Football: Guide to the Premiership Clubs

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ARSENAL

BUT FOR Dennis Bergkamp's missed penalty and a defensive aberration at Leeds, Arsenal could have been celebrating a double Double instead of rueing a season of unrewarded effort. The line between success and failure was at its thinnest at Highbury.

Man for man their first XI were better than the treble winners, but they lacked quality reserves, a weakness that might not be addressed by Silvinho, Oleg Luzhny and Stefan Malz. Steve Bould has left and age has to catch up with the rest of the rearguard one day.

The money accrued from Anelka's transfer will help - Davor Suker and Thierry Henry should prove adequate replacements - but they will have little time to acclimatise. Add the debilitating effect of the Champions' League and you wonder whether this will be a transitional season for Arsene Wenger's cosmopolitan side.

Prediction: 4th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

INS: Thierry Henry (Juventus) pounds 11m; Silvinho (Corinthians, Bra) pounds 4m; Davor Suker (Real Madrid) pounds 3.5m; Moritz Volz (Schalke 04) undisclosed; Fernando Macedo da Silva [Nano] (Barcelona) free; Oleg Luzhny (Dynamo Kiev) pounds 1.8m; Stefan Malz (TSV 1860 Munich) pounds 650,000; Eric Chukwunyelu (St-Etienne) undisclosed.

OUTS: Nicolas Anelka (Real Madrid) pounds 23.5m; Kaba Diawara (Marseilles) pounds 2.5m; Jason Crowe (Portsmouth) pounds 750,000; Steve Bould (Sunderland) pounds 500,000; Michael Black (Tranmere) free; Fabian Caballero (Atletico Tembertary) undisclosed; Stephen Hughes (Fulham) three-month loan; Remi Garde (retired).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Seaman 14 Henry

2 Dixon 15 Parlour

3 Winterburn 16 Silvinho

4 Vieira 17 Petit

5 Keown 18 Grimandi

6 Adams 19 Malz

7 Vivas 20 Upson

8 Ljungberg 21 Boa Morte

9 Suker 22 Luzhny

10 Bergkamp 24 Lukic

11 Overmars 25 Kanu

12 Wreh 30 Vernazza

13 Manninger 31 Taylor

ASTON VILLA

JOHN GREGORY was the most successful Premiership manager in 1998 but don't even ask about this year.

To lose a European place was scandalous given Villa's exuberant beginning and, with question marks about the harmony in the dressing-room, you fear for the manager's position if they start as they finished.

At least the scowling presence of Stan Collymore is temporarily removed from Villa Park, and in signing David James for pounds 1.8m Gregory may have achieved the most astute transfer business of the summer months.

The goalkeeper's confidence was shredded at Liverpool but even at his most edgy "Calamity" was a superb shot stopper. A change of club might restore belief.

At least James will be better protected by Villa's defenders than he was at Anfield, although George Boateng's occasional trips dribbling into culs-de-sac will echo Steve McManaman. Focus his talent and a cup, at least, is a possibility.

Prediction: 7th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: George Boateng (Coventry City) pounds 4.5m; David James (Liverpool) 1.8m; Naguan Garayeb (Hapoel Haifa, Isr) pounds 1m.

OUT: Riccardo Scimeca (Nottingham Forrest) pounds 3m; Simon Grayson (Blackburn) pounds 750,000; Alan Lee (Burnley) pounds 150,000; Mark Bosnich (Manchester Utd) free; Stan Collymore (Fulham) three month loan.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 James 17 Hendrie

2 Watson 20 Garayeb

3 Wright 21 Byfield

4 Southgate 22 Vassell

5 Ehiogu 23 Hughes

6 Boateng 24 Delaney

7 Taylor 26 Stone

8 Draper 27 Standing

9 Dublin 28 Jaszczun

10 Merson 30 Rachel

11 Thompson 31 Samuel

12 Joachim 32 Lescott

13 Oakes 34 Calderwood

14 Tarrant 39 Enckelman

15 Barry 40 Ghent

BRADFORD CITY

ALREADY YOU will have heard the words "we're out to show the pundits are wrong", and if they sound familiar it is because they were mouthed with equal but futile conviction by Barnsley and Charlton. Brave slogans count for little in the Premiership and you fear the worst for a likeable club.

At least manager Paul Jewell has gone for experience in the transfer market and David Wetherall, Andy Myers, Gunnar Halle and Lee Sharpe will bring worldly wisdom to innocent enthusiasm. Outside West Yorkshire the feeling is it will not be enough, however.

