Football: FA Premiership: A new season dawns on Saturday, and English football will find a world of difference

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PRE-SEASON alarm bells rang ever louder after a 4-1 defeat by Bolton Wanderers, and then the failure to sign two of their players, Alan Stubbs and Jason McAteer. Mark Wright and Julian Dicks were left out of a German tour, the former because of his attitude, the latter for alleged lack of fitness, which prompted him to respond bitterly; unheard of in days past. It is a huge task for Roy Evans to stir the red beast anew. For all that, they are still .

Goalkeepers 1 David James 13 Michael Stensgaard Defenders 2 Robbie Jones 3 Stig Bjornebye 4 Steve Nicol 5 Mark Wright 6 Neil Ruddock 17 Julian Dicks 20 Dominic Matteo 21 Steve Harkness Midfielders 7 Nigel Clough 8 Jamie Redknapp 14 Jan Molby 15 Paul Stewart 16 Mike Thomas 18 Don Hutchison 23 Phil Charnock 22 Lee Jones Forwards 9 Ian Rush 10 John Barnes 11 Steve McManaman 12 Robbie Fowler 19 Mark Walters. MANAGER Roy Evans (2nd season).

Transfers: In Stensgaard (Hvidovre) pounds 20,000.

Forecast 6th.

Leicester City

BRIAN LITTLE deserves praise for getting Leicester up after two near misses, but any sympathy for this season's potential Swindon Town will evaporate if they repeat the intimidation and crashingly boring football with which they confronted Derby County in the play-off final. Any team that leaves out Julian Joachim will deserve all it gets. Steve Walsh should give them spirit and Mark Draper may offer some quality in midfield but it could be a grind.

Goalkeepers 1 Gavin Ward 32 Russell Hoult 33 Kevin Poole Defenders 2 Simon Grayson 3 Mike Whitlow 4 Jimmy Willis 5 Steve Walsh 12 Richard Smith 14 Nicky Mohan 15 Brian Carey 19 Colin Hill 23 Gary Coatsworth 24 Neil Lewis 27 Colin Gibson Midfielders 6 Steve Agnew 8 Mark Blake 10 Mark Draper 11 Ian Ormondroyd 16 Steve Thompson 30 Ian Thompson Forwards 7 Julian Joachim 9 Iwan Roberts 18 David Speedie 20 David Oldfield 21 Lee Philpott 22 Gary Mills 25 David Lowe 26 Phil Gee 31 Scott Eustace. MANAGER Brian Little (4th season).

Transfers: In Mark Draper (Notts County) tribunal. Out Tony James (Hereford) free.

Forecast Relegation.

Southamp ton

ON Matthew Le Tissier's shoulders lie Southampton's prospects. Manfully he carries the burden of goalscoring, and though the loanof the young Dane Johnny Eklund from Barcelona may help, the Saints may struggle to sustain it this season. Jim Magilton's arrival did ease some midfield responsibilities on Le Tissier but Saints may need to splash out if they are to survive. The return of the gifted young Richard Hall after a year's injury will make them a little less porous at the back.

Goalkeepers 1 Dave Beasant 13 Ian Andrews Defenders 2 Jeff Kenna 3 Francis Benali 5 Richard Hall 6 Ken Monkou 14 Simon Charlton 15 Jason Dodd 22 Matthew Bound Midfielders 4 Jim Magilton 7 Matthew Le Tissier 10 Neil Maddison 11 Paul Allen 18 David Hughes Forwards 8 Craig Maskell 9 Iain Dowie 12 Neil Heaney 16 Nicky Banger 17 Perry Groves 19 Paul McDonald 21 Tommy Widdrington. No number Bruce Grobbelaar, Johnny Eklund. MANAGER Alan Ball (2nd season).

Transfers: In Grobbelaar () free; Eklund (Barcelona) loan. Out Steve Wood (Oxford) free.

Forecast 18th.

Leeds United

OUTSTANDING prospects in Gary Kelly, Kevin Sharp, Jamie Forrester and Mark Tinkler; Carlton Palmer to shore up defence; two intriguing South Africans in Philomen Masinga and Lucas Radebe. All might appear promising but Brian Deane's ineffectiveness cannot be allowed to go on much longer, nor can Gordon Strachan's little legs, and Gary McAllister may be tempted abroad.

