English Premier League guide

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LONDON, August 11MAN_U_TROPHY_– Updated team by team guide to the new English Premier League season which kicks-off on August 15. All transfer fees are listed in pounds:

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Last season: Premier League champions, Champions League runners-up, FA Cup semi-finals, League Cup winners, FIFA Club World Cup winners

In: Antonio Valencia (Wigan) 16m, Gabriel Obertan (Bordeaux) 3m, Michael Owen (Newcastle) free

Out: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 80m, Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland) 3.5m, Richard Eckersley (Burnley) undisclosed, Lee Martin (Ipswich) undisclosed, Manucho (Real Valladolid) undisclosed, Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) loan expired, Rodrigo Possebon (Sporting Braga) season-loan

Outlook: Losing one world-class player would have been enough to raise doubts about United’s ability to win a record fourth consecutive Premier League title, but when Carlos Tevez followed Cristiano Ronaldo through the Old Trafford exit door the alarm bells really started ringing.

Ronaldo’s long-anticipated move to Real Madrid at least brought the consolation of a world record transfer fee. It was the defection of cult hero Tevez to despised neighbours Manchester City which especially pained the United faithful.

The Stretford End angst was enhanced by the knowledge that Ronaldo and Tevez scored more than 100 goals between them over the last two seasons.

Yet United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who made a surprise swoop for Michael Owen to replace Tevez, has coped with the departures of stars like Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy in the past and the motivation of passing Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles will drive him on.

LIVERPOOL

Manager: Rafael Benitez

Last season: Premier League runners-up, Champions League quarter-finals, FA Cup 4th rnd, League Cup 4th rnd

In: Alberto Aquilani (Roma) 20m, Glen Johnson (Portsmouth) 17.5m, Aaron King (Rushden and Diamonds) undisclosed, Chris Mavinga (Paris Saint Germain), undisclosed

Out: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) 30m, Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid) 4m, Paul Anderson (Nottingham Forest) 250,000, Jack Hobbs (Leicester) undisclosed, Sebastian Leto (Panathinaikos) undisclosed, Jermaine Pennant (Real Zaragoza) free, Sami Hyypia (Bayer Leverkusen) free, Astrit Ajdarevic (Leicester) free

Outlook: A powerful sense of unfinished business has infused every utterance from Liverpool during a frustrating close season for Rafa Benitez’s team.

Allowing bitter rivals Manchester United to snatch the Premier League title from their grasp has left Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and company more desperate than ever to end the club’s 19-year wait to be crowned kings of English football.

The Reds have nothing to fear from United after beating the champions twice last season, including a stunning 4-1 rout at Old Trafford, and, with United weakened by key departures, Benitez knows they have to seize the moment.

He invested most of his transfer budget on Portsmouth’s Glen Johnson and Roma’s Alberto Aquilani, who replaces Xabi Alonso after the midfielder’s departure to Real Madrid.

CHELSEA

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Last season: 3rd in Premier League, Champions League semi-finals, FA Cup winners, League Cup 4th rnd

In: Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow) 18m, Daniel Sturridge (Manchester City) undisclosed, Ross Turnbull (Middlesbrough) free

Out: Ben Sahar (Espanyol) undisclosed, Scott Sinclair (Wigan) season-loan, Franco Di Santo (Blackburn) six-month loan, Lee Sawyer (Southend) six month-loan, Jimmy Smith (Leyton Orient) free

Outlook: Manchester City’s determined pursuit of John Terry cast a shadow over the early days of Carlo Ancelotti’s reign, but the defender’s decision to stay could herald a successful season in west London.

City made two massive offers for Terry before Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich persuaded the England captain to stay by personally agreeing to open talks over an improved contract.

Ancelotti, who replaced popular interim manager Guus Hiddink in July, arrives from AC Milan boasting a CV that includes two Champions League triumphs.

His new squad and supporters grew to love Hiddink’s down to earth demeanour and Ancelotti has a similar no-frills style which looks set to produce equally good results.

