The season is almost here, close enough to almost smell the overpriced half-time chips and pies... It's been an eventful wait since the World Cup, with no clubs standing still, but who's impressed in the last month and who's accidentally thrown it into reverse?
Chelsea, who many, with good reason, have installed as favourites... If Hazard increases his consistency of effort, Chelsea's attack, wherever Fabregas plays, looks unstoppable; but if he doesn't, then questions about how Chelsea best utilize their many talents could arise.
A performance in a pre-season friendly isn't completely meaningless, but it's as close as a football match can get. Even if the games are played at the intensity of a league match (a big 'if', although some of this summer's games got close), there's so much less pressure on the matches that everything must be taken with a pinch of salt.
The transfer window is in full swing and deals are being confirmed every day now... Some clubs, however, have already made great strides to become stronger for the upcoming season and a number of big moves have been made. Taking each club's transfer budget, league ambitions and stature into consideration, here are the seven best summer signings so far.
He was versatile like most wingers and could play either wing. On the left he could get his crosses in from his favoured left foot or on the right he could cut inside and shoot. He did really well on either wing but if Louis van Gaal plans on continuing his 3-5-2 formation where will he fit in?
The Saints' transfer strategy of effectively announcing an "everything must go" clearance sale is questionable to say the least. They could be planning to reinvest wisely, or perhaps the prospect of being relegated for inadvertent owner Katharina Liebherr is not particularly terrifying strapped into a £60 million parachute.
Brazil have quite some way to go to attempt to make amends for this years world cup disaster. The 7-1 loss to Germany pretty much devalued every player on the pitch so badly that memes of Mourinho's hands full of cash and laughing hit the web insinuating his pleasure at selling off David Luiz pre World Cup.
The Premier League title race of 2013/14 provided plenty of dramatic twists and turns, resulting in one of the most exciting campaigns in years. But there is already plenty of reason to believe that the new season will be even better and here's a look at why.
The transfer window has only been open for a short period of time and bar the few managers who are yet to realise it is open at all, most teams have added a number of new faces to their rosters... Here are the top five and why they stand a good chance of getting better.
It's damaging for United to suffer from such a lack of football people around. Who is Van Gaal supposed to ask if he wants advice on how to develop the best scouting system on the planet? Joel Glazer? Ed Woodward? ... Manchester United better return to being a football club, not step even closer to a place where only hollow brands are living.
While Van Gaal tends to do well when he takes over at a new club, teams found a way to counter his system at the World Cup. Provided United do not lure the opposition into a false sense of security in matches next season, the Dutch tactician may have to endure a rocky start in Manchester when the campaign kicks off next month before finding his feet in England.
If he is failing to maximise his striking approach or enduring a torrid display on the frontline, Hernández offers little more in attack. That isn't to say his style of play is wrong, but if he is churning out an underwhelming performance, then United may as well be playing with 10 men.
It remains to be seen how Rooney will be deployed in Brazil this summer, but he's expected to start behind Sturridge against Honduras due to Oxlade-Chamberlain's injury and Sterling's suspension. However, Hodgson may be better served starting Rooney on the left of the trio behind the striker the World Cup, if performances against Peru and Ecuador are anything to go by.
Louis van Gaal is regularly lauded as one of the great coaches of his generation and has won seven league titles with four different clubs across three countries. As such, Manchester United fans will understandably be hoping that his arrival at Old Trafford after the World Cup will signal a huge upturn in their club's fortunes after a dismal 10 months with David Moyes at the helm.
Way back in the mists of time (otherwise known as the late 1980s and early 1990s) I was a student living in Manchester absorbing a lot of that excellent city's life, culture and ... not inconsiderable precipitation...
Giggs is the perfect man to put an arm around the shoulder of an under performing player, but may not be able to dish out the tongue-lashings that Sir Alex Ferguson was famous for. This is where van Gaal comes in.