Goalkeepers 1 John Lukic 13 Mark Beeney 30 Paul Pettinger Defenders 2 Gary Kelly 3 Tony Dorigo 5 Chris Fairclough 6 David Wetherall 12 John Pemberton 15 Nigel Worthington 16 David O'Leary 20 Kevin Sharp 23 Andrew Couzens 24 Robert Bowman Midfielders 4 Carlton Palmer 7 Gordon Strachan 10 Gary McAllister 11 Gary Speed 14 David White 17 Mark Tinkler 22 Mark Ford 25 Matthew Smithard Forwards 8 Rod Wallace 9 Brian Deane 18 Jamie Forrester 19 Noel Whelan 21 Ryan Nicholls 26 Philomen Masinga. MANAGER Howard Wilkinson (7th season).

Transfers: In Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday) pounds 2.6m; Masinga (Mamelodi Sundowns) pounds 250,000; Radebe (Kaizer Chiefs) pounds 250,000; Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday) pounds 350,000. Out Jon Newsome (Norwich) pounds 1m.

Forecast 8th.

Ipswich Town

WITH John Lyall having reassumed control of team affairs from the dour Mick McGiven, Ipswich should at least be less curmudgeonly than last season and such creative talents as Chris Kiwomya and Gavin Johnson will be treated with more sympathy, though Stuart Slater probably needs less. Still, relegation struggles have become a habit and the signing of the journeyman Steve Sedgley and the unknown, injured, Dane Claus Thomsen scarcely promises better. It could be third time unlucky this season.

Goalkeepers 1 Craig Forrest 13 Clive Baker 23 Philip Morgan Defenders 2 Mick Stockwell 3 Neil Thompson 4 Paul Mason 5 John Wark 6 David Linighan 15 Phil Whelan 16 Eddie Youds 19 Frank Yallop 20 David Gregory Midfielders 7 Geraint Williams 8 Gavin Johnson 12 Claus Thomsen 17 Simon Milton 18 Steve Palmer 22 Lee Durrant Forwards 9 Boncho Genchev 10 Ian Marshall 11 Chris Kiwomya 14 Steve Sedgley 21 Stuart Slater. MANAGER John Lyall (4th season).

Transfers: In Sedgley (Tottenham) pounds 1m; Thomsen (Aarhus) pounds 185,000.

Forecast Relegated.

Tottenham Hotspur

SUDDENLY, the loss of more points thanthe FT Index no longer seems such a handicap to Spurs. Jurgen Klinsmann and Ilie Dumitrescu have brought an optimism to White Hart Lane unknown since Ossie Ardiles himself and Ricky Villa were signed in 1978. Their problems have rarely been in attack, however, and for all the promise of Sol Campbell and Stuart Nethercott at the back, the need is still there for a commanding


Goalkeepers 1 Erik Thorstvedt 13 Ian Walker 30 Chris Day Defenders 2 Dean Austin 3 Justin Edinburgh 5 Colin Calderwood 6 Gary Mabbutt 8 Kevin Scott 12 Jason Dozzell 14 Stuart Nethercott 15 David Howells 22 David Kerslake 23 Sol Campbell 27 Stephen Carr Midfielders 9 Darren Anderton 16 Mike Hazard 19 Ilie Dumitrescu 20 Darren Caskey 21 Danny Hill Forwards 7 Nick Barmby 10 Teddy Sheringham 11 Ronny Rosenthal 18 Jurgen Klinsmann 24 Paul Moran. MANAGER Ossie Ardiles (2nd season).

Transfers: In Dumitrescu(Steaua Bucharest) pounds 2.6m; Klinsmann (Monaco) pounds 2m. Out Vinny Samways (Everton) pounds 2.2m; Steve Sedgley (Ipswich) pounds 1m; Ian Anderson (Southend) free.

Forecast 7th.

West Ham United

LAST WEEK'S machinations, particularly the messy, uncharacteristic manner of Billy Bonds's departure coming on top of the Oxford blues of Joey Beauchamp do not bode well for the club. Harry Redknapp will have trouble in restoring the Hammers' dignity and though they may again play the bright football through midfield that Peter Butler and Ian Bishop fitfully embodied last season but the problem remains turning it into goals and, as ever at Upton Park, denying them to the opposition.

