Premier League: Team By Team Guide

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ARSENAL

Last season: 4th.

Transfers in: Gervinho (Lille, £10.5), Carl Jenkinson (Charlton). Out: Gaël Clichy (Manchester City, £7m), Mark Randall (Chesterfield, free), Tom Cruise (released), Denilson (Sao Paulo, season loan), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Ipswich).

Form: Cannot really afford to lose either Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri, let alone both, as is still possible. Additionally, they are already showing familiar defensive frailty and after six years outside the top two, there is no great prospect of returning there. Gervinho has shown up reasonably well and could replace Andrey Arshavin on the left but Arsène Wenger has yet to live up to his promise to be "very active" in seeking new blood. A greater transfusion was required.

Key player: Fabregas – if he stays at the club.

Prediction: Challenged by Liverpool for fourth place.

ASTON VILLA

Last season: 9th.

Transfers in: Shay Given (Manchester City), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan, £9.5m). Out: Brad Friedel (Tottenham, free), John Carew, Isaiah Osbourne, Robert Pires, Nigel Reo-Coker, Moustapha Salifou (all released), Stewart Downing (Liverpool, £20m), Ashley Young (Manchester Utd, £16m).

Form: Gaining N'Zogbia for Downing and Young represents a net loss and suggests a dip in service to the unfairly maligned Darren Bent. At the other end, conceding almost 60 goals showed up the weakness at centre-back, where Richard Dunne is no longer reliable. No new defenders have arrived, so Shay Given, an excellent signing, can expect a busy season. New manager Alex McLeish needs a good start to endear himself to supporters, and the board's nerve would be tested by a bad one.

Key player: Bent – goals needed more than ever.

Prediction: Mid-table but without a sniff of Europe.

BLACKBURN ROVERS

Last season: 15th.

Transfers in: Myles Anderson (Aberdeen, free), David Goodwillie (Dundee United, £2m). Out: Frank Fielding (Derby), Phil Jones (Manchester Utd, £16.5m), Zurab Khizanishvili (Kayserispor, free), Jason Brown, Maceo Rigters (both released).

Form: Recovered just in time to reach a flattering 15th place last season and although striker Jason Roberts (joint top scorer with just five goals) returned from India last week raving about the owners' plans, Steve Kean has yet to see the colour of their money for anyone other than the Dundee United forward David Goodwillie. Worse, they have let go the precocious and versatile centre-back Phil Jones, and therefore cannot contemplate doing the same with their defensive strongman Christopher Samba.

Key player: El Hadji-Diouf – which sums up predicament.

Prediction: In a relegation fight and could well lose it.

BOLTON WANDERERS

Last season: 14th.

Transfers in: Darren Pratley (Swansea, free), Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears (joint deal from Burnley, £3m), Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa, free). Out: Johan Elmander (Galatasaray, free), Ali Al-Habsi (Wigan, £4m), Jlloyd Samuel, Tamir Cohen (both released), Joey O'Brien (West Ham, free), Gavin McCann (retired), Matt Taylor (West Ham, £2.2m), Danny Ward (Huddersfield).

Form: A bad finish to one season – five straight defeats – often means difficult next one unless there is significant strengthening. Owen Coyle has not done so and lost his top two scorers, Elmander and loanee Daniel Sturridge, which means a heavy burden on Kevin Davies, who will presumably revert to a more central role and still needs support. High hopes from the first half of last season are being diluted.

Key player: Davies – the main man once more.

Prediction: Lower mid-table, should avoid trouble.

CHELSEA

Last season: 2nd.

Transfers in: Thibaut Courtouis (Genk), Oriol Romeu (Barcelona, £4.4m), Lucas Piazon (Sao Paulo). Out: Fabio Borini (Parma), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan), Michael Mancienne (Hamburg, £3m), Jacopo Sala, Gokhan Tore (both Hamburg), Michael Woods, Jan Sebek (both released).

Form: After a stunning season with Porto, Andre Villas-Boas has made an impressive start in invigorating an ageing set of players. He still wants to improve the squad, especially since Michael Essien's injury, and must coax some convincing form out of Fernando Torres without alienating Didier Drogba; there is not room for both in his 4-3-3 formation. Josh McEachran has confirmed in a series of successful pre-season games that he could make a breakthrough, even if his club do not.

Key player: Torres – he can only get better.

Prediction: Will fight Manchester City for second place.

EVERTON

Last season: 7th.