ARSENAL

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Last season: 4th in Premier League, Champions League semi-finals, FA Cup semi-finals, League Cup quarter-finals

In: Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax) undisclosed

Out: Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City) 25m, Kolo Toure (Manchester City) 16m, Amaury Bischoff (released), Rui Fonte (released)

Outlook: Rarely has a star player left Arsenal to such little dissent as Emmanuel Adebayor, but the Togo striker’s move to Manchester City has left a substantial hole in the Gunners’ armoury.

Whereas Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, Alexander Hleb and others departed north London to a soundtrack of grumbling from frustrated fans, Adebayor won’t be missed by many at the Emirates Stadium after a series of lacklustre displays last season.

Yet Adebayor was a formidable force at his best and his most likely replacements in the starting line-up – Croatia forward Eduardo and England’s Theo Walcott – are both are worryingly fragile and prone to lengthy spells on the sidelines.

It is imperative that Wenger finds the answer quickly. After four years without a trophy, the Frenchman came under fire from fans for the first time last season and the criticism will only get stronger if Arsenal make another spluttering start.

EVERTON

Manager: David Moyes

Last season: 5th in Premier League, FA Cup runners-up, League Cup 3rd rnd, UEFA Cup 1st rnd

In: Luke Garbutt (Leeds) undisclosed), Shkodran Mustafi (Hamburg) undisclosed), Anton Peterlin (free agent), Jo (Manchester City) season-loan

Out: Lars Jacobsen (Blackburn) free, John Ruddy (Motherwell) six-month loan, Nuno Valente (released), Andy van der Meyde (released)

Outlook: David Moyes believes last season’s FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea was a valuable experience on the journey towards the Premier League’s top four.

Whether Everton have absorbed the lessons of Chelsea’s ruthless Wembley victory remains to be seen because the Toffees are in danger of standing still while other leapfrog them in the race for those precious Champions League places.

With Arsenal seemingly on a downward spiral, Everton could be one or two big signings away from making the breakthrough, but Moyes has been frustrated by the club’s parsimonious ways.

He must be growing tired of shopping in the bargain basement for a series of untried prospects and, to add insult to injury, Manchester City have made up ground on the top four with a lavish spending spree, with Everton defender Joleon Lescott next in their sights.

ASTON VILLA

Manager: Martin O’Neill

Last season: 6th in Premier League, FA Cup 5th rnd, League Cup 3rd rnd, UEFA Cup last 32

In: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) 12m, Fabian Delph (Leeds) 8m, Habib Beye (Newcastle) undisclosed

Out: Gareth Barry (Manchester City) 12m, Zat Knight (Bolton) undisclosed, Stuart Taylor (Manchester City) undisclosed, Martin Laursen (retired)

Outlook: After a season that promised so much but ultimately delivered so little, Villa boss Martin O’Neill will have to work wonders to keep his team on an upwards curve.

With the home stretch in sight, Villa were firmly established in the top four and could have gone eight points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal with a win over Stoke.

Instead O’Neill’s team conceded two late goals to draw. They never recovered and eventually slumped so badly that they finished sixth.

The close-season has reflected the atmosphere of despondency that hung heavily over Villa Park in May. Gareth Barry quickly bolted for Manchester City, although the signings of England winger Stewart Downing and Leeds teenager Fabian Delph showed O’Neill’s intent to go for the top four again.

FULHAM

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Last season: 7th in Premier League, FA Cup quarter-finals, League Cup 3rd rnd

In: Bjorn Helge Riise (Lillestrom) undisclosed, Stephen Kelly (Birmingham) free

Out: Collins John (released), Moritz Volz (released)

Outlook: After exceeding all expectations by leading Fulham into the Europa League, Cottagers manager Roy Hodgson has to find a way to emulate his club’s most successful Premier League campaign.

Hodgson will never earn the headlines that his colleagues at more glamourous English teams garner on a regular basis, but in his methodical way the former Inter Milan coach has fashioned one of the best value for money squads in the top flight.

