What's new for 2021/22?
Fans across the country are eagerly anticipating the beginning of the 2021/22 Premier League season.
Arsenal and new boys Brentford kick off the league’s 30th iteration on Friday night, with Manchester United v Leeds next up at Saturday lunchtime.
Of course, plenty has changed since the First Division became the Premier League in 1992, but what about the last 12 months?
Well, several rule alterations have come into force and there are also some fresh faces and settings to enjoy.
Here’s what to look out for during the opening weekend and over the next few weeks and months…
Premier League clubs can now name nine substitutes on a permanent basis.
This was initially permitted after Project Restart in 2019/20, with the start of the 2020/21 season seeing benches reduced back to the previous seven replacements.
However, from December 2020, clubs have been allowed nine subs – with three permitted to come on, plus two concussion subs – and that rule has been included in the Premier League’s handbook for 2021/22.
The changes to the Video Assistant Referee system are better explained in our recent article but include alterations that will hopefully see fewer goals ruled out for marginal offside calls, plus tweaks to the interpretation of penalties.
The handball law has once again been revised by the International Football Association Board, or IFAB, who are responsible for determining football’s rules.
The first change clarifies the interpretation of deliberate handball, with referees now asked to place greater emphasis on whether the player’s hand or arm is in a natural position or not.
Accidental handball in the lead-up to a goal will now only be penalised if it was committed by the goalscoring player in the immediate build-up. A player still cannot score a goal with their arm, even if it is accidental.
Rafael Benitez and Nuno Espirito Santo may be in new jobs at Everton and Tottenham this season, but they have a long and proven track record in the top flight. There are four managers who are working in the Premier League for the very first time, however.
Patrick Vieira – for so long an arch-rival of United’s during his playing career with Arsenal and Manchester City – has taken the managerial role at Crystal Palace, while Bruno Lage is in to replace Nuno at Wolves a year on from leaving Benfica.
Newly promoted Watford and Brentford also have head coaches experiencing this division for the first time, in Xisco Munoz and Thomas Frank respectively.
The Premier League has announced that four new regular referees will be in charge of matches this season after they were promoted to Select Group 1. Jarred Gillett, Michael Salisbury, Tony Harrington and John Brooks are the officials in question, with Australian Gillett set to become the league’s first-ever foreign ref.
Fifty-nine different venues have hosted Premier League football since the league’s creation in 1992, with United playing at every single one.
That number will become 60 on the weekend of 14 December, when we visit the Brentford Community Stadium to take on the Bees.
The west Londoners, who will become the 50th Premier League side, moved into their shiny new ground in September 2020 and travelling Reds haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing the facilities - in fact, we haven’t played away at Brentford at all since 1947!