Team-by-Team: Crash course on the 20 top-flight clubs


*For years Arsenal have been speaking the language of 'one final push'. But with the likely losses of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, they look further away than ever from ending their six-year trophy drought. Arsène Wenger's purism has never been under more pressure.

*Last Season 4th.

*Top scorer Robin van Persie (18).

*Worst disciplinary record Laurent Koscielny (2 reds).

*IN: Gervinho (Lille, £10.5m), Carl Jenkinson (Charlton Athletic, undisclosed fee), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton, £15m). Total: £25.5m.

*OUT: Gael Clichy (Manchester City, £7m), Denilson (Sao Paulo, loan), Wellington (Levante, loan), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Ipswich, undisclosed fee), Kyle Bartley (Rangers, loan), James Shea (Dagenham & Redbridge, loan). Total: £7m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Cesc Fabregas. Or at least, the constant boring questions about his future. A great player, but the nagging sore needs to be cut out.

If they could bring back one legendary player: Patrick Vieira. He would add strength and heart to a midfield which lacks both.

Aston Villa

*Aston Villa might now have managerial stability, but not from the man they would have wanted. Former Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is not popular at Villa Park, and will need a quick start. Having lost Stewart Downing and Ashley Young this summer, he may have a difficult time.

*Last season 9th.

*Top scorer Darren Bent (17).

*Worst disciplinary record Ciaran Clark (9 yellows).

*IN: Shay Given (Manchester City, £3.5m), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan Athletic, £9.5m). Total: £13m.

*OUT: Brad Friedel (Tottenham Hotspur, free), Ashley Young (Manchester United, £16m), Stewart Downing (Liverpool, £20m), Nigel Reo-Coker (Bolton Wanderers, free), John Carew (West Ham United, free). Total: £36m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Mario Balotelli. 'Super Mario' scored four goals in two games against Villa last year; they must hope for one of his many off-days this time.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: David Platt. After losing an entire midfield in three summers, Platt's guile and goals would be useful, as would his assists.


*They only just stayed up last year, having sacked Sam Allardyce before Christmas. Steve Kean kept them up, but they were 13th when Allardyce went and could have gone down on the final day. Even if the Phil Jones money is well spent, it could be a hard season.

*Last season 15th.

*Top scorer David Hoilett/Nikola Kalinic (5).

*Worst disciplinary record Michel Salgado (9 yellows).

*IN: David Goodwillie (Dundee United, £2m), Radoslav Petrovic (FK Partizan, undisclosed). Total: £2m.

*OUT: Frankie Fielding (Derby County, undisclosed), Phil Jones (Manchester United, £16.5m), Zurab Khizanishvili (Kayserispor, free), Nikola Kalinic (Dnipro, undisclosed). Total: £16.5m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Sam Allardyce. The script of vengeance would be too easy. But he took the West Ham job instead.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Colin Hendry. How better to replace Phil Jones than with the original? Especially if Chris Samba goes, Hendry's solidity could probably keep them up.


*Bolton were one of the success stories of the first half of last season, before injuries meant their momentum dissipated, and they bottomed out with a traumatic 5-0 beating in the FA Cup semi-final by Stoke City. Will hope to recover that optimism this autumn.

*Last season 14th.

*Top scorer Johan Elmander (10).

*Worst disciplinary record Kevin Davies (10 yellows).

*IN: Darren Pratley (Swansea City, free), Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears (Burnley, £3m), Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa, free). Total: £3m.

*OUT: Ali Al-Habsi (Wigan Athletic, £4m), Johan Elmander (Galatasaray, free), Joey O'Brien (West Ham United,. free), Matt Taylor (West Ham United,. £2.2m). Total: £6.2m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Jon Walters. After his two goals in the semi-final, Bolton fans will be sick of his distinctive bustle.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Jay-Jay Okocha. Bolton will desperately miss Lee Chung-yong. They have been linked with Tuncay as they look for some more invention, but Okocha could do exactly what they wanted.


*Roman Abramovich's high standards cost Carlo Ancelotti his job, and new man Andre Villas-Boas must surely win either the league or the Champions League to keep his job. All he has at his disposal is the core of the Mourinho squad, and a certain Spanish striker who apparently used to be able to play a bit.

*Last season 2nd.

*Top scorer Florent Malouda (13).

*Worst disciplinary record Branislav Ivanovic (12 yellows).

*IN: Thibaut Courtois (Genk, undisclosed), Oriol Romeu (Barcelona, £4.4m), Lucas Piazon (Sao Paulo, undisclosed). Total: £4.4m.

*OUT: Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi Makhachkala, undisclosed), Michael Mancienne (Hamburg, £3m), Fabio Borini (Parma, undisclosed), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan). Total: £3m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Jose Mourinho. Even after Ancelotti, Jose still haunts Chelsea. They need to move on.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Arjen Robben. With most of the Mourinho squad still in place, Andre Villas-Boas does not have much pace at his disposal.


