Premier League club prospects and transfers
London: Factbox on the 20 Premier League clubs before the start of the season this weekend (all amounts in pounds, last year`s position in parenthesis):
Chelsea, Champions, 86 points:
Having ended Manchester United`s three-year run of titles Chelsea, who also won the FA Cup, will start as favourites to retain the championship despite a low-key transfer summer.
In an effective swap deal Yossi Benayoun arrived from Liverpool with Joe Cole going in the opposite direction while teenage centre back Tomas Kalas will stay with Czech club Sigma Olomuc for a season-long loan.
"I had doubts last year, when I started, but now I have more knowledge about the team and club and about the atmosphere in England and the teams here and so I think we will start the season in a different situation," said coach Carlo Ancelotti.
In: Benayoun (6 million, Liverpool), Kalas, (Undisclosed).
Out: Michael Ballack (Free, Bayer Leverkusen), Juliano Belletti (Free, Fluminense), Cole (Free, Liverpool), Deco (Released, Fluminense), Miroslav Stoch (Undisclosed, Fenerbahce)
Manchester United, 2nd, 85 points
United will be desperate to get back to the top of the tree and they too are sitting pretty much on what they have got with just Mexico striker Javier Hernandez coming in.
They ooze quality in every area and with a hopefully more settled defence this season they remain the benchmark.
"I am happy with what we already have and I don`t see any reason to add to that just because people want me to buy someone," said manager Alex Ferguson.
In: Chris Smalling (Undisclosed, Fulham), Javier Hernandez (Undisclosed, Guadalajara)
Out: Ben Foster (Undisclosed, Birmingham City)
Arsenal, 3rd, 75 points
Five years without a trophy is a long time for Arsenal fans who got used to regular silverware but the Londoners look short of depth in comparison with the top two. Keeping midfielder Cesc Fabregas was vital but the key to any success will be turning their endlessly neat approach play into more chances and goals.
Manager Arsene Wenger, however, does not plan on changing his approach. "It is massively important to me that we win titles bit there is something else as well and that`s the way we play, the policy we have, the fact that we do not just inject money."
In: Laurent Koscielny (Undisclosed, Lorient), Marouane Chamakh (Free, Bordeaux).
Out: Mikael Silvestre (Released), William Gallas (Released), Sol Campbell (Free, Newcastle United), Eduardo (Undisclosed, Shakhtar Donetsk).
Tottenham Hotspur, 4th, 70 points
Spurs enjoyed a fantastic season under Harry Redknapp - he won the manager of the season award - but might struggle to crack the top four again by finishing above Manchester City and Liverpool. Having spent a fortune in the previous year there was virtually no activity in the market this summer.
"If we could get a couple of players in that I really want I think anything could happen and we could move on and be real challengers for the championship," said Redknapp.
In: Sandro (6 million, Internacional).
Out: Adel Taarabt (Undisclosed, Queens Park Rangers), Dorian Dervite (Free, Villarreal).
Manchester City, 5th, 67 points
Having bought their way to fifth place City have continued to spend more than all their rivals combined in a bid to mount a serious title challenge.
Bucking the trend in the rest of the league with an estimated 80 million pounds spent so far, manager Roberto Mancini`s biggest challenge will be trying to develop a settled side and keeping the multi-millionaires not getting a game happy and motivated.
"Excited? Yes I am," Mancini said. "Even before I see where we finish in the transfer market and which players come here, I think it will be a good season for us. I think we have a squad for success, and our supporters deserve this."
In: Aleksandar Kolarov (Undisclosed, Lazio) Yaya Toure (Undisclosed, Barcelona), David Silva (Undisclosed, Valencia), Jerome Boateng (Undisclosed, Hamburg).
Out: Javier Garrido (Undisclosed, Lazio), Benjani (Released), Sylvinho (Released), Martin Petrov (Free, Bolton Wanderers).
Stoke City, 11th, 47 points
Another excellent season of consolidation for Stoke as their team spirit, Rory Delap`s long throws and no shortage of footballing talent kept the threat of relegation at bay. A mid-table repeat would be cause for celebration for manager Tony Pulis, who climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in May.
"As a close-season it`s probably the quietist and most difficult I`ve known for trying to get deals done," he said.
Aston Villa, 6th, 64 points
Martin O`Neill`s shock resignation five days before their first game of the season has left Villa reeling.
Last season was their third successive sixth-place finish which was something of a disappointment after they were challenging for the top four for much of the season. A repeat for a squad that has not been strengthened looks something of a challenge - whoever takes over as manager.
Out: Wilfred Bouma (Free), Marlon Harewood (Released), Nicky Shorey (Undisclosed, West Bromwich Albion)
Liverpool, 7th, 63 points
A terrible season that led to the replacement of coach Rafa Benitez with Roy Hodgson. Still capable of producing one-off great performances, particularly against the other big teams, Hodgson will need to find some consistency if they are to have any hope of ending their 20-year title drought.
