Premier League preview, Week 1: Welcome back all our old pals!

Michael Regan

The Premier League is back, everyone, and it’s Premierier than ever!

Liverpool vs. Stoke City

Anfield; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

The new Premier League season kicks off with a real, uh, barnburner, with a new-look Stoke City side sure to be energized by the appointment of exciting up-and-comer Mark Hughes traveling to face Liverpool. Since it's the first game of the season and there aren't any others scheduled you'll watch it anyways, but man would it be a lot more exciting if Luis Suarez hadn't bit that dude.

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

Emirates Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

This top-of-the-table battle for Premier League supremacy is surely the biggest game of the young season, with the first and second placed teams in the league battling it out for the early edge in the race for the Champions League. Seeing as how the only realistic metric with which to measure a team's likelihood of success is "money spent during transfer window", Aston Villa have to be considered the heavy favorites here, and with a signature win over the table-topping Gunners, they will undoubtedly march on to Champions League glory.

Norwich City vs. Everton

Carrow Road; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

A new era of Everton begins with a trip to Norwich, and though the reign of Roberto Martinez will not be as closely watched as the one on which his predecessor is about to embark, it will certainly be one of the season's more interesting storylines. Martinez is an interesting figure whose supporters point to his record of keeping Wigan in the league against all odds and still managing to play attractive and inventive football, while his detractors will point out that the Latics never really seemed to make any progress under his watch and in the end found themselves back in the Championship.

Martinez at a big club is something a lot of folks have been interested in seeing for quite some time, and though we won't learn much of anything this week, it's the start of what is almost certainly going to be a popular narrative as the season wears on. Also, Norwich is pretty fun to watch. You could certainly do worse.

Sunderland vs. Fulham

Stadium of Light; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Sunderland has signed a whole grip of players this offseason-including the New Savior Of American Soccer-and there's a great deal of positivity surrounding the club right now. That's understandable; Paolo Di Canio found himself thrust into a very difficult position, and managed to pull Sunderland out of the muck. Say what you'd like about, well, everything else that has ever happened in the entirety of his public life, but Sunderland fans have reason to be confident in his ability to turn the fortunes of the club around. Fulham is in a slightly different scenario, a solid club without much of an identity managed by a man that would be labeled Generic Competent Premier League Manager were he able to be packaged and sold as a commodity. There is of course no sense in taking any first week result too seriously, but with these two clubs it's a bit difficult not to read into things just a little bit.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton

The Hawthorns; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

So, Steve Clarke is aware that Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea, right? Because Nicolas Anelka was pretty good in his day and Diego Lugano is just kind of pretty in general but this squad seems to have a few problems. Southampton's continuing policy of going very aggressively ( in case you couldn't tell that was a dog whistle for "overpaying") for young talent continued over the summer with the recruitment of Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama, but no matter your opinion of their spending habits it's difficult to argue that they haven't assembled a pretty promising collection of young talent. Yet another interesting storyline to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.

West Ham United vs. Cardiff City

The Boleyn Ground; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Laugh at Sam Allardyce all you want, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll is a pretty solid combination. They might only do one thing well apiece, but those respective things are pretty compatible. Cardiff City make their first Premier League appearance, and unlike their newly promoted counterparts they seem to actually be aware that they are now playing at a higher level. Steven Caulker is the kind of young and promising player newly promoted sides should tend to favor, while signing the soon-to-be most hated played in the Premier League in Gary Medel is a solid bit of trolling. Still to be seen: whether Cardiff throws its supporters a bone and wears the blue third kit their first week out. Given West Ham's color scheme, they've got a built in excuse.

Swansea City vs. Manchester United

Liberty Stadium; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

Hey guys, were you aware that Manchester United has a new manager? Yeah, Alex Ferguson retired. I don't know if you knew that yet. They hired David Moyes. You know, the guy that used to manage Everton. Yeah, I'm serious. Pretty crazy, right. I'd imagine he's going to be under some pretty serious pressure, huh? It's nuts that this story hasn't been bigger.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Selhurst Park; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM

Well folks, Ian Holloway is back in the Premier League. If you're looking for someone to blame, I'd say that it's all pretty clearly Elton John's fault. Nice going, Rocketman. I hope Bernie Taupin cuts you off.

Chelsea vs. Hull City Tigers

Stamford Bridge; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

Okay so we're all agreed Chelsea's going to win? Cool, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about this Hull name change thing. You thought "Hull City" was too dowdy, so you added the nickname that about 85% of people that know who Hull City is would recognize? Oh, but you dropped the AFC, which everyone totally always used when they referred to the club. "Hey guys, did you see the Spurs-Hull City Association Football Club match? It was quite a corker!" Yeah. People totally said that all the time. Great re-brand, guys. Give that Senior Brand Management Consultant a big fat performance bonus and access to a timeshare in Ibiza.

Manchester City vs. Newcastle

Etihad Stadium; Monday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

There's an unspoken subtext to this offseason among a fair number of fans of the Premier League that now that Roberto Mancini has been put out to pasture and replaced with a manager competent at something other than elaborate scarf-looping , Manchester City will actually begin destroying everyone in their path as the level of talent in their squad would indicate. It's not an especially pleasant thought on some levels, but if it turns out to be true it will be at the very least viscerally satisfying. Also, Alan Pardew still has a job.

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