*David Moyes has constructed a very good football team but without investment he has seen it chipped away by predators. No big-name departures yet, but they have fought hard just to stand still, and Moyes will hope to avoid another characteristically slow start this season.

*Last season 7th.

*Top scorer Tim Cahill (9).

*Worst disciplinary record Johnny Heitinga (9 yellows).

*IN: Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon, loan). Total: £0m.

*OUT: James Vaughan (Norwich City, £2.5m). Total: £2.5m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Yakubu. In January, Moyes finally gave up on his wage-heavy, goal-light centre-forward who had never really recovered from injury. He is now at Leicester, setting up a good potential FA Cup story.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Dixie Dean. Everton are solid but with concerns over Louis Saha's fitness they lack an experienced goal-scorer. One of Dean's 60-goal seasons would prove fairly useful.


*Fulham are ready to start a new cycle just one year after Mark Hughes replaced Roy Hodgson. Martin Jol knows the Premier League and has a handy squad but the bright lights of the Europa League, in which Fulham have recent history, could well distract them.

*Last season 8th.

*Top scorer Clint Dempsey (12).

*Worst disciplinary record Danny Murphy (8 yellows).

*IN: John Arne Riise (Roma, £2.3m), Pajtim Kasami (Palermo, £4m), Marcel Gecov (Slovan Liberec, undisclosed). Total: £6.3m.

*OUT: Zoltan Gera (West Bromwich Albion, free), John Paintsil (Leicester, free), Jonathan Greening (Nottingham Forest, £600,000). Total: £600,000.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Mark Hughes. Having left Craven Cottage after just one season, and just marginal improvement, he is not particularly popular.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Johnny Haynes. Martin Jol has inherited a Fulham squad high on athleticism but low on intelligence. They need a schemer.


*With American money and the return of Kenny Dalglish, Anfield is optimistic of eventually making back some ground on Manchester United, now England's most successful team. Whether they have bought sufficient quality this summer, though, remains to be seen.

*Last season 6th.

*Top scorer Dirk Kuyt (13).

*Worst disciplinary record Martin Skrtel (8 yellows).

*IN: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £16m), Charlie Adam (Blackpool, £9m), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa, £20m), Jose Enrique (Newcastle, £6m). Total: £51m.

*OUT: Paul Konchesky (Leicester, £1.5m), Milan Jovanovic (Anderlecht, free). Total: £1.5m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Gary Taylor-Fletcher. The Scouser who orchestrated Blackpool's wins over Liverpool last year is now safely back in the Championship.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: John Barnes. Despite summer spending, Liverpool still lack pace in wide positions, which could be well provided by Barnes.

Man City

*After two steps in the right direction last year, Roberto Mancini needs more of the same. Sergio Aguero is an exciting addition but it remains to be seen if they can match Man United for tactical audacity and the ability to find a goal when it matters most.

*Last season 3rd.

*Top scorer Carlos Tevez (20).

*Worst disciplinary record Nigel de Jong (9 yellows).

*IN:Gaël Clichy (Arsenal, £7m), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid, £38m), Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade, £6m). Total: £51m.

*OUT: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich, £11.8m), Shay Given (Aston Villa, £3.5m), Felipe Caicedo (Levante, £880,000). Total: £16.1m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Kia Joorabchian. For all the goals of Carlos Tevez, the undermining of the club by his "people" has been a nagging difficulty.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Mike Summerbee. They have the firepower but, given Adam Johnson's inconsistencies, better delivery from wide would be welcome.

Man Utd

*The great renewer has responded to United's 19th English title with three smart young signings, as some of his old guard move off the stage. Surely enough to ensure title No 20, unless Andre Villas-Boas is very good, but there is no midfielder yet to lead their challenge to Barcelona.

*Last season Champions.

*Top scorer Dimitar Berbatov (20).

*Worst disciplinary record Paul Scholes (9 yellows).

*IN: Phil Jones (Blackburn Rovers, £16.5m), Ashley Young (Aston Villa, £16m), David de Gea (Atletico Madrid, £18m). Total: £50.5m.

*OUT: Wes Brown (Sunderland, £1m), John O'Shea (Sunderland, undisclosed), Gabriel Obertan (Newcastle, undisclosed), Bebe (Besiktas, loan). Total: £1m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Lionel Messi. After two lessons in three years, United must hope that someone – even City – gets rid of Barcelona.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Roy Keane. Despite their strength, the midfield is lacking and Keane would bring back control and authority there.


*For once austerity, and not frivolity, is the problem on Tyneside. Mike Ashley is trying to recoup some of his money, selling the best players and replacing them with bargains from Ligue 1. The fans are not so keen.

*Last season12th.

*Top scorer Kevin Nolan (12).

*Worst disciplinary record Cheick Tioté (14 yellows).

*IN: Mehdi Abeid (Lens, undisclosed), Demba Ba (West Ham United, free), Yohan Cabaye (Lille, £4.3m), Sylvain Marveaux (Rennes, free), Gabriel Obertan (Manchester United, undisclosed). Total: £4.3m.

*OUT: Kevin Nolan (West Ham United, £4m), Kazenga LuaLua (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan), Wayne Routledge (Swansea City, £2m), Xisco (Deportivo, undisclosed), Jose Enrique (Liverpool, £6m). Total: £12m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Joey Barton. The self-styled Vaclav Havel of football has been chipping away at the board on Twitter all summer.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Alan Shearer. How better to replace Andy Carroll than with the greatest big Geordie No 9 of all time?

Norwich City

*Can Paul Lambert sustain the fairy tale? After consecutive promotions, Norwich face a challenge of another order this year. Buying the best from the Football League, rather than journeymen, is a novel approach and could strengthen them as a unit.

*Last season 2nd in Championship.

*Top scorer Grant Holt (21).

*Worst disciplinary record Grant Holt (7 yellows, 1 red).

*IN: Ritchie de Laet (Manchester United, loan), Steve Morison (Millwall, £2.8m), James Vaughan (Everton, £2.5m), Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield Town, £2m), Kyle Naughton (Tottenham Hotspur, loan). Total: £7.3m.

*OUT: Matt Gill (Bristol Rovers, free), Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness CT, undisclosed). Total: £0m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Glenn Roeder. Memories of the darkest days, they could do without his dreary reminder.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Bryan Gunn. Norwich are short on experience, especially in goal. A calm head is needed, and Gunn could bring much to the table.


*The team that bossed the Championship has not heavily invested, despite the wealth of their owners and the new ticket prices. They will need Adel Taarabt's magic more often than not.

*Last season 1st in Championship.

*Top scorer Adel Taarabt (19).

*Worst disciplinary record Clint Hill (7 yellows, 1 red).

*IN: Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff City, free), Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon (both West Ham United, free), D J Campbell (Blackpool, undisclosed), Brian Murphy (Ipswich Town, free), Bruno Perone (Tombense, free) Total: £0m.

*OUT: Lee Brown (Bristol Rovers, free), Angelo Balanta (MK Dons, loan), Mikele Leigertwood (Reading, undisclosed). Total: £0m.

*Something they hope to have seen the back of: FA Rule E3. The worry about punishment over Alejandro Faurlin haunted last year; this year they can relax and focus on football.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Stan Bowles. Adel Taarabt is good but, with Wayne Routledge gone, QPR need pace and invention in wide areas; Bowles would be perfect.


*Definite progress last season, and the agony of FA Cup final defeat, should be a platform for progress this year. Their style should stay the same, but extra quality in defence will prove useful against the best.

*Last season 13th.

*Top scorer Kenwyne Jones (9).

*Worst disciplinary record Ryan Shawcross (2 reds).

*IN: Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur, free), Matthew Upson (West Ham United, free). Total in: £0m.

*OUT: Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham United, free), Eidur Gudjohnsen (AEK Athens, free), Ibrahima Sonko (released), Carl Dickinson (Watford, undisclosed). Total: £0m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Yaya Touré. The Ivorian chose the Cup final for one of his stronger appearances, ending Stoke's dream. They will be sick of the sight of him.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Stanley Matthews. He might not get into the team on form, but Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant would surely benefit from the wing competition that Sir Stanley would provide.


*Ambitious recruitment was needed after a patchy season, but there is no reason why Sunderland cannot fight out for seventh place.

*Last season 10th.

*Top scorer Asamoah Gyan (10).

*Worst disciplinary record Lee Cattermole (2 reds, 10 yellows).

*IN: Ahmed Elmohamady (ENPPI, £2m), Ji Dong-won (Chunnam Dragons, £2.2m), Keiren Westwood (Coventry, free), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, free), Craig Gardner (Birmingham City, £6m), Connor Wickham (Ipswich Town, £8.1m), Wes Brown (Manchester United, £1m), John O'Shea (Manchester United, undisclosed). Total: £24.2m.

*OUT: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool, £16m), Boudewijn Zenden (released), Steed Malbranque (St Etienne, £2m). Total: £18m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Darren Bent. Clean sheets against Villa will be especially valued after Bent's January defection.

*If they could bring back one legendary plyer: Niall Quinn. Why wait to see whether Connor Wickham can become the new Niall Quinn? The original model could prosper.


*The most attractive team in the Football League last year, and, given their size, the Blackpool comparisons are obvious. Danny Graham should score enough; as ever, the question remains over their experience and solidity.

*Last season 3rd in Championship.