Bradford scored more than 80 times in the First Division so there is little wrong with their attack, and Stuart McCall will provide both leadership and aggression in midfield. But doing it against Bury and Crewe is a different prospect to Chelsea and Arsenal. The most they can hope for is a few illustrious scalps - Boxing Day at Old Trafford would do nicely - and survival. The latter is probably beyond them.

Prediction: 19th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: David Wetherall (Leeds) pounds 1.4m; Andy Myers (Chelsea) pounds 800,000; Neil Redfearn (Charlton) pounds 250,000; Lee Sharpe (Leeds) pounds 200,000; Gunnar Halle (Leeds) pounds 200,000; Martin Scott (Sunderland) free; Matt Clarke (Sheffield Wednesday) free.

OUT: Rob Steiner (QPR) pounds 215,000; Paul Bolland (Notts County) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Walsh 15 Windass

2 Wright 16 Sharpe

3 Myers 17 Prudhoe

4 McCall 18 Halle

5 Wetherall 19 Rankin

6 Westwood 20 Dreyer

7 Lawrence 21 Moore

8 Blake 22 Jacobs

9 Mills 23 Bower

10 Whalley 24 Grant

11 Beagrie 25 Patterson

12 Todd 26 Redfearn

13 Clarke 27 Kerr

14 O'Brien

CHELSEA

WON NOTHING but admiration last season but arguably played the most attractive football in the Premiership, an argument that Sir Alex Ferguson subscribed to until the last weeks of the season fell into the laps of his own team.

Their problem was converting their superiority into points as they would play teams off the pitch and too often get a draw for their efforts. Manchester United and Arsenal had the knack of playing badly and winning; Chelsea inclined to the opposite.

If Chris Sutton stays fit (a big if) and is supplemented by a restored Casiraghi, Zola and Flo goals will come, and the organisation supplied by Didier Deschamps should limit the damage at the opposite end. Chelsea are in the Champions' League but their last title was 1955, so domestic priorities will be higher than at Old Trafford or Highbury. That could make the difference.

Prediction: 1st

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Chris Sutton (Blackburn) pounds 10m; Didier Deschamps (Juventus) pounds 3m; Jes Hogh (Fenerbahce) pounds 300,000; Mario Melchiot (Ajax) free; Carlo Cudicini (Castel Di Sangro, It) one-year loan.

OUT: Michael Duberry (Leeds) pounds 4.5m; Brian Laudrup (Ajax) pounds 2m; Andy Myers (Bradford City) pounds 800,000; Eddie Newton (Birmingham) free; Dimitri Kharine (Celtic) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 De Goey 11 Wise

2 Petrescu 12 Goldbaek

3 Babayaro 13 Hitchcock

4 Hogh 14 Le Saux

5 Leboeuf 15 Melchiot

6 Desailly 16 Di Matteo

7 Deschamps 17 Ferrer

8 Poyet 19 Flo

9 Sutton 20 Morris

10 Casiraghi 21 Lambourde

22 Nicholls 23 Cudicini

25 Zola 26 Terry

29 Clement 32 Forssell

COVENTRY CITY

THIS TIME last year great things were expected of Coventry, aspirations they quickly rubbished with a poor start. Still, it would not feel like spring at Highfield Road if the team were not rising from the relegation zone.

The easy thing would be to predict their umpteenth flirtation with the drop - and nominate their opening game against Southampton as the season's first six-pointer - but the resources are there for more. George Boateng was an unpredictable talent so his sale to Aston Villa might be compensated for by the purchase of Morocco's Mustapha Hadji.

Foreigners are a hit and miss thing in the Premiership but Hadji is the African player of the year and he hardly looked uncomfortable when he last faced British football, tormenting Scotland in the World Cup. If Whelan and Huckerby can mature in different ways a bright season will beckon.

Prediction: 8th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Mustapha Hadji (Deportivo La Coruna) pounds 4m; Stefano Gioacchini (Venezia) pounds 2m; Youssef Chippo (Porto) pounds 1.2m; Runar Normann (Lillestrom) pounds 1m; Morten Hyldgaard (Ikast) pounds 200,000; Raffaele Nuzzo (Internazionale) one-season loan; Antonio Caruso (Internazionale) one-season loan.

