The Premier League is back – and there are three new teams for football fans to get acquainted with.
The opening game of the 2022/23 season kicks-off at 8pm on Friday (August 5), with Arsenal taking on Crystal Palace in a London derby before the fixtures get into full-flow across the weekend.
England’s top league is starting a few weeks early this year to make room for the winter break needed for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November.
Following last year’s nail-biting end to the season, with Manchester City piping Liverpool to the title by only a single point on the last day, fans are in for a pulsating watch to see if rivals can dislodge Pep Guardiola’s side from the pinnacle.
Thrown into the mix are the three teams freshly-promoted from England’s second tier.
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Fulham and Bournemouth are back in the big time after securing the automatic promotion spots in the Championship last season.
The Cottagers and The Cherries have both been regulars in the Premier League in recent years, with Fulham known as a “yo-yo” club from the way they constantly go up and down between the divisions.
Nostalgia fans will be happy to see Nottingham Forest back at England’s top table after their controversial play-off victory against Huddersfield at Wembley.
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Forest featured in the first Premier League game broadcast live on television during their August 1992 win against Liverpool.
They were relegated that same season and flitted between the first and second divisions a few times until their 1999 bottom-placed finish sent them into a Premier League exile that lasted for more than 20 years.
The west Londoners finished top of the Championship last season.
However, that has rarely been a guarantee of top flight success the following year — as Norwich can testify.
Manager Marco Silva has had a few short-lived runs with Premier League sides, including Hull City, Watford and Everton.
Having had time to blood his team through a year in the Championship and having brought in defensive reinforcements, he will be hoping he can finally make Fulham’s status as a first division team stick.
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His side has some Premier League experience already, with captain Tom Cairney and top goal scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic both representing the whites in their previous spell among the elite.
The Portuguese gaffer has secured new arrivals to sure up the defence and midfield but will largely put his trust in the squad that bagged 90 points and 106 goals last season.
Defender Kevin Mbabu has been brought in from Wolfsburg and midfielder Joao Palhinha from Sporting CP.
Premier League experience has also been added in the form of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno and Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira.
After a massive overhaul in 2018 and a host of loans in Fulham's 2020 premiership season backfired, Silva will hope a mixture of the old and the new can keep his side out of the bottom three.
Scott Parker jumped ship from managing Fulham to Bournemouth after his former side went down in 2020/21, only to spend all-year vying against them for the Championship title.
The south-coast side came within two points of the top spot and played some good football, although were not as prolific as their rivals in the goalscoring department.
Preparation in terms of transfers for the new season has been ad hoc, with The Cherries waiting until August to pay a fee for anyone.
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They eventually parted with around £12million to sign Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough after adding midfielder Joe Rothwell and defender Ryan Fredericks on free transfers.
It seems former Spurs midfield maestro Parker believes his squad needs more reinforcements if they are to avoid a relegation scrap.
He told the Southern Daily Echo after a pre-season friendly against Real Sociedad: "We need to work out whether we want to give ourselves a chance of being competitive this year.
“At the moment, that is not the case."
The Reds have thrown financial caution to the wind to become one of the summer’s big spenders in a bid to retain their Premier League status going into next season.
Steve Cooper’s side has had more than £70m spent on it – and that number could still potentially rise with more deals in the offing.
Some high profile loan exits in the form of Djed Spence and James Garner meant Forest acted quickly to fill the gaps following their 1-0 play-off victory.
Nigerian forward Taiwo Awoniyi and Welsh full-back Neco Williams are the most expensive arrivals, both costing the club £17m each.
They have also splashed out on the hefty £200,000-a-week wages for free agent Jesse Lingard, and the expenses related to Dean Henderson's arrival on loan, the England goalkeeper who also comes over from Manchester United.
Cooper will need those new to the league to get up to speed quickly and hope Lingard and Henderson can rediscover the form that saw them grab attention during loan spells at West Ham and Sheffield United respectively in 2020/21.
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