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Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Tuesday, 7 August 2007 11:32 UK

Lawro's Premier League guide

By Mark Lawrenson
BBC Sport football expert

ARSENAL

Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners
Ground: Emirates Stadium
Capacity: 60,000
Position last season: Fourth
Manager: Arsene Wenger (September 1996)

In: Eduardo da Silva (Dinamo Zagreb, undisclosed), Lukasz Fabianski (Legia Warsaw, undisclosed), Bacary Sagna (Auxerre, undisclosed), Havard Nordtveit (FK Haugesund, undisclosed).

Out: Thierry Henry (Barcelona, £16.1m), Jeremie Aliadiere (Middlesbrough, £2m), Fabrice Muamba (Birmingham, £2m), Arturo Lupoli (Fiorentina, undisclosed), Mart Poom (Watford, free), Freddie Ljungberg (West Ham, £3m), Jose Antonio Reyes (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Kerrea Gilbert (Southend, loan), Ryan Garry (Bournemouth, free), Johan Djourou (Birmingham, loan).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Arsenal have obviously†got to get over the loss of Thierry Henry.

The†likes†of†Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Eduardo da Silva will have to take up the mantle.

I think they have a very decent team and will finish in the top four but I do not expect them to end the season as Premier League winners. †

KEY MAN: EDUARDO DA SILVA
Could†he†be†Arsenal's†man†to†score†tap-ins†on†a†regular†basis?


ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa

Nickname: The Villans
Ground: Villa Park
Capacity: 42,593
Last season: 11th
Manager: Martin O'Neill (August 2006)

In: Nigel Reo-Coker (West Ham, £8.5m), Marlon Harewood (West Ham, undisclosed), Harry Forrester (Watford, undisclosed), Eric Lichaj (unattached, free), Scott Carson (Liverpool, seaon loan).

Out: Aaron Hughes (Fulham, £1m), Jlloyd Samuel (Bolton, free), Steven Davis (Fulham, undisclosed), Gavin McCann (Bolton, £1m), Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls, free), Stephen Henderson (Bristol City, free), Lee Hendrie (Sheffield United, free), Robert Olejnik (Falkirk, free), Chris Sutton (released).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Villa had a good start, an iffy middle and a decent finish to last season and boss Martin O'Neill will be looking for them to progress this year in his second term in charge.

I would not be surprised to hear of O'Neill signing a couple more players before the transfer deadline at the end of August.

I expect them to have a good season, top 10, possibly a Uefa Cup spot.

KEY MAN: JOHN CAREW
If he stays fit then the other strikers at the club can play off him.


BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham City

Nickname: Blues
Ground: St Andrews
Capacity: 30,009
Last season: Promoted (second in Championship)
Manager: Steve Bruce (December 2001)

In: Olivier Kapo (Juventus, £3m), Garry O'Connor (Lokomotiv Moscow, £2.7m), Fabrice Muamba (Arsenal, £2m), Stuart Parnaby (Middlesbrough, free), Daniel de Ridder (Celta Vigo, free), Richard Kingston (Antalyaspor, free), Rafael Schmitz (Lille, season loan), Franck Queudrue (Fulham, £2.5m), Johan Djourou (Arsenal, loan).

Out: Bruno N'Gotty (Leicester, free), Julian Gray (Coventry, free), Stephen Clemence (Leicester, fee rising to £1m), DJ Campbell (Leicester, £2.1m).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: A question to be asked of all the promoted sides is who will score the goals to ensure their survival?

I think this could be a problem for Birmingham, although I expect the players in the squad will give absolutely everything for the cause.

I think it could be a long, hard season for Blues and I think they will finish somewhere in the bottom six.

KEY MAN: STEVE BRUCE
He has been here before and might have to wheel and deal in January.


BLACKBURN ROVERS

Blackburn Rovers

Nickname: Rovers
Ground: Ewood Park
Capacity: 31,367
Last season: 10th
Manager: Mark Hughes (September 2004)

In: Gunnar Nielsen (BK Frem Copenhagen, undisclosed), Maceo Rigters (NAC Breda, undisclosed), Roque Santa Cruz (Bayern Munich, undisclosed).

Out: Andy Todd (Derby, undisclosed), Michael Gray (Wolves, released), Francis Jeffers (Sheffied Wednesday, undisc), Joe Garner (Carlisle)

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Blackburn have punched above their weight since Mark Hughes took over.

