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The English Premier League

The English Premier League

The fastest. The most competitive. The most physical. The most watched in the world, seen in more than 200 countries. The English Premier League is an everlasting soccer superlative, a showpiece proving that the birthplace of soccer still merits its mantle place at the core of the sport.

Twenty clubs from across Great Britain (as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Southampton) and Wales(Swansea and Cardiff) make up the EPL. The great EPL powers hail from the epicenters of London and Manchester with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United and Manchester City. All together the EPL clubs compete in 380 passion-fueled matches rife with history, plots, characters and culture that are distinctly English and undeniably world class.

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Arsenal

Home London, England | Stadium: Emirates Stadium

Manager: Arséne Wenger, 18th season

Colors: red and white | Nickname: The Gunners

Key Arrivals: Yaya Sanogo, Auxerre

Key Departures: Andrey Arshavin, Zenit St. Peterberg, Andre Santos, Flamengo, Gervinho, Roma

Last Year's Finish: 4th

This year's best-case scenario: Arséne Wenger buys a world-class striker and a stellar holding midfielder. The players settle quickly into the squad spurring Arsenal to its first Premier League title since 2003-04.

This year's worst-case scenario: The Gunners are unable to add experienced quality players to the squad. The supporters turn on Wenger, restless at a lack of silverware. Arsenal's young players wilt under the pressure and the club fails to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Aston Villa

Home Birmingham, England | Stadium: Villa Park

Manager: Paul Lambert, 2nd season

Colors: claret and blue | Nickname: The Villans

Key Arrivals: Jores Okore, FC Nodsjaelland, Nicklas Helenius, Aalborg BK, Antonio Luna, Sevilla

Key Departures: Richard Dunne, Queens Park Rangers, Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest, Jean Il Makoun, Rennes

Last Year's Finish: 15th

This year's best-case scenario: The Villans make their way into the top-half of the table and regain the status they had during the Martin O'Neill era, just a few short years ago.

This year's worst-case scenario: Relegation. Aston Villa flirted with a drop to the English Championship last year, and if star striker Christian Benteke has his head turned by a big club, he could still pine for a transfer in January. That would spell doom for the boys from Birmingham.

Cardiff City

Home Cardiff, Wales | Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium

Manager: Malky Mackay, 3rd season

Colors: red and black | Nickname: The Bluebirds

Key Arrivals: Steven Caulker, Tottenham Hotspur, Gary Medel, Sevilla, Andreas Cornelius, FC Copenhagen

Key Departures: Heiòar Helguson, retired

Last Year's Finish: 1st in the English Championship

This year's best-case scenario: Cardiff continues its excellent play from last year's season and finds footing in the English Premier League as easy as fellow Welsh-side Swansea has the last two terms.

This year's worst-case scenario: Despite several experienced players joining the promoted side, the step up in competition is just too much to manage and Cardiff slides straight back to the English Championship.

Chelsea

Home London, England | Stadium: Stamford Bridge

Manager: José Mourinho, 1st season back, previously led Chelsea from 2004-2008

Colors: blue and white | Nickname: The Blues

Key Arrivals: Andre Schurrle, Bayer Leverkusen, Marco van Ginkel, Vitesse Arnhem, Mark Schwarzer, Fulham

Key Departures: Oriol Romeu, Valencia loan, Marko Marin, Sevilla loan

Last Year's Finish: 3rd

This year's best-case scenario: Mourinho, the once self-proclaimed "Special One," now, "The Happy One," upon his return to London, reinstalls his unique approach combining a cutting edge, astute defensive tactics and incisive attacking play en route to another league title.

This year's worst-case scenario: Players at the club during Mourinho's previous reign are welcomed back while rising stars are shunned. The club loses a few games early and temperamental owner Roman Abramovich axes Mourinho prematurely yet again.

Crystal Palace

Home London, England | Stadium: Selhurst Park

Manager: Ian Holloway, 2nd season

Colors: blue and red | Nickname: The Eagles

Key Arrivals: Jerome Thomas, West Brom, Jose Campaña, Sevilla, Marouane Chamakh, Arsenal

Key Departures: Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United, Alex Marrow, Blackburn

Last Year's Finish: 5th in the English Championship, won promotion via playoff

This year's best-case scenario: Ian Holloway figures out how to get Chamakh firing and the Championship-promoted side plays in his image, always attacking. Unlike Holloway's previous adventure in the EPL with Blackpool, Crystal Palace sustains its play throughout the whole season and retains its top-flight status.

