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 has 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 second half of those aspirants.


LEICESTER CITY

Last season ended up being solid with an eighth-place finish in the league, while they also made a run to the Europa Conference League semi-finals as Brendan Rodgers and his side settled after winning the previous season's FA Cup and challenging for a top-four place.

Major changes: While the Foxes are a club transformed since that stunning Premier League title win six years ago, this summer has seen a tightening of the purse strings with outgoings needed in order to fund new signings.

It has been quiet on that front but the exits have started with captain and long-time goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel heading to the sunny climes of Nice in Ligue 1, with no replacement yet announced. Ademola Lookman has returned to RB Leipzig after his loan.

Rodgers will hope Maddison stays after contributing 18 goals from midfield in all competitions last season

Midfielder Youri Tielemans has been linked with Arsenal, in particular, as well as Manchester United all summer long, although no formal bid has been made, and now cash-rich Newcastle are sniffing around James Maddison, who finished last season in style.

They'll be targeting A top-half finish. The squad is strong overall with the likes of Harvey Barnes and Wesley Fofana in place but if one or both of Tielemans and Maddison do leave, they will obviously be weaker and will need reinforcements to load the ammunition for the talismanic but ageing Jamie Vardy.

Even if the duo stay, Rodgers isn't in a position where his squad is stronger than last season, rather they would be treading water.


LIVERPOOL

Right until May there was realistic talk of a quadruple haul of trophies arriving at Anfield. Liverpool came agonisingly close but had to make do with the two domestic cups while the league and Champions League just slipped from their grasp.

Despite that, Jurgen Klopp remains optimistic and is firmly established as the key figure at Liverpool for the long-term after signing a new contract that extends his stay to 2026.

Major changes: At one time, the Liverpool forward line was defined by the Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah triumvirate but the evolution which had started with Firmino slipping slowly down the pecking order has gathered pace with Mane leaving for Bayern Munich after a stellar Anfield career.

In his place comes Darwin Nunez, the Uruguay international who plundered 26 league goals for Benfica last season and starred in the Champions League. How he adapts in the long-term will be crucial but a goal in the Community Shield win over Manchester City last weekend bodes well if he can carry that into the real meat of the season. Fabio Carvalho's arrival from Fulham adds more depth in the attacking department, which will also include Diogo Jota when he returns from injury.

There will be pressure on Nunez (R) while Carvalho adds depth

Scottish right-back Calvin Ramsey's signing from Aberdeen also provides some cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Fringe players like Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Ben Davies, and Neco Williams have been moved on, with the last three of those delivering the club some value in the market.

They'll be targeting Trying to challenge for the major honours. With Klopp in charge and a largely settled squad bar the aforementioned transfer dealings, Liverpool are in a position to challenge Man City for the title again as well as battling for the Champions League.

The Reds will hope that Darwin's evolution is seamless and, from an Irish perspective, one would hope Caoimhin Kelleher has more opportunities than he has been sometimes afforded.


MANCHESTER CITY

Under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have become the dominant force at Premier League level, although Liverpool continue to provide the most ardent challenge to them, giving them a run for their abundant amounts of money right to the final minutes of May's nerve-wracking final day.

The downside for City was another failure to get their hands on the Champions League - it was Real Madrid's turn to deny them last season.

Major changes: The most obvious place to start is up front where Erling Haaland provides a literal number nine to a squad that won the league without a focal point for the most part.

The Norwegian needs little introduction and while he might have missed a sitter in the Community Shield, he is a generational talent and a force to be reckoned with. The only question is how an unapologetically direct player adapts to Pep's approach in the longer-term. Jack Grealish, another wildcard, found that balance tricky last season.

Argentina international Julian Alvarez, a January signing from River Plate, adds more depth to the forward position, while they were also keen on a left-back with strong interest in Brighton's Marc Cucurella before Chelsea made their move.

Haaland's goal to game ratio is outstanding wherever he has been

City already have a plethora of options and elite performers which made it comfortable for them to sell talents like Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal, and one of their key men of the most recent era, Raheem Sterling, to Chelsea.

Veteran Fernandinho has departed at the end of his contract but they have chosen to invest heavily in Kalvin Phillips from Leeds at the base of midfield to compete with Rodri, who shone last season.

They'll be targeting Another title win to make it five in six seasons. But of more importance to them will be that the tweaks to the squad quench the desperate desire for a Champions League.


MANCHESTER UNITED

In the best interests of the club's fans, it's probably better not to dwell too much on last season.

To put it mildly it was an unmitigated failure for a club of such global standing and when compared to the expectations when Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho signed last summer.

It cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job and short-term replacement Ralf Rangnick seemed exasperated by the end of his tenure.

