Premier League 2013-14 Guide: Everything You Need to Know
The return of Premier League football after three cold months without it is surely the greatest day on the calendar for all fans of the beautiful game.
The greatest league in the world kicks off later this week, and quite frankly, the occasion couldn't have come sooner.
This article will present everything you need to know about the 2013/14 Premier League season, including players, storylines and the odd manager to watch out for.
Sit back and enjoy the ride.
2012/13 Premier League Season
In legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson's final season in charge of the club, Manchester United emerged dominant champions in 2012/13.
Having made the controversial switch from Arsenal in the summer, Dutch forward Robin van Persie proved United's most valuable player, scoring 26 league goals.
Following the Red Devils were Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Despite some stunning performances from Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur finished one point behind the Gunners in fifth.
Clubs West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City and Norwich City proved the surprise packages of the season, finishing in eigth, ninth and 11th respectively.
Tyne and Wear rivals Newcastle United and Sunderland both narrowly escaped relegation in poor campaigns.
But going down were FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic, Reading and Harry Redknapp's expensive disaster at Queens Park Rangers.
To view the final table for 2012/13, go to PremierLeague.com.
The unveiling of this season's Premier League fixtures gave fans a chance to see when their favourite clubs play their most noteworthy games.
Of course, every match is worth three points, but some just mean more than others.
Take rivalries, for instance.
Liverpool host Manchester United and Arsenal face Tottenham on September 1. The Manchester derby is on September 22, the Tyne and Wear derby is on October 27, while the all-Wales clash between Cardiff City and Swansea City is on November 3.
The first Merseyside derby takes place on November 23.
The season kicks off proper with Liverpool hosting Stoke City this Friday, and ends on May 11.
For a full list of next term's fixtures, visit PremierLeague.com.
Premier League clubs have already spent close to £400 million this summer.
Plenty of big names have made the switch to Britain, even if the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United remain relatively inactive in the market.
Manchester City have spent almost £90 million on top quality players Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic.
Chelsea, Everton and Liverpool have made the decent signings of Andre Schurrle, Arouna Kone and Iago Aspas, respectively.
The most impressive movers-and-shakers have been Tottenham, Swansea City and Norwich City.
Spurs have brought in Brazilian midfielder Paulinho and Spanish striker Roberto Soldado, Swansea have signed prolific forward Wilfried Bony, while Norwich have signed just about every available player on the market.
Southampton's capture of Celtic's Victor Wanyama must also be given credit.
As well as the Gunners and the Red Devils, Newcastle United, Stoke City and Fulham have also been reasonably quiet this summer.
For a full list of completed deals, visit TransferMarkt.co.uk.
Three clubs make the step up to Britain's top division from the Championship this season.
Cardiff City claimed Championship glory last term by a canter.
The Malky Mackay-managed club have already made three terrific signings this summer. Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel have all joined for close to £30 million.
The Welsh side play free-flowing, attack-minded football and are expected to survive the drop this term.
Hull City join the Bluebirds in the Premier League next season, having finished second in the Championship.
Their manager, Steve Bruce, has quickly repaired his damaged reputation by leading the Tigers back into the top flight.
Hull have a solid squad but are devoid of any real star power in the ranks.
Crystal Palace won the Championship playoff final last season to earn their place in the Premier League.
Most neutrals will be glad to see outgoing boss Ian Holloway back after a few seasons away.
Wilfried Zaha's exit will hurt Palace, though new signings Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh are expected to soften the blow.
Four managers will take charge of their first game at a new club over the first weekend of Premier League football.
Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea is expected to produce a massive trophy haul over the next few years.
He remains the most successful manager of the Roman Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge and one who could unite and inspire a dressing room.
The loss of Sir Alex Ferguson can only have an adverse effect on Manchester United, at least in the short-term.
Like Mourinho, David Moyes will be expected to win immediately at Old Trafford.
Moyes' replacement at Everton is former Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez.
The Spaniard should bring an imaginative tactical thinking to Goodison Park.
Long-serving Stoke City manager Tony Pulis also parted ways with his club this summer.
Not much is expected of Mark Hughes at the Britannia Stadium, but that's probably a good thing for the former Manchester City boss.
The Premier League boasts some of the most impressive stadia and raucous atmospheres in European football.
Manchester United's home Old Trafford remains the biggest in terms of capacity with over 75,000.
Arsenal's Emirates Stadium is next with 60,000, while Newcastle United's St. James' Park (pictured) is third with 52,000.
In terms of matchday atmostphere, St. James' Park is often difficult to beat. Liverpool's Anfield and West Ham United's Boleyn Ground also come close to eardrum-destroying perfection.
The smallest stadium in the Premier League in terms of capacity is Swansea's Liberty Stadium with 20,000.
There will be six EPL stadia based in London in next season's competition.
Players to Watch
The first of five players to keep an extra close eye on next season is Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.
Whether he starts next term at Anfield or Emirates Stadium, the Uruguayan is sure to never be too far from the back pages of the newspapers.
He was one of the best players last season, and also one of the nuttiest.
Whether he's biting opponents' arms or flopping around like a salmon, chances are he'll keep scoring goals anyway.
Next up is Chelsea attacking midfielder Eden Hazard.
After a tricky winter period, the Belgium international with a vast array of tricks was an increasingly effective force in the Blues' front line last season.
Manchester United forward Robin van Persie is another player to keep on the radar next term as he tries to better his goal tally from last season.
Swansea forward Michu proved the bargain of last summer, scoring 18 league goals to back up his minuscule £2 million transfer fee.
Finally there is Southampton new boy Victor Wanyama, who already has the quality to play for just about any team in Europe.
He will bring a much-needed steel to the Saints' midfield.
For B/R lead writer Michael Cumming's top 20 players to watch, click here.
There are countless storylines to watch in the Premier League next term, but we'll stick to just a few.
The biggest storylines will be how Jose Mourinho and David Moyes get on in their new environments.
Both can't win the league. One will emerge next summer with his reputation enhanced, the other damaged.
Arsenal's lack of a trophy will continue to be a running joke for football fans unless they can end the hoodoo this season.
It will be fascinating to see how Manchester City and Tottenham integrate their prolific new signings.
Brendan Rodgers' rebuild of Liverpool and his devotion to youth will be a prominent storyline.
Nicolas Anelka's return to Premier League football with West Brom will be interesting to monitor.
Swansea's highly rated young manager Michael Laudrup may face the prospect of being headhunted by a bigger club, most likely from the continent.
Keep an eye on Paulo Di Canio's sideline histrionics, which are always a terrific source of entertainment.
Also listen out for Ian Holloway's press conferences, which always produce pure journalistic gold.
Golden Boot Contenders
Robin van Persie was the recipient of the Premier League's Golden Boot award last season.
There are several candidates for being the league's top goalscorer, but the Dutchman will enter the season the favourite to go back-to-back.
Luis Suarez will always score goals, no matter his personal strife or ongoing transfer rumours.
If Gareth Bale remains at Tottenham next season, and that's a big "if," his transition to more of a centre-forward role could see him top the charts.
Manchester City's new signing Alvaro Negredo is a solid contender and a player likely to bring a new dimension to the Blues' style of play.
If Wayne Rooney moves to Stamford Bridge this summer, expect the morose forward to bang in plenty of goals under Mourinho.
Swansea's Michu and West Ham's Andy Carroll deserve a mention, but ultimately Tottenham's Roberto Soldado has the best chance to score the most goals in terms of players for non-top four clubs.
Now is the time for the writer to give his opinion. It is nearly impossible to predict how a Premier League campaign will pan out, but it's worth a shot.
In terms of picking a winner, it is difficult to look past Mourinho's Chelsea, a club with the best squad on paper.
Despite their gluttony of new signings, Manchester City will be likely pipped to second by their cross-city rivals.
If Arsenal make a couple of significant signings this summer, they will likely finish fourth. If Spurs can keep hold of Gareth Bale, they will likely finish fourth.
Otherwise, it is almost impossible to separate the two clubs fighting for the final Champions League spot.
Swansea City should continue to thrive under Laudrup, while Southampton could also prove a surprise package.
Expect Everton and West Brom to fall a few places in the table, though.
In terms of relegation-threatened teams, Hull City, Crystal Palace and Stoke City are the most likely to be relegated.
But also watch out for Fulham and Newcastle United, who could both slip into trouble come the winter period.
For B/R tactical analyst Sam Tighe's predictions for next season, click here.
What do you think will happen next EPL season. Predict the final table.
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