This year's worst-case scenario: Crystal Palace struggles to implement Holloway's style and simply finds itself outclassed and inexperienced at this level, leading to relegation.

Everton

Home Liverpool, England | Stadium: Goodison Park

Manager: Roberto Martinez, 1st season

Colors: blue and white | Nickname: The Toffees

Key Arrivals: Arouna Kone, Wigan, Antolin Alcaraz, Wigan, Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona on loan

Key Departures: Phil Neville, retired, now assistant manager at Manchester United

Last Year's Finish: 6th

This year's best-case scenario: Stalwarts under the David Moyes regime such as Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jagielka stay at the club and buy into the Martinez system, which won Wigan the FA Cup last season. With better players at his disposal, Martinez proves a master tactician and Everton makes a top-four push.

This year's worst-case scenario: We learn just how good David Moyes was at doing more with less. The squad's lack of depth is exposed and they tumble into the bottom half of the table.

Fulham

Home London, England | Stadium: Craven Cottage

Manager: Martin Jol, 3rd season

Colors: white and black | Nickname: The Cottagers

Key Arrivals: Maarten Stekelenburg, Roma, Adel Taarabt, Queens Park Rangers, Fernando Amorebieta, Athletico Bilbao, Darrent Bent, Aston Villa loan

Key Departures: Chris Baird, Simon Davies, Mark Schwarzer, all released

Last Year's Finish: 12th

This year's best-case scenario: New owner Shahid Khan gives Martin Jol the transfer money he needs to add quality depth to the side. Craven Cottage becomes a fortress, while the squad picks up results away from home and makes a deep run in the FA Cup and qualifies for the Europa League.

This year's worst-case scenario: On-loan striker Darren Bent, once Aston Villa's record signing, shows why the Birmingham club let him leave. Berbatov's age catches up with him and he loses fitness. Fulham finds itself mired in a relegation battle.

Hull City

Home Kingston upon Hull, England | Stadium: KC Stadium

Manager: Steve Bruce, 2nd season

Colors: black and amber | Nickname: The Tigers

Key Arrivals: Curtis Davies, Birmingham City, Ahmed Elmohamady, Sunderland, Allan McGregor, Besiktas, Tom Huddlestone, Tottenham Hotspur

Key Departures: Corry Evans, Blackburn Rovers, Sonny Bradley, Portsmouth

Last Year's Finish: 2nd in the English Championship

This year's best-case scenario: Hull manages to repeat its incredible feat of 2008-2009 when it avoided relegation from Premier League by a single point. Bruce establishes the squad as top-flight quality and builds a platform from which he can recruit new, more experienced players next season.

This year's worst-case scenario: The Tigers are outclassed, Bruce outfoxed by England's best and Hull is sent tumbling back down to the English Championship.

Liverpool

Home Liverpool, England | Stadium: Anfield

Manager: Brendan Rogers, 2nd season

Colors: red and white | Nickname: The Reds

Key Arrivals: Simon Mignolet, Sunderland, Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo, Kolo Toure, Manchester City, Luis Alberto, Sevilla, Aly Cissokho, Valencia

Key Departures: Pepe Reina, Napoli loan, Jamie Carragher, retired, Stewart Downing, West Ham

Last Year's Finish: 7th

This year's best-case scenario: Captain Steven Gerrard stays healthy, striker Luis Suarez apologies for his transfer demands and with another offseason spent under Rogers better adapts to his short-passing, attacking style and challenges for a place in the UEFA Champions League.

This year's worst-case scenario: The Suarez row is unable to be resolved, or worse, he is sold to a direct competitor. Fans turn on Rogers and owner John W. Henry, and a storied football club is thrown into turmoil and mid-table obscurity.

Manchester City

Home Manchester, England | Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium, or Etihad Stadium

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini, 1st season | Colors: sky blue and white

Nickname: The Sky Blues

Key Arrivals: Fernandinho, Shaktar Donetsk, Jesus Navas, Sevilla, Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina, Alvaro Negredo, Sevilla

Key Departures: Carlos Tevez, Juventus, Kolo Toure, Liverpool, Maicon, Roma

Last Year's Finish: 2nd

This year's best-case scenario: New strikers Negredo and Jovetic form a deadly pair. Pellegrini is given time to install his brand of soccer and the squad regains its Premier League title as crosstown rivals Manchester United struggle to cope without Sir Alex Ferguson.

