The Premier League begins on Friday when Liverpool host Norwich City, the first of 380 matches between now and May 17, 2020.
ESPN FC writer Mark Ogden takes a look at the best and worst outcomes each club can expect during their 2019-20 campaign.
Last season: fifth place, 70 points
BEST: Forget about a title challenge. Manager Unai Emery’s rebuild at the Emirates is still in its initial stages, but the pressure will be on the Spaniard to get the club back into the Champions League. Fourth is the bare minimum — especially given the late-summer signings of Nicolas Pepe and Kieran Tierney — but that may also be the best Arsenal can hope for.
WORST: Arsenal are at a crossroads and if they don’t kick on quickly, they could be vulnerable to being overtaken by the likes of Wolves, Everton and Leicester. It’s unlikely this season, but the worst-case scenario is the Gunners finish out of the top six.
Last season: fifth place in Championship, won promotion playoff
BEST: Back in the top flight after a three-year absence, Villa have been busy in the transfer market to ensure they remain where many believe they belong. If they gather momentum and the new signings work out — much will be expected of new striker Wesley, loanee turned permanent transfer Anwar El-Ghazi and Man City’s former starlet Douglas Luiz — Villa could end up in the top 10.
WORST: Teams promoted via the Championship playoff often struggle to survive the first year in the Premier League and that is the doomsday scenario for Villa. If the new signings fail to succeed, Villa could slide straight back down again.
Last season: 14th place, 45 points
BEST: Manager Eddie Howe has transformed Bournemouth into one of the Premier League’s real success stories, with the smallest club in the top flight always doing enough to avoid a relegation battle. But with such strength at the top of the league, a top-10 finish would be real achievement this time.
WORST: How long can Bournemouth sustain themselves in the Premier League on exceedingly modest budgets — taking Liverpool’s Harry Wilson on loan feels like the most exciting incoming player on paper — and tiny attendances at home? If they hit a bad patch or Howe gets an offer he can’t refuse from a bigger club, Bournemouth could hit the skids and find themselves relegated.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Last season: 17th place, 36 points
BEST: It will be a tough year ahead of Brighton. They just survived last season and new manager Graham Potter takes charge with no previous top-flight experience. The best they can hope for is survival and 17th might be as good as it gets.
WORST: Brighton have a state-of-the-art stadium, impressive training set-up and no rivals within a 50-mile radius, but this feels like a crucial season at the Amex and the worst-case scenario is that Potter’s appointment doesn’t work out and they go down.
Last season: 15th place, 40 points
BEST: Burnley’s seventh-place finish in the 2017-18 season was the club’s best in the modern era, and repeating that feat would be extraordinary. With their budget limitations, a top-10 finish would be a great season for Sean Dyche’s team.
WORST: Relegation is clearly the nightmare scenario for Burnley, but they’ve become an established top-flight outfit and should be safe from a fight for survival. The worst outcome for the Clarets would be an injury crisis that sends them spinning toward the bottom three.
Last season: third place, 72 points
BEST: With no Eden Hazard and a transfer ban denying Frank Lampard the chance to strengthen his squad until next summer, a title challenge can be ruled out at Stamford Bridge. However, with enough quality players (Willian, NGolo Kante, Antonio Rudiger) who have delivered in the past and the newly acquired Christian Pulisic on the flank, Chelsea could end up behind Manchester City and Liverpool as the best of the rest in third.
WORST: Lampard’s return to Chelsea as manager has been well received by everyone at the club, but if he proves to be a novice who is out of his depth at the highest level, failure to finish in the top four could cost him his job.
Last season: 12th place, 49 points
BEST: Under Roy Hodgson, Palace have become too good to go down but not quite good enough to challenge for the top 10. A good season, with all key players delivering, could propel them into the top half and it would be a real achievement.
WORST: Palace have kept Wilfried Zaha for now but remain vulnerable to a fight for survival, especially if clubs come calling again in January. Keep Zaha and Palace stay up. Lose him and they face a long season.
Last season: eighth place, 54 points
BEST: Everton want to be a top-six club — they even have ambitions to get themselves into the Champions League — but realistically the best they can hope for under Marco Silva this season is sixth. Manchester United and Arsenal are both within their sights if they have a strong campaign and summer signings like Moise Kean hit the ground running.
WORST: Everton can finish as high as sixth and probably no lower than ninth, but ninth would be a bad season considering their ambitions. Finishing the bottom team in the Everton-Wolves-Leicester race would be a disappointing season, but probably as bad as it can get given the amount of investment in squad improvement.
Last season: ninth place, 52 points
BEST: Having won the Premier League in 2015-16, a top-six finish or better is the target for Leicester under manager Brendan Rodgers and one they can achieve. If they finish sixth and get back into Europe, it will be a huge success.
WORST: Like Everton and Wolves, Leicester are knocking on the door of the top six, so anything outside the top 10 would be well below expectations and probably cost Rodgers his job.
Last season: second place, 97 points
BEST: It’s all about one thing at Liverpool this season: winning the Premier League. The Champions League ended manager Jurgen Klopp’s wait for a major trophy at Anfield last season, but having gone without the title since 1990, their season will be measured by whether they win the league. Given that Man City spent money to upgrade at full-back and in central midfield this season while Liverpool added only prospects (Harvey Elliott, Sepp van den Berg), it will be an even tougher prospect than it was last season.