For just a minimal outlay in the transfer market, Hodgson built a team capable of beating Manchester United and Arsenal and drawing with Liverpool and Chelsea.

It will hard to do the same again as Fulham are now less of an unknown quantity but Hodgson is determined to build on that success.

TOTTENHAM

Manager: Harry Redknapp

Last season: 8th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th rnd, League Cup runners-up, UEFA Cup last 32

In: Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker (Sheffield United) joint 10m fee, Peter Crouch (Portsmouth) 9m, Sebastien Bassong (Newcastle) 8m

Out: Darren Bent (Sunderland) 10m, Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest) 1.75m, Didier Zokora (Sevilla) undisclosed, Danny Hutchins (Yeovil) undisclosed, Ben Alnwick (Norwich) three-month loan, David Hutton (released), Ricardo Rocha (released), Simon Dawkins (released), Gilberto (released)

Outlook: Harry Redknapp can finally take aim at the Premier League’s big guns after making a perfect start to his dream job.

Redknapp, who has always been desperate to manage one of the game’s traditional powers, found a club in crisis when he took charge at White Hart Lane early last season, but quickly guided Spurs away from the relegation zone and only narrowly missed out on a European place.

Signing the likes of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios in the January transfer window greatly improved Redknapp’s squad, but one of the game’s shrewdest transfer operators is always on the look-out for another deal.

He swooped for Sheffield United’s young full-backs Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker, then signed Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch and sold Darren Bent to Sunderland.

WEST HAM

Manager: Gianfranco Zola

Last season: 9th in Premier League, FA Cup 5th rnd, League Cup 3rd rnd

In: Luis Jimenez (Inter Milan) season-loan, Peter Kurucz (Ujpest) undisclosed, Jack Lampe (Harlow Town) undisclosed, Frank Nouble (Chelsea) undisclosed, Fabio Daprela (Grasshoppers) undisclosed

Out: Lee Bowyer (Birmingham) free, Freddie Sears (Crystal Palace) season-loan, Walter Lopez (released), Lucas Neill (released), Kyel Reid released), Tony Stokes (released), Diego Tristan (released), Jimmy Walker (released)

Outlook: Gianfranco Zola performed a miracle to keep West Ham in mid-table safety despite battling against a backdrop of financial uncertainty last season and the Italian plans to work more magic this term.

Zola’s first managerial role looked to have turned into a poisoned chalice when the Hammers’ Icelandic owners were badly affected by the global credit crunch.

Yet the former Chelsea star proved quite the alchemist as he produced an eye-catching and winning team from the slenderest materials.

Zola’s hopes of enduring success in east London lie with the club’s latest crop of thrusting youngsters, with Jack Collison and James Tomkins to the fore, and a self-styled ‘magician’ from Chile – Luis Jimenez, who has joined on loan from Inter Milan.

MANCHESTER CITY

Manager: Mark Hughes

Last season: 10th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd rnd, League Cup 2nd rnd, UEFA Cup quarter-finals

In: Carlos Tevez (Manchester United) 25m, Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) 25m, Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn) 17m, Kolo Toure (Arsenal) 16m, Gareth Barry (Aston Villa) 12m), Nils Zander (Schalke) undisclosed, Stuart Taylor (Aston Villa) undisclosed

Out: Elano (Galatasaray) 8m, Ched Evans (Sheffield Utd) 3m, Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea) undisclosed, Gelson Fernandes (St Etienne) undisclosed, Jo (Everton) season-loan, Joe Hart (Birmingham) season-loan, Valeri Bojinov (Parma) season-loan, Felipe Caicedo (Sporting Lisbon) season-loan, Michael Ball (released), Glauber Berti (released), Dietmar Hamann (released), Danny Mills (retired), Darius Vassell (released)

Outlook: For the first time in over 30 years, Manchester City head into a new season as the talk of the town thanks to a spending spree which threatens to catapult them into the Premier League’s elite.

After decades in the shadow of Manchester United, it is City’s turn in the limelight. The club’s Abu Dhabi-based backers have handed manager Mark Hughes a seemingly bottomless transfer fund, which has already helped snatch Carlos Tevez from United’s clutches.

Add big-money swoops for Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure and Gareth Barry and a prolonged chase for Everton defender Joleon Lescott and it becomes clear that City’s owners want to take the express route to the top.

Whether such a frenzy of transfer activity will produce a cohesive unit come the opening day of the season remains to be seen and doubts persist over Hughes’s hording of so many strikers when the defence has been a bigger problem. Whatever happens, City’s time in the shadows is well and truly over.

WIGAN

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Last season: 11th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd rnd, League Cup 4th rnd

In: Jason Scotland (Swansea) 2m, Jordi Gomez (Espanyol) undisclosed, Hendry Thomas (Deportivo Olimpia) undisclosed, James McCarthy (Hamilton) undisclosed, Scott Sinclair (Chelsea), season-loan

Out: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) 16m

Outlook: Roberto Martinez arrives at Wigan with impressive credentials after leading Swansea from the depths of League One to the brink of the Premier League in just two seasons.

The Spaniard’s reign at the Championship club persuaded Wigan chairman Dave Whelan to turn to the former Latics player when Steve Bruce quit to take over at Sunderland.

But Martinez won’t find it easy to replicate Bruce’s success. Bruce only left because of Wigan’s failure to hold onto their best players and Antonio Valencia’s July move to Manchester United continued the trend.

Martinez has so far focused on signing players he worked with at Swansea, with powerful striker Jason Scotland and Spanish playmaker Jordi Gomez following their old boss to the DW Stadium.

STOKE

Manager: Tony Pulis

Last season: 12th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd rnd, League Cup quarter-finals

In: Dean Whitehead (Sunderland) 3m, Matthew Lund (Crewe) free, Ben Marshall (Crewe) free

Out: Seyi Olofinjana (Hull) 3m, Vincent Pericard (released)

Outlook: Just 12 months after being written off as relegation certainties, Stoke are looking forward to their second season in the Premier League.

Tony Pulis’s side defied the odds to finish well clear of the bottom three and it was no more than they deserved.

Superbly organised by Pulis, Stoke’s unfashionable collection of journeymen were able to turn the Britannia Stadium into a fortress, which Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa, amongst others, were unable to breach.

Now they have to avoid falling victim to the second season syndrome that has often found teams happy to rest on their laurels after peforming above expectations.

BOLTON

Manager: Gary Megson

Last season: 13th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd rnd, League Cup 2nd rnd

In: Zat Knight (Aston Villa) undisclosed, Sam Ricketts (Hull) undisclosed, Sean Davis (Portsmouth) free, Paul Robinson (West Brom) season-loan

Out: Blerim Dzemaili (Torino) undisclosed

Outlook: Gary Megson may never emulate the hero status enjoyed by Sam Allardyce, but the Bolton boss is beginning to make an equally impressive impact at the Reebok Stadium.

Megson’s dour personality and safety-first tactics have earned criticism from Bolton fans, yet he has put pride to one side and responded by leading Wanderers to safety two years in a row.

Now he needs to lift Bolton to the top ten finishes enjoyed during Allardyce’s reign to continue the comparison.

Solid signings like Sean Davis and Zat Knight should guarantee Megson remains a Premier League boss, but he needs more quality up front to make the next step forward.

PORTSMOUTH

Manager: Paul Hart

Last season: 14th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th rnd, League Cup 3rd rnd, UEFA Cup group stage

In: Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn) free, Steve Finnan (Espanyol) free, Frederic Piquionne (Lyon) season-loan, Antti Niemi (unattached) free

Out: Glen Johnson (Liverpool) 17.5m, Peter Crouch (Tottenham) 9m, Djimi Traore (Monaco) undisclosed, Sean Davis (Bolton) free, Lauren (released), Glen Little (released), Noe Pamarot (released), Jerome Thomas (released)

Outlook: Following a tumultuous close-season at Fratton Park, Portsmouth manager Paul Hart has to make up for lost time as he tries to build on last season’s rescue act.

