Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew insists they can improve on last season's finish.
He is adamant Newcastle have a better overall squad now, which should enable them to ride over the kind of dip that eventually cost them a chance of Champions League qualification.
"You have to earn the right to play a certain level of football in the Premier League," he said. "We had a strong finish last season. But our depth this year is stronger.
"It is very difficult to improve on our starting XI from last year. But we didn't have it every week and it cost us.
"This time, I look at my group and know if I lose someone, I can replace them like-for-like.
"That is going to be very important as the season goes on, especially in the Premier League."