Premier League 2012-13 season: Club-by-club guide

Get ready for another nine months of excitement, drama, controversy, highs and lows: the Premier League is back.

Can champions Manchester City hold off the challenge of rivals United? Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool have all named permanent managers this summer and will be looking to improve on last season's league finishes.

Will Arsene Wenger be plotting a renewed title challenge from Arsenal?

The aim for newly promoted teams Southampton, Reading and West Ham is likely to be to stay up, while potential strugglers Norwich, Swansea and West Brom have all named new managers.

But, before the action gets under way, BBC Sport assesses each side's preparations this summer with a comprehensive club-by-club guide to the new season.

You can also check out BBC guides to the Championship, League One and League Two.

ARSENAL

Arsenal

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 3rd

FA Cup: Fifth round

Carling Cup: Quarter-finals

Champions League: Last 16

Players in: Santi Cazorla (Malaga) £15m*, Olivier Giroud (Montpellier) £12m*, Lukas Podolski (Cologne) £11m*.

Players out: Robin van Persie (Man Utd) £22.5m*, Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad) Undisclosed, Manuel Almunia (Watford) Free, Tom Cruise (Torquay) Free, Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge) Free, Jeffrey Monakana (Preston) Free, Rhys Murphy (Telstar) Free, Benik Afobe (Bolton) Loan, Joel Campbell  (Real Betis) Loan, Denilson (Sao Paulo) Loan, Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan) Loan, Pedro Botelho  (Atletico Paranaense) Undisclosed.

* Reported cost of player. Officially undisclosed fee.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • A three-game spell in January could show whether Arsenal can challenge for the title. They face Manchester City at home, Chelsea away and Liverpool at home in consecutive games.
  • North London derbies against Tottenham are on Saturday, 17 November (h) and Sunday, 3 March (a).

Full Arsenal fixture list

BBC Sport's Ian Hughes: "Harsh lessons appear to have been learned at Arsenal.

"Last year, failure to replace Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri contributed to their season falling apart before it had even started. Once again they could lose their best talent - reigning double player of the year Robin van Persie has joined Manchester United - but this time they have already brought in three internationals in forwards Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud and midfielder Santi Cazorla.

"And the defensive frailties that saw them concede 49 league goals last term are also being addressed, with ex-Gunners centre-back Steve Bould tasked with making them meaner.

"Add to that the expected return to fitness of Jack Wilshere, injured all last season, and there may be justified reason for optimism at Arsenal that last season's third-place finish in the league can be bettered - and that a seven-year trophy drought can be ended."

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 16th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Third round

Players in: Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord) £3.2m*, Matthew Lowton (Sheffield United) £3m*, Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord) £2.5m*, Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar) Free.

Players out: James Collins (West Ham) £2.5m, Emile Heskey (released), Reece Caira  (Western Sydney Wanderers) Free, Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland) Free, Connor Taylor (Walsall) Free.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Paul Lambert's managerial skills might be tested to the maximum as they play Manchester United (h), Manchester City (a) and Arsenal (h) in the space of 14 days in November.
  • The Scot's first game against his former club Norwich will be on 28 October, with his return to Carrow Road on 4 May.

Full Aston Villa fixture list

BBC Sport's Phil Maiden: "Following their worst home record in the club's entire history under Alex McLeish, fans will be hoping the arrival of Paul Lambert as manager can rekindle some of the excitement that has clearly been lacking at Villa Park.

"Villa have struggled post-Martin O'Neill to compete in the top half of the table and, having seemingly cut his spending, owner Randy Lerner will be looking at Lambert as the man to restore the club's pride.

"Karim El-Ahmadi has looked good in pre-season and should be a key man in midfield while Brett Holman, who was signed on a Bosman by McLeish, could prove useful in attacking positions for a side which struggled to find the net last season.

"Another year of transition looks to be on the horizon, but Villa fans will be hoping this time it is one that can lead to future success, albeit on a budget."

CHELSEA

Chelsea

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 6th

FA Cup: Winners

Carling Cup: Quarter-final

Champions League: Winners

Players in: Eden Hazard (Lille) £32m*, Oscar (Internacional) £25m*, Marko Marin (Werder Bremen) £6.5m*, Thorgan Hazard (Lens) Undisclosed.

Players out: Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua) Free, Salomon Kalou (Lille) Free, Jacob Mellis (Barnsley) Free, Marko Mitrovic   (Brescia) Free, Jeffrey Bruma  (Hamburg) Loan, Thibaut Courtois  (Atletico Madrid) Loan, Ulises Davila  (Sabadell) Loan, Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen) Loan, Matej Delac  (Guimaraes) Loan, Ben Gordon (Birmingham) Loan, Rohan Ince (Yeovil) Loan, Tomas Kalas  (Vitesse Arnhem) Loan, Milan Lakovic  (Guimaraes) Loan, Romelu Lukaku (West Brom) Loan, Patrick van Aanholt  (Vitesse Arnhem) Loan, Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers) Loan, Jose Bosingwa (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Chelsea will hope to pick up most of the points on offer in their first five games - Wigan (a), Reading (h), Newcastle (h), QPR (a) and Stoke (h).
  • Former boss Andre Villas-Boas says he is not out for revenge when his new side Tottenham host Chelsea on 20 October and then visit Stamford Bridge on 13 April, but he will feel he has a point to prove.

Full Chelsea fixture list

BBC Sport's Owen Phillips: "Could this finally be the time for Fernando Torres to shine? Didier Drogba's exit and Romelu Lukaku's loan move suggest manager Roberto Di Matteo thinks so. The Italian has been rewarded with the permanent job after last season's Champions League success, but the pressure is on to deliver the Premier League title after a dismal league showing.

"Pre-season results have not been great and tweaking Chelsea's tried-and-trusted Drogba model could well take time, despite a talented attacking midfield trio. How new recruits Oscar and Eden Hazard will fit alongside Juan Mata remains to be seen but all could be accommodated if Torres plays alone up front.

"The Londoners look impressive at the back, despite no recognised right-back, and Frank Lampard's steadying influence and the boundless energy of Ramires is a good midfield platform. Finding a system to supply Torres and gaining early confidence from their new style of play will be key to Chelsea's chances."

EVERTON

Everton

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 7th

FA Cup: Semi-finals

Carling Cup: Fourth round

Players in: Steven Pienaar (Tottenham) £4.5m, Steven Naismith (Rangers) Free.

Players out: Jack Rodwell (Man City) £12m, Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls) £1m*, Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce) £2m*, Joao Silva  (Levski Sofia) Undisclosed, Aristote Nsiala  (Accrington) Free, Adam Forshaw (Brentford) Free, Connor Roberts (Cheltenham) Free, James Wallace (Tranmere) Free*, Marcus Hahnemann (Released), James McFadden (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • David Moyes will hope his side do not go into May in desperate need of points as they face trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as hosting West Ham.
  • Their home game against city rivals Liverpool will be on 27 October.

Full Everton fixture list

BBC Radio Merseyside's Ian Kennedy: "David Moyes deserves great credit again for keeping Everton in the higher reaches of the table last season. Finishing above Liverpool will not have gone unnoticed either.

"Everton again finished the season very well and the aim now will be to start the season in a positive fashion, to give them a platform from January onwards. If they can do that, they should be able to maintain their presence in the battle for European places.

"In Nikica Jelavic, they have found a striker of instinctive quality and a player who could turn a draw into a victory.

"He will now be joined by Steven Naismith, his former strike partner at Rangers, and that can only help.

"The signing of Steven Pienaar on a permanent basis is also crucial and I can see Everton having another solid campaign, with perhaps a cup run thrown in too."

FULHAM

Fulham

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 9th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Third round

Europa League: Group stages

Players in: George Williams (MK Dons) Undisclosed, Mladen Petric (Hamburg) Free, Hugo Rodallega (Wigan) Free, Sascha Riether (Cologne) Loan.

Players out: Marcel Gecov  (Gent) Undisclosed, Richard Barroilhet  (RKC Waalwijk) Free, Dickson Etuhu (Blackburn) Free, Andrew Johnson (QPR) Free, Danny Murphy (Blackburn) Free, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) Free, Bjorn Helge Riise  (Lillestrom) Free, Orlando Sa  (AEL Limassol) Free.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Consecutive games against Chelsea (a), Tottenham (h) and Newcastle (h) at the end of November and start of December could prove difficult for Martin Jol's side.

Full Fulham fixture list

BBC Sport's John Stanton: "The loss of influential captain Danny Murphy to Blackburn leaves a creative hole in Fulham's midfield, but the futures of key attacking duo Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele are the issues most concerning the club's supporters.

"Both players have been consistently linked with moves away from Craven Cottage and the west London side's ambitions for the season ahead may depend on whether they remain beyond the end of the summer transfer window.

"Manager Martin Jol enjoyed an encouraging first season at Fulham and, having been given the remit of injecting youth into an ageing squad, has set about doing exactly that in pre-season. The development of exciting wingers Kerim Frei, Alex Kaciniklic and Mesca will add vibrancy, while new signing Mladen Petric has been a prolific scorer in pre-season for a team in transition after several years with a settled, largely unchanged squad."

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 8th

FA Cup: Runners-up

Carling Cup: Winners

Players in: Joe Allen (Swansea) £15m*, Fabio Borini (Roma) £11m*.

Players out: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina) £5.5m*, Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce) £1m*, David Amoo (Preston) Free, Fabio Aurelio  (Gremio) Free, Craig Bellamy (Cardiff) Free, Stephen Darby (Bradford) Free, Joe Rafferty (Rochdale) Free, Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys) Free*, Henoc Mukendi (Northampton) Loan, Toni Silva (Barnsley) Free.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Three of the first five games are against fellow European contenders Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, although all three matches are at Anfield. Conversely, this means they face three tough away trips in as many weeks in the new year.
  • New manager Brendan Rodgers returns to his former club Swansea on 24 November, with the home game on 23 February.

Full Liverpool fixture list

BBC Radio Merseyside's Ian Kennedy: "Liverpool's aim this season will be to make a big improvement in their league form and they will be targeting a return to the top four.

"The cup runs were encouraging last season, but the priority will always be the league.

"We will have to wait and see how Liverpool's style and approach develops under new boss Brendan Rodgers and, while the future of a few top players remains unclear, it will be interesting to see how the Fabio Borini-Luis Suarez partnership works out.

"Rodgers brought fluent football to Swansea. If he brings that dimension to Liverpool, coupled with an ability to convert chances (and avoid the woodwork), there's no reason why Liverpool should not be competitive, although more and more teams will be vying for those European places."

MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 1st Your guide to the new Premier League season

FA Cup: Third round

Carling Cup: Semi-finals

Europa League: Last 16

Players in: Jack Rodwell (Everton) £12m.

Players out: Greg Cunningham (Bristol City) Undisclosed, Gai Assulin   (Racing Santander) Free, Ahmad Benali  (Brescia) Free, Andrea Mancini  (Real Valladolid) Free, Wayne Bridge (Brighton) Loan, Omar Elabdellaoui (Feyenoord) Loan, Owen Hargreaves (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Games against Manchester United are always City's most anticipated fixtures, even more so now the pair are title rivals. They host the Red Devils on 8 December and visit Old Trafford on 6 April.
  • If City are topping the table after their game with Tottenham (a) on 20 April, they will fancy their chances of winning the title as they end the season against West Ham (h), Swansea (a), Reading (a) and Norwich (h).

Full Manchester City fixture list

BBC Radio Manchester's Ian Cheeseman: "How do you top the dream season?

"That's what City have to do, but if the Blues are to grow into a European super-power, they have to repeat the feat and make it to the latter stages of the Champions League.

"They've proven how strong their squad is and with Carlos Tevez back fully focused, it's like signing a new world-class player.

"If City sign a couple before the transfer deadline to strengthen their defensive and midfield options, they'll be hard to bet against this season, unless they think it'll be easier this season than last.

"I get the impression that the playing staff are very together at City, so I expect them to be strong contenders for the title."

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 2nd

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Quarter-finals

Champions League: Group stages

Europa League: Last 16

Players in: Robin van Persie (Arsenal) £22.5m*, Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) £12m*, Nick Powell (Crewe) £3m*.

