Just 76 days on from when Manchester City pipped Liverpool to the title on a nervous final afternoon, Crystal Palace and Arsenal will get the new Premier League campaign underway on Friday night.

With the global football calendar upended in order to accommodate a winter World Cup, it's been a relatively short break for the Premier League clubs since the curtain came down on last season but nonetheless there has been plenty of change.

So how do the 20 clubs shape up for the 124th season of the old Division One? Here's the first half of those aspirants.


It might not have felt like it towards the end but last season was progress of sorts for Arsenal. Lumped into the Big Six by dint of status and history, consecutive eighth place finishes had dented that level of self-regard.

But after recovering from a horrendous start which had left manager Mikel Arteta under severe pressure, a campaign free from European football for the first time in 26 years yielded a more sustained effort in the league and for a time it looked like a surprise return to the Champions League was on the cards.

But a poor end to the season, compounded by a punishing north London derby defeat, saw bitter rivals Tottenham beat them to a place in the top four as they had to content themselves with, what at the start of the season, would have been a decent fifth place finish.

Jesus and Zinchenko's arrivals from Man City have bolstered Arteta's hand

Major changes: With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette departing the club within six months of each other, a new focal point was needed and Mikel Arteta knew who he wanted to fill the void up front.

Having previously been on the Manchester City coaching staff prior to taking the Arsenal job, Arteta had worked with Gabriel Jesus closely and from the evidence of pre-season, his work-rate, willingness to press and nose for goal has been giving a much-needed spark to the Gunners attack.

Adding another former City player in the shape of Ukraine captain Oleksandr Zinchenko brings in more experience, class and verstality to what was a relatively tight squad last season. Preferring a role in midfield where Granit Xhaka was a more awkward fit in the left number eight role, Zinchenko will also be able to fill in more than adequately at left-back if the injury-prone but impressive Kieran Tierney is unavailable. Hence, the decision to loan out the athletic but defensively callow Nuno Tavares to Marseille.

France international William Saliba offers another decent option at centre-back after loan spells in his homeland. They have also been constantly linked with Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans although that may require trimming the squad of fringe players.

There is also a new captain with Martin Odegaard filling a role that has been rocked by instability for long periods since Patrick Vieira vacated 17 years ago.

They'll be targetting a top four place, pure and simple. They fell short last season but will be buoyed by bolstering the spine of a young squad filled with precocious talents led by Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and the third Gabriel in the team, Martinelli, who will all be hoping to develop further after making steps forward individually.


Steven Gerrard took charge at Villa Park on 11 November and since then his league record has read 10 wins, five draws and 12 defeats.

But this season will be the first full campaign for the Liverpool legend to instil the type of ideas that worked during his spell at Rangers and perhaps propel Aston Villa to where they feel they naturally should be: a top 10 club with potentially more lofty ambitions.

Gerrard will hope his former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho can give Villa more impetus

A 14th place finish like last season won't be viewed as acceptable by the manager or those above him but Villa should have enough within their squad to have the compass needle pointing upwards.

Major changes: On paper the changes are more evolutionary given that permanent arrival Phillipe Coutinho spent the second half of last season on loan at Villa Park from Barcelona. Lucas Digne and Calum Chambers' additions to the back-line were also made in January but there have been significant incomings this summer with defenders Diego Carlos and Ludwig Augustinsson (loan) from Sevilla and another defensive minded player in Boubacar Kamara coming to strengthen the base of the midfield from Marseille.

Ireland's Conor Hourihane, whose mostly been on loan from the club in recent times, has left permanently for League One Derby but the more high-profile exit is Matt Targett, who like Coutinho in the opposite direction, leaving for Newcastle permanently after a half-season on loan. Academy prospect Carney Chukwuemeka is also moving to Chelsea in a £20m deal.

Villa are another club with a new captain with the industrious John McGinn replacing England centre-back Tyrone Mings.

They'll be targetting making a more concerted effort for the top 10 and they will need Coutinho to deliver the goods and for more incision from Ollie Watkins, who is a double figures goal-scorer, but not close to the 20-goal a season mark at the highest level.


Mark Travers will be one to watch

Guided back into the Premier League by Scott Parker after relegation two years ago, there is Irish interest when it comes to the Cherries given that Ireland international Mark Travers will be the number one goalkeeper after excelling last season.

Major changes: From an Irish point-of-view, Ireland U21 midfielder Gavin Kilkenny has left on loan for Stoke while Robbie Brady has also moved on to the Championship with Preston.

But it's been a modest transfer window to say the least in both directions. The biggest spend has been on left midfielder Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough for just shy of £12m, along with the free transfer arrivals of Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell from West Ham and Blackburn respectively.

They'll be targetting survival as a newly promoted club. There is some quality in the squad, including a significant clutch of players who were in the top flight last time Bournemouth were there.

But whether Dominic Solanke can replicate his 29-goal showing from last season in the Premier League where he previously underwhelmed, will likely be crucial to their hopes.

Young manager Parker though has voiced concerns about whether they have enough to be competitive based on their lack of strengthening, saying: "It's clear that we are lacking in a lot of areas. That's just very clear." The fate of Norwich last season, who also didn't reinforce significantly will be a cautionary tale, although too many changes can also spoil the broth.


Survival with a bit to spare last season constitutes success for a club like Brentford. The west Londoners signalled their intent by beating Arsenal on the opening day.

As often happens to newly promoted clubs, the Bees lost their sting midway through the season, including a run of nine defeats in 11 during the winter months but spurred on by Christian Eriksen's arrival, Thomas Frank's side finished strongly to end up 13th and well clear of the drop zone.

Major changes: The aforementioned Eriksen has chosen to join Manchester United after his fruitful short-term deal at Brentford. That's a blow but they have been busy in the market, adding experience in the shape of former Burnley captain Ben Mee and potential with Scotland defender Aaron Hickey and ex-Hull winger Keane Lewis-Potter who scored 12 goals in the Championship last season.

They'll be targetting avoiding second season syndrome which can often befall clubs that impress at the first attempt.

Apart from Eriksen's exit and the aforementioned arrivals, the squad remains relatively stable with the goal threat still provided by Ivan Toney who hit double figures last season. More guile may be needed though before the window closes to fill the void left by Eriksen.

Brighton and Brentford can be satisfied with last season but can they continue their progress?


A club record ninth place finish, including thrashing a beleagured Manchester United 4-0 in May, made for a memorable season and also added more gloss to Graham Potter's burgeoning reputation as a manager.

The wider squad offers plenty of Irish interest with Shane Duffy established in the first team, despite reduced game-time in the second half of last season, while ex-League of Ireland youngsters Evan Ferguson and Andrew Moran will hope for more opportunities.

Major changes: The vultures were always going to circle the Seagulls given how they soared last season. Tottenham swooped for midfield powerhouse Yves Bissouma and the hirsute left wing-back Marc Cucurella who was brilliant in 2022-23 is close to joining Chelsea. Aaron Connolly's departure was expected but Venezia as the destination was less so for the Galway man. But that will hopefully resurrect a career at the crossroads for the Irish talent. Jayson Molumby has also left permanently for West Brom where he had been on loan.

The main signings have been youngsters so far with Julio Enciso and Simon Adingra arriving for a combined €19m, although the latter has immediately been loaned out.

They'll be targetting continued consolidation with the club firmly established in the Premier League. But replicating last season's high of a top half finish will be a tough ask.


The Blues were a very distant 'best of the rest' behind the top two in an increasingly turbulent past campaign in which Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to a change in ownership after 19 years of Roman Abramovich's rule. The two domestic cups also saw Liverpool pip them in penalty shootouts at the final hurdle.

What the Todd Boehly-led ownership group era brings for Chelsea and their manager Thomas Tuchel will be intriguing over the medium-term after two decades of ruthlessness in the transfer market and on-field.

Major changes: Aside from the revolving door within the executive and administrative branches of the club, the squad has been altered with Romelu Lukaku returning to Inter Milan on loan after an underwhelming season by his previous Serie A standard.

Todd Boehly brings a fresh voice at the top of the club at Stamford Bridge

They have been shorn of frontline defenders as Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen headed for La Liga after their contracts expired. But Kalidou Koulibaly is a strong addition after excelling at Napoli over a long period of time and the club has also brought in Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for over €50m to aid with goals and creativity. Conor Gallagher is likely to be given an opportunity as an option in midfield after putting his name in lights while on loan at Crystal Palace.

More incomings are potentially on the cards including at left wing-back in the shape of Brighton's Cucurella with a deal close and there is less depth at centre-back now. Timo Werner has also been linked with a move away after failing to provide the cutting edge expected of him.

They will be targetting getting closer to the top two and challenging for the title. It's still a squad replete with talent but there a couple of areas of concern. A lack of focal point up front with Kai Havertz blowing hot and cold as the false nine is one and the ever dependable midfield dynamo N'golo Kante is increasingly picking up niggly injuries.


Patrick Vieira can be happy with his first season as a Premier League manager. Safely ensconsed in mid-table, the Eagles also went on a good run to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher playing key roles in a side that was more attack-minded than under Roy Hodgson's stable but stodgier running of the club.

Major changes: Gallagher returning to parent club Chelsea leaves a void in midfield and as ever there is always speculation about Zaha's future - his contract expires next summer - although it's a bit quieter on that latter front in the last few weeks after links with Jose Mourinho's AS Roma.

In terms of strengthening, Vieira has added to his area of expertise in central midfield with Mali international Cheick Doukoure signing from Lens and USA defender Chris Richards arriving from Bayern Munich for €12m.

Vieira's side enjoyed a solid 2021-22

Going the other way is Ireland U21 left back Tayo Adaramola who has joined Coventry City on loan after FA Cup appearances last season.

They'll be targetting upper mid-table after finishing 12th last season. Relegation shouldn't be a worry but whether losing Gallagher prevents them pushing higher than lower mid-table is a significant question mark while they will also need to address a weak point with defensive set-pieces.


Frank Lampard's doubters have been out in force with some pushing odds about him being the likeliest of the Premier League managers to be first out the door.

The Chelsea great will point to the part of his CV which says he just about kept Everton up last season after taking charge at the end of January.

But although he did keep the Toffees up, their results away from home under him were porous and almost perilous and trying to stabilise a club that has made poor recruitment decisions in the last few years is a challenge.

Major changes: Richarlison, who played such a key role in the successful survival battle, has packed his bags for Tottenham in a big-money move.

Calvert-Lewin missed a large chunk of last season before scoring a key goal in the run-in

The Merseysiders have turned to relegated Burnley to fill out areas of a squad that under-performed with James Tarkowski's free transfer bringing in a strong centre-back to a defence that was all over the place at times - the 5-0 loss to Spurs is an unforgettable case in point - and they will hope that the £20m spent on winger Dwight McNeil is money well spent at the creative end of things.

In the dugout, Duncan Ferguson has moved on after a long period as a coach at the club, including a couple of spells as caretaker manager.

They will be targetting being nowhere near the relegation battle this time and returning back to where they feel they should be although losing Richarlison without more forward power coming in is a worry. If Dominic Calvert-Lewin can stay fit and recapture the form of the 2020-21 season then that may solve some of the issues, while there will be hopes that Anthony Gordon can continue his ascent. Dele Alli's contribution was minimal in the fight for survival but Lampard will hope to coax some of the faded form out of him.


Something of a yo-yo club for the past few seasons, the Cottagers are back after winning last season's Championship under Marco Silva.

Target man Aleksandr Mitrovic will be confident after proving prolific at that level, scoring an outstanding 43 goals.

Major changes: The penultimate time Fulham got promoted, they went on a shopping spree that eventually led to the trolley tipping over and the contents spilling all over the tiles and trickling out of the Premier League. Last time they were in the top flight though, they were much more circumspect and made minimal changes to their bank balance - and still got relegated.

This summer, it's somewhere in the middle with Portugal international midfielder Joao Palhinha bought for €20m and more modest fees paid to bring in Andreas Perreira from Manchester United and internationals Kevin Mbabu and Bernd Leno.

Liverpool swooped for Fabio Carvalho who weighed in with 10 of their league goals last season and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa has made his move to Napoli permanent.

They'll be targetting survival like the other promoted clubs and they will hope that they can avoid their yo-yo pattern between the first and second tiers.

They will hope the new arrivals bed in but Mitrovic, who's prolific in the Championship and at international level, has yet to fire as freely at Premier League level and Fulham will need him to do so.


Marcelo Bielsa sides often have a habit of burning bright before fizzling out. During what was a largely excellent near-four-year spell in charge of Leeds, Bielsa bucked that trend a little in the sense that he stayed at a club longer than he usually does. Certainly longer than the two days he was in charge at Lazio.

Marsch just about kept Leeds in the Premier League as they look forward to a third season since returning

But amid a long injury list and perhaps a dose of second season syndrome, Leeds were struggling when the club decided to sack the Argentinian and bring in American Jesse Marsch who just about kept them above water at the expense of Burnley.

Major changes: Marsch's brief after arriving was simple: keep the club up and he duly delivered on that, albeit by the skin of their teeth.

Reconfiguring the squad has been a necessity given high profile departures. The 'Yorkshire Pirlo' Kalvin Phillips joined Manchester City for more than £40m and cash-strapped Barcelona pulled some financial levers as they beat a host of interested parties to land Raphinha for a fee in the region of €60m.

Whether Leeds have wisely reinvested will be interesting to see. Marsch, who has been part of the Red Bull stable at New York, Salzburg and Leipzig, has made the most of that connection.

US winger Brenden Aaronson and Danish defender Rasmus Kristensen have arrived from Salzburg, while another American in midfielder Tyler Adams comes from Leipzig with the brief of helping to fill some of the void left by Phillips, with ex-Spain U21 international Marc Roca potentially forming the other half of the central pairing after signing from Bayern Munich. Winger Luis Sinisterra, who impressed during Feyenoord's run to the Europa Conference League final, could provide the much-needed spark that has gone out the door with Raphinha.

They'll be targetting steering clear of the drop zone, much like Everton after last season's near miss. While losing Phillips and Raphinha in the same window is a blow, Patrick Bamford's return to fitness should bolster them if he can pick up where he left off and get back on the goal trail. Leeds should be more solid under Marsch but they will also need the new arrivals to gel quickly.

Listen to the RTÉ Soccer podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences