The 2014/15 season has finally arrived, and the Back of the Net team are here to preview every Premier League club's hopes and dreams (and football matches...)
After years of starvation, Arsenal are enjoying a feast of silverware after winning the FA Cup and Community Shield. But switching so quickly to a rich, copious diet after a long period of fasting is not recommended by medical professionals, who advise that the club wait until 2018 before winning another trophy.
Manager: These days, and in fact since his birth, Arsene Wenger’s name is almost indistinguishable from Arsenal. The beaky, petulant Frenchman, who has never knowingly had the benefit of the doubt from a referee, will know he can count on the support of the famously patient fans unless he loses two games in a row at any point.
Player to watch: While the addition of Alexis Sanchez won the headlines, the swoop for teenager Calum Chambers could prove to be inspired as long as he’s allowed to put back his bedtime for midweek games.
If they were a time zone, they would be... French Southern and Antarctic Time (GMT+5)
Prediction: The added pressure to succeed plus the failure to reinforce key positions looks set to be Arsenal's undoing, and the Gunners will have no complaints if they miss out on Champions League football for the first time in 15 years. 7th.
It’s hard to see Aston Villa’s season going anywhere but downhill from their current position of second once they are required to play matches against other football teams. A cruel fixture list sees Villa forced to play last season’s top seven within their first 19 games.
Last season: The 2013/14 campaign was a season of two slightly unequal halves. The first half saw Villa unexpectedly beat Arsenal away on opening day; the second half consisted of everything else.
Manager: Villa will put their faith in the dull cop/psychotic cop combination of manager Paul Lambert and assistant Roy Keane. The players have praised the decision to bring in Keane, while looking around nervously in case he’s around. Lambert remains among the favourites for the sack race thanks to his unusually strong quad muscles.
If they were a financial obligation they would be... A self-employment tax return.
Prediction: Having spent several years building a strong core of exciting young stars, the addition of several experienced heads should see the Villains flourish. 7th.
Overwhelming bookies’ favourites to go back down, newly promoted Burnley will look to prove their doubters wrong by only just going down.
Manager: Despite looking just like someone who’d throw you out of a bar late on Saturday night, Sean Dyche is a cultured tactician who has been nicknamed 'The Ginger Mourinho' by the same people who called Ray Parlour 'The Romford Pele'.
Tactics: Burnley will look to Danny Ings for goals and Kieran Trippier to inspire the back-line. Failing that they will attempt to find financial irregularities in other teams’ books, try and kick off games while opposition teams are sleeping, or pretend to be Aston Villa.
If they were a late flowering deciduous shrub, they would be... Hydrangea paniculata phantom.
Prediction: Burnley are well organised and packed with enough exciting talent to surprise more than a few people this season. Dyche's wily management could take them higher than even the most optimistic predictions. 7th.
Chelsea have added a prolific striker in Diego Costa, a passable Cesc Fabregas impersonator in Cesc Fabregas, and brought back old flame Didier Drogba after he locked eyes with Jose Mourinho across a crowded restaurant. Thibaut Courtois has returned and could share goalkeeping duties with Petr Cech if Mourinho goes with an unconventional two-goalkeeper formation.
Manager: After a season of consolidation, Mourinho knows that there can be no excuse for not delivering the title this season. Nonetheless, he has prepared over 15,000 excuses during pre-season and has already begun his legendary mind games by incessantly calling Arsene Wenger and hanging up as soon as he answers.
Deal of the summer: Chelsea pulled off a masterful coup in selling David Luiz to Paris Saint Germain for £50 million, just days before the frizzy-haired defender ruined the nation of Brazil forever. The money was quickly reinvested in Fabregas, Costa, and a solid-gold statue commemorating the moment that PSG officials committed irreversibly to the deal.
If they were a novelist concerned primarily with the burden of German-ness in the post-WWII world, they would be... Bernhard Schlink.
Prediction: Shorn of Frank Lampard and over-reliant on the ageing legs of Didier Drogba and John Terry, Chelsea will need Fabregas to reverse his decline and Costa to hit the ground running, or their title challenge could be over before it's even begun. 7th.
Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull, Leicester - Interrogation suites, hair transplants & Steve Bruce's bone structure
Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Newcastle - Protracted transfer sagas, adopted pandas & personalised jelly
QPR, Southampton, Stoke Sunderland - New signings, Tintin & underwear auction websites
Swansea, Spurs, West Brom, West Ham - Ambitious nicknames, moustaches & matchmaking