Two of the lengthy list of contenders for the title, and two of the big-name managers that have only added to the intrigue surrounding this season's Premier League, will come face-to-face in an early heavyweight duel on Sunday. Arsenal and Liverpool are just two of seven clubs which will kickoff the season with realistic hopes of taking home the ultimate prize this campaign.
And Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp are also among a remarkable contingent of high-profile coaches to to be vying for superiority, following the arrival to the Premier League of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Antonio Conte at Chelsea and Jose Mourinho's return at Manchester United. However, speaking before his side's opening game at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Klopp was eager to switch the focus to the players on the pitch.
“The best thing is we [the managers] don’t play,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference. “It’s exciting for everybody having these big names in the league, that’s clear. But in the end, if they all have only one target, one aim – winning the league – then there can be only one really lucky.
“We can think about the answer now. What does that mean for all the others? They failed? Or they still did a good job? Or they did their best? I have no idea what it means. So we have to wait.“In this moment, it’s England and in England managers have, in public, a more special role than maybe in other countries.
“It’s one part of the performance but not more; we still all have to play and all have to work. It’s not about the names. It’s all about the performance on the pitch."
After arriving at Anfield two months into last season, Klopp has reshaped his squad this summer. Six players have so far arrived, with the same amount leaving and more, including Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli, likely to follow.
One of his new arrivals will be unavailable to start the season, though, after goalkeeper Loris Karius broke a hand in preseason. Former Schalke defender Joel Matip is also just making his way back from injury and could miss out, with fellow summer signing Ragnar Klavan preferred. Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum could join Klavan in making their debuts, although Wijnaldum faces a battle for a place in midfield.
In contrast to Liverpool, new signings have once again been at a premium at Arsenal this summer. Granit Xhaka is the only experienced arrival and Wenger's squad goes into the start of the campaign with deficiencies both at the back and in attack.
In defense, injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, combined with Laurent Koscielny not being up to speed after an extended layoff following Euro 2016, mean Arsenal don't have a single senior defender available. Instead Calum Chambers could be paired with 20-year-old Rob Holding, freshly arrived from Bolton Wanderers.
Meanwhile, Wenger still hasn't been able to procure another striker, despite making bids for multiple players this summer. It means, with Danny Welbeck still out with a long-term injury and Olivier Giroud not yet match sharp, either Alexis Sanchez or Theo Walcott are set to start the season up front. Still, despite much criticism for his lack of transfer action this summer, Wenger insists that keeping together a squad that finished second last season gives Arsenal a good chance of success.
“I think we have stability,” he said. “We finished second last season and we have all the desire to improve as a team, so we know that we have to jump forward and continue to improve. That’s why I believe that our preseason games were encouraging. But of course now we go for points and we want to transfer the confidence we got from our pre-season into efficiency in the championship.”
Kickoff Time: Sunday, 11 a.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra