7 reasons this Premier League season could be weirder than the last


Last season was weird. Really weird. Leicester won the title, Jose Mourinho was sacked, Aston Villa got relegated, Xherdan Shaqiri rocked up at Stoke and an English player won the golden boot.


But the roller coaster ride might not be over yet... Here's why this season could continue the theme.

1. Ryan Giggs won't be part of the campaign for the first time since 1991.

Giggs back in 1991

Because the 90s can feel like a short time ago, we'll just remind you that 1991 was 25 years ago.

Giggs retired from football in 2014, staying on at Manchester United as assistant manager and becoming the actual manager for a few games after David Moyes' sacking, but announced his departure from the club in July 2016 following a few years as Louis van Gaal's assistant.

Unless he joins another Premier League club at some point during the season, we'll have no Giggs for the first time in a long while.


2. Three northern teams got promoted.

Wasn't the north supposed to be on the decline?

As recently as last season, with Sunderland and Newcastle embroiled in a relegation battle, there was plenty of talk that football in the north of England was in deep, deep trouble.

Just a few months later though and, while Newcastle are indeed set to do battle in the championship, three northern clubs have been promoted. And what's more, they've managed to attract some continental players to the cold and barren lands of the north.


3. It could be the first season since 2007/08 where neither Jose Mourinho nor Pep Guardiola win a league title (while both working).

Two titans, Mourinho and Guardiola, meet in the dugout (Manu Fernandez/AP)

With Pep Guardiola about to embark on his first season managing in the Premier League and Jose Mourinho back, this time with Manchester United, the English top division is about to see the continuation of a rivalry born in La Liga in 2011.

But with high-calibre managers at other clubs too, this season we could witness for the first time since 2009 the end of a league campaign where neither Pep nor Mour lifts a league trophy.

They both won titles in 2008/09 and 2009/10, Guardiola with Barcelona and Mourinho with Inter, and Guardiola made it three in a row a year later. Mourinho won the league with Madrid in 11/12, while neither won it in 12/13 but Guardiola was out of work - instead Tito Vilanova, Pep's one-time assistant, won the league with Barca. Pep again won the league in his first season at Bayern in 13/14, they both won the league in 14/15, Mour's first season back at Chelsea, and Guardiola won it again last season.

Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Claudio Ranieri and Arsene Wenger, among others, will be working their hardest to put an end to this run.


4. Things are becoming increasingly more equal.

A general view of the Vitality Stadium

We won't know for sure whether the trend started last season of "lesser" clubs challenging right at the top of the league will continue until much later in the campaign, but pre-season evidence suggests it might.

The TV money is helping to create an environment where clubs don't need to sell their best players any more, and - coupled with greater investment from owners - top quality talent is in abundance all across the league.


5. Jose Mourinho might involve the youth.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (left) is substituted for team-mate Marcus Rashford

Manchester United may have signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and they still have Wayne Rooney, and Mourinho heavily favours a lone striker, but while at one stage we were worried for Marcus Rashford's development, the player's talent means he may still get opportunities under Mourinho.

The Portuguese coach is famously a bit rubbish at providing opportunities for youth players, but with a number blooded last season by LVG and many of those proving they have the ability to perform if given opportunities, there seems more chance of Mourinho trusting his young players at United than at any other time during his managerial career.


6. West Ham won't be at Upton Park.

General view of fans ahead of the game

Much like Giggs' departure from the Premier League, the absence of the Boleyn ground will be a strange thing for fans.

West Ham will of course be playing at the Olympic Stadium, now known as London Stadium, and it will take some time to get used to watching them play outside of the famous Boleyn ground even just on TV. The East Ham stadium is one of the league's most recognisable, and while we'll still hear renditions of Bubbles, even Slaven Bilic says it feels odd playing at the new stadium.


7. We have no idea what's about to happen.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) attempts to pass through Everton's Gareth Barry (left) and John Stones

Heading into the season Man City appear to be favourites to lift the title, but with so much talent and the events last season, nobody wants to predict how this season will go.

It's uncharted territory for the Premier League, where we usually have four teams to pick from who'll go on to be champions. Instead City, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Leicester, West Ham, Everton and Southampton all conceivably stand a chance of finishing in the Champions League places.

And who'd be stupid enough to rule out any of the others?