By Oluwamayomikun Orekoya with Agency Reports

Thirty years ago this week, England’s first-division clubs resigned from the Football League in order to set up the Premier League. Their creation has become the most globally watched league in sporting history. Judging by clubs’ results in European competition, the Premier League overtook Spain as the strongest league in Europe, and therefore the world, in 2017. The Nation Sport previews the EPL season of highs and lows, thrills and disappointments, and joys and pains.

Now in its 30th year, the English Premier League (EPL) has quickly become the most watched soccer league on earth, and the third most profitable sports competition after the NFL and Major League Baseball. Each season generates billions of pounds in revenue, with no less than 13 billionaire owners overseeing the 20 top-flight clubs.

For those not familiar, 20 teams compete for the main title across a 38-game season. Spanish soccer is technical and intricate, the Italian league is similar, Germany is more regimented. But England, in all its wonder, is the most demanding, physical, glorious competition there is, combining all these facets and many more.

This season has a twist, however. The Qatar-based FIFA World Cup means the Premier League will take a six-week siesta across November and December for international duties. For soccer fans, this is good news in the short term. Between August 6 and November 13, games will come thick and fast. But from then until Christmas, the season will stop temporarily.

From December 26, the Premier League will be back in full swing and wrap up on May 28 in what is always an engrossing final day of action.

Leading the charge: the likely suspects. Angered by his Manchester City side scoring just 99 goals en route to a fourth title in five years, Pep Guardiola has added Norwegian goal god Erling Haaland to an attack of riches.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have drafted in Darwin Nunez to replace Sadio Mané as both sides veer away from false nines – as if the rest of the league needed something new to try stopping. It’ll be a two-team tussle for triumph again, as a pair of the finest minds in modern football execute another cosmic game of mind chess across 38 matchdays.

Those in the slipstream are striving not to be left behind. Old Trafford has yet another new emperor, nine years after Sir Alex Ferguson boomed in the rain for fans to stand by his successor. Bringing a brainy brand of football to Manchester United, who these days are cast unflatteringly as dark horses and not thoroughbred favourites, Erik ten Hag seeks to succeed where David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick all failed. He’ll be battling half of London. Chelsea cruised to third even with government sanctions and Romelu Lukaku tantrums; Tottenham have shaken off the ‘Spursy’ tag to become quite reliable, fronted by Son Heung-min and Harry Kane’s peerless partnership; and Arsenal continue to build an exciting young side that doesn’t yet know its own potential. It isn’t daft to say this could be the tightest top-four battle in years.

And it’s not just those six who are ‘big’ these days. Eddie Howe took Newcastle halfway up the table within six months and he isn’t content with staying there. Fuelled by Saudi funds (or funded by Saudi fuel), the Toon are redressing themselves as a force of style and steel in order to fight West Ham and Leicester – both fresh from European semi-finals – for continental qualification. With David Moyes & Co busy on the continent again and Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes still searching for a way to fix their regular defensive calamities, the Magpies sense an opening.

The same goes for ambitious enemies Brighton and Crystal Palace, two smart operators who were mightily impressive last season. Having successfully tied Philippe Coutinho to a long-term deal, Aston Villa also have high hopes; Wolves, however, do not, after ending 2021/22 with eight points from 12 matches.

Still, Wolves expect to fare better than the likes of Southampton, Leeds, Everton and Brentford, who all face problems of varying severity. The latter did brilliantly to finish 13th in their first Premier League campaign and will fancy bucking expectations again, but second-season syndrome is a danger given their reliance upon set pieces and the loss of Christian Eriksen’s x-factor.

Saints, too, know they can’t just score from every free-kick. At Leeds, Jesse Marsch has the unenviable task of replacing Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha while improving a side that survived on the final day. Similarly, Frank Lampard must revamp a Richarlison-less Everton, although their relegation form in his 21 games last season suggests he could transfer-list himself! But seriously, they’ve work to do.

The three promoted sides bring plenty of individual talent. Bournemouth may find that theirs isn’t quite enough, but Fulham’s record-breaking romp to the Championship under Marco Silva gives them genuine hope of ending their dizzy yo-yo-ing and staying up this season. Nottingham Forest have already shocked big names in Steve Cooper’s 10-month reign, beating Arsenal and Leicester in the FA Cup, and they make their long-awaited top-flight return with wunderkind Brennan Johnson and fine summer additions in tow.

It’s all go. The Premier League barely stopped for air last term – now catch your breath ahead of a frenetic, fantastic 2022/23. The next 30 years start right now.