Transfers in: Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon, loan). Out: Hope Akpan (Crawley, free), James Vaughan, (Norwich, £2.5m), Iain Turner (Preston, free), Kieran Agard (Yeovil, free).

Form: Seventh place was a commendable effort last campaign given the number of injuries sustained by important players such as Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Louis Saha. So although they have been unable to improve the squad over the summer, Everton are due better fortune. It is an important season for Jack Rodwell, another player who suffered from injury and was below his best last season. Meanwhile, there can be no talk of breaking into the top four, as they did in 2005, but surely someone must be interested in buying the club?

Key player: Cahill – goals are required yet again.

Prediction: Top eight for the sixth successive season.

FULHAM

Last season: 8th.

Transfers in: Dan Burn (Darlington), Csaba Somogyi (Rakospalotai, free), John Arne Riise (Roma, £2.3m), Marcel Gecov (Slovan Liberec, £700,000), Pajtim Kasami (Palermo, £4m). Out: Zoltan Gera (West Bromwich, free), John Paintsil (Leicester, free), Eddie Johnson, Matthew Saunders, Diomansy Kamara, Pascal Zuberbuhler (all released), Jonathan Greening (Nottm Forest, £600,000), David Stockdale (Ipswich, loan).

Form: After Mark Hughes' resignation, Fulham secured a shrewd manager in Martin Jol, who promises attacking football, and they should be fast out of the blocks after an early start in the Europa League. That can mean flagging before the finish, though one of Jol's ambitions is a good run in the cups. A better away record would help League form.

Key player: Danny Murphy – so much goes through him.

Prediction: Top 10 to mark 11th season in Premier League.

LIVERPOOL

Last season: 6th.

Transfers in: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £16m), Charlie Adam (Blackpool, £9m), Alexander Doni (Roma, free), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa, £20m). Out: Stephen Darby (Rochdale, loan), Paul Konchesky (Leicester, £1.5m), Martin Hansen (Bradford, loan), Peter Gulacsi (Hull, loan), Dean Bouzanis (Melbourne Victory, free), Nikola Saric (released).

Form: Having received none of the flak for missing out on a European place for the first time in more than a decade, Kenny Dalglish can reap the benefit from a season free of distractions. He needs to bring the best out of an expensively acquired midfield and attack while at the same time tightening up a defence leaking goals at an alarming rate in pre-season. Steven Gerrard will miss the first few games at least and may then be needed in a more defensive role than usual.

Key player: Luis Suarez – real quality.

Prediction: Pushing for fourth place.

MANCHESTER CITY

Last season: 3rd.

Transfers in: Gaël Clichy (Arsenal, £7m), Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade, £6m), Sergio Aguero (£38m). Out: Patrick Vieira (retired), Javan Vidal, Javier Garrido (both released), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich, £10m), Shay Given (Aston Villa, £3.5m), Jo (Internacional), Felipe Caicedo (Levante, £900,000), Michael Johnson (Leicester, loan).

Form: Financial fair play can wait another day, it seems, whether or not Carlos Tevez stays after Sergio Aguero's arrival. If so, or if Samuel Eto'o is signed, the options are enviable and, if not, the attack still looks formidable. Again the question is can Roberto Mancini mould a team out of an often disparate bunch of individuals. City ended the season well, with seven wins out of eight including the FA Cup final, but now they must maintain that consistency.

Key player: David Silva – must hold it all together.

Prediction: No title but could follow United home.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Last season: 1st.

Transfers in: Phil Jones (Blackburn, £16.5m), Ashley Young (Aston Villa, £16m), David de Gea (Atletico Madrid, £18m). Out: Bebe (Besiktas, loan), Ritchie de Laet (Norwich, loan), Wes Brown (Sunderland, £1m), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Owen Hargreaves (released), Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar (both retired), Scott Wootton, Ryan Tunnicliffe (both Peterborough, loan).

Form: One of the many lessons Sir Alex Ferguson has absorbed from winning 12 titles is to buy after winning one, which he has again done to good effect. As long as David de Gea in goal adjusts quickly to a more physical game, the main loss, of Edwin van der Sar, should be minimised. Phil Jones need not be rushed but Ashley Young can go straight in, either just behind the strikers or out wide.

Key player: Wayne Rooney – big season for club and country.

Prediction: Championship No 20.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Last season: 12th.

Transfers: In: Mehdi Abeid (Lens), Demba Ba (West Ham, free), Yohan Cabaye (Lille, £4.3m), Sylvain Marveaux (Rennes, free). Out: Kevin Nolan (West Ham, £4m), Ben Tozer (Northampton, free). Sol Campbell, Shefki Kuqi (both released), Daniel Leadbitter (Torquay, free), Kazenga LuaLua (Brighton, loan).

Form: After replacing Chris Hughton in December, Alan Pardew was forced to sell his most valuable player and sunk from 11th to 12th. With other important players set to follow Andy Carroll out of the door, mutiny may spread from dressing-room to fans as after the first two games, at home to Arsenal and away to Sunderland. Highly regarded Yohan Cabaye has an important role in a Francophone midfield behind Demba Ba.

Key player: Kevin Nolan – no, sorry, they sold him.

Prediction: If Ba does not score goals, they could be in serious trouble.

NORWICH CITY

Last season: Promoted.

Transfers: In: Elliott Bennett (Brighton), Ritchie de Laet (Manchester Utd, loan), Steve Morison (Millwall, £2.8m), James Vaughan (Everton, £2.5m), Bradley Johnson (Leeds, free), Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield, £2m), Kyle Naughton (Tottenham, loan). Out: Matt Gill (Bristol Rovers, free).

Form: Remarkably, they finished third in the inaugural Premier League season, but went straight back down seven years ago and may worry this time that two successive promotions is too much too soon. Yet they have an intelligent manager in Paul Lambert who has put his faith mainly in players from the lower divisions taking the big step up. The likes of Pilkington, Morison and Bennett must do so, while Naughton and De Laet prove to their parent clubs that they are Premier League quality.

Key player: Wes Hoolahan – must pull some strings in midfield.

Prediction: A relegation struggle likely to go to the wire.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Last season: 1st in Championship.

Transfers: In: Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff, free), Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon (both West Ham, free). Out: Lee Brown (Bristol Rovers, free), Angelo Balanta (MK Dons, loan), Mikele Leigertwood (Reading), Pascal Chimbonda, Elliott Cox, Gavin Mahon, Joe Oastler, Josh Parker, Romone Rose (all released).

Form: Rangers fans have probably gone through the least enjoyable summer of any club winning a championship, let alone the Championship. Uncertainty over a possible sale affected much-needed strengthening and there was a serious suggestion that Adel Taarabt, the outstanding player with 19 goals and 16 assists, would leave. Jay Bothroyd must finally prove himself at this level and Dyer needs more than half a season if Rangers are to score enough goals.

Key player: Taarabt – must stay.

Prediction: If backing materialises, may just have enough to survive.

STOKE CITY

Last season: 13th.

Transfers: In: Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham, free). Out: Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham, free), Eidur Gudjohnsen (AEK Athens, free), Ibrahima Sonko (released), Matthew Lund (Oldham, loan), Carl Dickinson (Watford), Andrew Davies (Crystal Palace, loan).

Form: However unloved, Stoke have never been in serious danger of relegation in three solid seasons since coming up, and using both Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant on the flanks gave them a new dimension. Had the beefy strikers taken better advantage, they could have made the top half as well as the Cup final. But Tony Pulis has again left his buying late and needs a couple more players to forge ahead, especially with Europa League duties.

Key player: Kenwyne Jones – more than nine goals required this time.

Prediction: Progress dependent on additional recruiting.

SUNDERLAND

Last season: 10th.

Transfers: In: Ahmed Elmohamady (ENPPI, £2m), Ji Dong-won (Chunnam, £2.2m), Keiren Westwood (Coventry, free), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, free), Craig Gardner (Birmingham, £6m), Connor Wickham (Ipswich, £13m), Wes Brown (Manchester Utd, £1m), John O'Shea (Man Utd), David Vaughan (Blackpool, free). Out: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool, £16m), Steed Malbranque (St Etienne, £2m).

Form: No squad has changed as much as Steve Bruce's, which was heavily dependent last season on loanees and the midfield stalwarts Henderson and Malbranque. Gardner, Larsson and Vaughan look adequate replacements and the United pair O'Shea and Brown can do as well as Phil Neville has at Everton. In attack, much will be asked of Asamoah Gyan, at least until Connor Wickham matures.

Key player: Gardner - can provide goals from midfield.

Prediction: Top 10 again achievable.

SWANSEA CITY

Last season: Promoted.

