Newcastle United kick-off the Steve McClaren era at home to Southampton.
The Magpies are aiming to improve on last season’s 15th placed finish which saw them just avoid relegation on the final day of the campaign.
And with new faces such as Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba, the Toon Army will be confident that they won’t be in a survival scrap come next May.
The visitors will find it tougher to better last year’s campaign, where the finished a club-record best of seventh, 10 points behind fourth placed Manchester United.
Despite that, and the loss of Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin, Saints boss Ronald Koeman will be aiming to keep the club progressing the way it has over the past six years.
And after a 5-0 aggregate win against Vitesse in a Europa League qualifier, the St Mary’s outfit look to be again heading in the right direction, showing the continent that they are capable of challenging in numerous competitions.
It will be interesting to see if the second-leg of that tie, which was played in Holland on Thursday, does have any impact on the Hampshire side.
McClaren is expected to give debuts to Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Mbemba, but Fabricio Coloccini (Achilles) is a doubt, while Cheick Tiote, Emanuel Riviere and Paul Dummett are not expected to make it.
Saints boss Koeman may not be at St James’ Park after rupturing his Achilles tendon.
Jordy Clasie and Shane Long are doubts for the trip, while Ryan Bertrand, Gaston Ramirez, Florin Gardos and Fraser Forster are all ruled out.
Last Meeting: Newcastle 1-2 Southampton, January 17, 2015
Key Men: Newcastle – Moussa Sissoko; Southampton – Sadio Mane
Shoot Says: Newcastle 1-2 Southampton