Ipswich Town are back in the big time, and that means a lot for the entire football club. On the pitch, they'll be coming up against some of the biggest stars in English football.

As we await Town's top tier fixtures being released at 9am today, Alex Jones picks out some of the biggest names from last season's top eight that the Blues are set to face in their first campaign back in the Premier League.

East Anglian Daily Times: Erling Haaland fired Manchester City to the Premier League title last seasonErling Haaland fired Manchester City to the Premier League title last season (Image: PA)

Erling Haaland - Manchester City

Starting off with the big name from the champions of England - Erling Haaland is arguably the face of the Premier League.

Arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2022, the striker broke all sorts of records in his first season at the Etihad Stadium, winning the Golden Boot with 36 goals in 35 games to set the new record for highest number of goals scored in a Premier League campaign.

Oh yeah, he helped Pep Guardiola’s side win the treble that year too. Yikes.

Last season was a little bit tougher for the 23-year-old (27 goals, five assists), but it’ll still be strange to see him walk out onto the pitch at Portman Road. Dealing with his pace and physicality will possibly be the toughest test that the likes of Luke Woolfenden and Cameron Burgess will face next season.

East Anglian Daily Times: Declan Rice made the move from West Ham to Arsenal last summerDeclan Rice made the move from West Ham to Arsenal last summer (Image: PA)

Declan Rice - Arsenal

One of England’s star men, Declan Rice swapped West Ham for Arsenal after guiding his boyhood club to the Europa Conference League title in 2022/23. It hasn’t gone too badly for him in North London, even if he missed out on winning a trophy with the Gunners.

Despite playing as a fairly deep-lying midfielder, Rice ended last season with seven goals and eight assists, having played in all 38 league games. He got his first taste of Champions League football and showed that he could use his strength and movement to dominate midfield.

Watching him come up against Sam Morsy will be fascinating from an Ipswich perspective, and shutting him down will be absolutely vital in the two games against Mikel Arteta’s side.

East Anglian Daily Times: Virgil van Dijk replaced Jordan Henderson has Liverpool captainVirgil van Dijk replaced Jordan Henderson has Liverpool captain (Image: PA)

Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool

We all remember when George Hirst came up against Josko Gvardiol during Ipswich’s 1-0 win against RB Leipzig in pre-season. He got the better of the Croatian centre-back that afternoon, beating him in the air to score the winner. Gvardiol joined Man City soon after that.

It’s funny to think that the two could meet again next season, but Hirst might face an even bigger challenge when Ipswich head to Anfield - Virgil van Dijk awaits.

The experienced Dutchman has won almost everything there is to win. He’s a powerhouse whose aerial presence is almost second to none, and that’s without mentioning the famous run of 50 games where nobody successfully dribbled past him.

Good luck, lads.

East Anglian Daily Times: Emiliano Martinez missed the end of last season through injuryEmiliano Martinez missed the end of last season through injury (Image: PA)

Emiliano Martinez - Aston Villa

Moving away from outfield players, Emiliano Martinez will be a tough goalkeeper to come up against next season.

The Argentine international, who played a huge part in his country’s World Cup win in 2022, helped the Villans qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1983. He kept eight clean sheets in 34 league games, but the hardest task will be dealing with his mind games.

Whether it’s penalties or set pieces, or any situation where you’re remotely near to him, he’ll look to wind you up and distract you. Keeping cool and calm is key when coming up against him, which many attackers have tried and failed to do.

East Anglian Daily Times: James Maddison made 53 appearances for Norwich City in two seasons at Carrow RoadJames Maddison made 53 appearances for Norwich City in two seasons at Carrow Road (Image: PA)

James Maddison - Tottenham Hotspur

This’ll be a fun one.

James Maddison is a talented football player. An England international with a knack for set pieces. He’s a creator and a goalscorer, ending last season with four goals and nine assists in an injury-hit campaign for Spurs.

He’s also ex-Norwich City, and he’s not afraid to show his love for the Canaries. Ipswich fans will have bad memories of the time he scored the winner in the East Anglian derby at Portman Road in 2017, and they’ll be sure to greet him with some chants when the Blues face Ange Postecoglou’s side next season.

Boyhood Town fan Woolfenden isn’t always one for strong, lunging tackles, but he might make an exception here.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cole Palmer was named Premier League Young Player of the SeasonCole Palmer was named Premier League Young Player of the Season (Image: PA)

Cole Palmer - Chelsea

The break-out star of last season, Cole Palmer arrived at Chelsea from Man City after a difficult spell where he really struggled for game time. He was expected to do well at Stamford Bridge, but ended up blowing all those expectations out of the water.

He finished with 22 goals and 11 assists, giving him the most goal contributions of anyone in the top flight last season. Some of his performances were remarkable, particularly his hat-trick against Manchester United and his four-goal haul against Everton.

Nullifying him will be really difficult. The way he roams around the forward line makes him difficult to mark, and more often than not he’s incredibly clinical. Town will need to be on their toes, particularly when they head to West London, given his strong showings on home soil.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kobbie Mainoo has established himself in Manchester United's starting lineupKobbie Mainoo has established himself in Manchester United's starting lineup (Image: PA)

Kobbie Mainoo - Manchester United

Kobbie Mainoo is the youngest player on this list by some way, born in April 2005. That puts him as 19 years old, and he’s already one of Man United’s best players.

The midfielder broke into the team around the turn of the year, having made the odd appearance earlier in the 2023/24 season. His impressive performance in a 0-0 draw against Liverpool saw him nail down a spot in the starting lineup and he hasn’t looked back since.

The high point of his short career to date came in the FA Cup final, where he scored the winner against arch-rivals Man City. Town will have to come up against the most talented teenager in the Premier League, and one of the most impressive young players in Europe.

East Anglian Daily Times: Alexander Isak has been linked with a move to Arsenal this summerAlexander Isak has been linked with a move to Arsenal this summer (Image: PA)

Alexander Isak - Newcastle United

Newcastle United’s season ended in disappointment. They thought that they’d manage to seal a place in the Europa Conference League, but Man United’s FA Cup win snatched that away. Nonetheless, one player who’s had a standout campaign is Alexander Isak, who finished as third-top scorer behind Haaland and Palmer with 23 goals.

He’s more than just a poacher - he’s an excellent all-round finisher. Yes, he’s clinical, but despite standing at 6’4”, he’s really good at getting into tiny pockets of space and shining with the ball at his feet.

In terms of out-and-out strikers, he’ll prove to be one of Ipswich’s toughest opponents.