Goalkeepers Ludek Miklosko, Tony Feuer Defenders Tim Breacker, David Burrows, Steven Potts, Simon Webster, Kenny Brown, Alvin Martin, Paul Mitchell, Matthew Holland Midfielders Martin Allen, Mike Marsh, Peter Butler, Trevor Morley, John Moncur, Ian Bishop, Matthew Holmes Jeroen Boere, Danny Williamson, Keith Rowland, Forwards Dale Gordon, Joey Beauchamp, Steve Jones, Lee Chapman. MANAGER Harry Redknapp (1st season).

Transfers: In Joey Beauchamp (Oxford) pounds 1m; John Moncur (Swindon) pounds 1m.

Forecast: Relegation.


DESPITE the dinosaur Vinny Jones clinging on, the end of an era was signalled when John Fashanu moved on to Aston Villa, prompting misgivings from the central defender John Scales, who is keen to move on. This could lead to a struggle to retain the important talents of Warren Barton, Dean Holdsworth and Robbie Earle, and they may not reach the heights and occasional attractiveness of last season. Youngsters Stewart Castledine and Peter Fear are not quite ready to replace them.

Goalkeepers 1 Hans Segers 23 Neil Sullivan Defenders 2 Warren Barton 3 Brian McAllister 5 Dean Blackwell 6 Scott Fitzgerald 14 Gerald Dobbs 15 John Scales 16 Alan Kimble 17 Roger Joseph 21 Chris Perry 24 Peter Fear 27 Justin Skinner Midfielders 4 Vinnie Jones 8 Robbie Earle 12 Gary Elkins 18 Steve Talboys 19 Stewart Castledine 20 Marcus Gayle 22 Aidan Newhouse 26 Neal Ardley 30 Mark Thomas Forwards 7 Andy Clarke 10 Dean Holdsworth 11 Gary Blissett 29 Grant Payne. MANAGER Joe Kinnear (4th season).

Transfers: Out John Fashanu (Aston Villa) pounds 1.35m.

Forecast 14th.

Manchester City

NOWTHAT Francis Lee's ownership is resolved, City should comfortably avoid last season's desperation. Indeed, if Richard Edghill, Gary Flitcroft and Niall Quinn are their old selves, they could set themselves back on course towards the elite. Nicky Summerbee should patrol the right flank well, though the departure of David Rocastle leaves them short of a potentially dynamic figure.

Goalkeepers 1 Tony Coton 13 Martyn Margetson 25 Andy Dibble Defenders 2 Andy Hill 3 Terry Phelan 5 Keith Curle 6 Michel Vonk 15 Alan Kernaghan 22 Richard Edghill 23 David Kerr 27 Rae Ingram 29 John Foster Midfielders 4 Steve McMahon 10 Gary Flitcroft 11 Peter Beagrie 12 Ian Brightwell 16 Nicky Summerbee 17 Michael Quigley 18 David Brightwell 19 Fitzroy Simpson 20 Alfons Groenendijk 21 Steve Lomas 31 Paul Lake Forwards 8 Paul Walsh 9 Niall Quinn 14 Carl Griffiths 24 Adie Mike 26 Mike Sheron 28 Uwe Rosler 30 Steve Finney. MANAGER Brian Horton (2nd season).

Transfers: In Summerbee (Swindon) pounds 1.5m. Out David Rocastle (Chelsea) pounds 1.3m.

Forecast 12th.

Manchester United

IF IT ain't broke, don't fix it. This seems to be Alex Ferguson's attitude and Steve Bruce does not seem quite ready to give way to the only new signing, David May. We may see more of their outstanding youth team of recent years, notably Nicky Butt and Keith Gillespie, however. But despite remaining the most powerful, graceful team in the Premiership ,they could well fall between the twin lures of emulating 's three consecutive titles of a decade ago and their own European Cup-winning side of 1968.

Goalkeepers 1 Peter Schmeichel 13 Gary Walsh 25 Kevin Pilkington Defenders 2 Paul Parker 3 Denis Irwin 4 Steve Bruce 6 Gary Pallister 12 David May Midfielders 5 Lee Sharpe 16 Roy Keane 18 Simon Davies 19 Nicky Butt Forwards 7 Eric Cantona 8 Paul Ince 9 Brian McClair 10 Mark Hughes 11 Ryan Giggs 14 Andrei Kanchelskis 15 Graeme Tomlinson 17 Colin McKee 20 Dion Dublin. MANAGER Alex Ferguson (9th season).

