It’s Manchester City’s to lose as David Moyes is no Alex Ferguson yet but Tigers lack bite
It's here. Again. The 22nd Premier League season (or 115th top flight campaign if you refuse to accept football only started in 1992) kicks off this weekend.
Manchester United won the title in disappointingly underwhelming fashion last season, while Cardiff City, Hull City and Crystal Palace all earned promotion.
So, can United defend their crown? Can the promoted three stay up? Will Everton finish above Liverpool again? Will Joe Kinnear claim to be second coming?
City’s ability to turn a potentially-exciting title tussle into a dreary one-horse race meant the end for Roberto Mancini last season.
They have spent well to bolster their attack with Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo, although Carlos Tevez will be a bigger loss than they might think. Nevertheless, this is City’s championship to lose, despite new manager Manuel Pellegrini’s lack of Premier League experience.
Watch out for... whether Jesus Navas can conquer the homesickness that saw him once turn down a move to Chelsea
Try to avoid... reminding City they spent nearly £16m on Javi Garcia
Not sure whether you’ve heard, but Jose Mourinho is back at Chelsea.
While now the happy one rather than the special one, Mourinho will be driven by the desire to repair a reputation damaged at Real Madrid. Signing Wayne Rooney would be a coup, but Chelsea showed under Rafael Benitez they have room to improve on last season’s third-place finish.
Watch out for... the new, humble Mourinho evaporating the first time Chelsea lose
Try to avoid... the inevitable debate over whether Frank Lampard will sign another contract
It’s a fact of life that David Moyes won more trophies in his first game – the Community Shield – than in 11 years at Everton.
But as Moyes admitted, that was with Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. And if Chelsea’s pursuit of Rooney and the failure to sign Cesc Fabregas demonstrates one thing, it’s that Moyes doesn’t have the presence or command the same respect as his predecessor. Yet.
Watch out for... if Wilfried Zaha can deliver on his potential
Try to avoid... mentioning Ferguson to Moyes whenever United are beaten
Arsene Wenger informs us he has lots and lots of money to spend, but will he ever get round to spending any?
His seemingly doomed pursuit of Luis Suarez indicates the need for a new striker, but if they don’t splash the cash soon any success will be dependent on keeping Jack Wilshere fit. Unlikely, then.
Watch out for... Wenger not seeing anything
Try to avoid... asking Wenger to keep an eye on your valuables
With it a matter of when rather than if Gareth Bale leaves, Tottenham will soon have an awful lot of money.
However, not even new boys Roberto Soldado and Paulinho can fill the Bale-sized hole in a squad who last season grew increasingly dependent on the Welshman. Champions League? They’re having a laugh.
Watch out for... Daniel Levy trying to sell snow to Eskimos
Try to avoid... Daniel Levy trying to sell you anything
If Sam Allardyce was as successful a manager as he is at making people dislike him, he’d have won more honours than anyone.
However, there’s no denying Big (ie fat) Sam can get the most from a team, and with Andy Carroll on board permanently, the Hammers can knock a few more noses out of joint, especially at Upton Park.
Watch out for... Kenny Dalglish muttering ‘I told you so’ whenever Carroll converts a Stewart Downing cross
Try to avoid... The myriad headline puns on the name of new signing Razvan Rat
Swansea defied the odds – well, this newspaper’s prediction they’d finish 20th – last season by winning the Capital One Cup and finishing ninth, their highest position since 1982.
Michael Laudrup stayed put and spent his demanded transfer funds well, and another encouraging campaign awaits.
Watch out for... Jonjo Shelvey accruing the cards
Try to avoid... facing Swansea in the Europa League. They could go far in the competition
For a long time, it seemed Paul Lambert’s defection from Norwich City would result in relegation.
But six wins in their final 11 games turned the tide, and with Christian Benteke having stayed put, Villa will be slightly more relevant than last campaign. Only slightly, mind.
Watch out for... people still thinking Brad Guzan is Brad Friedel
Try to avoid... listening to the one and only song Villa fans have for away games
The Magpies flirted dangerously close to enlivening last season by being relegated until Wigan’s disappointing demise.
There’ll be no repeat this year, although Newcastle’s propensity to self-destruct means absolutely anything could happen. And probably will.
Listen out for... new director of football Joe Kinnear mispronouncing the names of his players
Try to avoid... reminding Kinnear things didn’t go so well during his first spell at Newcastle. He does like a swear word, does Joe
American businessman Shahid Khan may have spent a reputed £200m on buying the club this summer – why do Everton remain unsold? – but manager Martin Jol has done little business in the transfer window.
The reliance will be on Dimitar Berbatov to again provide the goals, class and forehead.
Watch out for... whether that embarrassing Michael Jackson statue is told to beat it
Try to avoid... loitering around said statue. The home fans really don’t like that
Nigel Adkins may have been harshly jettisoned in January, but new manager Mauricio Pochettino helped guide the Saints to safety.
Victor Wanyama could prove a masterstroke signing from Celtic, and Luke Shaw was one of the exciting finds of last season.
Watch out for... Pochettino speaking an intelligible word of English
Try to avoid... mentioning Vegard Forren
Cardiff fans may well be loathe to admit it, but their main ambition this season will be to ape the impact of Swansea and consolidate their top-flight position.
And they’ll do it, having signalled their intent by breaking their transfer record three times in signing Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel.
Watch out for... Malky Mackay being linked with every vacant managerial role
Try to avoid... reminding hardcore fans the team should really still be playing in blue
Chris Hughton is a really nice guy. Really nice. And his Norwich team are really nice to watch. Really nice.
However, they are sometimes really nice to play against. Hughton will look to sort that, and hope Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper gel up front.
Watch out for... Leroy Fer, the man Everton decided against signing
Try to avoid... Delia Smith when she’s had a few
Steve Clarke hit the ground running when taking on his first managerial role last summer, but one win in their final nine games suggests a difficult year ahead, particularly with Romelu Lukaku having ended his season-long loan spell.
Watch out for... whether a 49-year-old Nicolas Anelka can relive former glories
Try to avoid... Jonas Olsson, arguably the Premier League’s most odious performer
Losing goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for Vito Mannone doesn’t seem a fair exchange, and Paolo di Canio has his work cut out if the Black Cats are to avoid another relegation scrap, particularly if they are relying on powerful but erratic Jozy Altidore to score the goals.
Watch out for... di Canio. At all times
Try to avoid... the f-word around the Italian
The top flight was a poorer place without Ian Holloway last season.
He’s back, and so to are Palace, the perennial yo-yo club of the Premier League era. And with Zaha gone and a dodgy defence, they are likely to go straight back down.
Watch out for... the wit and wisdom of Holloway
Try to avoid... having to visit Selhurst Park – it’s a nightmare to get to
Stoke without Tony Pulis will seem like Bert without Ernie, Ant without Dec and John Terry without an excuse.
Mark Hughes is the man to step in, and given how well things went at Queens Park Rangers, expect a long, hard season ahead. And relegation.
Watch out for... whether Hughes chooses to replicate the trademark Pulis touchline elegance
Try to avoid... repeating the lazy cliche of wondering if any skillful footballer can hack it on a cold night at the Britannia. Like that’s going to stop Messi, Ronaldo et al
Hull are regarded by many observers as the worst team to ever win automatic promotion to the Premier League.
And who are we to argue? Changing their name to Hull City Tigers – as the intention of owners Assem and Ehab Allam – won’t help them avoid the inevitable.
Watch out for... nothing
Try to avoid... calling them Hull City Tigers. What’s that all about?!