Major changes: We'll start with changes that have happened because it's likely there are more to come between now and deadline day. The big change is at the top with former Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag tasked with what the line of predecessors since Alex Ferguson retired have failed to do - make United a title-winning force again.

Former England manager Steve McClaren has returned to the club as one of the assistant coaches, while ex-Blackburn Rovers and South Africa striker Benni McCarthy is another notable addition to the staff.

Paul Pogba's underwhelming second coming at United is over as he has left for Juventus and joining him in the departure lounge were Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Perreira, Alex Telles and Dean Henderson (both loan).

Man United have been getting used to Ten Hag's demands in pre-season

Confirmed arrivals are all players schooled in the Dutch system at one time or another. Tenacious defender Lisandro Martinez was part of Ten Hag's impressive Ajax squad and full-back Tyrell Malacia arrives from Feyenoord.

Another Ajax alumni, playmaker Christian Eriksen, arrives on a free transfer after marking his return to football after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 last summer with a fairytale six months at Brentford.

But the player Ten Hag has really wanted has proved elusive so far. The base of midfield is an area of weakness for United and the manager's former deep-lying playmaker Frenkie De Jong would have been an asset but he seems reluctant to leave Barcelona amid an impasse over deferred wages.

Then there is the Ronaldo situation and the speculation suggesting that the superstar wants to leave a year on from his much-vaunted return to Old Trafford. It's an untimely distraction at a time when Ten Hag is trying to instil some stability and build for the future.

They'll be targeting A return to the top four. But whether Man United are equipped to do that this season is a major question mark. The uncertainty over Ronaldo and others looms large but if the new manager can light a fuse under last season's under-performers - the majority of the squad in fairness - and get them pressing and probing as he wants them to then it could go some way to pushing United in the right direction. But it's a big if and questions will linger beyond transfer deadline day.


NEWCASTLE

Unlike the uncertainty at Old Trafford, there is a rare bout of optimism among the support at St James Park. That is largely to do with the controversial Saudi-backed takeover which has landed Newcastle with a fortune.

Trippier was among the astute early additions made under Howe

With some of those funds invested to strengthen what had been a threadbare squad and Eddie Howe at the helm after the end of Steve Bruce's difficult tenure, the second half of last season was impressive on the pitch and they just missed out on the top 10. Bruno Guimaraes was an impressive addition in midfield as was England full-back Kieran Trippier.

Major changes: The current approach in the transfer market has been patient and the focus has been on astute purchases rather than going after high-profile names.

Among those ushered in was long-time defensive target Sven Botman from Lille and former Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope looks set to be a solid number one. Matt Targett has also made his move from Aston Villa permanent.

The exits include Ireland duo Jeff Hendrick and Ciaran Clark on loan, as well as youngster Oisin McEntee.

But largely it's been more evolution than revolution at a club not usually associated with stability. However, the apparent attempts to pry James Maddison from Leicester suggest that they might be stepping up a gear to land more targets.

They'll be targeting A top-10 finish to build on last season and depending on the business they can do between now and 1 September, there is a possibility of contending for the 'best of the rest' outside the top six.

Allan Saint-Maximin will provide much of the flair but more strength in depth in attack may be needed with Callum Wilson's injury record and target man Chris Wood not hitting the ground running on the goalscoring front after his January arrival.


NOTTINGHAM FOREST

For those of us who often feel nostalgic for the 1990s and further back in time, it's good to see a name like Nottingham Forest back at a high level.

After 23 years away from the Premier League for a club that reached its zenith under Brian Clough in the late '70s, they made it via the Championship play-off final after a tense win over Huddersfield Town.

It owed much to the astute management of Steve Cooper, who guided Forest from the bottom reaches of the second tier to the top six and the promised land.

Major changes: Where do you start? Newly promoted clubs either overhaul significantly or prove parsimonious. Both approaches can be liable to success or failure.

Plenty of new faces but Steve Cooper remains the key figure

Forest have decided to sign a dozen players, the highest profile being Jesse Lingard on a one-year deal from Manchester United while Dean Henderson also arrives to replace Brice Samba in goal, with Wayne Hennessy providing further depth in the position.

The biggest outlays financially have been on striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin and ex-Liverpool full-back Neco Williams, while midfielder Orel Mangala has joined from Stuttgart for a reported €13m.

They'll be targeting Not going straight back to whence they came. Unlike Bournemouth, they have gambled on drafting in a host of new faces but whether that will have the desired impact is something we will only know when they get the season underway.


SOUTHAMPTON

Last season was a mixed bag for a club that finished quite meekly when safety was assured.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side lost all but three of their last 12 games of the Premier League campaign, winning just once to leave them 15th and a little too close to the relegation battle below them for comfort.