They play good football, are strong defensively, scrap for everything and have plenty of decent players.

Blackburn have been a real success story under Hughes and I think they could be pushing for a Uefa Cup place once again this season.

KEY MAN: RYAN NELSEN
A very under-rated player who holds Blackburn together at the back.


BOLTON WANDERERS

Bolton Wanderers

Nickname: Trotters
Ground: Reebok Stadium
Capacity: 27,879
Last season: Seventh
Manager: Sammy Lee (April 2007)

In: Gavin McCann (Aston Villa, £1m), Jlloyd Samuel (Aston Villa, free), Zoltan Harsanyi (FC Senec, undisclosed), Blerim Dzemaili (Zurich, undisclosed), Gerald Cid (Bordeaux, undisclosed), Danny Guthrie (Liverpool, season loan), Heidar Helguson (Fulham, undisclosed), Mikel Alonso (Real Sociedad, loan), Christian Wilhelmsson (Nantes, loan).

Out: Tal Ben Haim (Chelsea, free), Idan Tal (Betar Jerusalem, undisclosed), Chris Howarth (Carlisle, free), Henrik Pedersen, Quinton Fortune, David Thompson, Cesar Martin (all released).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: I think it is really important that they keep hold of Nicolas Anelka, who will score his share of goals.

I had a concern that a change of manager would lead to certain players leaving but that has not happened.

Bolton will be OK this season, perhaps pushing on from mid-table but falling short of a Uefa Cup place. †

KEY MAN: GARY SPEED
As a player who is on the coaching staff, he will be an important link between the squad and management.


CHELSEA

Chelsea

Nickname: Blues
Ground: Stamford Bridge
Capacity: 42,449
Last season: 2nd
Manager: Jose Mourinho (June 2004)

In: Florent Malouda (Lyon, £13.5m), Tal Ben Haim (Bolton, free), Steve Sidwell (Reading, free), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich, free), Jacob Mellis (Sheffield United, £1.3m), Danny Philliskirk (Oldham, undisclosed), Alex (PSV Eindhoven, free).

Out: Geremi (Newcastle, free) Yves Ma-Kalambay (Hibernian, free), Nuno Morais (Apoel Nicosia, undisclosed), Khalid Boulahrouz (Sevilla, season loan), Jimmy Smith (Norwich, season loan), Michael Mancienne (QPR, season-long loan), James Russell (Stevenage).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: I expect Chelsea to finish the season as Premier League champions.

Very important for them is a full season with Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in the side.

Chelsea are the most difficult team to beat but will always fashion chances at the other end with the calibre of forward players they have.

KEY MAN: FRANK LAMPARD
He scores a massively important number of goals from midfield. A huge asset.


DERBY

Derby County

Nickname: The Rams
Ground: Pride Park
Capacity: 33,597
Last season: Promoted (Championship play-off winners)
Manager: Billy Davies (June 2006)

In: Robert Earnshaw (Norwich, £3.5m), Tyrone Mears (West Ham, £1m), Claude Davis (£3m), Andy Todd (Blackburn, free), Ben Hinchcliffe (free agent), Andy Griffin (Portsmouth, free), Lewis Price (Ipswich, undisclosed).

Out: Seth Johnson, Morten Bisgaard, Lee Grant (all released), Ryan Smith (Millwall, £150,000), Paul Peschisolido (Luton, free), Paul Boertien (Walsall, free), Lee Camp (Derby, £300,000), Steve Cann (Rotherham, released), Richard Jackson (Luton, free).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: I think boss Billy Davies knows this season will be a struggle.

He has signed players he can rely on and who arguably have a point to prove and we know that Derby will be well supported with good crowds.

Even so you have to be realistic. People say that you should never set a target of finishing fourth from bottom but I don't agree with that.

KEY MAN: ROBERT EARNSHAW
Has good movement in the box but if he does not fire it will be a real problem for Derby.


EVERTON

Everton

Nickname: Toffees
Ground: Goodison Park
Capacity: 40,170
Last season: Sixth
Manager: David Moyes (March 2002)

In: Leighton Baines (Everton, undisclosed), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Swindon, undisclosed), Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United, £4m), Steven Pienaar (Borussia Dortmund, loan)

Out: Richard Wright (West Ham, free), Alessandro Pistone (released), Gary Naysmith (Sheffield United, £1m), James Beattie (Sheffield United, £4m), Scott Phelan (Bradford, free).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: If David Moyes can keep his important players fit then I don't think they will have a problem at all.

Everton have a few adaptable players who can fill several positions but do not have a particularly big squad.

Providing that Everton are not undermined by injury problems I think they'll be pushing for a Uefa Cup place.

KEY MAN: MIKEL ARTETA
A very good player who creates a lot of chances for the strikers.


FULHAM

Fulham

Nickname: Cottagers
Ground: Craven Cottage
Capacity: 22,000
Last season: 16th
Manager: Lawrie Sanchez (April 2007)

In: Diomansy Kamara (West Brom, £6m), Aaron Hughes (Aston Villa, £1m), Steven Davis (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Chris Baird (Southampton, £3.025m), David Healy (£1.5m), Paul Konchesky (£2m), Lee Cook (QPR, undisclosed) Hameur Bouazza (Watford, undisclosed).

Out: Claus Jensen (released), Mark Pembridge (released), Tomasz Radzinski (released), Mark Crossley (released, now at Oldham), Michael Brown (Wigan, undisclosed), Franck Queudrue (Birmingham, £2.5m).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Lawrie Sanchez has signed players he knows and will have worked hard to create a good dressing room spirit.

Lots of decent players have arrived, all of whom will compete for places but I wonder whether there is a shortage of quality.

As with a few other teams, I think they might struggle for goals and are in for a bottom-six finish.

KEY MAN: LAWRIE SANCHEZ
Sees this as his big chance at the top level and will be very motivated to succeed.


LIVERPOOL

Liverpool

Nickname: Reds
Ground: Anfield
Capacity: 45,362
Last season: Third
Manager: Rafael Benitez (June 2004)

In: Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Lucas Leiva (Gremio, undisclosed), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao, £270,000), Nikolay Mihaylov (Levski Sofia, undisclosed), Krisztian Nemeth (MTK Budapest, undisclosed), Andras Simon (MTK Budapest, undisclosed), Andriy Voronin (Bayer Leverkusen, free), Dani Pacheco (Barcelona, £350,000), Alex Kacaniklic (Helsingborg, undisclosed), Marvin Purie (Borussia Dortmund, undisclosed), Gary Mackay Stevens (Ross County, undisclosed), Yossi Benayoun (West Ham, £5m), Ryan Babel (Ajax, £11.5m).

Out: Djibril Cisse (Marseille, £6m), Craig Bellamy (West Ham, £7.5m), Luis Garcia (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Florent Sinama Pongolle (Recreativo Huelva, £2m), Danny Guthrie (Bolton, loan), Robbie Fowler (Cardiff, free), Jerzy Dudek (Real Madrid, free), Boudewijn Zenden (Marseille, free), Mark Gonzalez (Real Betis, undisclosed), Scott Carson (Aston Villa, season loan).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Will get a lot closer to the top of the Premier League - they were 21 points behind the winners last season - but will not finish first.

There is no doubt about the quality of the playing staff but they need to take more points off the other top teams.

Another problem is that Chelsea and Manchester United are likely to start the season well, meaning Liverpool's new players must gel very quickly.

KEY MAN: STEVEN GERRARD
Blindingly obvious but they are a different team when he is in it.


MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City

Nickname: Blues
Ground: City of Manchester Stadium
Capacity: 48,000
Last season: 14th
Manager: Sven-Goran Eriksson (July 2007)

In: Geovanni (Cruzeiro, free), Rolando Bianchi (Reggina, £8.8m), Gelson Fernandes (FC Sion, undisclosed), Martin Petrov (Atletico Madrid, £4.7m), Javier Garrido (Real Sociedad, £1.5m), Vedran Corluka (Dinamo Zagreb, undisclosed), Elano (Shakhtar Donetsk, £8m), Valeri Bojinov (Fiorentina, undisclosed), Richard Martin (unattached).

Out: Sylvain Distin (Portsmouth, free), Trevor Sinclair (Cardiff, free), Stephen Jordan (Burnley, free), Hatem Trabelsi (released), Joey Barton (Newcastle, £5.8m), Nicky Weaver (Charlton, free).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: A lot of the players Sven-Goran Eriksson has signed have come from Italy and I reckon his right-hand man Tord Grip will have been scouting them for months.

If Sven signs six or seven new players and half of them come off it will still mean a real improvement at City.

I predict a mid-table finish at least, possibly pushing for a Uefa Cup place.