This year's worst-case scenario: Pellegrini is given no more of a leash than predecessor Roberto Mancini, and after another season of big-spending doesn't bear fruit in England or in Europe, he is summarily fired by Sheikh Mansour, and the club goes into a tailspin.

Manchester United

Home Manchester, England | Stadium: Old Trafford

Manager: David Moyes, 1st season

Colors: red and black | Nickname: The Red Devils

Key Arrivals: Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace

Key Departures: Paul Scholes, retired

Last Year's Finish: 1st

This year's best-case scenario: David Moyes manages to fill the massive shoes left behind by Sir Alex Ferguson and the team continues its winning ways. Robin van Persie nabs another Golden Boot, leading the Red Devils to a second-consecutive league title. They go deep into UEFA Champions League play, too.

This year's worst-case scenario: Moyes melts under the microscope of Manchester United. Wayne Rooney, eager to leave, becomes a dressing room disturbance and a mutiny ensues. The team's inability to add fresh talent in the summer transfer window is exposed.

Newcastle United

Home Newcastle, England | Stadium: St. James' Park

Manager: Alan Pardew, 4th season

Colors: black and white | Nickname: The Magpies

Key Arrivals: Loic Remy, Queens Park Rangers loan

Key Departures: Steve Harper, Hull City, James Perch, Wigan

Last Year's Finish: 16th

This year's best-case scenario: The infusion of French talent at Newcastle, largely amassed during last January's transfer window, brings with it a new expansive style of pleasing football. Alan Pardew proves that last year's relegation fight was the result of rampant injuries, not a lack of quality and again mounts a challenge for a place in European tournaments.

This year's worst-case scenario: Pardew butts heads with new football director Joe Kinnear, and the ensuring squabble leaves the club with no clear direction forward, just another struggle to stay in the Premier League.

Norwich City

Home Norwich, England | Stadium: Carrow Road

Manager: Chris Hughton, 2nd season

Colors: green and yellow | Nickname: The Canaries

Key Arrivals: Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Sporting Lisbon, Gary Hooper, Celtic, Javier Garrido, Lazio, Leroy Fer, FC Twente

Key Departures: Grant Holt, Wigan, Jed Steer, Aston Villa, James Vaughan, Hudderfield Town

Last Year's Finish: 11th

This year's best-case scenario: The Canaries build upon last year's stellar season where they defended well, scored timely goals and never looked at threat of relegation. The new signings help raise the standards and Norwich finds itself challenging the big boys for a place in the Europa League.

This year's worst-case scenario: Opponents solve Hughton's defensive formula, and the six new players on the squad prove divisive among a group that excelled on its own last season. A relegation fight ensues.

Southampton

Home Southampton, England | Stadium: St. Mary's Stadium

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino, 2nd season

Colors: red, white and black | Nickname: Saints

Key Arrivals: Victor Wanyama, Celtic, Dejan Lovren, Lyon

Key Departures: Richard Chaplow, Millwall, Frazer Richardson, Middlesbrough

Last Year's Finish: 14th

This year's best-case scenario: Rickie Lambert, who recently earned an England call-up, continues to bag goals galore, and a full offseason under Mauricio Pochettino along with the addition of Wanyama and Lovren sees the club vie for a mid-table spot.

This year's worst-case scenario: Southampton finds itself too reliant on Lambert and struggles to score. Though the defense plays well, the team isn't consistent enough upfront and Pochettino goes the way of Nigel Adkins, who was fired last January.

Stoke City

Home Stoke-on-Trent, England | Stadium: Britannia Stadium

Manager: Mark Hughes, 1st season

Colors: red and white | Nickname: The Potters

Key Arrivals: Marc Muniesa, Erik Pieters, PSV Eindhoven, Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution

Key Departures: Matthew Upon, Brighton, Dean Whitehead, Middlesbrough, Rory Delap, released, Michael Owen, retired

Last Year's Finish: 13th

This year's best-case scenario: Former manager Tony Pulis' gritty, boring, but effective brand of soccer is replaced with one full of flair. The decision to appoint Hughes proves wise when he replicates the success he had at Blackburn Rovers and mounts a top six charge.

This year's worst-case scenario: This year's worst-case scenario: Hughes is unable to summon up past success and instead the club plays more like the ones he managed at Manchester City, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. The team still plays in a dull style, like under Pulis, but this year they lack the needed results.

