The new Barclays Premier League season gets underway on Saturday and prior to the first kick, TSN.ca presents a week long look at some of the teams and stories that will shape the up coming campaign. While the top teams get the headlines, there are other squads, led by Everton and Tottenham, who are making a run at the Champions League qualifying positions.
Manager: Roberto Martinez
Last Season: 21-9-8 (Fifth in Premier League – Qualified for Europa League)
In his first season on the touch line for Everton, manager Roberto Martinez led his charges to their highest Premier League points haul in team history.
This season they are setting their sights on being the next team to break into the top four and earn a place in the Champions League and haven't been afraid to spend the money to show that intention.
After both players starred in loan spells last season, Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry have been brought in on permanent transfers and both will be leaned on to lead both on and off the field.
(The Canadian Press)
Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are two to the best attacking defenders in the game and midfielder Ross Barkley has shown his skills both domestically and internationally.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Last Season: 21-6-11 (Sixth in Premier League – Qualified for Europa League)
Mauricio Pochettino is the eighth manager in 13 years to take charge at White Hart Lane and as always it will be interesting to see how long his leash will be, especially if the team doesn't have a strong start to the season.
The manager's hard working approach paid dividends at his last stop at Southampton and if he can bring his fitness first style to Tottenham, they will be a hard team to play against.
Not many changes were made to the squad that secured a top six finish last season despite the fact that most of the return they received from their transfer of Gareth Bale underperformed.
Paulinho and Roberto Soldado are two players that did not settle well in their first seasons in North London and will need to have better sophomore campaigns for this team to progress towards the goal of returning to the Champions League.
Manager: Ronald Koeman
Last Season: 15-11-12 (Eighth in Premier League)
Normally there would be nothing but optimism following one of the great breakout seasons in the Premier League like Southampton enjoyed last season.
The problem for them heading into the new season is that most of the reasons for that success will be plying their trade in other organizations.
Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and manager Mauricio Pochettino have all moved on to other teams and opportunities.
Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin are all that are really left to try to lead this team back to at the very least a top half finish, but even that could be optimistic considering transfer rumours continue to surround them as well.
Manager: Mark Hughes
Last Season: 13-11-14 (Ninth in Premier League)
After enjoying their best Premier League finish, Stoke City are hoping that manager Mark Hughes can continue the trajectory he's created since taking over for long time boss Tony Pulis.
Captain Ryan Shawcross is going to once again be the key man for the Potters as they rely on him to control the action of the team going both forward and back to set the pace of the game.
(The Canadian Press)
They also count on him offensively to provide a key goal from time to time and if he can make that even more a part of his game, they will show marked improvement on the field and in the standings.
Manager: Alan Pardew
Last Season: 15-4-19 (10th in Premier League)
Following a controversial season, long time Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will be hoping to have a much more normal and straightforward campaign.
Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere have both been brought in to strengthen the strike force and provide more offensive punch.
Players like Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Hatem Ben Arfa underachieved for Newcastle last year and will need to show a little more creativity to help this team make the leap Pardew has set forth for the team as a goal for the season.