Ahead of the EFL and Scottish Premiership season openers this weekend, along with the Community Shield and Women’s Euro 2017 final, Alasdair Hooper looks at some of the key talking points.
Pre-season is done, the talking is over and the football is back. Hope and curiosity is brewing among fans as they eagerly wait to see what stories will unfold. Ahead of this weekend, here are five things to keep an eye out for as the beautiful game returns…
1) Dutch delight or Danish domination?
England may have exited Euro 2017 at the semi-final stage on Thursday but there is still a grand final to be played out on Sunday.
We know there will be a new name on the trophy after Germany, who had won every European Championship since 1995, were knocked out in the quarter-finals but will it be Denmark or the hosts who triumph?
The scriptwriters will hope for a Dutch victory as the women’s team has captivated the nation on their run to the final and they impressively dispatched the Lionesses.
But Denmark are more than capable of taking the glory themselves – it’s going to be a close, and very tense, occasion.
2) Sulking Sanchez?
FA Cup winners Arsenal take on Premier League champions Chelsea in Sunday’s Community Shield but a lot of the focus will be on Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean has been at the centre of one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer as reports suggest he wants out of Arsenal.
After an extended break from participating in the Confederations Cup, and a much-publicised bout of man flu, Sanchez is back in training and could play some part in the showpiece curtain-raiser at Wembley.
Arsene Wenger is adamant the star forward won’t be leaving the club this summer but which version of Sanchez are we likely to see if he really does want out?
Is the hard-working frontman we are so accustomed to seeing, the person to grace our televisions or is there going to be a strop and a lack of desire?
3) Pedro Caixinha out to get Rangers firing again
It has been a rough old time for the Ibrox club and manager Pedro Caixinha is yet to fully convince since his arrival in March.
The Portuguese manager oversaw a frankly laughable Europa League qualifying exit to Luxembourg side Progres Niederkorn in June and that has left him in a precarious situation.
Rangers travel to Motherwell for their Scottish Premiership opener on Sunday and if they are less than convincing, expect Caixinha to be on the receiving end of another backlash.
The 46-year-old could already be fighting to save his job.
4) Captain, Leader, Villain
There is still something deeply abnormal about seeing John Terry running around a football pitch in the claret and blue of Aston Villa.
The Chelsea legend has decided to take a step down to help Steve Bruce’s men in their promotion quest but questions understandably remain regarding the move.
There is no doubting Terry’s experience and leadership qualities but, after two years of being a squad player with the Blues, does he have what it takes to cope with the rough and tumble of the Championship?
Saturday’s game at Villa Park, against Hull City, could give us an insight into whether the defender is up to the challenge (as well as giving us a tasty encounter as Bruce faces up against his old side).
5) Will Wolves have some bite?
Wolverhampton Wanderers are either going to be incredible or terrible this season.
However as it unfolds it’s going to be exciting to watch, with the club embarking on a bold recruitment strategy during this transfer window.
Ruben Neves’ league record £15.8million move from Porto and Diogo Jota’s loan arrival from Atletico Madrid are just two examples of their eye-catching business plus they have a new manager in the form of Nuno.
On paper some of the Wolves players look too good for the Championship but whether they’re suited to it is an entirely different question.
We will have a better idea of what they have to offer when Nuno’s side take on Garry Monk’s highly-fancied Middlesbrough on Saturday.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992