The day has finally arrived. The Premier League is back tonight as Crystal Palace host Arsenal to kick off nine months of thrilling entertainment.
There has been plenty of personnel change in England’s top-flight over the summer, with a host of new star signings such as Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez, plus a new man in the dugout at Manchester United in the shape of Erik ten Hag.
But what else will be different this season? Sportsmail takes a look at some of the key things to look out for.
Pre-match handshakes are back!
They are the source of some of the Premier League’s most controversial moments (I’m looking at you Wayne Bridge, John Terry, Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra), but handshakes have not been a part of the pre-match routine since fears over the spread of coronavirus began in March 2020.
Since then, teams have simply lined up and then walked past each other before games in a friendly, but slightly awkward, manner.
But no more. After two and a half years, handshakes are back!
Pre-match handshakes will return for the first time since before the pandemic in March 2020
But taking the knee will only happen at selected matches
Another ritual that became synonymous with pandemic football was taking the knee before matches to show support for the fight against racism.
It has continued over the last two seasons, but it was confirmed earlier this week that clubs will no longer take part in the gesture at every fixture in 2022-23. Premier League captains took the decision after consulting with their team-mates.
Instead, players will take the knee before selected rounds of matches including the first and last weekends, Boxing Day and cup finals. There will also be dedicated No Room for Racism gameweeks in October and March.
Premier League players will only take the knee before selected rounds of matches this season
When football returned after lockdown in June 2020, Premier League clubs were allowed to make five substitutions per game to help the strain on their squad.
That rule was then scrapped, despite the majority of Europe’s other leagues and UEFA competitions keeping it in place.
But top-flight clubs have now agreed to bring five substitutes back into play. Teams will be able to make changes at three points in the game, not including half-time.
Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders believes the decision has ‘saved football’ and that how teams use their subs will be ‘the most decisive aspect of this season’.
Clubs will be able to make five subs across three points in the game, not including half-time
There has been talk of the Premier League implementing a winter break for several years, but it has finally arrived courtesy of the World Cup.
The tournament in Qatar means that there will be no fixtures between November 13 and December 26. Clubs have been granted permission to play friendly matches in this six-week period, while many are likely to jet off to warm weather training camps.
The Christmas schedule is also set to be less chaotic than normal, with teams to be afforded more time off between games.
The World Cup in Qatar in the winter means that there will be no league fixtures for six weeks
Out with the old…
At the end of last season we said goodbye to one of the greats of the game: Mike Dean. The goal-celebrating, assistant-sniffing referee packed away his cards after a 22-year career in the top-flight.
He wasn’t the only one. Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson also retired at the end of last season and have taken roles at the PGMOL, while Kevin Friend has stepped down to develop and coach Championship referees.
Such an exodus of on-field officials means we’ll be seeing some new faces in the middle this season. Tom Bramall, Natalie Aspinall, Nick Greenhalgh and Steve Meredith have all been handed Premier League match referee status.
Legendary referee Mike Dean has packed away his cards after a 22-year career in the top-flight
Penalty and offside rule changes
New referees and a couple of new rules too. I’m sure Dua Lipa will be happy.
Firstly, goalkeepers’ positioning for penalties has been changed. When the spot-kick is taken, ‘keepers must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line, or behind the goal line.
They must also have least part of one foot on or above the line until the exact moment a penalty is taken, meaning they will not be allowed to stand behind or in front of the goal line.
Then there’s offsides, which have caused some of the biggest talking points since the introduction of VAR. For the new season, offside players will not automatically become onside if an opposition player touches the ball.
The guidelines state: ‘Deliberate play is when a player has control of the ball with the possibility of passing the ball to a team-mate, gaining possession of the ball, or clearing the ball.
‘If the pass, attempt to gain possession or clearance by the player in control of the ball is inaccurate or unsuccessful, this does not negate the fact that the player deliberately played the ball.’
Offside players will not automatically become onside if an opposition player touches the ball
Data from last season showed that the ball was only in play in Premier League matches for an average of 55 minutes and seven seconds.
To try to combat this, a new multi-ball system has been introduced where there will be 10 balls able to be used throughout a game.
Along with the match ball, one will be with the fourth official and the other eight will be dotted around the side of the pitch.