He has got off to a good start by helping persuade Fernando Torres and Steve Gerrard to stay but finding a striker to play alongside the Spaniard could be key to Liverpool`s prospects.
"When you are offered a new job you hope that you are not going to start with a total rebuilding job," he said. "You don`t want to go to a new club needing players to make the squad stronger and replace the major cogs in your wheel."
In: Joe Cole (Free, Chelsea), Milan Jovanovic (Free, Standard Liege) Danny Wilson (2 million, Rangers).
Out: Philipp Degen (Season loan, VfB Stuttgart), Yossi Benayoun (Undisclosed, Chelsea), Albert Riera (5 million, Olympiakos).
Everton, 8th, 61 points
If it had not been for their very slow start Everton would probably be back in Europe this year as David Moyes`s team delivered another impressive campaign.
Moyes has done marvels on a tight budget and will have to repeat the trick after another quiet summer where the highlight was Mikel Arteta`s new five-year contract.
"We`ve spent no money by Premier League standards and will probably be the ones who spend the least this season," said Moyes. "We`ve never really had the money. I think we`ve spent 5 million net a year for eight years."
In: Jan Mucha (Undisclosed, Legia Warsaw), Jermaine Beckford (Free, Leeds United), Magaye Gueye (1 million, Strasbourg)
Out: Dan Gosling (Free, Newcastle United)
Birmingham City, 9th, 50 points
A top-half finish, their best for half a century, was an excellent performance by Birmingham in their first season back in the top flight. They look too short of firepower and midfield finesse to have any ambition of climbing much higher.
"Before you can start thinking ahead, you have to make sure you get a foothold," said manager Alex McLeish. "Then, when you have been in there for two or three years, you become stronger because of the finances you are getting, you can attract more quality and keep improving the infrastructure."
In: Ben Foster (Undisclosed, Manchester United), Enric Valles (Free, NAC Breda), Nikola Zigic (Undisclosed, Valencia).
Out: Lee Carsley (Free, Coventry City), Gary McSheffrey (Free, Coventry City), Franck Queudrue (Free).
Blackburn Rovers, 10th, 50 points
Tough to beat, hard to watch but manager Sam Allardyce`s only ambition is keeping his team safely in the Premier League. His hard-working team eschew too much fancy stuff and revel in giving the big teams a rough time.
"We`ll see if we can get them beyond where most people expect and then, after that, managing a national side would be very interesting," said Allardyce, who has given himself another two years of league action before he plans to move into international management.
In: Mame Diouf (loan, Manchester United).
Out: Steven Reid (Free, West Bromwich Albion).
In: Kenwyne Jones (8 million, Sunderland), Florent Cuvelier (Undisclosed, Portsmouth), Carlo Nash (Free, Everton).
Out: Andy Griffin (Undisclosed, Reading), Steve Simonsen (Free, Sheffield United).
Fulham, 12th, 46 points
Fulham followed up their historic high seventh-place of 2009 with a solid 12th alongside their energy-sapping journey to the Europa League final but it is all change now as Mark Hughes comes in to replace Hodgson.
Hughes will hope that the sense of community that propelled Fulham to so many memorable nights last season survives Hodgson`s exit as the player roster looks dangerously close to relegation fodder.
"We want to make sure that Fulham is a top-10 club on a regular basis, which hasn`t been the case in recent times," said Hughes.
In: Philippe Senderos (Free, Arsenal), Jonathan Greening (Undisclosed, West Bromwich).
Out: Chris Smalling (Undisclosed, Manchester United), Erik Nevland (Free, Viking).
Sunderland, 13th, 44 points
Sunderland have been clawing their way clear of the relegation zone since coming up in 2007 and last season`s 13th-place finish was something of a disappointment after a flying start to Steve Bruce`s tenure. An interesting selection of summer buys could further solidify their position.
Bruce`s purchase of Darren Bent last year proved an inspired deal as the striker who couldn`t hit a barn door at Tottenham Hotspur weighed in with 24 goals.
"A team`s only as good as its strikers and we have one who`s very precious to us. He`s a natural scorer," said Bruce of Bent."
In: Marcos Angeleri (Undisclosed, Estudiantes), Titus Bramble (Undisclosed, Wigan Athletic) John Mensah (Undisclosed, Olympique Lyon), Simon Mignolet (Undisclosed, St Truidense), Cristian Riveros (Undisclosed, Cruz Azul).
Out: Kenwyne Jones (8 million, Sunderland), Lorik Cana (5 million, Galatasaray), Marton Fulop (Undisclosed, Ipswich Town), Daryl Murphy (Free, Celtic).
Bolton Wanderers, 14th, 39 points
An interesting season where Gary Megson was replaced by Owen Coyle ended with a similar outcome - Bolton`s last three finishes have been 16th, 13th and 14th. Coyle, though, took over when relegation looked likely so has a fresh slate for the new campaign.