Transfers: In: Danny Graham (Watford, £3.5m), Steven Caulker (Tottenham, loan), Jose Moreira (Benfica, £500,000), Leroy Lita (Middlesbrough, £1.75m). Out: Darren Pratley (Bolton, free), Dorus de Vries (Wolves, free), Jose Moreira (Benfica).

Form: Passing teams coming up from the Championship tend either to flourish or flounder, according to how good their passing really is and whether their defence can withstand the increased pressure. Last season Swansea often dominated home games, conceding only 11 goals, but away they were vulnerable, letting in 31 amid 11 defeats. Danny Graham has been signed to lift the goalscoring burden from winger Scott Sinclair and new goalkeeper Jose Moreira faces some stiff tasks in the opening weeks.

Key player: Graham – even half of last season's 24 goals would do.

Prediction: Good football, some heavy defeats and a chance of staying up.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Last season: 5th.

Transfers: In: Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, free), Souleymane Coulibaly (Siena), Cristian Ceballos (Barcelona, free). Out: Jonathan Woodgate (Stoke, free), Jamie O'Hara (Wolverhampton, £5m), Steven Caulker (Swansea, loan), Kyle Naughton (Norwich, loan), Bongani Khumalo (Reading, loan).

Form: As if resenting his reputation as a wheeler-dealer, Harry Redknapp has been unexpectedly quiet in the transfer market, and more concerned of late about keeping Luka Modric out of Chelsea's clutches. Doing so is essential to Spurs' prospects, as well as their chairman's credibility, but almost equally important is improving the number of goals scored; 55 was the same number as relegated Blackpool, with the England pair Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe contributing four each.

Key player: Modric – as Chelsea know only too well.

Prediction: Harry goes shopping late but Spurs revert to being a Cup team.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Last season: 11th.

Transfers: In: Billy Jones (Preston, free), Gareth McAuley (Ipswich, free), Zoltan Gera (Fulham, free), Ben Foster (Birmingham, loan). Out: Borja Valero (Villarreal), Abdoulaye Méïté (Dijon, free), Scott Carson (Bursaspor, £2m), Ryan Allsop (Millwall), Dean Kiely, Giles Barnes (released), Boaz Myhill (Birmingham, loan), Marcus Haber (St Johnstone), Gianni Zuiverloon (Real Mallorca, free).

Form: It was good to see Roy Hodgson's reputation restored after the scars of Anfield, with 11th place the club's best for 28 years. But conceding 71 goals with only two clean sheets emphasised defensive reinforcements are required, although Ben Foster for Scott Carson in goal is a good swap. Someone must take the burden of scoring from Peter Odemwingie, who was a revelation.

Key player: Odemwingie – but he cannot do it all on his own.

Prediction: Not as high as last season but safe.

WIGAN ATHLETIC

Last season: 16th.

Transfers: In: Ali Al-Habsi (Bolton, £4m), David Jones (Wolverhampton, free). Out: Steven Caldwell (Birmingham, free), Daniel de Ridder (Grasshopper Zurich, free), Joseph Holt, Jason Koumas, Thomas Lambert, Thomas Oakes, Francis Pollitt (all released), Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes, loan), Charles N'Zogbia (Aston Villa, £9.5m), Antonio Amaya (Real Betis).

Form: After surviving only by winning their last two games, Wigan needed to invest but have only signed the keeper who was on loan all last season. And N'Zogbia has left while loanee Tom Cleverley has returned to Manchester United. It does not augur well, for all Roberto Martinez's belief in good football and his principles in turning down Aston Villa to stay with the Premier League's worst supported club.

Key player: Victor Moses – needs to prove his potential.

Prediction: Will go down sooner or later – probably sooner.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

Last season: 17th.

Transfers: In: Jamie O'Hara (Tottenham, £5m), Dorus de Vries (Swansea, free), Roger Johnson (Birmingham, £7m). Out: Adriano Basso, Marcus Hahnemann, Nathan Rooney (all released), David Jones (Wigan, free), Steven Mouyokolo (Sochaux, loan), Danny Batth (Sheffield Wednesday, loan).

Form: The wonderfully dry Mick McCarthy grew understandably tired of being asked how his team could beat Chelsea, both Manchester clubs and Liverpool while losing twice to Wigan and Blackburn. Defensive howlers and lack of concentration explained the defeats, so securing Johnson was as crucial as retaining O'Hara, influential on loan from Spurs. Kevin Doyle should do at least as well this time as Steven Fletcher and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Key player: Johnson – can patch up leaky defence.

Prediction: Should avoid another nervy last day.

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