For anyone still struggling with the heartache of England’s Euro 2020 final defeat, here’s a good tonic.
The new Premier League season is just a month away and memories of penalty pain will swiftly be replaced by the giddy anticipation for a new campaign laid out before us.
Here’s 10 things to get excited about as the new season draws ever nearer.
Manchester City won the 2020-21 Premier League – but who will follow them as champions?Â
Prospects for an exciting title race are good
There was the briefest flicker of an actual title race at the turn of the year, but 2020-21 quickly turned into a Manchester City procession.
Pep Guardiola’s side were a class above everyone else and, in the end, finished 12 points ahead of closest challengers Manchester United and 17 ahead of defending champions Liverpool.
It was their third crown in four seasons, but the prospects are promising for a tighter title race this time around.
Liverpool and Chelsea will fully expect to challenge Manchester City in the season ahead
While City boast formidable squad depth, United are making incremental improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and should be in the mix if they start better than last season.
Liverpool would be incredibly unfortunate to again be plagued by the injury problems that held them back last season, while European champions Chelsea are well positioned to challenge given how resolute and efficient they have looked under Thomas Tuchel.
And who’d rule out Leicester City? Disappointed to miss out on the Champions League at the end of last season, they’ll again cause the big teams plenty of headaches.
Leicester City missed out on the top four last time but are likely to push the big guns againÂ
Sancho can illuminate Old Trafford
By far the most eye-catching signing of the Premier League summer so far is Jadon Sancho’s Â£73million move to Man United.
After a transfer saga in the summer of 2020, Solskjaer has finally got his man with a deal struck with Borussia Dortmund and just the formalities to be completed.
The England star will be a major asset to the Premier League and undoubtedly strengthens a United side making steady, if sometimes slow, progress under Solskjaer.
There was penalty pain for Jadon Sancho in England’s final but he now joins Manchester United
It will be fascinating to see how Sancho performs in English football given he never played in City’s first team before moving to Dortmund.
There were times in the second half of last season when things really clicked for United, with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani all working well together.
But in the end, they couldn’t compete with City and the season ended with penalty shootout disappointment against Villarreal in the Europa League final.
Solskjaer is under more pressure than ever to deliver that first trophy but at least with Sancho bolstering his attack, there’s now a far stronger chance.
Sancho has been excellent for Borussia Dortmund and now comes to the Premier League
Chelsea’s strength grows again
It would be a real shock if Chelsea aren’t fully involved in the title race.
Frank Lampard’s mid-season firing upset the fanbase but Thomas Tuchel proved an inspired choice to replace him, transforming Chelsea’s campaign and leading them to a fourth-placed finish and Champions League glory.
After a few underwhelming seasons in the league, Chelsea will be expected to push City and others all the way and that’s even before the possibility of summer signings is considered.
Mason Mount shone for Chelsea as they ended last season as champions of EuropeÂ
Keen to build on their European success, Roman Abramovich has reportedly released funds to sign Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, which would be a phenomenal statement of intent.
Either way, Tuchel will be given the chance to mould the team in his own image, having worked well with what was essentially Lampard’s group last season.
Chelsea’s progress was built on defensive strength in the main so any reinforcements will probably come in midfield or up front with questions marks remaining over Timo Werner.
Thomas Tuchel arrived in mid-season and injected a fresh impetus into Chelsea’s campaign
Liverpool are sure to challenge
Considering the injuries that decimated their defence for most of the season, it was some achievement by Liverpool to finish third.
Champions League qualification was by no means certain after a torrid winter but Jurgen Klopp’s side went 10 matches unbeaten during the run-in, winning eight, to achieve their aim.
This time around, they’ll obviously be incredibly unlucky to be without the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for long stretches again.
And with Ibrahima Konate, another centre back, signed from RB Leipzig for Â£36m, they’ll already have better cover should the worst happen.
Further buys could follow – their long-established forward line may yet be refreshed – and you’d put money on them pushing hard to win another championship.
A smiling Jurgen Klopp during Liverpool’s pre-season training camp in Austria this week
Ibrahima Konate is Liverpool’s headline summer signing so far, coming in from RB Leipzig
Where will Kane end up?
If Sancho was the transfer saga that rumbled on for most of last summer, this time around the headlines could yet be dominated by Harry Kane.