"In the past, Bolton have been thought of as a one-dimensional side who just bang the ball from back to front. I actually think they were far more than that but we want to try to change the wider perception, so we`re looking to add a few different facets to our game this season to make sure that we win matches but also do it in a certain style," said Coyle.
In: Marcos Alonso (Undisclosed, Real Madrid), Robbie Blake (Free, Burnley), Martin Petrov (Free, Manchester City).
Out: Zoltan Harsanyi (Released), Nicky Hunt (Free, Bristol City), Ricardo Vaz Te (Free, Panionios).
Wolverhampton Wanderers, 15th, 38 points
Survival was a triumph for Wolves and their ambitions for the new season go no further than a repeat. Mick McCarthy has freshened the squad though and no team will work harder.
"We`ve had a good pre-season and we`re ready. We`ve had some decent performances and a couple of indifferent ones but we finished off with wins against Hearts and Bilbao. Wins help that feelgood factor and suggests the preparation has been good," he said.
In: Steven Fletcher (Undisclosed, Burnley), Stephen Hunt (Undisclosed, Hull City), Jelle Van Damme (Undisclosed, Anderlecht).
Uut: Chris Iwelumo (500,000, Burnley), Andrew Surman (Undisclosed, Norwich).
Wigan Athletic, 16th, 36 points
Wigan had a bizarre season as they suffered some huge thrashings but also upset some of the big boys. Roberto Martinez has transformed their approach and with a multi-national shopping list in the summer he looks to have bought well.
I still feel we need to strengthen the squad further but the players are really starting to show their qualities," said Martinez.
In: Antolin Alcaraz (Free, Club Bruges), Mauro Boselli (Undisclosed, Estudiantes), Ali Al Habsi (Loan, Bolton).
Out: Titus Bramble (Undisclosed, Sunderland), Richard Kingson (Released), Jason Koumas (Loan, Cardiff City), Mario Melchiot (Released), Paul Scharner (Released).
West Ham United, 17th, 35 points.
After a chaotic season that saw the departure of manager Gianfranco Zola, West Ham will look to new boss Avram Grant - no stranger to chaos from his time at Portsmouth - to bring some stability. A squad with so much talent should never have come so close to relegation last season and Grant can realistically target mid-table.
In: Tal Ben-Haim (Loan, Portsmouth), Pablo Barrera (4 million, Universidad Nacional), Thomas Hitzlsperger (Free, Lazio), Frederic Piquionne (Undisclosed, Lyon).
Out: Guillermo Franco (Free), Bondz N`Gala (Free, Plymouth Argyle).
Newcastle United (1st, Championship, 102 points)
Making an immediate return, Newcastle`s squad is not all that dissimiliar from that relegated in 2009.
However, the club seems more secure and settled after the upheavals of the 2008-09 season although manager Chris Hughton is going to find the challenges ahead far tougher in the months ahead.
The arrival of Sol Campbell on a free from Arsenal will strengthen the back, though his lack of pace could prove problematic. England Under-21 striker Andy Carroll could play his way into the full England squad if things go well.
In: James Perch (Undisclosed, Nottingham Forest), Dan Gosling (Free, Everton), Sol Campbell (Free, Arsenal)
Out: Nicky Butt (Released).
West Bromwich Albion (2nd, Championship, 91 points)
The archetypal yo-yo club, West Brom have been promoted four times since 2002, gone down three times and survived for more than one season only once, finishing 17th in 2005 before being relegated the following season.
Manager Roberto di Matteo had the team playing some attractive football last season which brought 89 goals -- but he is going to have to be more pragmatic to avoid a typcial swift return to the lower orders.
In: Boaz Myhill (1 million, Hull City, Nicky Shorey (Free, Aston Villa), Steven Reid (Free, Blackburn), Pablo Ibanez (Free, Atletico Madrid), Gabriel Tamas (800,000, Auxerre).
Out: Robert Koren (Released), Filipe Teixeira (Released), Borja Valero (Loan, Villarreal).
Blackpool (6th in Championship, promoted via playoffs)
Blackpool started last season as favourites to be relegated from the Championship and it is no surprise they find themselves as favourites to be relegated from the Premier League now.
Manager Ian Holloway has compared the promotion to a "tramp winning the lottery" and while Premier League cash will put the club on a strong financial footing, they look set to struggle for points and avoiding an immediate return will represent a major achievement.
In: Craig Cathcart (Undisclosed, Manchester United), Ludovic Sylvestre (Undisclosed, Mlada Boleslav), Elliot Grandin (Undisclosed, CSKA Sofia), Malaury Martin (Free, Monaco)
Out: Ben Burgess (Free, Notts County), Hameur Bouazza (Free, Angers,) Daniel Nardiello (Free, Exeter City).