ST View: All eyes on new beginnings of big signings
Finally, a new beginning will get underway this weekend in the English Premier League.
Yes, I know that the season is already into its fourth round of matches, but I always feel that it has not really kicked into full gear until the transfer window is shut after August.
Teams would have finished strengthening their squad (or getting rid of underperforming players). Players are slowly but surely reach peak match-fitness. And managers would have a good idea of how to sell their tactical ideas to motivate rich footballers.
Fans are also eagerly awaiting to see how their teams have improved after the usual mad rush of the transfer deadline on Sept 2. And, of course, all eyes will be on the big-money purchases by the big clubs.
The EPL lost a superb player via a world-record transfer deal just before the transfer deadline. Tottenham's Gareth Bale made the switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a reported 100 million euros. Just staggering, the amount of money coughed up by Real.
But not to worry, EPL fans, going the other way is German playmaker Mesut Oezil, who moved from Real to Spurs' arch-rivals Arsenal for 42 million pounds (S$84 million).
It looks like a brilliant steal for the Gunners, as Oezil will offer creativity and thrust to their attack (he is Europe's top assist man if one takes the total number of assists by footballers in the last three seasons).
My only reservation: whether the German can adapt quickly to the physicality and the quickened pace of the EPL. We will find out soon enough - in fact this weekend, when Arsenal take on Sunderland, a typical EPL team full of hard running and fierce tackling. Oezil's baptism of fire? No doubt.
Another late big-money transfer move was Manchester United's 27.5-million-pound capture of big-haired Marouane Fellaini from Everton.
The Red Devils endured a torrid transfer season, filled with rejections from targets and botched deals with rival clubs. Fellaini, Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines, Ander Herrera and Fabio Coentrao - all have been linked with Man United. None became a Red Devil, except for Fellaini.
So manager David Moyes is under great pressure to make his only major signing count. Fellaini, unlike Oezil, is a typical EPL player - full of hard running and fierce tackling. Oh, he is a decent creator of chances too.
Will he thrive with better teammates at Man United? Or buckle under the weight of his price tag? There's only one way to find out - watch their match this weekend against Crystal Palace.
Besides Oezil and Fellaini, there are also plenty of players about to make their debuts with their new clubs, following deadline-day moves.
Samuel Eto'o, once feared as Europe's best striker, moved to Chelsea to provide depth in their strike force. The 32-year-old may be past his prime, but could still thrive as he did under Blues boss Jose Mourinho, when they were together at Inter Milan.
Table-toppers Liverpool have bolstered their defence with a couple of young defenders, while Everton get more firepower with the loan signing of big Romelo Lukaku. Intriguing days ahead for the Merseyside clubs.
Manchester City? They thought they got some defensive cover with the late signing of Martin Demichelis. Now he's out long-term with injury suffer during training. Tough luck, City, but at least the new players bought earlier in the off-season are integrating and contributing well.
The league feels fresh again, especially after the transfer window. This is shaping up to be a very, very interesting season.