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OUR PREMIER LEAGUE OPPONENTS: PART TWO

16 June 2015

In-focus: our top flight rivals in 2015-16

WITH the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League fixtures released this week, we profile the teams Norwich City will face over the course of the season. For Part One, click HERE. Now for Part Two.

EVERTON
 

Manager: Roberto Martinez
Home: Goodison Park
2014-15: 11th
Twitter: @Everton

Fact
: City welcomed Everton to Carrow Road for the opening match of their last Premier League campaign.

Everton struggled for consistency in Roberto Martinez's second season at Goodison Park.

After breaking their transfer record to sign Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for £28m last summer, the Merseysiders didn't hit the heights of the previous year when they finished fifth.


For the upcoming campaign, they won't have to balance their domestic efforts with a European schedule - they reached the last 16 of the Europa League in 2014-15 but were eventually knocked out by Dynamo Kiev.

Supporters will hope a less intense schedule will help push the Toffees back into the top ten, a position they held for eight seasons prior to ending up 11th in May.

LEICESTER CITY
 
Manager: Nigel Pearson
Home: King Power Stadium
2014-15: 14th
Twitter: @OfficialFOXES

Fact
: Norwich haven't played Leicester for over three years, when the Foxes won 2-1 at Carrow Road in an FA Cup Sixth Round tie.

Leicester's survival story will provide inspiration for all teams battling against relegation from the Premier League.

Bottom at Christmas with a paltry ten points from their first 17 matches, Nigel Pearson's Foxes looked destined for an immediate return to the second tier.


Things hadn't improved much by the time April arrived, but then an astonishing run where they accumulated 22 points from a possible 27 secured a miraculous 14th place finish.

Striker Jamie Vardy, who three years ago was playing non-league football with Fleetwood Town, was rewarded for his form with an England call-up in June.

LIVERPOOL
 
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Home: Anfield
2014-15: 6th
Twitter: @LFC

Fact
: Liverpool played the Canaries in the last game in front of the original Spion Kop at Anfield in 1994 - and a Jeremy Goss goal wrapped up a shock win for the visitors.

It's been a difficult 12 months for Liverpool after their near-miss in the Premier League title race in 2013-14.

The sale of star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona, plus two serious injuries to Daniel Sturridge, resulted in Brendan Rodgers' team scoring little over half the league goals (52) they managed the season before (101).


A humiliating 6-1 defeat to Stoke City on the final day precipitated a meeting with Rodgers and the club's owner John W Henry, but it has since been confirmed that the Northern Irishman will lead the Reds into 2014-15.

He has already moved to strengthen his squad by signing James Milner from Manchester City, Danny Ings from Burnley and Adam Bogdan from Bolton Wanderers, but they will of course start life without Steven Gerrard.

MANCHESTER CITY
 
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Home: Etihad Stadium
2014-15: 2nd 
Twitter: @MCFC

Fact
: Three-time Player of the Season Grant Holt scored the last of his 78 City goals in the Canaries' memorable 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium in 2013.

Manuel Pellegrini will oversee his third season in charge of Manchester City in 2014-15, despite not picking up any silverware last term.

The Chilean won the Barclays Premier League title and the League Cup in his first campaign but has since seen his team fall behind Chelsea in English football's pecking order.


Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek has promised Pellegrini financial backing this summer to make his squad a force not just on these shores but in European competition also, an area where the Citizens are yet to excel since their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008.

They have been heavily linked with Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, reportedly having a bid in the region of £25m turned away earlier in June.

MANCHESTER UNITED
 
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Home: Old Trafford
2014-15: 4th
Twitter: @ManUtd

Fact
: Wes Hoolahan's confirmation name is 'Cantona', after United legend Eric Cantona.

Manchester United will return to the Champions League after a one-year absence following a fourth-place finish in Louis van Gaal's debut season at the helm.

It was a year of ups-and-downs for the Red Devils as they continue to strive to reach the levels set during Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure.


A tentative start that included a 4-0 reverse at MK Dons in the League Cup gave way to a more promising second half as the experienced van Gaal settled on his best eleven.

Captain Wayne Rooney remains a pivotal part of the 63-year-old's plans, but doubts remain whether Player of the Season David de Gea will stay at Old Trafford amid interest from Real Madrid.

Look out for Part Three soon, featuring Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland and Swansea City.

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