*Top scorer Scott Sinclair (19).

*Worst disciplinary record Darren Pratley (1 red, 4 yellow).

*IN: Danny Graham (Watford, £3.5m), Steven Caulker (Tottenham, loan), Leroy Lita (Middlesbrough, £1.75m), Wayne Routledge (Newcastle, undisclosed). Total: £5.75m.

*OUT: Scott Donnelly (Wycombe Wanderers, loan), Darren Pratley (Bolton, free), Dorus De Vries (Wolves, free), Gorka Pintado (mutual consent). Total: £0m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Paulo Sousa. The style icon did not leave on good terms, but is safely away in Hungary now.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Lee Trundle. The fact that Swansea have signed Leroy Lita betrays their desperation for quality forwards. What they would give for Lee Trundle to lead the line this year.


*There is a fear that their excursion in the Champions League was an adventure but not a platform at Spurs. They missed out last year and, Rafael van der Vaart aside, have not improved the quality of their squad accordingly. Short of strikers, making fourth again looks difficult.

*Last season 5th.

*Top scorer Rafael van der Vaart (13).

*Worst disciplinary record Michael Dawson (6 yellows).

*IN: Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, free), Souleymane Coulibaly (Siena, undisclosed), Cristian Ceballos (Barcelona, free). Total: £0m.

*OUT: Jonathan Woodgate (Stoke, free), Jamie O'Hara (Wolves, £5m), Steven Caulker (Swansea City, loan), Kyle Naughton (Norwich City, loan). Total: £5m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Robbie Keane. The enduring symbol of their failure to upgrade their forward-line in recent years.

*If they could bring back on legendary player: Jimmy Greaves. Harry Redknapp has been searching for an improvement on Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe; how pleased would he be with Greaves, who scored for fun during the Sixties.

West Bromwich

*A club much closer to Fulham's standing than to Liverpool's, it should provide a good platform for Roy Hodgson to do what he does best. Shane Long could be the perfect partner for Peter Odemwingie in Hodgson's favoured 4-4-2.

*Last season 11th.

*Top scorer Peter Odemwingie (15).

*Worst disciplinary record Youssouf Mulumbu (2 reds).

*IN: Zoltan Gera (Fulham, free), Ben Foster (Birmingham, loan), Shane Long (Reading, £7m). Total: £7m.

*OUT: Abdoulaye Meite (Dijon, free), Scott Carson (Bursaspor, £2m), Dean Kiely, Giles Barnes (released), Boaz Myhill (Birmingham, loan), Gianni Zuiverloon (Real Mallorca, free).Total: £2m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Roberto di Matteo. He was ruthlessly sacked and is now assistant at Chelsea. Di Matteo welcomes them to SW6 next weekend.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Bryan Robson. Youssouf Mulumbu and Paul Scharner are acceptable but there is little forward momentum there. Robson could provide goals and forward drive.


*Final day escapees, but Roberto Martinez's approach to the game ensures that life at the DW Stadium is never dull or stale. Having lost Charles N'Zogbia, they will have to find more bargains to maintain their challenge.

*Last Season 16th.

*Top scorer Charles N'Zogbia (9).

*Worst disciplinary record Maynor Figueroa (11 yellows).

*IN: Ali Al-Habsi (Bolton, £4m), David Jones (Wolves, free), Nouha Dicko (Strasbourg, free). Total: £4m.

*OUT: Steven Caldwell (Birmingham, free), Daniel de Ridder (Grasshopper Zurich, free), Charles N'Zogbia (Aston Villa, £9.5m). Total: £9.5m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Mauro Boselli. They spent £6.5m on the Argentine, but after eight league games and no goals he is already back at Estudiantes. The less said about it the better.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Roberto Martinez. With N'Zogbia gone, Wigan are short of goals and creativity from a midfielder. James McCarthy is promising, but what Martinez could really do with is, well, Martinez.


*Needed final day to stay up, having produced their best against the elite but failed to beat those closest to them. One of the league's best-working units, they have strikers and wingers to match anyone else in the bottom half.

*Last season 17th.

*Top scorer Steven Fletcher (10).

*Worst disciplinary record Karl Henry (8 yellows).

*IN: Jamie O'Hara (Tottenham, £5m), Roger Johnson (Birmingham City, £7m), Dorus de Vries (Swansea, free). Total: £50.5m.

*OUT: Marcus Hahnemann (released), Greg Halford (Portsmouth, undisclosed), David Jones (Wigan, free). Total: £0m.

*Someone they hope to have seen the back of: Junior Hoillet. His goal was, for a while, sending Wolves down on the final day. They survived, but the nightmares will endure.

*If they could bring back one legendary player: Kenny Hibbitt. Jamie O'Hara is useful but Wolves could do with more intelligence and more goals from their central midfield this season: step forward a Seventies legend.

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