Transfers: In May (Blackburn) pounds 1.6m; Tomlinson (Bradford City) pounds 100,000. Out Bryan Robson (Middlesbrough) free.

Forecast Runners-up.

Newcastle United

GOALKEEPING looks the weakness in Kevin Keegan's otherwise lovingly assembled team, though the defence has been bolstered by Marc Hottiger and Philippe Albert, forming a pounds 5m partnership with Darren Peacock. Going forward the inspired signing Steve Guppy and Ruel Fox will provide ammunition for Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley.

Goalkeepers 1 Pavel Srnicek 30 Mike Hooper Defenders 2 Barry Venison 3 John Beresford 15 Darren Peacock 16 Jason Drysdale 19 Steve Watson 20 Alan Neilson 25 Nathan Murray 26 Robbie Elliott 27 Phillipe Albert. Midfielders 4 Paul Bracewell 6 Steven Howey 10 Lee Clark 11 Scott Sellars 12 Marc Hottiger 14 Alec Mathie 17 Niki Papavasiliou 22 Richie Appleby 23 Chris Holland Forwards 5 Ruel Fox 7 Robert Lee 8 Peter Beardsley 9 Andy Cole 18 Steve Guppy 21 Malcolm Allen 31 Mike Jeffrey.

MANAGER Kevin Keegan (4th season).

Transfers: In Albert (Anderlecht) pounds 2.65m; Hottiger (Sion) pounds 600,000; Drysdale (Watford) pounds 425,000; Guppy (Wycombe) pounds 200,000. Out Alun Armstrong (Stockport) pounds 50,000; Matthew Appleby (Darlington).

Forecast Champions.

Norwich City

NORWICH'S downward mobility after the departure of Mike Walker looks unlikely to be halted, with Chris Sutton no longer available to complete Ian Crook's approach work, and the signings of Jon Newsome, Carl Bradshaw and Mike Milligan promising more of what they already have. Livewire Darren Eadie, 19, could be next in the tradition of Norfolk turkeys: fatten 'em up and sell 'em.

Goalkeepers 1 Bryan Gunn 13 Scott Howie Defenders 2 Mark Bowen 3 Rob Newman 5 Jon Newsome 6 Neil Adams 10 John Polston 12 Ian Culverhouse 14 Spencer Prior 15 Daryl Sutch 17 Ian Butterworth 18 Robert Ullathorne Midfielders 4 Ian Crook 8 Mike Milligan 11 Jeremy Goss 16 Carl Bradshaw 19 Andy Johnson 23 Shaun Carey 24 Andy Marshall Forwards 7 Efan Ekoku 9 Mark Robins 20 Darren Eadie 21 Keith O'Neill 25 Jamie Cureton 26 Adeola Akinbiyi. MANAGER John Deehan (2nd season).

Transfers: In Newsome (Leeds) pounds 1m; Bradshaw (Sheffield U) pounds 600,000; Milligan (Oldham) tribunal. Out Chris Sutton (Blackburn) pounds 5m; David Smith (Oxford) pounds 100,000.

Forecast 17th.

Nottingham Forest

WEAKNESSES in goal and at right-back are the only real worries for Forest, whose strength will be their pleasing, quick forward play. Frank Clark has added a directness to the passing traditions established by Brian Clough and, up front, Stan Collymore has the potential to take the Premiership by storm should the mood take him. They look at their best when he roves alone in front of a five-man midfield, in which one of the summer's most inventive signings, Bryan Roy, should prosper. A team to savour.

Goalkeepers 1 Mark Crossley Defenders 2 Des Lyttle 3 Stuart Pearce 4 Colin Cooper 5 Steve Chettle 6 Carl Tiler 19 Brian Laws Midfielders 7 David Phillips 8 Scot Gemmill 16 Neil Webb 17 Kingsley Black 18 Alf Inge Haaland 20 Gary Crosby Forwards 9 Lars Bohinen 10 Stan Collymore 11 Steve Stone 12 Jason Lee 13 Tommy Wright 14 Ian Woan 15 Robert Rosario 21 Gary Bull 22 Bryan Roy. MANAGER Frank Clark (2nd season).

