Everything you need to know heading into Week 1 of the Barclays Premier League

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By JOHN DORN

Though it might seem like last year's Premier League campaign just wrapped up, it's already time to turn the page to the coming season. Week 1 play begins Saturday at 7:45 a.m. ET, when Tottenham travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.

But before getting into this season, let's briefly recap the main events from last year.


A look back

Entering the season widely regarded as title favorites, Chelsea lived up to expectations by topping second-place Manchester City -- by a hefty margin. New acquisition Cesc Fabregas scored three goals but led the league with 18 assists, while Diego Costa scored 20 and Eden Hazard netted 14.

After adding Radamel Falcao, Manchester United were presumed to be a powerhouse. But several underwhelming performances left Man U supporters with a sour taste in their mouths by the middle of the season.

After early back-to-back losses against Leicester and since-relegated QPR, it was panic time for the Red Devils. But Louis van Gaal rallied his troops early in time to salvage a top-four finish.

Mario Balotelli's long-awaited transfer to the Premiership came last August when Liverpool shelled out £16 million to acquire the striker. Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling figured to form one of the more powerful front lines in football -- but Balotelli flamed out, scoring just a single goal and eventually being relegated to the sidelines, while Sturridge played in just 12 league games.

The Reds were in the mix for a top-four finish for most of the year, but a late collapse sent Steven Gerrard out on an inappropriate note.

Man City and Arsenal both enjoyed promising campaigns, finishing second and third, respectively, and figure to repeat success this coming season. Tottenham, thanks to a breakout campaign from 22-year-old Harry Kane, finished six points away from Man United at No. 5.


Looking forward

Two major EPL names switched allegiances over the summer: Falcao from United to Chelsea and Sterling from Liverpool to Man City -- for a whopping £49 million transfer fee.

Liverpool slightly lessened the blow of the Sterling loss by paying Aston Villa £32.5 million for the striker. He's scored 59 goals over the last three Premier League seasons.

Manchester United grabbed German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, formerly of Bayern Munich, on a three-year contract. The 31-year-old totaled 67 goals for Bayern over the previous 13 seasons.

Entering this coming season, the primary contenders from last season all figure to finish similarly this coming season. Chelsea certainly have the firepower to repeat, but their depth is questionable. Manchester City are formidable once again, and the addition of Sterling affirms that status. But should he struggle to fit in the early stages -- after costing City a pretty penny -- it'll be interesting to monitor how the 20-year-old reacts.

Outside of last year's top four and some others -- Liverpool and Tottenham come to mind -- it's hard to predict firmly predict any wild cards sliding into the top four.


Top Week 1 matchups

Manchester United vs. Tottenham: Saturday, Aug. 8, 7:45 a.m. ET

Two clubs expected to finish near the top of the table, Man U and Tottenham will officially open EPL play on Saturday.

Schewinsteiger will look to open his United tenure with a bang, while Harry Kane hopes to continue his rise to dominance. Tottenham hasn't beaten Manchester United since January 2014.


Bournemouth vs. Aston Villa: Saturday, Aug. 8, 10 a.m. ET

Not the sexiest of matchups on paper, but this is a huge day for AFC Bournemouth. The minnows from the south coast nearly went bankrupt in 2008. The club, which was languishing in the fourth tier of English football at the time, had to collect spare change and organize bake sales just to stay alive (their owners say they were 15 minutes away from going broke).

Russian businessman Maxim Demin invested in the club in 2011 and has sunk millions of pounds into the team. Just seven years removed from the brink of extinction, the Cherries play their first game in the Premier League after winning promotion last year. What an incredible Cinderella story.

Also, take a look at photos from the USWNT's World Cup celebration:
29 PHOTOS
Women's World Cup soccer parade
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Everything you need to know heading into Week 1 of the Barclays Premier League
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: The World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team, including Abby Wambach (Top L), celebrates along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (C), as they make their way up the The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall.( Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrates the Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team at a City Hall ceremony following a New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Thousands of fans cheer as the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team make their way up the The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
USA women's soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe (C) holds up the World Cup 2015 trophy as midfielder Carli Lloyd (L), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and head coach Jill Ellis (R) wave to the crowd during the ticker tape parade in New York on July 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer cheer as they make their way up The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Abby Wambach takes a photo as she and her teammates from the U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team parade along Broadway to City Hall, Friday July 10, 2015, in New York. The U.S. defeated Japan, 5-2, for the championship. (AP Photo/Bryan R, Smith)
U.S. women's soccer team members are joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as their float makes its way up Broadway's Canyon of Heroes during the ticker tape parade to celebrate the team's World Cup victory, Friday, July 10, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan R, Smith)
USA women's soccer team midfielder Carli Lloyd takes a selfie with the World Cup 2015 trophy during the ticker tape parade in New York on July 10, 2015, to celebrate the team's World Cup victory. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
USA women's soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe (C) holds the World Cup 2015 trophy on her head during the ticker tape parade in New York on July 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
USA women's soccer team fans cheer during the ticker tape parade in New York on July 10, 2015 celebrating the team World Cup victory. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Alexis Morgan, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Megan Rapinoe and Chirlane McCray during New York City Holds Ticker Tape Parade For World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team celebrate as they make their way up The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team, including Whitney Engen (Right) are viewed as crowds cheer as they make their way up The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team celebrate as they make their way up the The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: (L-R): Soccer player Carli Lloyd, Mayor Bill de Blasio, soccer player Megan Rapinoe, Chirlane McCray and U.S. Coach Jill Ellis aboard a float in the New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: A general view of the atmosphere during the New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer cheer as they make their way up The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, at center on float, gestures during a ticker tape parade for the U.S. women's World Cup soccer team Friday, July 10, 2015, in New York. The U.S. team defeated Japan to win the World Cup on Sunday. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Thousands of fans cheer as the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team make their way up the The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Thousands of fans cheer as the World Cup-winning U.S. women's soccer team make their way up the The Canyon of Heroes along Broadway during a ticker-tape parade on July 10, 2015 in New York City. Following the parade the team celebrated at ceremony at City Hall. According to city records, New York City has hosted 205 parades since 1886 along the Canyon of Heroes, which is located along Broadway between the Battery and City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: (L-R): Mayor Bill de Blasio, soccer players Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, Chirlane McCray and U.S. Coach Jill Ellis aboard a float in the New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
U.S. women's soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, center, holds up the World Cup trophy as midfielder Carli Lloyd, left, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, and head coach Jill Ellis, right, wave to the crowd as their float makes it way up Broadway's Canyon of Heroes during the ticker tape parade to celebrate the U.S. women's soccer team World Cup victory, Friday, July 10, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has his arm around U.S. women's World Cup team forward Abby Wambach during a ticker tape parade honoring the World Cup champions in New York, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
The U.S. women's World Cup team stands on floats during a ticker tape parade in New York, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Soccer players Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe in the New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
A young fan cheers while waiting for the ticker tape parade to celebrate the U.S. women's soccer team World Cup victory, Friday, July 10, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Soccer player Abby Wambach in the New York City Ticker Tape Parade for World Cup Champions U.S. Women's Soccer National Team on July 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Caigan Leonard, 9, of New Windsor, N.Y., wears a number 13 soccer jersey like team USA player Alex Morgan while waiting for the ticker tape parade to celebrate the U.S. women's soccer team World Cup victory, Friday, July 10, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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