WORST: Finishing second would be a blow, but with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane missing preseason because of the Africa Cup of Nations and Roberto Firmino and Alisson also playing catch-up following the Copa America, the fatigue factor this season could see the chasing pack deny them a top-two spot.
Last season: first place, 98 points
BEST: How do you top a season that ended with a domestic Treble? City face football’s “Mission Impossible” this season, unless they do the same again and add the Champions League, too, but Pep Guardiola’s team are so strong and dominant — especially with Joao Cancelo and Rodri added to the mix — that they really could win all four this time.
WORST: Finishing the season empty-handed is the worst scenario for City, but that seems like an outlandish proposition right now. Winning nothing and losing Guardiola at the end of the season would be as bad as it could get.
Last season: sixth place, 66 points
BEST: Times have been so turbulent at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, that a season without sacking a manager would be a good outcome. After all, if manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeps his job, United will have finished in the top four and perhaps even won a trophy, which is as good as it will get. Signing Harry Maguire shows they’ve finally got the top-shelf defender who can steady a team known for leaking goals last season.
WORST: There is now a fear among United supporters that rather than focusing on keeping pace with their top-six rivals, the real task will be to stay ahead of Leicester, Everton and Wolves. Failing to acquire a proven striker while letting Romelu Lukaku go will make it a genuine challenge. Could United finish outside the top six? It’s not outside the realm of possibility
Last season: 13th place, 45 points
BEST: It has been a desperate summer for Newcastle. Having lost manager Rafael Benitez and forwards Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon, while spending £40m on replacement Joelinton, that anything but relegation under new coach Steve Bruce would be regarded as a positive outcome at St James’ Park.
WORST: Newcastle look to be a club close to a meltdown, with owner Mike Ashley seemingly uninterested in spending enough to push his team up the table, which leaves their passionate fans on the brink of revolt. Relegation would be bad, but the worst outcome for Newcastle would be a repeat of what has happened to neighbours Sunderland: successive relegations and no sign of a route back to the top.
Last season: Championship winners, promoted
BEST: Daniel Farke’s team won promotion at a canter last season, so confidence will be high at Carrow Road that they can survive in the Premier League. Burnley and Bournemouth have shown that less-fancied teams can prosper and a top-10 finish would be a good outcome for Norwich.
WORST: Norwich won promotion with ease but there are no guarantees in the Premier League and it can be an unforgiving competition. They might also regret taking the less popular road of retaining the squad that got them up and making no significant summer additions to account for the extra quality in the top flight. Norwich’s nightmare scenario is a struggle that sees them relegated again.
Last season: second place in Championship, promoted
BEST: The Blades have broken their club transfer record four times this summer — in order: midfielder Luke Freeman, winger Callum Robinson, striker Lys Mousset and forward Oliver McBurnie — so they certainly mean business on their return to the top flight for the first time since 2007. But they are still the relegation favourites, so any finish higher than 18th would be enough to set the champagne corks popping.
WORST: Manager Chris Wilder has built a committed, unified team at Bramall Lane, but if they don’t have enough quality, United could find it tough. Eclipsing Derby’s record low top-flight points total of 11, set in 2007-08, would be the worst end result.
Last season: 16th place, 39 points
BEST: The 2018-19 campaign was truly one to forget, but the second half of the season under Ralph Hasenhuttl showed some potential, and with a few good signings this summer up front — the Saints managed only 45 goals last season but made Danny Ings a permanent transfer as well as snapping up Che Adams — they should at least push for midtable comfort and a season of consolidating their status in the top flight.
WORST: If this squad doesn’t fully embrace Hasenhuttl’s style of play — he was once described as the “anti Guardiola” for his preference of pressing, counterattacking football — and if Ings and Adams don’t mesh well up front, they will be a relegation contender again in 2019-20.
Last season: fourth place, 71 points
BEST: Spurs have become a team that promises more than they deliver, but after five years in charge, Mauricio Pochettino is determined to oversee genuine success. For that to happen, Spurs have to win a trophy this season and, in the league, they can split last year’s top two if they find more consistency. The additions of Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso should provide the depth they need to remain competitive from start to finish.
WORST: With their new stadium now up and running, anything outside the top four will be a major disappointment even if they were to win silverware elsewhere.
Last season: 11th place, 50 points
BEST: Watford must bounce back from the humiliation of losing last season’s FA Cup final 6-0 to Manchester City. A top-10 finish will be a challenge, but it is within Watford’s reach.
WORST: If the FA Cup final results in a hangover that affects this season, Watford can forget about the top 10, but Javi Gracia’s team are too good to go down. The worst they can expect is a season on the fringes of the relegation zone.
WEST HAM UNITED
Last season: 10th place, 52 points
BEST: Manuel Pellegrini’s team have been big spenders this summer, so they have the potential to join the race to dislodge the top six. It feels a year too soon for West Ham to be serious about that, but anything higher than ninth will be a great campaign.
WORST: West Ham should be a top-10 club at least but they need to get their home form working properly having won only nine of 19 league fixtures last season at London Stadium. Otherwise, they will be risking another bottom-half finish.
Last season: seventh place, 57 points
BEST: Wolves have become arguably the strongest contender to break into the top six and that is certainly within their reach. The Champions League places are probably a jump too far, but fifth or sixth at the expense of a traditional “Big Six” side is a possibility at Molineux.
WORST: The Europa League could become a problem for Wolves, who must play six games before the end of August if they are to even reach the group stages. If they become weighed down by Europe, it could see them crash out of the top 10.