OUT: George Boateng (Aston Villa) pounds 4.5m; Philippe Clement (Club Bruges) pounds 770,000; Willie Boland (Cardiff) free; Barry Prenderville (Ayr) free; Liam Daish (retired).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Hedman 14 Soltvedt

2 Edworthy 15 Delorge

3 Burrows 16 Froggatt

4 Williams 17 Breen

5 Shaw 18 Chippo

6 Konjic 19 Hall

7 Huckerby 21 Strachan

8 Whelan 22 Quinn

9 Aloisi 23 Nuzzo

10 McAllister 24 Eustace

11 Hadji 25 Ferguson

12 Telfer 26 Ogrizovic

13 Hyldgaard

DERBY COUNTY

DERBY ARE difficult to pigeon-hole because they are capable of beating and losing to most teams, and although they finished in the top 10 for the second season running there was just a whiff of under-achievement last May.

There are going to be a lot of Champions' League and Uefa Cup-weary teams in the Premiership this season, however, and Derby are capable of taking advantage to get into Europe for the first time since the 1970s. To do so they will have to up their average at home from little more than a goal a game.

Paulo Wanchope has gone, which will make them less watchable as well as less exasperating, but the compensation will come in the shape of the energetic and robust Seth Johnson, who will have the chance to show at top level how close he really is to being the new Bryan Robson.

Prediction: 9th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Seth Johnson (Crewe Alexandra) pounds 3m; Esteban Fuertes (Colon de Sante Fe, Arg) pounds 2m; Andy Oakes (Hull) pounds 460,000.

OUT: Paulo Wanchope (West Ham) pounds 3.5m; James Wall (Hereford) free; Brian Launders (Colchester) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Hoult 16 Laursen

2 Carbonari 17 Prior

3 Schnoor 18 Jackson

4 Powell 19 Elliot

5 Dorigo 21 Poom

6 Stimac 22 Borbokis

7 Johnson 23 Boertien

8 Sturridge 24 Oakes

9 Burton 25 Beck

10 Delap 26 Robinson

11 Harper 27 Baiano

12 Christie 28 Murray

14 Bohinen 29 Eranio

15 Bridge-Wilkinson

30 Porter

EVERTON

IT IS difficult to predict a bright future while the ownership of Everton remains unresolved, but surely Goodison's ample support will get better entertainment than last autumn when it seemed the Mersey would evaporate before the home team got a goal.

Money is the problem, as an input of pounds 14m set against a pounds 3m outlay illustrates, and even then it was a struggle to raise the funds for Kevin Campbell. Whether he will continue to score goals at last season's rate is debatable, because he has never done so in the top division before, but he will provide greater strength and purpose than the hapless Bakayoko.

The bigger worry is the defence, which cannot continue to lean on the 38-year-old Dave Watson for ever. Their willingness to sell Materazzi, Bilic and Short suggests they will have to, however, and it is difficult to be optimistic. Only the poverty of the promoted teams will save them... again.

Prediction: 16th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Kevin Campbell (Trabzonspor, Turk) pounds 3m; Richard Gough (San Jose Clash, US) free.

OUT: Olivier Dacourt (Lens) pounds 6.5m; Ibrahima Bakayoko (Marseilles) pounds 4m; Marco Materazzi (Perugia, It) pounds 3m; Craig Short (Blackburn) pounds 1.7m; Tony Grant (NEC Nijmegen, Neth) undisclosed; Adam Eaton (Preston) nominal fee.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Myhre 19 Oster

2 Cleland 20 Jevons

3 Ball 21 Ward

4 Gough 22 Degn

5 Watson 23 Parkinson

6 Unsworth 25 Williamson

7 Collins 28 Bilic

8 Barmby 30 Farrelly

9 Campbell 31 Branch

10 Hutchinson 32 O'Kane

11 Gemmill 34 McKay

13 Gerrard 35 Simonsen

14 Weir 36 Milligan

15 Dunne 37 Farley

16 Cadamarteri 38 Regan

17 Jeffers

18 Phelan

LEEDS UNITED

NOW HERE is a team who are going places. They gave as good as they got against Manchester United and Arsenal in the closing stages of last season and with an average age in the early 20s are likely to get better before they get worse.

Fourth last time, their European exertions in the Uefa Cup will not be as heavy as that for the three teams who finished above them, and they could confound manager David O'Leary by slipping past the Champions' League participants and winning the title.