By the time Hart was finally handed the job on a permanent basis in mid-July following the takeover by Arab tycoon Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Portsmouth were in danger of losing several key players.

Glen Johnson had already left for Liverpool, while Peter Crouch joined Tottenham. French defender Sylvain Distin was also the target of several clubs, while signings like South Africa’s Aaron Mokoena and Steve Finnan hardly set pulses racing.

Hart was rightly rewarded for hauling Portsmouth to safety after Tony Adams’ disastrous reign but he faces another fight for survival this season.

BLACKBURN

Manager: Sam Allardyce

Last season: 15th in Premier League, FA Cup 5th rnd, League Cup quarter-finals

In: Nikos Giannakopoulos (Asteras Tripolis) 52,000, Gael Givet (Marseille) undisclosed), Steven N’Zonzi (Amiens SC) undisclosed, Lars Jacobsen (Everton) free, Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge) free, Franco Di Santo (Chelsea) season-loan

Out: Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City) 17m, Matt Derbyshire (Olympiakos) undisclosed, Bjorn Bussmann (1860 Munich) undisclosed, Keith Tracey (Sheffield Utd) six-month loan, Andreas Arestidou (Shrewsbury) free, Tony Kane (Carlisle) free, Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth) free, Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven) free, Tugay (released)

Outlook: Blackburn fans should have spent the close-season thanking their lucky stars that Newcastle treated Sam Allardyce with such disdain.

Allardyce returned to management in December almost a year after being sacked by Newcastle and he was determined to prove a point to his former employers.

He succeeded in some style as Rovers climbed out of the relegation zone and Newcastle eventually crashed into the Championship.

Allardyce has lost star striker Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City, but the Paraguayan was missing for much of the relegation run-in and Rovers, bolstered by their manager’s passion, will be looking upwards this year.

SUNDERLAND

Manager: Steve Bruce

Last season: 16th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th rnd, League Cup 4th rnd

In: Darren Bent (Tottenham) 10m, Lorik Cana (Marseille) 5m, Fraizer Campbell (Manchester United) 3.5m, Paulo da Silva (Toluca) undisclosed

Out: Michael Chopra (Cardiff) 4m, Dean Whitehead (Stoke) 3m, Greg Halford (Wolverhampton) undisclosed, Jack Colback (Ipswich) six-month loan, Peter Hartley (released), Niall McArdle (released), Arnau Riera (released), Darren Ward (retired), Dwight Yorke (released), Nick Colgan (released), David Connolly (released)

Outlook: Steve Bruce is finally back in his native north-east England but not with the club he always believed he was destined to manage.

While Bruce often hankered after the chance to take charge at Newcastle, his boyhood club’s relegation to the Championship last season made that job much less attractive.

So instead, with Wigan struggling to hold onto their best players, Bruce opted to leave the DW Stadium and head to Sunderland during the close-season for his biggest challenge yet.

The Black Cats’ huge fanbase encourages the club to dream of great achievements and the club record deal for Darren Bent shows their ambition, but the reality is staying in the top-flight will be a decent achievement.

HULL

Manager: Phil Brown

Last season: 17th in Premier League, FA Cup quarter-finals, League Cup 2nd rnd

In: Seyi Olofinjana (Stoke) 3m, Steven Mouyokolo (Boulogne) undisclosed, Jozy Altidore (Villarreal) season-loan

Out: Sam Ricketts (Bolton) undisclosed, Wayne Brown (Leicester) undisclosed, John Welsh (Tranmere) free, Dean Windass (Darlington) free, Michael Bridges (released), Ryan France (released)

Outlook: As Phil Brown rode off into the sunset after Hull’s narrow escape from relegation he must have reflected on the gamble that backfired.

At the half-way point of last season, Hull were on course for a remarkable debut in the Premier League, but the Tigers lost their bite after Brown’s very public dressing-down of his players when they trailed 4-0 at half-time at Manchester City.

Suddenly morale dipped and Brown’s men just avoided relegation on the last day despite winning only one of their last 19 matches.

Brown, who spent some of the close-season riding around France on his motorbike, should take a more low-key approach to team-talks this season as Hull try to recapture the form that saw them rock England’s top teams for six months.

WOLVERHAMPTON

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Last season: Championship winners, FA Cup 4th rnd, League Cup 2nd rnd

In: Kevin Doyle (Reading) 6.5m, Andrew Surman (Southampton) 1.2m, Greg Halford (Sunderland) undisclosed, Nenad Milijas (Red Star Belgrade) undisclosed, Ronald Zubar (Marseille) undisclosed, Marcus Hahnemann (Reading) free)

Out: Stephen Gleeson (Milton Keynes Dons) undisclosed, Darren Potter (Sheffield Wednesday) undisclosed

Outlook: "I’ll spend money on a load of over-priced players, win two of the first 15 matches and get sacked by Christmas".

If Mick McCarthy’s verdict on the lot of a Premier League manager seems a little brutal, the Wolves boss can be forgiven for he has tasted the harsh end of life among the elite.

During his reign at Sunderland, McCarthy won promotion to the Premier League in 2005, only to be sacked less than a year later because he hadn’t been able to build on that achievement immediately.

He should be given more time at Molineux and bolstering his talented young team with Ireland striker Kevin Doyle means Wolves at least have a chance of staying up.

BIRMINGHAM

Manager: Alex McLeish

Last season: Championship runners-up, FA Cup 3rd rnd, League Cup 2nd rnd

In: Christian Benitez (Santos Laguna) 7.7m, Roger Johnson (Cardiff) 5m, Barry Ferguson (Rangers) 1.25m, Scott Dann (Coventry) undisclosed, Giovanny Espinoza (Barcelona Sporting Club) undisclosed, Lee Bowyer (West Ham) free, Joe Hart (Manchester City) season-loan

Out: Stephen Kelly (Fulham) free, Radhi Jaidi (released), Mehdi Nafti (released) Krystian Pearce (Peterborough) season-loan

Outlook: Few managers can have greeted promotion to the Premier League with more relief than Alex McLeish.

The former Scotland coach spent most of last season under intense pressure from Birmingham’s owners and fans after a spluttering Championship campaign, but he finally delivered a top two finish with victory at Reading on the final day.

With the demands for Premier League football satisfied, McLeish has started to spend big in an attempt to avoid yet another short stay in the top-flight.

His swoops for Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, two defenders who excelled in the Championship, adds youth to his aging defence, while the seven million pound move for Ecuador striker Christian Benitez looks like a boom or bust gamble.

BURNLEY

Manager: Owen Coyle

Last season: 5th in Championship (promoted via play-offs), FA Cup 5th rnd, League Cup semi-finals

In: Steven Fletcher (Hibernian) 3m, Brian Easton (Hamilton) 350,000, Richard Eckersley (Manchester United) undisclosed, David Edgar (Newcastle) undisclosed, Tyrone Mears (Derby) undisclosed, Fernando Guerrero (Independiente del Valle) season-loan

Out: Alex MacDonald (Falkirk) six month-loan, Steve Jones (released), Gabor Kiraly (released), Alan Mahon (released)

Outlook: For the first time in 33 years, unglamourous Turf Moor will host the English game’s rich and famous but Manchester United, Liverpool and the rest shouldn’t expect a red carpet welcome.

Owen Coyle’s team were the most romantic story of last season as they ended years in football’s backwaters by clinching promotion via the Championship play-offs.

The Clarets, champions of England way back in 1960, have no intention of letting the fairytale end with that Wembley victory over Sheffield United however.

Wins over Chelsea, Arsenal, Fulham and Tottenham in cup competitions last term proved Burnley can compete with the best and Coyle is convinced they can emulate Stoke and Hull’s survival.

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