Sunderland

Home Sunderland, England | Stadium: Stadium of Light

Manager: Paolo Di Canio, 2nd season

Colors: red and white | Nickname: The Black Cats

Key Arrivals: Emanuele Giaccherini, Juventus, Jozy Altidore, AZ Alkmaar, Vito Mannone, Arsenal

Key Departures: Simon Mignolet, Liverpool, Ahmed Elmohamady, Hull City, James McClean, Wigan

Last Year's Finish: 17th

This year's best-case scenario: Paolo Di Canio, who swooped in following the March firing of Martin O'Neill to rescue Sunderland from relegation, molds the team in his passionate, ebullient image. His 10 new signings settle and prove their worth and Sunderland becomes a top-half of the table team.

This year's worst-case scenario: The transfer spending spree blows up in Di Canio's face, and he finds himself with a collection of players rather than a team, up a tree right back where O'Neill left the Black Cats.

Swansea City

Home Swansea, Wales | Stadium: Liberty Stadium

Manager: Michael Laudrup, 2nd season

Colors: white and gold | Nickname: The Swans

Key Arrivals: Wilfried Bony, Vitesse, Jonjo Shelvey, Liverpool, Jordi Amat, Espanyol

Key Departures: Kemy Augustien, Brighton & Hove Albion, Kyle Bartley, loaned to Birmingham City

Last Year's Finish: 9th

This year's best-case scenario: Even the most optimistic of Swans supporters couldn't have envisioned the success of last season when Laudrup guided the club to Capital One Cup glory and galvanized the league with its attacking, beautiful play. Duplicating last season would be a major feat.

This year's worst-case scenario: Teams figure out Swansea's tactics, Michu is a shadow of his last year self and the team can't score enough goals to finish in the top half. Even worse, Welsh rivals Cardiff City finish above them.

Tottenham Hotspur

Home London, England | Stadium: White Hart Land

Manager: Andre Villas-Boas, 2nd season

Colors: white and blue | Nickname: Spurs

Key Arrivals: Paulinho, Corinthians, Roberto Soldado, Valencia, Nacer Chadli, FC Twente, Etienne Capoue, Toulouse

Key Departures: Steven Caulker, Cardiff City, Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders, William Gallas, released

Last Year's Finish: 5th

This year's best-case scenario: Soldado proves himself to be the talismanic target-man Spurs have long lacked and teams with Gareth Bale to propel the club into the UEFA Champions League, knocking out bitter rivals Arsenal.

This year's worst-case scenario: Bale's seemingly forever-rumored move to Real Madrid materializes before the end of the transfer window. Despite Villas-Boas' new signings, the absence of last year's player of the season proves too much to overcome and Spurs falls behind the likes of Liverpool and Everton.

West Bromwich Albion

Home West Bromwich, England | Stadium: The Hawthorns

Manager: Steve Clarke, 2nd season

Colors: navy blue and white | Nickname: The Baggies

Key Arrivals: Nicolas Anelka, Juventus, Diego Lugano, Paris Saint-Germain

Key Departures: Romelu Lukaku, returned to Chelsea after loan, Marc-Antoine Fortuné, Wigan

Last Year's Finish: 8th

This year's best-case scenario: Last year's eight place finish was the Baggies best in the last 22 years. To challenge for Europe, Nicolas Anelka finds his former self and the 34-year-old striker fills the boots left behind my Romelu Lukaku. Diego Lugano proves a steadying force in the middle and West Brom makes the Hawthorns a feared trip for opponents.

This year's worst-case scenario: Lukaku's 17 goals from last year prove difficult to replace. For all his tactical genius, Steve Clarke finds his team simply outmanned and due for a sharp decline down the table.

West Ham United

Home London, England | Stadium: Upton Park

Manager: Sam Allardyce, 3rd season

Colors: claret and blue | Nickname: The Hammers

Key Arrivals: Andy Carroll, Liverpool, Razvan Rat, Shaktar Donetsk, Adrian, Real Betis

Key Departures: Carlton Cole, released, Gary O'Neil, Queens Park Rangers

Last Year's Finish: 10th

This year's best-case scenario: Big Sam uses last year's 10th place finish as a platform. Andy Carroll, on loan last year, now a permanent West Ham man, stays healthy and heads the Hammers to a top eight finish.

This year's worst-case scenario: Newcastle, Aston Villa and Sunderland all improve from last year, meaning West Ham's status quo isn't good enough to finish in the top half of table. Allardyce resorts to his old long-ball ways, and the result isn't pleasing on the eye nor the win column.

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