A year from now you would feel more confident because young players enter troughs more experienced players avoid, but O'Leary has bought well in Duberry, Mills and Bridges, although you wonder at the last-named's fee of pounds 5m when he was basically a Sunderland reserve. The impending departure of Jimmy Hasselbaink to Atletico Madrid is a blow, but great things can still be expected from O'Leary's young side.

Prediction: 2nd

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Michael Bridges (Sunderland) pounds 5m; Michel Duberry (Chelsea) pounds 4.5m; Danny Mills (Charlton) pounds 4m; Eirik Bakke (Sogndal) pounds 1m.

OUT: David Wetherall (Bradford) pounds 1.4m; Clyde Wijnhard (Huddersfield) pounds 750,000; Gunner Halle (Bradford) pounds 200,000; Lee Sharpe (Bradford)pounds 200,000; Nuno Santos (released).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Martyn 22 Duberry

2 Kelly 23 Batty

3 Harte 25 Robertson

4 Haaland 26 Lilley

5 Radebe 27 Maybury

6 Woodgate 28 Shepherd

7 Hopkin 29 Jackson

8 Bridges 30 Molenaar

9 *Hasselbaink 31 Knarvik

10 Kewell 33 Boyle

11 Bowyer 34 Dixon

13 Robinson 35 Matthews

14 McPhail 37 Hackworth

15 Ribeiro 38 Lynch

16 Granville 39 Evans

17 Smith 40 Watson

18 Mills 41 Lagen

19 Bakke 42 Evans

20 Jones 43 Feeney

21 Hiden * Transfer pending

LEICESTER CITY

ONE DAY the Martin O'Neill effect will begin to wane and you will fear for Leicester's future, but as long as the manager retains the ability to pluck players from the Football League they will remain in the Premiership. Which makes their relative inactivity in the transfer market this summer a slight concern.

Even so, O'Neill's teams are always sufficiently organised to make them hard to beat and a midfield that has Neil Lennon, Muzzy Izzet and Steve Guppy will always be watchable as well as dangerous. At 21, Emile Heskey, who has been persuaded to sign a new one-year contract, will be moving beyond the "promising" stage, so goals should arrive at a steady rate, although the need to find him younger partners than Cottee (34) and Marshall (33) is becoming increasingly urgent.

Finished a respectable 10th and reached the League Cup final last season and would be delighted to match that this time. They could, but the chances are they will not.

Prediction: 12th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Tim Flowers (Blackburn Rovers) pounds 1.1m.

OUT: Pontus Kaamark (AIK Stockholm) free; Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, Sp) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Flowers 16 Campbell

3 Sinclair 18 Elliott

4 Taggart 20 Marshall

5 Walsh 21 Fenton

6 Izzet 22 Arphexad

7 Lennon 24 Impey

9 Heskey 25 Wilson

11 Guppy 27 Cottee

13 Gunnlaugsson

29 Oakes

14 Savage 37 Zagorakis

LIVERPOOL

SOMETHING WAS wrong at Liverpool because achievement did not correspond with the talent, and Gerard Houllier has done the right thing in instigating a massive turn-over in staff. Ince, James, Jones, Ferri and McManaman have gone and been replaced by eight foreigners which, given Anfield's record in that department, may or may not be a good thing.

At least Houllier has addressed the cancer at the core of the defence by buying a goalkeeper, Sander Westerveld, and two centre-backs, Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz. Dietmar Hamann and Jamie Redknapp should give the side a classy look in midfield.

If the imports were being introduced gradually you would feel more confident, but unless they gell immediately there is likely to be a spell of transition and the one thing Houllier does not have is time. Spend pounds 25m and your support demands instant results.

Prediction: 10th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Dietmar Hamann (Newcastle) pounds 8m; Vladimir Smicer (Lens, FR) pounds 4.2m; Sander Westerveld (Vitesse Arnhem, Neth) pounds 4m; Stephane Henchoz (Blackburn) pounds 3.5m; Sami Hyypia (Willem II Tilburg, Neth) pounds 2.8m; Titi Camara (Marseilles) pounds 2.6m; Dirk Heinen (Bayer Leverkusen, Ger) pounds 400,000; Erik Meijer (Bayer Leverkusen) free.