Players out: Park Ji-sung (QPR) £2m, Ritchie De Laet and Matthew James (Leicester) £2m*, Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton) Free, Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield) Free, Paul Pogba (Juventus) Free, Ben Amos (Hull) Loan, Reece Brown (Coventry) Loan, John Cofie (Sheffield United) Loan, Fabio Da Silva (QPR) Loan, Sean McGinty (Oxford) Loan, Michael Owen (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Games against Manchester City have taken on extra importance now the pair are title rivals. They visit the Etihad Stadium on 8 December and host City on 6 April.
  • A trip to Arsenal and a home clash with Chelsea in the last four games could decide their title bid.

Full Manchester United fixture list

BBC Radio Manchester's Bill Rice: "Manchester United ended the season without a major trophy for the first time since 2005, but they only missed out on the Premier League title on goal difference to rivals Manchester City.

"With inspirational captain Nemanja Vidic back from injury, they will hope to go one better this season and pick up a record 20th league crown.

"New signing Shinji Kagawa, signed from Borussia Dortmund for £17m, will add guile, craft and an extra goal threat from midfield, while Tom Cleverley and Anderson will hope to avoid the injuries that have plagued their Old Trafford careers so far.

"The onus as always, though, is on Wayne Rooney to lead by example. United's talismanic striker will be expected to score the goals to lead them back to the top of the Premier League table and into the knockout stages of the Champions League."

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Newcastle United

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 5th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Fourth round

Players in: Vurnon Anita (Ajax) £6.7m*, Gael Bigirimana (Coventry) £1m*, Curtis Good (Melbourne Heart) £400,000*, Romain Amalfitano (Stade de Reims) Free.

Players out: Leon Best (Blackburn) £3m, Fraser Forster (Celtic) £2m*, Danny Guthrie (Reading) Free, Michael Hoganson (Derby) Free, Tamas Kadar   (Roda JC) Free, Peter Lovenkrands (Birmingham) Free, Alan Smith (MK Dons) Free, Daniel Taylor (Oldham) Free.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Newcastle face a difficult Christmas period, with a trip to Manchester United on 26 December and Arsenal two days later.
  • Derbies against Sunderland are on 21 October, at the Stadium of Light, and 13 April at St James' Park.

Full Newcastle United fixture list

BBC Sport's Rahul Shrivastava: "Newcastle were the surprise package of the Premier League last season, and if Senegal striker Papiss Cisse can repeat his devastating form that saw him score 13 goals in 14 games since his January move from German side Freiburg, the Magpies will again have an outside chance of impacting on the European places.

"Manager Alan Pardew will be a relieved man that he begins the season with his key players intact and unsold, and he will also be able to call upon defender Steven Taylor and French winger Sylvain Marveaux, both of whom missed the majority of last season through injury.

"However, the size of the squad remains a concern, with only a handful of promising youngsters added to the first team so far this summer. Long-term injuries to blue-chip players such as Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini or Cheick Tiote could see last year's startling progress grind to a mid-table halt."

NORWICH CITY

Norwich City

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 12th

FA Cup: Fifth round

Carling Cup: Second round

Players in: Robert Snodgrass (Leeds) £3m*, Michael Turner (Sunderland) £1.5m, Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley) Over £1m*, Steven Whittaker (Rangers) Free.

Players out: Andrew Crofts (Brighton) Undisclosed, Matt Ball   (Stevenage) Free, Josh Dawkin (Braintree) Free, Adam Drury (Leeds) Free, Zak Whitbread (Leicester) Free, Aaron Wilbraham (Crystal Palace) Free, Daniel Ayala (Nottingham Forest) Loan.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Norwich will visit Paul Lambert's Aston Villa on 28 October, with his return to Carrow Road on 4 May.
  • A spell of three home games in four near the end of the season could be crucial in their survival bid, although they end away to Manchester City.

Full Norwich City fixture list

BBC Radio Norfolk's Rob Butler: "It's hard to predict how the loss of Paul Lambert to Aston Villa will affect Norwich. Chris Hughton is the new man at the helm and he was backed as the number one choice by the City faithful. His first task is to plug a leaky defence which was the only minor blemish on a superb 12th-placed finish in last season's Premier League.

"The other big news this summer is the club holding on to talismanic club captain and top scorer Grant Holt. England hopeful Holt handed in a transfer request at the end of last season and reportedly attracted interested from Premier League new boys West Ham. Holt had a change of heart and signed a new three-year deal.

