Offside’s Premier League A-Z: Z is for zero hour

Z is for zero hour…

This is it: zero hour. T-minus nothing. The countdown to the start of a new Premier League season is over.

Simon Stacpoole: A giant banner is unfurled above a line of young women as ESPN television broadcast their 1st live match of the season.
Simon Stacpoole: A giant banner is unfurled above a line of young women as ESPN television broadcast their 1st live match of the season.

Soon, the stadiums of the English top flight will be full once more with fans,  broadcasters and players, as Manchester City begin their campaign to retain their 2014 title against the other 19 clubs of the league, who must contend with their own issues and ambitions.

Mark Leech: Osvaldo Ardiles makes his Spurs debut against Forest on the first day of the 1978-79 season.
Mark Leech: Osvaldo Ardiles makes his Spurs debut against Forest on the first day of the 1978-79 season.

Having spent much of the summer sourcing new recruits, the opening day of the season can also be a competitive showcase of the league’s most recent arrivals. This year, strikers such as Diego Costa and Graziano Pelle will be looking to open their Premier League accounts at the first opportunity against Burnley and Liverpool respectively, while Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera and Emre Can will seek to make their presence known from midfield.

New managers, tactics and formations are also a focus on day one of a new season, as both fans and pundits pay close attention to how their team’s pre-season plans translate to the field during serious fixtures.

Paul Roberts: New Manchester United manager David Moyes celebrates against Swansea in 2013. Louis van Gaal faces the same foe in his first game in charge.
Paul Roberts: New Manchester United manager David Moyes celebrates against Swansea in 2013. Louis van Gaal faces the same foe in his first game in charge.

 

Going into the 2014-15 season, it looks as though the Premier League is about to be inundated with three-man defences and the 3-5-2 following the appointment of Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford and Ronald Koeman at Southampton.

Mark Leech: Leicester fans begin to file out of the stadium as their team get thrashed 5-0 on the first day of the season in 2001.
Mark Leech: Leicester fans begin to file out of the stadium as their team get thrashed 5-0 on the first day of the season in 2001.

The newly promoted sides will also be looking to try and set down some early markers as they test their team against the higher quality opposition of the top flight. For the Premier League neutral, these games begin the process of getting to know the teams who leapt up to the big time from the Championship the season before.

Simon Stacpoole: New season, new haircut as Raul Meireles of Liverpool sports a mohican haircut during the first game of the season.
Simon Stacpoole: New season, new haircut as Raul Meireles of Liverpool sports a mohican haircut during the first game of the season.

And of course, the first day of the season usually brings with it the first proper episode of Match Of The Day, unless of course the summer has already been filled by programmes covering a World Cup or European Championship.

Glyn Thomas: Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic Plenty of empty seats at Villa Park for the opening game of the season.
Glyn Thomas: Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic Plenty of empty seats at Villa Park for the opening game of the season.

But in even-numbered years following a major tournament, the hunger for a return to normality, and the regular delights of the Premier League only grows stronger until the action resumes.

Now it’s time to get back to the week-in, week-out fun of topflight football. Are you ready?

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Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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