OUT: David James (Aston Villa) pounds 1.8m; Jean-Michel Ferri (Sochaux, Fr) pounds 1.5m; Paul Ince (Middlesbrough) pounds 1m; Sean Dundee (VfB Stuttgart) pounds 1m; Steve McManaman (Real Madrid) free; Tony Warner (Millwall) free; Danny Williams (Wrexham) free; Rob Jones (West Ham) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Westerveld 16 Hamann

2 Henchoz 18 Meijer

3 Kvarme 19 Friedel

4 Song 20 Bjornebye

5 Staunton 21 Matteo

6 Babb 22 Camara

7 Smicer 23 Carragher

8 Leonhardsen 24 Murphy

9 Fowler 25 Thompson

10 Owen 26 Nielsen

11 Redknapp 27 Gudnason

12 Hyypia 28 Gerrard

13 Riedle 29 Wright

14 Heggem 30 Traore

15 Berger

MANCHESTER UTD

LAST TIME United defended the European Cup they finished 11th in the league and that was when they were only distracted by a less-strenuous European campaign and a two-leg World Club Championship. This time add the Super Cup and the two-week January jaunt in Brazil and you realise their chances of retaining their title are not bright.

Sir Alex Ferguson said he would need to strengthen his squad to fight on six fronts (and that is without the FA Cup) but surprisingly there have been no signs of reinforcements arriving at Old Trafford other than Mark Bosnich, who has replaced Schmeichel, and Peterborough youngster Simon Davies.

Ferguson was not left behind in Britain when United toured Australia and the Far East just to collect his gong, however, and there may still be a signing. Injuries to Ronny Johnsen and Wes Brown mean the defence needs bolstering, while the midfield is short in depth if not quality.

Prediction: 3rd

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Mark Bosnich (Aston Villa) free.

OUT: Peter Schmeichel (Sporting Lisbon) free; Jamie Wood (Hull City) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Bosnich 17 Van der Gouw

2 G Neville 18 Scholes

3 Irwin 19 Yorke

4 May 20 Solskjaer

5 Johnsen 21 Berg

6 Stam 22 Nevland

7 Beckham 23 Clegg

8 Butt 24 Brown

9 Cole 28 Higginbotham

10 Sheringham 29 Notman

11 Giggs 30 Wallwork

12 P Neville 31 Culkin

13 Curtis 33 Wilson

14 Cruyff 34 Greening

15 Blomqvist 35 Teather

16 Keane 36 Ford

MIDDLESBROUGH

FINISHED NINTH last season but their slump after Christmas was alarming and makes you fear for the forthcoming campaign. Most of Middlesbrough's better players were over 30 last year and another 12 months will not make them any quicker or less prone to injury.

Paul Ince seems to fit the Boro identikit perfectly - a player of erstwhile distinction whose high wages compromise estimates of his worth (see Paul Gascoigne). The "Guvnor" could not last 90 minutes when opposing teams were distracted by the likes of McManaman, Owen and Fowler and is unlikely to be required to work less hard at the Riverside.

In a supporters' poll, a surprising number expressed misgivings about Bryan Robson's management - though some should have been appeased by the signing of the highly-rated German defender Christian Ziege from Milan - and it would not require much to convert concern into something more hostile. A good start is essential because they are unlikely to come on strong late in the season.

Prediction: 17th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Christian Ziege (Milan) pounds 4m; Paul Ince (Liverpool) pounds 1m; Paul Connor (Oldham) free.

OUT: Vladimir Kinder; Clayton Blackmore (both released).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Schwarzer 16 Townsend

2 Fleming 17 Ziege

3 Gordon 18 Campbell

4 Vickers 19 Ricard

5 Festa 20 Armstrong

6 Pallister 21 Harrison

7 Mustoe 22 Summerbell

8 Gascoigne 24 Baker

9 Ince 25 Roberts

10 Deane 26 Ormerod

11 O'Neill 27 Stockdale

12 Moore 28 Cooper

13 Beresford 29 Gavin

14 Stamp 30 Cummins

15 Maddison

NEWCASTLE UNITED

IT DOES not take a genius to work out what troubled Ruud Gullit most last season. The Newcastle manager has spent more than pounds 16m in the close season and pounds 10m of that has gone of central defenders.

Marcelino is a tough centre-back who made his debut for Spain last season after helping Mallorca reach the CupWinners' Cup final, while Alain Goma has French caps and Franck Dumas was an intelligent sweeper and captain at Monaco. That latter role might be important because the Newcastle rearguard looked leaderless even in King Kevin's time.

