The newest member of team Off The Ball looks ahead to the start of the Premier League season
For fans and pundits alike, this part of the season generates a huge amount of excitement, but as players face down the start of a new season, there will be a lot on their minds.
The media, the written and broadcast journalists, we'll be the ones that will be trying to get some sort of message from the countless press conferences and pre-season media days that have dominated the last few weeks. Still, they should all be taken with a pinch of salt, as managers will, when there's a camera put in front of them, always give things a PR spin.
It's mostly about the message that you're sending, that you're trying to portray to the outside world. It's got to be positive, regardless of the result. You can almost predict what they'll say prior to the game at this stage: "we're quite happy with the pre-season, although we've still go things to work on..."
A player will not sit and watch the press conferences on the television to hear the rehearsed lines, but the message that goes out can transcend that medium and make it on to the pitch, because of the sheer intensity surrounding that first game.
After a busy and, you would hope, a successful pre-season, you're trying to build back up to another competitive period. Once that last friendly game is out of they way, you're looking forward to the start of the season and ideally, you want a home game in front of a home crowd full of optimism.
Imagine the atmosphere at the King Power if Leicester were starting off there as champions this year. But, if you're going to have to start away from home, then they couldn't have picked a better fixture. Hull have had a disastrous time since they achieved promotion: they've lost their manager, they haven't found a replacement, and they've not made any signings.
If Hull give a few loose passes from the off and start the game poorly, the crowd will be right down their necks, and, importantly they'll be right on to the owners, which just fuels that that negative feeling around the club. It's still early, but this weekend could shape the whole season for them.
On the flip side, another promoted team, Burnley, have an ideal start against Swansea. Francesco Guidolin's side have lost their captain in Ashley Williams, and not made many improvements bar bringing in Borja Baston from Atlético Madrid. You know what to expect from Sean Dyche; his team will be fit and ready, and although they've flown under the radar a bit, they're in a good position from that steady building process that has gone on over the last few years.
The biggest game of the weekend is the meeting of Liverpool and Arsenal, but I believe there's a more intriguing clash between Everton and Tottenham happening too.
I saw Seamus Coleman at Wayne Rooney's testimonial, which was an incredibly dull game to watch. However, he was the best player on the pitch by an absolute mile, and proved what a top player he is around other quality footballers. He'll be Ireland's captain for the next two campaigns, and he maybe sees that this is a big season for him. With a new manager in Ronaldo Koeman who will probably shift to back three long-term, Coleman is poised to cement his place as a top-level Premier League player.
Although the common wisdom is that Spurs can only get better, there are still plenty of questions as to how they react to how badly they fell away at the end of last season, with seven or eight disastrous results.
That break over the summer will probably help them address that poor run, but a few of the players have had a poor tournament at the Euros to boot. Mauricio Pochettino would have taken the time to show them a few of the things that they did well and highlight that "this is why you put yourselves in serious contention, this is why you could have gone on to win the league." At the same time, he needs to tell some key players that they need to push on.
Anyone watching last season would have known that Dele Alli is a talent. He's not complete by any means, but I don't want to see him lose that fiery edge, that devilment within him that takes him forward. If he has that he'll get better and better.
For Harry Kane as well, the message will be to replicate what he did last season. Christian Eriksen is another one where you'd think that, as the creative spark in the final third, it comes down to him and he needs be more consistent. He's one of those where you don't know what you're going to get from him, but even if he has a poor game, he has those game-defining moments within him. Alli, Eriksen, even Erik Lamela can do it in 10 minute spells, but they've got to improve and contribute more even though their work-rate off the ball isn't in doubt if Spurs are to get better.
Image: Rui Vieira / AP/Press Association Images
Those question marks remain, as do many, many more. What has Pep done on the training ground with his side within that six week period? What's Klopp done now that he has a full pre-season under his belt? Beating Barca has put Liverpool's optimism sky high, will they live up to that? Can Jose return Manchester United to winning ways to United? Will Ibrahimovic be that focal point and leader that they need? Can Pogba adjust long-term to the Premier League?
Once that first game is played you will get a true picture, but until the first 90 minutes are over, we'll have a lot more questions than answers.