The 2023/24 Premier League season finally kicks off this Friday as champions Manchester City kick off proceedings against newly promoted Burnley in what looks an intriguing fixture.
Burnley took the EFL Championship by storm last season as they accumulated 101 points in a season that saw them claim the league title with relative ease.
The Clarets were head and shoulders above any other side in the division last season under Vincent Kompany, a manager who impressed on almost every front in his first season in English football.
Kompany has revolutionised the Lancashire club stylistically, transitioning them from a dogged, rugged side that thrives without the ball to a possession-based team devoted to dominating offensive zones.
They averaged well over 60% possession last season but the question over how well their style of play translates to a much higher level of football now arises, with their season opener against the club that made Kompany the man he is today likely to provide a number of clues vis-à-vis the answer to that question.
Burnley have had a very promising summer in terms of transfers, recruiting goalkeeper James Trafford, centre-back Dara O'Shea, striker Zeki Amdouni and wingers Nathan Redmond and Luca Koleosho in addition to making the loan moves of Jordan Beyer and Michael Obafemi permanent.
As such, there's a lot of intrigue regarding the club's prospects as their recruitment process under Kompany is night and day in comparison to how the club operated under Sean Dyche.
The long-term vision is likely one akin to how Brentford and Brighton have operated in the Premier League over the past few years and fans will feel mightily confident of staying in the league this season which is likely the club's short-term goal.
Given Luton Town and Sheffield United are overwhelming favourites for relegation this season Burnley will feel the odds of survival are firmly in their favour and even if they lose to the champions on Friday their prospects this season are looking good.
Manchester City are coming off the back of the season of dreams having won an historic treble for only the second time in English football history back in June.
The Sky Blues had an almost irreplicable campaign last time around so naturally expectations are more tempered this time around, and given they've lost a couple of key components to their success over the last few years there are arguably even more question marks surrounding Pep Guardiola's side.
There are obvious questions regarding motivation that arise following a treble winning campaign as it's naturally tougher to approach a competitive campaign with the same degree of insatiable hunger for success having won everything possible in the very recent past.
But even independent of such mental obstacles City have lost İlkay Gündoğan, a man who has not only played an enormous part in City's success over the past few seasons as one of the standout performers of a side riddled with world-class players but is also coming off the back of arguably his most impactful season in blue, performing to a mind-boggling level the last campaign and particularly so during the back end of the title run-in.
Gündoğan is as good as irreplaceable in the current market so his departure will be felt tangibly by Guardiola and co, but the German is not the only outgoing that will prove a blow to the blue half of Manchester as Riyad Mahrez has also played his last game in a City shirt having left to join the Saudi Arabian football revolution.
City may yet sign a replacement for Mahrez but as things stand they have not and they enter this game looking weaker on paper than they did last season.
They have, however, completed the signing of Croatian centre-back Joško Gvardiol from RB Leipzig for a huge fee to add to the addition of his international teammate Mateo Kovačić, so Guardiola is well stacked in terms of defensive options.
The Sky Blues played their season opener at Wembley on Sunday against Arsenal in the FA Community Shield, a game they drew 1-1 before succumbing to a 4-1 loss in a penalty shootout.
City took the lead through Cole Palmer before conceding a desperately unlucky deflected strike to Leandro Trossard in injury-time to force the penalty shootout.
They've now lost three Comminity Shields in a row and given the success they've had amongst those losses this will not concern them one bit, but the game did show that Pep Guardiola's side are still quite rusty in terms of preparation.
Striker Erling Haaland has now gone seven competitive games without a goal for the club and his contributions are vital for City to be at their fearsome best, so him getting off the mark at Turf Moor could be huge if City are to hit the ground running this season.
These two sides met in the FA Cup last season and City surged to a 6-0 win, but Burnley will almost certainly be a tougher proposition this time around in front of their own fans.
Expect Burnley to show up well motivated here, even if they do ultimately fall to a defeat.
For our Burnley vs. Manchester City prediction, we're going for a 2-0 win for the away side.