Further forward there will be an extended opportunity to see Duncan Ferguson and Alan Shearer in tandem, but initially the most interesting question will be how well Kieron Dyer fills the gifted boots of Hamann. If he does well, there will be implications for England.

Prediction: 6th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Kieron Dyer (Ipswich) pounds 6.5m; Marcelino Elena (Real Mallorca, Sp) pounds 5m; Alain Goma (Paris St-Germain) pounds 4.7m; Franck Dumas (Monaco) pounds 500,000.

OUT: Dietmar Hamann (Liverpool) pounds 8m; George Georgiadis (PAOK Salonika, Gr) pounds 500,000; Philippe Albert (Charleroi, Bel) pounds 600,000; David Terrier (Nice, FR) free; Paul Barrett (Wrexham) free; Peter Keen (Carlisle) free; Stuart Pearce (West Ham) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Given 16 Charvet

2 Barton 17 Glass

3 Marcelino 18 Hughes

4 Domi 19 McClen

5 Goma 20 Ferguson

6 Howey 21 Serrant

7 Dyer 23 Perez

8 Dumas 24 Brady

9 Shearer 25 Kerr

10 Maric 26 Coppinger

11 Speed 27 Beharall

12 Griffin 28 Robinson

13 Harper 34 Dabizas

14 Ketsbaia 40 Andersson

15 Solano

SHEFFIELD WED

WEDNESDAY RARELY became the sum of their parts last season and when they did Benito Carbone was usually at the heart of it, so it is a shame to witness his disaffection. For a club who suffered the antics of another Italian, Paolo Di Canio, with some dignity, they deserve better.

The departures from Hillsborough this summer have been minimal, so a squad which was good enough to beat Manchester United 3-1 in November has been strengthened by forwards Gilles de Bilde and Gerald Sibon, but the performances of two Bosman-freed Scots from Celtic, Phil O'Donnell and Simon Donnelly, will be just as interesting.

Injuries and bedding-in time made it difficult to properly judge Danny Wilson's work, although he will not expect to be fighting off relegation like he was last season. A cup is within their scope.

Prediction: 13th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Gilles De Bilde (PSV Eindhoven) pounds 3m; Gerald Sibon (Ajax) pounds 2m; Simon Donnelly (Celtic) free; Phil O'Donnell (Celtic) free.

OUT: Krystof Kotylo (Nuneaton) free; Matt Clarke (Bradford) free; Guy Whittingham (Portsmouth) free; Dejan Stefanovic (Perugia) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Pressman 18 Donnelly

2 Atherton 19 Newsome

3 Hinchcliffe 20 Humphreys

4 Jonk 21 Briscoe

5 Thome 22 Haslam

6 Walker 23 De Bilde

7 Sonner 24 McKeever

8 Carbone 25 Oakes

9 Sibon 28 Srnicek

10 Booth 30 Geary

11 O'Donnell 31 Agogo

12 Cresswell 32 Morrison

14 Rudi 33 Quinn

15 Scott 34 Higgins

16 Alexandersson

17 Nolan 35 Holmes

SOUTHAMPTON

IT IS something a Saints fan might not wish to dwell on but the man who extracted most from Matt Le Tissier is currently the manager of Portsmouth. Dave Jones seems unconvinced by Le God but given his less-than-secure position probably will not risk the fans' wrath by dropping him.

After a bright 1997-98 it was a mystery why Southampton struggled last season, and if they had performed as lamentably at home as they did away they would have been relegated before the crocuses rose even on the balmy South Coast. Thankfully, the points gained at The Dell were just enough.

Dean Richards, a free transfer from Wolves, will bring much needed stability in defence and, the club having spent precisely nothing this summer, there is probably money in reserve. Better luck with injuries and a good start would make a pleasant change.

Prediction: 15th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Bruno Leal (Sporting Lisbon) free; Dean Richards (Wolves) free; Milen Petkov (CSKA Sofia, Bul) free; Marco Almeida (Sporting Lisbon) one year loan.

