Match of the Day off the 30th Premier League

Saturday: Match of the Day; (BBC One, 10.25pm)

Friday, 13th August 2021, 5:00 pm

Who’s ready for some football?

The dust has hardly settled on this summer’s spectacular European Championships (not to mention the Copa America and Olympics tournament), and it’s already time for the 30th Premier League season to kick off.

Gary Lineker, whose BBC salary has been in the news a bit recently, is back earning his corn in the Match of the Day studio tonight.

Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright

He will presenting highlights from the opening round of Premier League fixtures, which include Manchester United’s cross-Pennines clash with Leeds United in the lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford, and newly promoted Norwich City’s evening fixture against Liverpool at Carrow Road.

There will also be the best bits from Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Everton v Southampton, Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Watford v Aston Villa, and the opening game of the season, Friday’s London derby between new boys Brentford and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions Manchester City, who begin their campaign away at Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow, are tipped by many to secure a fourth title in five seasons.

However, Chelsea’s success in the UEFA Champions League early in tactically astute German manager Thomas Tuchel’s reign sees them as second favourites.

Liverpool should make a better fist of things this time around after their title defence faltered early last season, but a lot may depend on whether the Reds’ returning defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez can get up to full fitness quickly.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer made the first major transfer move of the summer in agreeing terms with England winger Jadon Sancho for £73million, and they could also be long shots to take the title.

At the other end of the table, Norwich, Watford and Brentford finished first, second and third in the Championship last season, and occupy the same places in the relegation odds.

Can either of them get off to a winning start this weekend?

As well as Match of the Day, this afternoon also sees the return of Football Focus, which will look slightly different previous seasons.

After 12 years presenting the show, Dan Walker announced he was stepping down saying he “loved every single second of it” (despite his former breakfast TV rival Piers Morgan suggesting he was pushed rather than jumping).

Dan’s replacement is former Arsenal and England full-back Alex Scott, who has been busy of late presenting the BBC’s Olympic coverage alongside Clare Balding.

“When I was a kid, I would never have watched television and thought someone like me could be presenting a programme like Football Focus,” she said.

“For the BBC to trust me with this role and allow me to be my true, authentic self means a lot.”

“The first show in August will be exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”

And Alex isn’t the only one. The other big change this season is that fans will finally be allowed back inside the stadiums, so get ready for the atmosphere to be ramped up in each of the Premier League’s 20 grounds.

The 2021/22 season promises to be one to remember.

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