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With the new Premier League season set to get underway,

It is time to look at the teams taking part and gauge their chances for the season ahead.

Premier League 2014/15 Preview - Part 4Thus, we bring you a four-part preview of every team in the top division of English football, from new boys QPR all the way up to reigning champions Manchester City.

5. Everton

Can Ross Barkley and Co. improve even more?

Under Roberto Martinez, everything really started coming together for Everton. After almost a decade of perceived over-achievement under David Moyes, we finally began to see what this squad is really capable of thanks to the tactical know-how and management of the Spaniard. The likes of Ross Barkley and John Stones flourished, while the old guard of Leon Osman and Sylvain Distin turned back the years, finishing agonizingly close to a Champions League qualification spot.

This season, one feels, is the one where the Toffees can really challenge for the top four, with veteran midfielder Gareth Barry having been permanently signed, along with perhaps the coup of the summer; Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian star was signed from Chelsea for a club record fee, but the overall opinion is that it is money exceptionally well spent, with many still scratching their heads over the fact that Jose Mourinho decided to sell to what is at this juncture in time a direct opponent. Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic also comes very highly rated, and his presence will bolster an already impressive midfield even further.

Expectations are high, with fans being cautiously very optimistic. Improvement will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is more than possible with the squad they currently have. At the very least, a similar finish to last season should be expected.

4. Arsenal

Will Arsenal finally be able to celebrate come the end of the season?

After another fourth-place finish, the inevitable deluge of jokes regarding Arsenal and ‘their’ fourth spot came pouring in. However, it is true that there is a worrying trend developing for the Gunners, and one feels that, despite their FA Cup triumph, another season of late capitulation spitting them out of the title race will not be taken kindly by Arsenal fans. Players such as Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott have failed to progress as expected due to injury, and the fact that clear shortcomings in the squad have not been addressed reeks of the same old problems.

The signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona is a major coup, and will improve their attack even more, while David Ospina will bring real competition to the number one jersey that Wojciech Szczesny has monopolised over the last few seasons. Worryingly, Arsenal have once again had to replace rather than strengthen with right-back Bacary Sagna having departed for greener pastures, and one has to wonder whether Mathieu Debuchy is, in fact, and better than his departed fellow countryman. Calum Chambers is a capable young player, but his price tag raised numerous eyebrows, particularly given the fact that no defensive midfielder or left-back has been purchased yet.

Improvement is a must for the Gunners this season, given their expenditure in this transfer window thus-far. It is time for Arsenal to become real title contenders rather than mere pretenders in the midst of giants.

3. Chelsea

Eden Hazard; the key to Jose Mourinho’s title charge?

No title this season, and Jose Mourinho is most probably out at Chelsea. I know it, you know it, and the man himself knows it. Roman Abramovic is not a patient man, and the club has not become as successful as it has by accepting failure. Last season, by all accounts, was a failure, with Chelsea routinely putting their title competitors to the sword, yet falling to the basement dwellers, banishing them to a season which promised much, yet delivered nothing.

There has been significant investment in the squad, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis being brought in to replace ageing stars such as Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. However, the decision to sell Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba, bringing in only Didier Drogba to support the hapless Fernando Torres and new spearhead Diego Costa has been questioned by fans and opposition alike. It will also be intriguing to see how the battle goes for the number one shirt, with long-time stalwart Petr Cech in real danger of being usurped by the young star Thibaut Courtois, so impressive over the past few seasons at Atletico Madrid.

Improvement is the only option at Stamford Bridge, and nobody will be willing to bet against the self-proclaimed Special One when his back is well and truly against the wall.

2. Liverpool

Success and failure can be determined in one fleeting moment.

Liverpool very much were the surprise package of the Premier League last season, and enthralled all who witnessed them with their sleek, fast-paced and efficient attacking play, led by the irrepressible Luis Suarez, falling just short of the title. The new season presents new problems, though, with the Uruguayan having packed his bags and left Anfield when Barcelona came calling after another biting scandal.

Brendan Rodgers has wasted no time in reinvesting the proceeds gained from the sale, and the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic have been brought in, along with the loan signing of Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo. However, questions remain whether this is not possibly simply replacing quality with quantity, similarly to Tottenham Hotspur last season. There are plenty of positives, though, with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho having performed at a very high level during pre-season.

The fact of the matter remains that Liverpool will do well to replicate what they did last season, with the Champions League set to be an added distraction to a squad that, in large, is not used to playing at a high level three times a week.

1. Manchester City

The reigning champions will look to repeat their success

The reigning Champions are once again favorites to win the Premier League, and with good reason. Manuel Pellegrini has perhaps the most complete squad at his disposal of any manager in the league, and the fact that they are a year more experienced and developed will not bode well for the opposition. In attack, there is almost nobody who can keep them at bay, with the firepower at their fingertips second to none.

The arrival of midfielder Fernando and centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who despite numerous delays is set to be a Manchester City player, supplements a fantastic squad spearheaded by Sergio Agüero, with the unstoppable Yaya Toure driving the midfield forward. Add to that the finesse of David Silva and the defensive ability of Vincent Kompany, and one has almost the perfect squad. The only thing that realistically can derail their title charge is injuries, but one would think that Manuel Pellegrini has learned from his experiences last season to better manage his squad.

Expect Manchester City to be a threat throughout, and everyone associated with the club will be eagerly anticipating a season that promises to pick up where the last left off; with a target on their back.

More Premier League 2014-15 previews in the series
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Originally published at inthestandsport.com

Post written by Marco Conradie, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10
for InTheStandSport, Blog: inthestandsport.com, Twitter: @InTheStandSport

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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