A guide to all 20 Premier League teams ahead of the upcoming 2015-16 season, which starts Saturday:
Goalkeeper Petr Cech’s arrival from London rival Chelsea significantly bolsters the strength of Arsenal’s defense. Finally, it has a backline potentially as stubborn as its attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott is flamboyant. If all goes well, Arsenal could challenge for the Premier League title.
Key player: Petr Cech
2. ASTON VILLA
Despite avoiding relegation last season, Villa’s two best players, Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, left in the offseason. Manager Tim Sherwood has made nine signings so far, including Ghana striker Jordan Ayew, but most are unproven in England. Anything other than a battle to retain Premier League status appears unlikely.
Key player: Jordan Ayew
For the first time in its 116-year history, Bournemouth made England’s top flight after winning the second tier last season. A relegation favorite but neutrals would love to see the club stay up. Manager Eddie Howe has tactical acumen and, if Callum Wilson reproduces the form that got 20 goals last season, survival is possible.
Key player: Callum Wilson
Last season’s Premier League winner has added Radamel Falcao to its attacking options on loan from Monaco, despite the Colombia striker faltering at rival Manchester United last year. Nothing less than more domestic success will suffice for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and Eden Hazard is vital to the defense of the trophy.
Key player: Eden Hazard
5. CRYSTAL PALACE
The club has been galvanized since the appointment of ex-player Alan Pardew as manager in January. He steered Palace out of the relegation zone and up to 10th last season. Yohan Cabaye’s arrival from Paris Saint-Germain is a coup and makes an improvement on last season’s finish a realistic aim.
Key player: Yohan Cabaye
Roberto Martinez’s first two campaigns as Everton manager are poles apart. Last season’s finish of 11th was underwhelming after narrowly missing Champions League football the year before. Romelu Lukaku’s scoring influenced both seasons. He struggled last season but can transform Everton if he hits top form again.
Key player: Romelu Lukaku
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Claudio Ranieri has replaced Nigel Pearson as manager, an intriguing decision after he was fired from his last job with Greece following an embarrassing defeat to the Faeroe Islands. Esteban Cambiasso, key to Leicester’s Premier League survival last season, has left. Ranieri is yet to find a successor in midfield.
Key player: Jamie Vardy
Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League this season, with its campaign derailed by persistent injuries to Daniel Sturridge. But Christian Benteke’s arrival lessens Liverpool’s dependence on him and the striker is one of six signings by Brendan Rodgers, who must mastermind a return to the top four.
Key player: Christian Benteke
After surrendering the Premier League to Chelsea, Manchester City signed Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for $76 million to improve its hopes of reclaiming the title. City will need him to hit form swiftly but striker Sergio Aguero’s fitness is essential. When Aguero plays, he scores — but injuries often restrict his appearances.
Key player: Sergio Aguero
10. MANCHESTER UNITED
A Champions League return made Louis van Gaal’s first season successful but United was often rescued by David de Gea during several poor performances. Despite reports that a Real Madrid transfer is impending, the goalkeeper remains but Wayne Rooney’s importance as captain will rise even more if De Gea does depart.
Key player: Wayne Rooney
Former England manager Steve McClaren has taken over at Newcastle and fans have reason to be optimistic after a slide toward the relegation zone in the second half of last season under John Carver. Signings of midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic could make a top-10 finish possible.
Key player: Georginio Wijnaldum
Premier League survival will be the first priority for Norwich, which secured promotion via the second-tier playoff last season. Manager Alex Neil has largely kept last year’s team together, meaning Lewis Grabban and Cameron Jerome, who spearhead the club’s attack, must score enough to keep them in the division.
Key player: Lewis Grabban
A highest ever Premier League finish of seventh last season means Southampton must now balance Europa League football alongside the domestic campaign. The club has a thin squad and proudly relies on promoting academy players. Attacker Sadio Mane is one to watch after an impressive debut year at St. Mary’s.
Key player: Sadio Mane
Another team with its top Premier League finish last season — ninth — Stoke can expect another season of progress following eight astute signings. Ibrahim Afellay is the most notable addition from Barcelona. But Bojan Krkic, vital last season until injuring his knee in January, will be crucial to continuing improvement.
Key player: Bojan Krkic
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Dick Advocaat guided Sunderland away from the relegation zone after arriving with nine games of last season remaining. The Dutchman has agreed to stay on for an entire campaign and has the soccer smarts to improve Sunderland’s fortunes. Jermain Defoe, a proven scorer in England, will lead Advocaat’s attack.
Key player: Jermain Defoe
Garry Monk guided Swansea to a very respectable eighth last season but will struggle to improve on that finish, which was its best in England’s elite league. Bafetimbi Gomis is a decent striker but is not as clinical as Wilfried Bony, whom the club sold to Manchester City in January and has not replaced.
Key player: Bafetimbi Gomis
Harry Kane fired in 31 goals last season in all competitions as Tottenham finished fifth. If the striker can replicate that form, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could challenge for a Champions League qualification place. Toby Alderweireld, signed from Atletico Madrid, strengthens Tottenham’s unpredictable defense.
Key player: Harry Kane
After earning promotion to the Premier League, Watford took the strange step of parting company with its manager, Slavisa Jokanovic. Quique Sanchez Flores, a 2011 Europa League winner with Atletico, is now at the helm and has already made 10 signings. A new-look squad will need to gel quickly.
Key player: Troy Deeney
19. WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Tony Pulis took over West Brom in January and steered the club from 17th to 13th. Striker Saido Berahino will look to score regularly after netting an impressive 14 goals in the Premier League last season. He will be partnered in attack by Rickie Lambert, who has joined from Liverpool.
Key player: Saido Berahino
20. WEST HAM
Former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic is back at the club as manager. This will be West Ham’s last season at Upton Park before moving to the Olympic Stadium. An improvement on last year’s 12th place under Bilic’s predecessor Sam Allardyce is a must. Goals from Diafra Sakho are key.
Key player: Diafra Sakho