OUT: Phil Warner (Brentford); Mark Paul (Hull City) free; Michael Stensgaard (FC Copenhagen) free; Steve Jenkins (Brentford) free; Steve Basham (Preston) tribunal; Ken Monkou (released).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Jones 18 Bridge

2 Dodd 19 Rodrigues

3 Beresford 20 Bevan

4 Marsden 21 Williams

5 Lundekvam 22 D Hughes

6 Richards 23 Hiley

7 Le Tissier 24 Colleter

8 Oakley 25 Monk

9 M Hughes 26 Marshall

10 Ostenstad 27 Hirst

11 Howells 28 Gibbens

12 Dryden 29 Almeida

13 Moss 30 Kachloul

14 Ripley 31 Bradley

15 Benali 33 Collins

16 Beattie 34 Sims

17 Pahars

SUNDERLAND

LAST MAY Sunderland's prospects seemed rosier but even without Lee Clarke, Andy Melville and Michael Bridges they look the most likely of the promoted teams to survive in the Premiership. Their great plus is the Stadium of Light, which proved a Prokofiev-inspired near impregnable fortress.

Only nine goals were conceded at home last season and that defence has been reinforced with the purchase of Thomas Helmer and Steve Bould. The bolts are there at the back, the question is whether the attack can even approach their productivity at a higher level than the First Division.

Niall Quinn's height and strength will always make him a handful but the crucial thing will be whether Kevin Phillips can continue to prey on the carnage. His elevation to the England squad suggests he will, but the rest of the team have to get it to the big man first.

Prediction: 14th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Stefan Schwarz (Valencia) pounds 4m; Carsten Fredgaard (Lyngby, Den) pounds 1.8m; Steve Bould (Arsenal) pounds 500,000; Michael Ingham (Cliftonville) pounds 30,000; Thomas Helmer (Bayern Munich) free.

OUT: Michael Bridges (Leeds) pounds 5m; Lee Clarke (Fulham) pounds 3m; Andy Melville (Fulham) free; Martin Scott (Bradford City) free; Matthew Pitts (Carlisle).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Sorensen 15 Fredgaard

2 Makin 16 Rae

3 Gray 17 Craddock

4 Ball 18 Williams

5 Bould 19 Thirlwell

6 P Butler 20 Schwarz

7 Summerbee 21 McCann

8 Helmer 22 Wainwright

9 Quinn 23 Lumsdon

10 Phillips 24 Aiston

11 Johnston 25 Maley

12 Dichio 26 Proctor

13 Marriott 27 T Butler

14 Holloway

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

IF ANYONE doubts the value of a manager's input they only need to look at Tottenham, who were hopeless under Christian Gross and transformed under George Graham. Last season's 11th place is the least White Hart Lane will expect in the forthcoming season.

Even Graham was surprised that Spurs won a trophy in his first season in charge, but their Coca-Cola Cup win means they are in Europe for the first time in eight seasons and, having invested in the excellent Chris Perry, the team's chief weakness, central defence, has been addressed.

As ever, further forward much will depend on the fitness of Ferdinand, Anderton, Armstrong etc, but if they could all put in 40 games each this season Spurs would have as talented an attack as any in the Premiership. That is without the enigma called David Ginola. His relationship with his manager will continue to fascinate.

Prediction: 5th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Chris Perry (Wimbledon) pounds 4m; Willem Korsten (Vitesse Arnhem) pounds 1.5m.

OUT: Rory Allen (Portsmouth) pounds 1m; Andy Sinton (Wolves) free; Roger Nilsen (Grazer AK, Aut) free; Clive Wilson (Cambridge Utd) free; Simon Brown (Colchester) free; Lee Kersey (released); Alan Marriott (released).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Walker 14 Ginola

2 Carr 15 Vega

3 Taricco 16 Armstrong

4 Freund 18 Fox

5 Campbell 19 Scales

6 Perry 20 Dominguez

7 Anderton 21 Young

8 Sherwood 22 Nielsen

9 Ferdinand 25 Clemence

10 Iversen 26 King

11 Korsten 33 Gower

12 Edinburgh 35 Thelwell

13 Baardsen

WATFORD

OH DEAR. Graham Taylor is a brilliant club manager, and no side in the Premiership will be better organised. The spirit will be terrific, yet even with all those pluses it is difficult to envisage anything but a difficult season.

Finishing fifth in the First Division is not the ideal preparation for the Premiership, but weaknesses can be repaired if you have the money. Sadly, the fees and wages of today's footballer are too grand even for Elton John, and Watford have had to make the best of free transfers, notably Des Lyttle.

Enthusiasm and Taylor's know-how might get them off to a good start, but once the Premiership has had a good look at them and analysed their weaknesses you fear the consequences.

Watford managed only 27 goals last time they were in the top division in 1988, and in all probability a similarly frustrating fate awaits them.

