It's not just the top half of the table that produces excitement in the Premier League. The battle for places in the bottom half of the table looks set to be an exciting one once again this year.
Who will finish comfortably clear of the relegation zone and who will have to face the dreaded drop?
Here's my prediction of how the bottom half of the table will look at the end of the campaign:
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11th: STOKE CITY
Mark Hughes has worked wonders at Stoke and the team are finally getting the respect that they deserve.
This will be the eighth Premier League season in a row for a side that’s firmly established itself in England’s top divison. Important players such as Asmir Begovic and Steven N’Zonzi have left this summer but Stoke have also been very active in the market.
Marco van Ginkel will be hoping he can have a breakthrough season. Also arriving is Ibrahim Afellay from Barcelona and fans will no doubt be excited by the prospect of him linking up with Bojan, who has returned to fitness.
Although matching last seasons league finish will prove difficult, it will be another comfortable campaign for Stoke.
12th: WEST HAM UNITED
The fans got what they wanted, Sam Allardyce is gone. Now all eyes are on Slaven Bilic to see if he can deliver the style of football fans of the Hammers are demanding.
It’s a huge season for the club with their Olympic Stadium move fast approaching. Dimitri Payet is the most exciting of the new arrivals, the Frenchman managed seven goals and 21 assists last season.
Angelo Ogbonna has also joined, and comes with a huge reputation following his spell at Juventus. With both Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll out injured the responsibility will be on Diafro Sakho to produce the goals.
Based on his first season, he’s capable of doing so. It will be an interesting season, there is a lot of optimism now Allardyce is gone. The reality is though, that climbing further up the table will be a mammoth task and where they are may be where they belong right now. Will that be enough to satisfy the fans at the end of the season? Only time will tell.
Newcastle found themselves in turmoil last season as they only narrowly avoided relegation. With a new manager the Magpies will be looking to rebuild their damaged reputation.
Steve McClaren has made some promising signings already. Georginio Wijnaldum managed an impressive 14 goals for PSV last season.
Fellow new boy Aleksandar Mitrovic netted 14 times in Belgium and at just 20 the best is surely yet to come. Chancel Mbemba should help to sure up a defence which could well lose Fabricio Coloccini. Last season their was a clear lack of spirit and togetherness, McClaren must make sure that he installs it early on. As long as he does Newcastle will comfortably survive.
14th: WEST BROM
Tony Pulis has never been relegated as a manager, a record he maintained last season by leading Albion to a 13th place finish.
West Brom became a far more solid outfit after the Welshman took over which was crucial to their survival. Pulis will demand the same defensive quality that they produced at times last season.
Possibly the biggest achievement so far this summer has been keeping hold of Saido Berahino. If he was to depart then Albion could really be in trouble and well and truly be dragged into the relegation battle.
Rickie Lambert has also arrived and will look to get his career back on track with more game time. James Chester will also improve the defence. Breaking into the top half of the table will be difficult, expect a similar season to the last.
15th: ASTON VILLA
It was a huge blow for Villa when Christian Benteke completed his move to Liverpool. However £32.5 million was good money and Tim Sherwood has been quick to reinvest it.
Jordan Ayew managed a respectable 12 goals in Ligue 1 last season and could be a surprise package while Rudy Gestede arrives on the back of a 20 goal season and will provide similar aerial presence to Benteke.
Of course Fabian Delph’s U-turn was a kick in the teeth but the arrivals of Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Veretout should soften the blow.
Sherwood’s men are still very suspect in defence though and the absence of Vlaar will be a concern. Thus Micah Richards' Premier League experience could prove to be invaluable. It will be another difficult season but they look to have enough to survive once again.
The Hornets finished runners-up in the Championship last season with a hefty 91 goals. They’ve changed manager once again with Quique Flores the latest to take charge.
The new manager has been quick to bring in new faces. Ten signings have been made, making Watford the most active club in the Premier League. The amount of new players draws comparisons to QPR who also brought in a number of new names. This of course didn’t work out for the London club.
The new men will potentially need time to settle in which could be detrimental to Watford’s bid for survival. What they do have in their favour is a superb strike force. Three of their strikers managed over 15 goals last season: Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra.
With three quality strikers at Flores’ disposal the chances are at least one will find some goal scoring form which should be enough to secure survival.
Another year, another relegation battle for Sunderland. There was a collective sigh of relief as the Black Cats finished three points above the relegation zone.
Dick Advocaat, the man who saved them from relegation, has remained at the club which will please the fans. Sunderland have reinforced their defence with the signings of Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates and will expect creative influence from new right-back Adam Matthews.
Jeremain Lens is another new face and Advocaat will hope he can provide some much needed midfield quality. Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe remain up front but they may want to add another striker in order to secure safety. With the current strike force goals will be hard to come by, thankfully their defence looks stronger than that of some of their relegation rivals meaning they should scrape survival.
Eddie Howe has insisted that Bournemouth will continue with the attacking brand of football that saw them win the Championship last season. Though positive this immediately raises questions over their safety in a league that can easily expose teams.
The defence conceded the second lowest amount of goals in the Championship last season and will need to be tight again as Bournemouth’s 98 goal season will be impossible to replicate.
Howe will hope that the goals of Callum Wilson, who scored 20 last season and Matt Ritchie, who recorded 15 strikes and 17 assists, will guide them to safety.
However Bournemouth's attacking principles could ultimately be their downfall in a punishing league. They have the feel of a team who may not necessarily deserve to be relegated but will go down nonetheless.
The Foxes looked dead and buried last Christmas but managed to pull off one of the most remarkable escapes in the league’s history. They begin the new season with Claudio Ranieri at the helm following Nigel Pearson’s departure. Quite how the players will respond to the ‘Tinkerman’ remains to be seen.
It looks set to be another difficult season for the club, who have been weakened by the departure of Esteban Cambiasso. With a defence that shipped 55 goals last season Ranieri will hope that the goals of Jamie Vardy, David Nugent, Leonardo Ulloa and new signing Shinji Okazaki will be enough for them to survive.
However the Foxes have pulled off one great escape and it may be too much for them to repeat the feat.
The Norfolk club retuned to the top division via the play-offs and are now under the guidance of young manager Alex Neil.
The Scotsman has spent wisely this summer, bringing in players who offer plenty of Premier League experience. Norwich scored the third highest amount of goals in the Championship last season.
Cameron Jerome managed 20 goals last season but there are still concerns over whether he can cut it in the Premier League.
As Norwich’s primary source of goals it will be a worry that the Englishman has reached double figures just once in the Premier League.
Not delivering in the Premier League is something a number of the players in the squad are guilty of. They don’t look to have enough and an immediate return to the Championship is on the cards.
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