Major changes: The obvious from an Irish point of view is Gavin Bazunu getting the opportunity to show Premier League audiences what Ireland fans and regular watchers of League One know already: the former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper is a player of immense promise and maturity.

They have also signed Joe Aribo, who was a key figure in the Rangers midfield for the last three years, along with a clutch of young players to develop.

All eyes on Bazunu

The Saints have often been a selling club but other than Shane Long ending his eight-year spell to rejoin Reading and Fraser Forster leaving at the end of his contract to sign for Tottenham, there haven't been any significant outgoings other than notable loans like Ireland U21 midfielder Will Smallbone.

They'll be targeting Clambering back into the safety of midtable and avoiding the poor form that characterised the end of the 2021-22 campaign. James Ward-Prowse's metronomic free-kicks will be crucial as ever while Bazunu's progress at the rarified air of Premier League level will be a fascinating watch.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Spurs appeared to be in turmoil for the first half of last season with a star striker eyeing the exit door and the outstanding new manager seemingly regretting taking over.

But Antonio Conte, who replaced Nuno Espirito Santo early in the campaign, managed to inspire Spurs to a top-four finish, with the fact that it was at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal even sweeter for their following. Son Heung-min was outstanding, Dejan Kulusevski proved an excellent addition, while Matt Doherty enjoyed an upturn in form mid-season before a season-ending injury that ruled him out of Ireland's June games.

Major changes: With Champions League football assured, Daniel Levy has seen fit to give the demanding Conte what he has been asking for.

The squad has been filled out with more depth in all areas. Richarlison was a major investment, adding more options in the forward areas, Clement Lenglet is in to bring a left-sided centre-back option for the back three and Yves Bissouma bolsters the midfield. The versatile and experienced Ivan Perisic joins a manager he won the league with at Inter Milan and Djed Spence is another option at wing-back.

Doherty said pre-season was unpleasant but in a good way that could pay off down the line

Troy Parrott signed a new deal but the Ireland striker continues his development with another loan, this time at Preston. Steven Bergwijn has left for Ajax, garnering Spurs some cash.

They'll be targeting Consolidating their place in the top four and potentially pushing closer to the top two, albeit a title tilt seems unlikely given how far ahead of the pack Man City and Liverpool are. But overall, the squad is deeper and stronger than at this point last year and are working under one of the best managers around. Based on the pre-season demands Doherty revealed, there will be no resting on laurels.


WEST HAM

Unlike a host of Hammers generations, the David Moyes era - the second one - has been one of stability and punching higher.

Last season, the east London outfit made a run deep into the Europa League, before the semi-finals and eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt proved a step too far.

They weren't able to match the fifth place finish of the previous season but seventh was still a creditable position to end up in during a busy schedule.

Major changes: Captain and one-club man (if you ignore a couple of loan spells earlier in his career) Mark Noble has retired and Ukrainian winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who scored some emotional goals late last season has also left the club.

Moyes has looked to bolster the squad's depth which was severely tested last season and Italy international Gianluca Scamacca has been signed for €36m to provide a target man up front and an alternative to the cult hero forward Michail Antonio.

Rice is still on the menu at West Ham

Defender Nayef Aguerd has been brought in from Rennes and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has signed permanently so he can continue to compete with Lukasz Fabianski.

Childhood Hammers fan and midfielder Flynn Downes has also joined from Swansea.

They'll be targeting A top-six finish, if the additions prove fruitful, and with Declan Rice staying as he takes over the captaincy from Noble. If that cannot be achieved, at the very least they will look to make sure of a top-half finish that is becoming customary under Moyes and going one better in Europe seeing as they are in the Conference League.


WOLVES

FC Jorge Mendes is firmly established within the Premier League but last season didn't hit the heights of a couple of years ago when they were in the running for a Champions League place.

Still a 10th place finish for Bruno Lage's side was steady, although the end of the season was disappointing with six defeats in their last nine.

Collins will be aiming to point Wolves up the table from his station at the back

Major changes: The obvious one is the Irish record transfer of Ireland centre-back Nathan Collins from Burnley for £20.5million. Like Bazunu at Southampton, the Kildare native has loads of potential and Wolves seems a staging ground to progress in a back three where he'll continue his growth alongside the experienced captain Conor Coady. Moroccan defender Roman Saiss has left the club for Besiktas and another older head in Marcal has also gone.

Adama Traore is back from Barcelona but could exit before the window closes. Ex-Ireland U21 international Connor Ronan has had opportunities in pre-season but whether he returns to Scotland on loan again has yet to be confirmed.

They'll be targeting Getting back closer to the top six, assuming key names like Ruben Neves remain. Collins adds an emerging talent to a defence that has tended to be decent most seasons.

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