"Survival is again the main objective for the Canaries but fans would welcome a run to Wembley with Hughton."

QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Queens Park Rangers

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 17th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Second round

Players in: Samba Diakite (Nancy) £3.5m*, Park Ji-sung (Manchester United) £2m, Junior Hoilett (Blackburn) Fee yet to be decided, Robert Green (West Ham) Free, Andrew Johnson (Fulham) Free, Ryan Nelsen (Tottenham) Free, Fabio Da Silva (Manchester United) Loan.

Players out: Paddy Kenny (Leeds) Undisclosed Fitz Hall (Watford) Free, Heidar Helguson (Cardiff) Free, Paddy Kenny (Leeds) Free, Peter Ramage (Crystal Palace) Free, Danny Shittu (Millwall) Free, Rowan Vine (St Johnstone) Free, Akos Buzsaky (released), Danny Gabbidon (released), Gary Borrowdale (released), Lee Cook (released), Bruno Perone (released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • A tough end of the season, Arsenal (h), Newcastle (h) and Liverpool (a), means that QPR will hope to have their season sewn up by then.
  • Barton will be back from his 12-game ban for his fracas against Manchester City by the time they host the champions on 29 January.

Full QPR fixture list

BBC London 94.9's Andrew Rowley: "Having survived by the skin of their teeth in May, QPR have been quick to set about making sure they are not in the same predicament this time around.

"Mark Hughes strengthened in the second half of last season with the signings of Bobby Zamora, Djibril Cisse and Nedum Onouha and has brought in more experience with the arrivals of Robert Green, Ryan Nelsen, Park Ji-sung and Andrew Johnson.

"Green will be a straight swap for the departing Paddy Kenny while it will be interesting to see what Park can offer. Hughes won the dash to sign Junior Hoilett and the 22-year-old should add a cutting edge that was missing last season. Brazilian full-back Fabio da Silva joins on loan from Manchester United to strengthen a defence that leaked 66 goals last season."

"The club could also improve their discipline - six red cards in the last 15 games is a woeful return."

READING

Reading

2011-2012 season

Championship: 1st

FA Cup: Third round

Carling Cup: First round

Players in: Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest) £2.3m*, Adrian Mariappa (Watford) £1m*, Pierce Sweeney  (Bray) Undisclosed, Danny Guthrie (Newcastle) Free, Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest) Free, Nicky Shorey (West Brom) Free, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham) Free.

Players out: Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday) £700,000*, Mathieu Manset   (Sion) Undisclosed, Tomasz Cywka (Barnsley) Free, Michael Hector (Shrewsbury) Loan, Angus MacDonald (AFC Wimbledon) Loan, Joseph Mills (Burnley) Loan, Karl Sheppard (Accrington) Loan, Gozie Ugwu (Yeovil) Loan.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Reading's second game back in the Premier League is away to European champions Chelsea.
  • Home games against Swansea and West Ham over Christmas (26 and 29 December) could boost their hopes of avoiding the drop.

Full Reading fixture list

BBC Radio Berkshire's former Royals captain Adrian Williams: "After being crowned champions of the Championship, Reading are back in the big time. Brian McDermott has strengthened his squad by bringing six new faces to the Madejski Stadium, one of them already a Royals legend, Nicky Shorey.

"He'll have his work cut for the left-back spot as Ian Harte will be in no mood to roll over. Big things are expected from the Russian international Pavel Pogrebnyak, who will be hoping to impress the home crowd with a feast of goals, but fellow striker Jason Roberts could be the one to watch - he'll be looking to carry on where he left off last season.

"Sir John Madejski has sold 51% of the football club to Anton Zingarevich and Madejski has told the Reading fans the club is in safe hands. You mention safe hands at the Mad Stad and the first name that pops up is Adam Federici. A lot will depend on the Australian shot-stopper this season; most neutrals expect him to be busy."

SOUTHAMPTON

Southampton

2011-2012 season

Championship: 2nd

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Fourth round

Players in: Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) £7m*, Steven Davis (Rangers) £800,000*, Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed, Paulo Gazzaniga (Gillingham) Undisclosed.

Players out: Dan Harding (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed, Bartosz Bialkowski (Notts County) Free, Harlee Dean (Brentford) Free, Ryan Doble (Shrewsbury) Free, Lee Holmes (Preston) Free, Tommy Forecast (Gillingham) Loan.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • They face a tough start to life back in the Premier League - they open away to Manchester City and, after a home game with Wigan, they host Manchester United on 2 September.
  • Southampton's end-of-season run-in is relatively straightforward, with their last seven games including matches with Reading (a), West Ham (h), Swansea (a), West Brom (h), Sunderland (a) and Stoke (h).

Full Southampton fixture list

BBC Radio Solent's Adam Blackmore: "Saints head back into the Premier League after a seven-year absence with momentum on their side.

"Two promotions in two seasons under Nigel Adkins have provided that, along with an excellent team spirit and considerable backing from executive chairman Nicola Cortese.

"That backing has continued this summer with progressive signings in the likes of Jay Rodriguez and Steven Davis, and the club are giving themselves a platform on and off the pitch for the long term.

"Their ambitions for this season are beyond mere survival and whilst some pundits have them pencilled in for going straight back down, I just don't see that happening."

STOKE CITY

Stoke City

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 14th

FA Cup: Sixth round

Carling Cup: Fourth round

Europa League: Last 32

Players in: Michael Kightly (Wolves) Undisclosed, Jamie Ness (Rangers) Free.

Players out: Danny Collins (Nottingham Forest) £500,000*, Ryan Brunt (Leyton Orient) Free, Andrew Davies (Bradford) Free, Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough) Free, Florent Cuvelier (Walsall) Loan, Matthew Lund (Bristol Rovers) Loan.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Stoke face a tough Christmas period, with games against Tottenham (a), Liverpool (h), Manchester City (a) and Chelsea (h) in the space of three weeks.
  • City have a relatively straightforward run-in, facing QPR (a), Norwich (h), Sunderland (a), Tottenham (h) and Southampton (a) in their last five games.

Full Stoke City fixture list

BBC Radio Stoke's Matt Sandoz: "Stoke's second half of the season fizzled out after their European exploits and the Potters finished with their lowest points tally and in their lowest position since promotion to the Premier League in 2008.

"Couple that with the very little business they've done this summer and fans are concerned Stoke will be dragged into a relegation battle.

"Fears will increase if Tony Pulis struggles to pick up early points during his opening seven fixtures. First up is a tricky trip to newly promoted Reading followed by Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in five of their next six games.

"The way Stoke have approached pre-season suggests they're not likely to change the direct way they play and home form will again be crucial to their survival."

SUNDERLAND

Sunderland

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 13th

FA Cup: Sixth round

Carling Cup: Second round

Players in: Carlos Cuellar (Aston Villa) Free.

Players out: Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ain) £4m*, Michael Liddle (Accrington) Undisclosed, George McCartney (West Ham) Undisclosed, Michael Turner (Norwich) Undisclosed, Marcos Angeleri  (Estudiantes) Free, Trevor Carson (Bury) Free, Jordan Cook (Charlton) Free.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Derbies against Newcastle are on 21 October, at the Stadium of Light, and 13 April at St James' Park.
  • Sunderland face a tough festive period, with home games against Manchester City and Tottenham (26 and 29 December) followed by a trip to Liverpool on New Year's Day.

Full Sunderland fixture list

BBC Radio Newcastle's Nick Barnes: "The lack of much activity in the transfer market will unquestionably worry Sunderland fans so close to the start of the new season, but Martin O'Neill knows he has inherited a solid squad of players.

"The continuing weakness remains their lack of striking options and pre-season has again highlighted the lack of a viable front line.

"Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-Won and Fraizer Campbell still appear not to be the answer and Stephane Sessegnon is crying out for a strike partner.

"It's worrying that Sunderland only won two of their last 13 matches last season and the statisticians will show you that form from the previous season is carried into the next.

"Steve Bruce was sacked after a run at the start of last season that saw him win only two from 13. A good start is paramount if signings fail to materialise. Nonetheless, O'Neill is a proven manager and I believe Sunderland will build on last season's mid-table finish."

SWANSEA

Swansea City

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 11th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Second round

Players in: Jose Manuel Flores (Genoa) £2m, Michu (Rayo Vallecano) £2m, Jonathan de Guzman (Villarreal) Loan.