Prediction: 20th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Mark Williams (Chesterfield) free; Des Lyttle (Nottingham Forest) free; Dominic Foley (Wolves) free.

OUT: Darren Bazeley (Wolves) free; Tony Daley (Walsall) free; Ronny Rosenthal (released); Stewart Slater (released).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Chamberlain 18 Iroha

2 Lyttle 19 Easton

3 Kennedy 20 Gudmundsson

4 Page 21 Millen

5 Palmer 22 Yates

6 Robinson 23 Ward

7 Ngonge 24 Bonnot

8 Hyde 25 Bakalli

9 Mooney 26 Perpetuini

10 Johnson 27 Panayi

11 Wright 28 Pluck

12 Smart 29 Johnson

13 Day 30 Langston

14 Hazan 31 Brooker

15 Noel-Williams 32 Williams

16 Gibbs 33 Foley

17 Smith

WEST HAM UNITED

EVEN HOLLYWOOD restricted itself to one "Maverick" at a time, yet Harry Redknapp cannot get enough of them. One thing West Ham will not be this season is boring.

Combining Neil Ruddock, Paolo Di Canio and Ian Wright with Paulo Wanchope will ensure the opposition will not know what to expect, but whether their team-mates will have a clue either is debatable. It could be brilliant, it might end in tears, curiosity alone will drag people to Upton Park.

West Ham finished fifth last season, which allowed them the dubious privilege of playing in the Intertoto Cup en route to the Uefa Cup, and the concern must be that starting a season even before a ball is bowled in the Lord's Test will wearily come home to roost in mid-winter. A cup is within them; probably another appearance in the top six is not.

Prediction: 11th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Paulo Wanchope (Derby County) pounds 3.5m; Rob Jones (Liverpool) free; Jermaine Dafoe (Charlton) free; Stuart Pearce (Newcastle) free.

OUT: Eyal Berkovic (Celtic) pounds 5.75m; Stan Lazaridis (Birmingham) pounds 1.5m; Lee Hodges (Scunthorpe) pounds 130,000; Joe Keith (Colchester) free; Scott Mean (Bournemouth) free; Julian Dicks (retired).

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Hislop 18 Lampard

4 Potts 19 Pearce

6 Ruddock 20 Minto

7 Keller 21 Carrick

8 Sinclair 22 Forrest

9 Kitson 23 Coyne

10 Di Canio 24 Abou

11 Lomas 26 Cole

12 Wanchope 27 Omoyinmi

13 Foe 30 Margas

14 Wright 32 Bywater

15 Ferdinand 34 Alexander

16 Moncur

WIMBLEDON

ONLY THE prospects of Liverpool are more of a mystery than Wimbledon, who have detached themselves from their lifeline: a lovingly fostered "us against the world" attitude. Now the world in the shape of Egil Olsen has arrived.

No Joe Kinnear, and no hope has more than a neat ring to it because their resources mean Wimbledon cannot afford to make a mistake with his successor. Olsen, wellies, thick glasses and all, looks the perfect leader of the Crazy Gang, but if he is not the consequences will be dire.

Chris Perry has gone, and if the spirit which Robbie Earle estimates to be worth 10 points a season also departs, Wimbledon will be relegated. Most seasons they are tipped to go down, and although they delight in proving everyone wrong this time they might.

Prediction: 18th

SUMMER TRANSFERS

IN: Walid Badir (Hapoel Petach Tikvah, Isr) pounds 1m; Kelvin Davis (Luton) pounds 600,000; Chris Willmott (Luton) pounds 350,000; Kjetil Waehler (Lyn Oslo) nominal fee; Tore Pedersen (Eintracht Frankfurt) free.

OUT: Chris Perry (Tottenham) pounds 4m; Mark Kennedy (Manchester City) pounds 1m; Peter Fear (Oxford Utd) free.

SQUAD NUMBERS

1 Sullivan 15 Leaburn

2 Cunningham 16 Hughes

3 Kimble 17 McAllister

4 Roberts 18 Ainsworth

5 Blackwell 20 Ekoku

6 Thatcher 21 Jupp

7 Cort 22 Willmott

8 Earle 23 Davis

9 Hartson 24 Francis

10 Euell 25 Goodman

11 Gayle 26 Hughes

12 Ardley 27 Castledine

13 Heald 28 Hawkins

14 Pedersen

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