With yet another Premiership season awaiting kick-off, optimism is something every club must be feeling now. It is the only day where all teams stand equally and therefore, it is time for the customary previews and predictions.
Liverpool V Sunderland, 14:00 GMT - Saturday, 13 August
Many are waiting to watch the a new-look Liverpool side in action as Kenny Dalglish has spent lavishly in signing Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique. There was a similar feeling at Anfield this time last year, when Roy Hodgson was in charge, but hope quickly turned to despair after a horrendous start to their season. Eventually, Hodgson got the sack, Dalglish came in and Liverpool's season turned around as they finished 6th.
Though skipper Steven Gerrard is injured for the start of the season, their strength in depth in midfield, means Dalglish has the enviable problem of who to pick as a replacement - Charlie Adam or Raul Meireles. Sunderland themselves have signed many players, including the much-rated Connor Wickham. Though they are unlikely to pose much trouble at Anfield, they're sure to finish in a respectable position come end of the season.
Many have touted Liverpool to challenge for the title, and although that may be a tad ambitious, the Reds main aim will be to secure a Champions League spot - something they are likely to do. A good way to go about that would be to start with a win, and they shouldn't have much of a problem doing that.
Prediction - Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland
Newcastle United V Arsenal, 16:30 GMT - Saturday, 13 August
This very same fixture produced one of the most exciting matches last season, when Arsenal surged into a 4-0 lead only to see Newcastle launch an incredible comeback to level matters by fulltime.
Much has changed since then, although it isn't in a good way for either side. Newcastle have lost their captain Kevin Nolan to West Ham and Jose Enrique to Liverpool while Joey Barton's tantrums have resulted in him being registered for a free transfer. However, they have signed a cluster of French players in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, Mehdi Abeid and former Manchester United player Gabriel Obertan. After successfully defending their place in the league last season, their aim now will be to move into the top half of the table.
Arsenal, on the other hand, haven't signed any of the expected 'big names', much to the dismay of their supporters. Compounding their troubles is the fact that both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas are set to leave for Manchester City and Barcelona respectively after manager Arsene Wenger omitted the two from his squad for the match. Wenger's activities in the transfer market was said to be the determining factor in how his side would flourish this season. If so, things look very grey for Arsenal. They've only signed Gervinho as one who could regularly start, while their other two signings Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinsson, are long-term prospects and not the immediate solution demanded by the trophy-craving Gunners fans. However, with the end of the transfer window still far away, Arsenal have time.
This match could go neither way and a draw looks likely.
Prediction - Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal
Stoke City V Chelsea, 12:30 GMT - Sunday, 14 August
Andre Villas-Boas' first official match in charge of Chelsea will be at the Britannia Stadium where they take on last season's FA Cup runners-up, Stoke City.
As far as Chelsea are concerned, the focus will primarily be on Villas-Boas. Everything from his first team selection to his the style of play will be scrutinized. Over the season, his success will largely depend on how he gets the best out of Fernando Torres, how Didier Drogba will be used, and most importantly, how many opportunities his midfield can create. Chelsea's three signings of the season - Thibaut Courtois, Oriol Romeu and Romelu Lukaku - are more of signings for the future. Their real need is a creative figure in midfield and their pursuit of Luka Modric continues to go on, with Tottenham having already rejected two bids for the player. That signing could prove to be the difference for Chelsea, especially as they looked toothless for major portions of last season when the supply for the forward line was limited. However, Villas-Boas' Porto team was known for their fluid attacking play, and Chelsea did show signs of adapting the same in pre-season. This first game will provide some of the answers.
Stoke are likely to forward a stern opening test for Villas-Boas though. Despite a 13th place finish last season, which owed a lot to their run in the FA Cup, they've been strong at home and manager Tony Pulis has slowly, but steadily, molded the team into a competitive side. They're expected to finish in the top half this season, and are likely to provide some trouble for Chelsea.
Prediction - Stoke 1-2 Chelsea
West Bromwich Albion V Manchester United, 15:00 GMT - Sunday, 14 August
Man United set about defending their title against West Brom, who have looked defensively solid since their takeover by former-Liverpool man Roy Hodgson in the latter part of last season.
However, they face the champions who've strengthened quite a bit since being crowned kings of England. A summer splash has seen David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashely Young all come in, and although a replacement for the retired Paul Scholes is yet to arrive, the manner of their comeback in the Community Shield against Manchester City, when they overturned a halt-time deficit of 2-0 into a 3-2 triumph, sent out an early message to their title rivals. Sir Alex Ferguson will be keen to address the issue of a new central midfielder, especially as the void left by a figure such as Scholes is hard to fill. Though Wesley Sneijder has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford, the club has now distanced themselves from a possible move. Interestingly though, Tom Cleverley has drawn widespread plaudits and could be the answer.
West Brom are a side, who after impressing in the early parts of last season, underwent a collapse which eventually required a change in manager. After Hodgson took over, they staged a comeback to take the 11th position in the table, while Peter Odemwingie became the fifth highest scorer of the league with 15 goals. However, it is hard to face the champions on the opening day, and not many expect them to take much away from the game.
Prediction - West Brom 0-2 Man United