 talking points ahead of the EPL season

Premier League

With the highly-anticipated 2022-23 English Premier League season set to kick-off this weekend, there are a number of interesting talking points to ponder.

Manchester City will be on the hunt for yet another title, while Liverpool will be desperate to fight their way to the top. There are also sure to be a number of challengers looking to disrupt the ‘big two’ from last season.

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WILL HAALAND LIVE UP TO HYPE AT MANCHESTER CITY?

Of course, as a new season starts, plenty of focus will be on Erling Haaland as the Norwegian striker arrives in the Premier League with plenty of hype following his £51million move from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland scored 62 goals in 67 Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund, the expectation is that he should form an unstoppable partnership with Kevin de Bruyne.

However, a couple of alarm bells did begin to ring when Halaand struggled in the Community Shield pre-season defeat against Liverpool.

Raheem Sterling was interestingly released to Chelsea after he grew frustrated at his lack of opportunities under Pep Guardiola, and there will now be plenty of attention on 22-year-old Julian Alvarez, who first arrived from River Plate for £14m in January.

One way or another, City will head into this campaign with a target on their back.

CAN ERIK TEN HAG SPARK LIFE INTO MANCHESTER UNITED?

There’s unlikely to be much of a honeymoon period for new manager Erik ten Hag as he begins his first season at the helm of Manchester United.

Already there remains a significant unanswered question over Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, who wishes to depart the club this summer for a Champions League club.

Ronaldo made his Manchester United return over the weekend against Spanish outfit Rayo Vallecano, with the striker playing for 45 minutes before controversially departing the ground before the end of the 90 minutes.

His appearance in the pre-season friendly raises the prospect of Ronaldo being thrown in straight away against Brighton on Sunday, but it remains to be seen whether he will be an asset for United this season. If not, this saga could prove to be a huge distraction if it drags on until deadline day.

The Frenkie de Jong saga pursuit has also been dragging on. He is Ten Hag’s top target and United need to make a breakthrough and decide if he actually wants to move to Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, from an African perspective, there will also be plenty of interest in South African soccer legend Benni McCarthy as he begins his new coaching role focused on positioning and attack.

McCarthy will be coaching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial among other attackers as United look to find a new spark on attack.

CAN NEWCOMER DARWIN NUNEZ GIVE LIVERPOOL KEY BOOST?

It was the perfect start to the early part of season for the Reds as they got one over Man City, while new signing Darwin Nunez received the huge confidence boost he needed in the Community Shield.

The Reds have suffered a number of injuries throughout the summer, with Ibrahima Konate the latest player to suffer a setback after the likes of Alisson Becker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diogo Jota. Yet that didn’t stop Jurgen Klopp from naming a virtually full-strength side against Pep Guardiola’s men as goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and debutant Nunez earned a 3-1 win.

After coming off the bench to win a penalty and score against Man City, Nunez will be hoping he did enough in the Community Shield to convince Klopp to hand him a first start at Fulham. If limited to bench duty again, Roberto Firmino will lead the line with Diogo Jota still injured, though the Uruguayan should at least make his Premier League debut off the bench.

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