Transfers: In Roy (Foggia) pounds 2.2m. Out LeeGlover (Port Vale) pounds 250,000; Ian Kilford (Wigan) undisc.

Forecast 5th.

Queen's Park Rangers

THE BUSH telegraph is likely to be occupied more with further tedious tales about the future of Les Ferdinand - as well as his fitness - and that of the manager Gerry Francis, who has another one- year contract, than their challenge for honours. Without Ray Wilkins they look light in midfield and may become involved in a relegation contest. Trevor Sinclair on the left and the 18-year-old striker Kevin Gallen, sure to get his chance at some stage, may offer some consolation.

Goalkeepers 1 Tony Roberts 13 Sieb Dykstra Defenders 2 David Bardsley 3 Clive Wilson 4 Steve Yates 5 Karl Ready 6 Alan McDonald 15 Rufus Brevett 16 Danny Maddix 17 Dennis Bailey 18 Alan McCarthy 21 Tony Witter Midfielders 7 Andrew Impey 8 Ian Holloway 14 Simon Barker 22 Michael Meaker Forwards 9 Les Ferdinand 10 Bradley Allen 11 Trevor Sinclair 12 Gary Penrice 19 Devon White 20 Kevin Gallen. MANAGER Gerry Francis (4th season).

Transfers: In Sieb Dykstra (Motherwell) pounds 250,000; Ray Wilkins (Crystal Palace) free.

Forecast 16th.

Sheffield Wednesday

TREVOR FRANCIS has bought judiciously in Dan Petrescu, Ian Taylor and Peter Atherton but the selling of five players leaves them lacking the depth needed to sustain a challenge. The initial absences of Chris Waddle and David Hirst will not help to avoid the bad start of last season. Now is the time for Chris Bart-Williams to take more responsibility.

Goalkeepers 1 Chris Woods 13 Kevin Pressman 23 Lance Key Defenders 2 Peter Atherton 5 Dan Petrescu 6 Brian Linighan 12 Andy Pearce 17 Des Walker 22 Simon Stewart 24 Julian Watts Midfielders 4 Ian Taylor 7 Adem Poric 8 Chris Waddle 11 John Sheridan 14 Chris Bart-Williams 15 Andy Sinton 16 Graham Hyde 25 Michael Williams 27 Steven Brown 28 Simon Coleman Forwards 9 David Hirst 10 Mark Bright 19 Nigel Jemson 20 Gordon Watson 21 Ryan Jones 29 Lee Briscoe. MANAGER Trevor Francis (4th season).

Transfers: In Petrescu (Genoa) pounds 1.3m; Taylor (Port Vale) pounds 1m; Atherton (Coventry) pounds 800,000. Out Carlton Palmer (Leeds) pounds 2.6m; Nigel Pearson (Middlesbrough) pounds 500,000; Nigel Worthington (Leeds) pounds 350,000; Phil King (Aston Villa) pounds 200,000.

Forecast 9th.


AS THINGS stand, with only Vinny Samways signed, Everton look primed for another relegation contest. But the new chairman Peter Johnson's pounds 10m for players, and the manager Mike Walker's ability to instil grit into the passing game should make it a happier season for this team in transition. David Unsworth could develop into an outstanding central defender but, having been rebuffed by Jurgen Klinsmann and Martin Dahlin, the need for a striker is clear.

Goalkeepers 1 Neville Southall 13 Jason Kearton Defenders 2 Matthew Jackson 3 Andy Hinchcliffe 4 Ian Snodin 5 Dave Watson 6 Gary Ablett 12 Paul Holmes 18 Joe Parkinson 25 Neil Moore 26 David Unsworth Midfielders 7 Vinny Samways 8 Graham Stuart 10 Barry Horne 14 John Ebbrell 24 Chris Priest 29 Tony Grant Forwards 9 Tony Cottee 15 Paul Rideout 17 Anders Limpar 19 Stuart Barlow 21 Gary Rowett 22 Brett Angell. MANAGER Mike Walker (2nd season).