Players out: Joe Allen (Liverpool) £15m*, Ferrie Bodde (Released), Scott Donnelly (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • New boss Rodgers returns to former club Swansea on 24 November, with the home game on 23 February.
  • Will hope not to be in relegation trouble in late April as their last four games include matches with possible title contenders Chelsea (a), Manchester City (h) and Manchester United (a).

Full Swansea fixture list

BBC Wales' Simon Davies: "Swansea City begin the campaign with a new manager but it says a lot about their progress that their latest boss was once one of the world's greatest players.

"But Michael Laudrup has a tough act to follow. His predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, did such a good job that he's made the move to Liverpool and has brought midfielder Joe Allen with him. Icelandic loanee Gylfi Sigurdsson has chosen Tottenham for the new campaign and his absence will be missed after seven goals in 18 games.

"Midfielders Michu and Jonathan de Guzman may be Premier League new boys but have La Liga experience, so too defender Chico Flores.

"Replicating the 11th place of last season will be tough as Brendan Rodgers was such an inspirational figure for them, but who says change is a bad thing?"

TOTTENHAM

Tottenham Hotspur

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 4th

FA Cup: Semi-final

Carling Cup: Third round

Europa League: Group stages

Players in: Jan Vertonghen (Ajax) £9.5m*, Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim) £8m*.

Players out: Ledley King (retired), Niko Kranjcar (Dynamo Kiev) £5.75m*, Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow) £5.5m*, Steven Pienaar (Everton) £4.5m, Lee Angol (Wycombe) Undisclosed, Ben Alnwick (Barnsley) Free, Oscar Jansson  (Shamrock Rovers) Free, Ryan Nelsen (QPR) Free, Kudus Oyenuga  (Hayes & Yeading) Free, Ryan Fredericks (Brentford) Loan, Bongani Khumalo (PAOK) Loan, Massimo Luongo (Ipswich) Loan, Louis Saha  (released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Villas-Boas says he is not out for revenge when his new side host Chelsea on 20 October and then visit Stamford Bridge on 13 April, but he will feel he has a point to prove.
  • Derbies against Arsenal are on Saturday, 17 November (a) and Sunday, 3 March (h).

Full Tottenham fixture list

BBC Sport's Jamie Lillywhite: "All change at the Lane this summer, a new regime and a new kit manufacturer. There will be great interest to see what Andre Villas-Boas has learned from his traumatic tenure at Chelsea and whether he can improve on Harry Redknapp's two fourth-placed finishes in three seasons.

"There is no shortage of quality but the future of Luka Modric remains unresolved and Emmanuel Adebayor has failed to agree a permanent move. The retirement of skipper Ledley King is a blow but, in truth, injury had caught up with the fans' favourite and they will hope the imposing Belgian Jan Vertonghen forms a strong defensive partnership with fit-again Michael Dawson while midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson may prove another shrewd acquisition.

"The January transfer window was less than inspiring for Spurs fans this year (thirtysomethings Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen were not the additions they wanted), but chairman Daniel Levy could yet unveil a big name before the 31 August transfer deadline."

WEST BROM

West Bromwich Albion

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 10th

FA Cup: Fourth round

Carling Cup: Third round

Players in: Ben Foster (Birmingham) £3.5m*, Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen) Free, Claudio Yacob (Racing Club) Free, Yassine El Ghanassy (Gent) Loan, Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea) Loan.

Players out: Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed, Keith Andrews (Bolton) Free, Paul Downing (Walsall) Free, Lateef Elford-Alliyu (Bury) Free, Marton Fulop  (Asteras Tripolis) Free, Joe Mattock (Sheffield Wednesday) Free, Nicky Shorey (Reading) Free, Somen Tchoyi  (Released).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Clarke starts his managerial career at home to Liverpool, the club where he was assistant manager last season.
  • Face rivals Aston Villa away on 30 September and at home on 19 January.

Full West Brom fixture list

BBC journalist David Green: "The 2011-12 season was a fantastic time to be an Albion supporter.

"A string of away victories, including thumping bitter rivals Wolves 5-1, helped Roy Hodgson disguise a disappointing home record and secure a second consecutive mid-table finish.