The striker has just finished the Euros with England, scoring four goals after a quiet opening, and will head off on holiday. But transfer speculation won’t be far away.
Kane has made clear his desire to leave Tottenham in pursuit of trophies but Daniel Levy is determined to keep hold of his man, slapping a Â£150million price tag on him.
That could deter the likes of Man City, the most likely to sign Kane, but there’s still a good chunk of the transfer window to run yet.
If City succeed in signing Kane, who ended up with 33 club goals last season, there’s no question they’ll be title favourites.
Harry Kane has made clear his desire to leave Tottenham – but where will he end up?Â
Nuno’s new chapter at Spurs
Sticking with Spurs, it’s all change in the dug-out with Nuno Espirito Santo their new manager, succeeding Jose Mourinho.
It’s no secret that Nuno was probably about 10th choice after a string of potential bosses turned them down but the ex-Wolves boss does have broad knowledge of English football even if his appointment underwhelmed the fans.
Convincing Kane to stay is a top priority – and Levy has already promised his new manager he will be staying – but picking up the pieces of Mourinho’s miserable reign will be a much broader challenge.
New Tottenham coach Nuno Espirito Santo heads out to take a training session last week
They also have the delights of the new Europa Conference League to negotiate having only finished seventh last season.
There have been no signing to date but you feel funds will be needed if Spurs are to compete for the top four again.
It’s far from the ideal start to the league season too – at home to Manchester City.
Which way will Arsenal go?
So many with plenty to prove across north London at Arsenal after that dismal eighth-place finish last season.
They failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years but that could prove to be a blessing in disguise given how much Mikel Arteta has to sort out.
It will be a pivotal year. Either Arteta will instil a successful culture that gets the best out of the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored just 10 goals after signing a new deal last season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has plenty to prove in a pivotal season ahead for Arsenal
If this is based around talented youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, in addition to some shrewd signings, then there could be the green shoots of recovery at the Emirates.
But if they start the season as poorly as last time, the possibility of a mid-season managerial change and plenty of bitter infighting followed by more mid-table mediocrity becomes very likely indeed.
Another bad year and they’re in danger of the likes of Everton, West Ham and Leeds overtaking them for the foreseeable future.Â
Picking up Bukayo Saka after his England penalty pain will be a priority for Mikel ArtetaÂ
It isn’t only Spurs who have appointed a new manager this summer.
After Nuno departed, Wolves have brought in another Portuguese coach in Bruno Lage, the former assistant to Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City before winning the title at Benfica.
Patrick Vieira is in at Crystal Palace after Roy Hodgson stepped down. The Arsenal legend has previously managed New York City FC and Nice with varying degrees of success.
But the biggest managerial change of the summer has come at Everton, where the chance to return to Real Madrid was too irresistible for Carlo Ancelotti to turn down.
In the face of plenty of fan anger, Everton’s hierarchy have turned to former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez to replace him. It remains to be seen if the Spaniard can win over the dissenters.
Rafa Benitez certainly has plenty of doubters and dissenters to win over at EvertonÂ
Brentford freshen things up
The immediate return of Norwich City and Watford to the Premier League was predictable but Brentford’s first season in the Premier League will freshen things up.
Thomas Frank’s side played some excellent and entertaining football en route to winning the Championship play-offs, beating Swansea 2-0 at Wembley.
It means the Bees’ smart new stadium at Kew Bridge will play host to all the big boys in their first top-flight season since just after the Second World War.
They have the honour of kicking off the new season by hosting Arsenal on Friday August 13 and though they’ll naturally be among the favourites to go back down, they could easily cause a few surprises.
Brentford made it into the Premier League for the first time by winning the play-off final
The return of full stadiums!
Many of last season’s Premier League games just felt incredibly soulless without any fans watching on inside the stadiums.
Crowds returned in limited numbers for the final weeks of the season but the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in time for the new season means that matches will once more have that sense of occasion.
We can expect full houses from the outset and there’s no doubt fans will be itching to get back and watch their favourite teams live.
It can only be hoped that Covid is kept at bay and fans get a full season following their teams after a miserable 15 months or so.
Crowds will return to Premier League venues in large numbers in time for the season’s start