Transfers: In Samways (Tottenham) pounds 2.2m. Out Mark Ward (Birmingham) pounds 200,000; Predrag Radosavljevic (Portsmouth) pounds 100,000; Paul Tait (Wigan).

Forecast 13th.

Crystal Palace

BRUCE DYER, Chris Armstrong and Andy Preece should give Palace plenty of attacking flair and goalscoring potential. In addition, Ray Wilkins, alongside the bright Darren Pitcher, could prove an effective partnership in midfield. It should mean that the First Division champions stay above the relegation plimsoll line despite the propensity to ship goals, which will see them failing to reach the haven of a mid-table place.

Goalkeepers 1 Nigel Martyn 13 Rhys Wilmot 25 Jimmy Glass Defenders 2 John Humphrey 3 Dean Gordon 4 Gareth Southgate 5 Eric Young 6 Chris Coleman 14 Richard Shaw 16 Darren Pitcher 20 Andy Thorn 22 Darren Patterson Midfielders 7 Simon Rodger 8 Ray Wilkins 12 Damian Matthew 15 Bobby Bowry 18 Andy Preece 19 Simon Osborn 21 Ian Cox 23 Ricky Newman 24 George Ndah Forwards 9 Chris Armstrong 10 Bruce Dyer 17 Paul Williams. MANAGER Alan Smith (2nd season).

Transfers: In Preece (Stockport) pounds 350,000; Wilmot (Grimsby) pounds 60,000; Pitcher (Charlton) pounds 50,000; Wilkins (QPR) free. Out David Whyte (Charlton); Stuart Massey (Oxford) free.

Forecast 15th.

Coventry City

BIGGER clubs come and go in the Premiership but Coventry City seem to endure quietly, if anonymously. If they are unable to hang on to Phil Babb and Peter Ndlovu, however, as their debt rises and bills come in for their new stand, this could be the year, after 28 in the top flight, that they go down. It would be a pity, as Phil Neal's teams are sometimes enjoyable, usually neat, and the American Cobi Jones will fit in well. Much will depend on the fitness and consistency of his compatriot Roy Wegerle and whether Mick Quinn can rediscover his goal touch.

Goalkeepers 1 Steve Ogrizovic 13 Jonathan Gould Defenders 2 Brian Borrows 3 Steve Morgan 4 Julian Darby 5 David Rennie 6 Phil Babb 17 Ally Pickering 20 David Busst Midfielders 7 Sean Flynn 8 Roy Wegerle 11 Willie Boland 18 Sandy Robertson 23 Martin Davis Forwards 9 Peter Ndlovu 10 Mick Quinn 12 John Williams 14 Leigh Jenkinson 15 Mick Harford 16 Paul Williams 19 John Gayle 21 Tony Sheridan. MANAGER Phil Neal (2nd season).

Transfers: In Jones (US Soccer Federation). Out Peter Atherton (Sheffield Wed) pounds 800,000.

Forecast: Relegation.


THEY should continue their development under GlennHoddle, with the intelligent additions of David Rocastle, Paul Furlong, even if at the inflated price of pounds 2.3m, and Scott Minto. Dimitri Kharin is among the best goalkeepers in the Premiership, Erland Johnsen looks much improved in defence and Eddie Newton grows in stature in midfield. Gavin Peacock, meanwhile, looks a possible understudy to Peter Beardsley for England. Negatives: the early absence of Mark Stein and a tradition of brittleness.

Goalkeepers Dimitri Kharin, Kevin Hitchcock Defenders Steve Clarke, Erland Johnsen, Jacob Kjeldbjerg, Frank Sinclair, Scott Minto, Andy Myers, Gareth Hall, Midfielders Andy Dow, Anthony Barness, Eddie Newton, Craig Burley, Dennis Wise, Gavin Peacock, David Rocastle, Nigel Spackman, Mustafa Izzet, Zeke Rowe, Glenn Hoddle, David Hopkin, Darren Barnard, Paul Hughes Forwards Paul Furlong, Mark Stein, Neil Shipperley, Robert Fleck. MANAGER Glenn Hoddle (2nd season).

Transfers: In Furlong (Watford) pounds 2.3m; Rocastle (Manchester City) pounds 1.3m, Minto (Charlton) pounds 775,000.

Forecast 11th.