"However, as fans basked in the joy of being the Midlands' highest-placed club, the suspicion lingered that it could prove to be the club's Premier League high-water mark.

"It remains to be seen whether the squad is as strong as it appears or if the departed Hodgson's nous helped it punch above its weight.

"In Ben Foster the club has a world-class goalkeeper while Argentine midfielder Claudio Yacob and Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku appear excellent signings.

"Much will depend on how new head coach Steve Clarke handles his first job as a boss.

"Fans will hope for a cup run and top-10 finish but if things get off to a bad start, Clarke could find it hard to deal with increased expectations."

WEST HAM

West Ham

2011-2012 season

Championship: Play-off winners

FA Cup: Third round

Carling Cup: First round

Players in: Modibo Maiga (Sochaux) £4.7m, James Collins (Aston Villa) £2.5m, Alou Diarra (Marseille) £2m*, George McCartney (Sunderland) Undisclosed, Raphael Spiegel  (Grasshoppers) Undisclosed, Mohamed Diame (Wigan) Free, Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth) Undisclosed, Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton) Free.

Players out: Sam Cowler (Barnet) Undisclosed, Jordan Brown (Barnet) Free, Julien Faubert  (Elazıgspor) Free, Abdoulaye Faye (Hull) Free, Robert Green (QPR) Free, Frank Nouble (Wolves) Free, Freddie Sears (Colchester) Free, Marek Stech (Yeovil) Free, Ravel Morrison (Birmingham) Loan, Pablo Barrera  (Undisclosed).

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Face a tricky spell at the end of November and start of December, against Tottenham (a), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (h) and Liverpool (h).
  • Final game of the season is at home to Reading, who pipped them to automatic promotion last year before the Hammers won the play-offs.

Full West Ham fixture list

BBC Sport's Frank Keogh: "The club enter an important period on and off the pitch as they seek to retain Premier League status and secure a move to the Olympic Stadium.

"A vocal section of Upton Park fans questioned manager Sam Allardyce's style of football last season, chanting 'we play on the floor', but appeared more forgiving as promotion was attained via the play-offs.

"Allardyce has the opportunity to start well, with West Ham's first six fixtures against teams who finished outside the top eight in last season's Premier League.

"The Hammers have been relegated from the top flight twice in the last decade and supporters will hope signings such as ball-winning midfielder Mohamed Diame from Wigan provide stability.

"In attack, much will be expected of Mali forward Modibo Maiga, particularly after West Ham missed out on an ambitious move for Andy Carroll, while the loss of goalkeeper Robert Green to QPR is a significant one."

WIGAN

Wigan Athletic

2011-2012 season

Premier League: 15th

FA Cup: Third round

Carling Cup: Second round

Players in: Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca) £4m*, Fraser Fyvie (Aberdeen) £500,000*, Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal) Loan, Arouna Kone (Levante) Undisclosed.

Players out: Mohamed Diame (West Ham) Free, Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wednesday) Free, Hugo Rodallega (Fulham) Free, Lee Nicholls (Northampton) Loan, Ryan Watson (Accrington) Loan.

Summer so far:

Key fixtures:

  • Wigan boss Roberto Martinez will want to show Liverpool what they are missing after holding interviews with the Reds in the summer and will get his chance at Anfield on 17 November and at home on 2 March.
  • Their final game of the season is against Aston Villa, another side Martinez spoke to in the summer.

Full Wigan fixture list

BBC Radio Manchester's Paul Rowley: "The Wigan Athletic fairytale continues as the only team never to have been relegated from football's top flight begin their eighth season in the Premier League.

"It's an astonishing achievement for a club that were still in the fourth tier only 15 years ago.

"The Latics will be hoping to begin next term as they ended the last, avoiding relegation yet again with seven wins in their last nine games, including historic victories against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, while thumping Newcastle United 4-0 for good measure.

"Hugo Rodallega and Mohammed Diame have moved to Fulham and West Ham respectively, while Victor Moses has been the subject of repeated bids by Chelsea.

"Despite approaches by Liverpool and Aston Villa, manager Roberto Martinez is starting his fourth year in charge, taking fellow Spaniard Ivan Ramis from Real Mallorca and again venturing into the largely untapped Scottish market to bring in 19-year-old Fraser Fyvie from Aberdeen."