Blackburn Rovers

FOR ALL Kenny Dalglish's (or Jack Walker's)pounds 28m spent on players, Blackburn suddenly look thin due to a spate of injuries. They will need to avoid last season's bad start, and hope Chris Sutton starts scoring the goals that will keep them in touch with the top while Alan Shearer, David Batty, Paul Warhurst, Kevin Gallagher and Mike Newell get fit. They proved their pace and power in the second half of last season, but Batty's absence for three months is the worry.

Goalkeepers 1 Tim Flowers 13 Bobby Mimms Defenders 2 Tony Gale 3 Alan Wright 4 Tim Sherwood 5 Colin Hendry 6 Graeme Le Saux 15 Richard Brown 20 Henning Berg 21 Kevin Moran 25 Ian Pearce Midfielders 7 Stuart Ripley 11 Jason Wilcox 12 Nicky Marker 14 Lee Makel 18 Andy Morrison 22 Mark Atkins 23 David Batty 24 Paul Warhurst Forwards 8 Kevin Gallacher 9 Alan Shearer 10 Mike Newell 16 Chris Sutton 17 Robbie Slater 19 Simon Ireland. No number Hugo Porfirio. MANAGER Kenny Dalglish (4th season).

Transfers: In Sutton (Norwich) pounds 5m; Porfirio (Sporting Lisbon) pounds 1.2m; Slater (Lens); Gale (West Ham) Out David May (Manchester United) pounds 1.6m.

Forecast Fourth.

Aston Villa

RON ATKINSON'S era at Villa Park may have reached its zenith with the Coca-Cola Cup win last season and his attempts to patch up the side which took the rest of the season off after beating Manchester United smacks of desperation. The gamble on the rehabilitation of the young Ghanaian Nii Lamptey, who looked an outstanding prospect at Anderlecht three years ago, shows vision. But how great is the desire in John Fashanu, who was orginally planning to fit in games for Wimbledon between business commitments?

Goalkeepers 1 Nigel Spink 13 Mark Bosnich 30 Michael Oakes Defenders 2 Earl Barrett 3 Steve Staunton 4 Shaun Teale 5 Paul McGrath 15 Phil King 16 Ugo Ehiogu 20 Bryan Small Midfielders 6 Kevin Richardson 7 Ray Houghton 14 Garry Parker Forwards 8 John Fashanu 9 Dean Saunders 10 Dalian Atkinson 11 Andy Townsend 12 Nii Lamptey 18 Dwight Yorke 19 Graham Fenton 21 David Farrell 22 Guy Whittingham. MANAGER Ron Atkinson (4th season).

Transfers: In Fashanu (Wimbledon) pounds 1.35m; King (Sheffield Wed) pounds 200,000; Lampty (Anderlecht) undisc. Out Tony Daley (Wolves) pounds 1.25m; Neil Cox (Middlesbrough) pounds 1m; Steve Froggatt (Wolves) pounds 1m.

Forecast 10th.


THE acknowledgement that Arsenal lacked ingenuity in midfield and another goalscorer to ease the burden on Ian Wright came last week with George Graham's interest in Tomas Brolin. Kevin Campbell has had chances aplenty to displace Alan Smith, while Graham's patience with Paul Merson appears to be wearing thin. Perhaps Ray Parlour and Paul Dickov will fulfil potential. Still, Stefan Schwarz will add a touch of much needed class and that defence looks formidable as ever.

Goalkeepers 1 David Seaman 26 Lee Harper. Defenders 2 Lee Dixon 3 Nigel Winterburn 5 Andrew Linighan 6 Tony Adams 12 Steve Bould 14 Martin Keown. 20 Pal Lydersen. Midfielders 4 Paul Davis 11 Eddie McGoldrick 15 Stefan Schwarz 17 John Jensen 18 David Hillier 21 Steve Morrow 22 Ian Selley 23 Ray Parlour 25 Mark Flatts 27 Scott Marshall. Forwards 7 Kevin Campbell 8 Ian Wright 9 Alan Smith 10 Paul Merson 19 Jimmy Carter 24 Paul Dickov. MANAGER George Graham (8th season).

Transfers: In Schwarz (Benfica) pounds 1.8m; Harper (Sittingbourne) pounds 60,000. Out Alan Miller (Middlesbrough) pounds 500,000.

Forecast 3rd.