KEY MAN: THAKSIN SHINAWATRA
Who knows what might happen to the club's new owner and the impact it will have on Man City.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United

Nickname: Red Devils
Ground: Old Trafford
Capacity: 76,000
Last season: Champions
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (November 1986)

In: Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich, £17m), Anderson (Porto, undisclosed), Nani (Sporting Lisbon, undisclosed), Tomasz Kuszczak (West Brom, undisclosed), Carlos Tevez.

Out: Kieran Richardson (Sunderland, £5.5m), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal, undisclosed), Alan Smith (Newcastle, £6m).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: United won the Premier League last season and manager Sir Alex Ferguson went straight out and improved his squad.

They are a very strong, attack-minded team but will United pick up as many points when they are having a bad day as Chelsea will in the same situation?

As champions everybody will want to beat United and I think they might occasionally be frustrated when playing away from home against teams lining up defensively.

KEY MAN: PAUL SCHOLES
He is everything that is good about United and very, very consistent.


MIDDLESBROUGH

Middlesbrough

Nickname: Boro
Ground: Riverside Stadium
Capacity: 35,049
Last season: 12th
Manager: Gareth Southgate (June 2006)

In: Tuncay Sanli (Fenerbahce, free), Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal, £2m), Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid, £7m), Luke Young (Charlton, £2.5m).

Out: Mark Viduka (Newcastle, free), Stuart Parnaby (Birmingham, free), Abel Xavier (LA Galaxy, free), Malcolm Christie (released), Danny Graham (released), Jason Kennedy (Livingston, loan), James Morrison (West Brom, £1.5m).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Crucial to Middlesbrough is that they keep hold of Yakubu. If they do then they will be in the middle reaches but if not it could be down in the bottom six.

Gareth Southgate has had to learn on his feet and has done OK but he has a lost a good player in Mark Viduka.

Doubts remain over the future of Mark Schwarzer and I have yet to be convinced by Boro.

KEY MAN: YAKUBU
By far Middlesbrough's top goal threat.


NEWCASTLE

Newcastle United

Nickname: Magpies
Ground: St James' Park
Capacity: 52,193
Last season: 13th
Manager: Sam Allardyce (May 2007)

In: Mark Viduka (Middlesbrough, free), Joey Barton (Man City, £5.8m), David Rozehnal (Paris St Germain, £2.9m), Geremi (Chelsea, free), Alan Smith (Manchester United, £6m), Claudio Cacapa (Lyon, free), Jose Enrique (Villarreal, £6.3m).

Out: Scott Parker (West Ham, £7m), Titus Bramble (Wigan, free), Antoine Sibierski (Wigan, free), Craig Moore (released), Olivier Bernard (released), Alan O'Brien (undisclosed).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Even with Sam Allardyce at the club there still seems to be a bit of the soap opera about Newcastle.

But they have impressive attacking power and will score lots of goals.

The key for me is whether Big Sam can get them sorted at the back. If he does they might finally be able to contain teams away from home and qualify for the Uefa Cup.

KEY MAN: DAVID ROZEHNAL
Could he finally be the right man to partner the capable Steven Taylor in the centre of defence?


PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth

Nickname: Pompey
Ground: Fratton Park
Capacity: 20,200
Last season: Ninth
Manager: Harry Redknapp (December 2005)

In: David Nugent (Preston, undisclosed), John Utaka (Rennes, undisclosed), Sylvain Distin (Manchester City, free), Hermann Hreidarsson (Charlton, free), Sulley Muntari (Udinese, undisclosed), Martin Cranie (Southampton, undisclosed), Arnold Mvuemba (Rennes, undisclosed), Callum Reynolds (Rushden & Diamonds, undisclosed).

Out: Svetoslav Todorov (Charlton, free), Daryl Fordyce (released), Andy Griffin (Derby, free), Collins Mbesuma (Bursaspor, undisclosed).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Pompey finished last season in ninth place and it could be same again for Harry Redknapp and his team.

He has different attacking options and I expect that he will select the players who are in form and scoring.

Fratton Park remains a difficult venue for visiting teams and I don't see any major problems for Pompey.

KEY MAN: SOL CAMPBELL
I could see him drifting after leaving Arsenal but he has done very, very well at Fratton Park.


READING

Reading

Nickname: Royals
Ground: Madejski Stadium
Capacity: 24,045
Last season: Eighth
Manager: Steve Coppell (October 2003)

In: Khalifa Cisse (Boavista, £650,000), Emerse Fae (Nantes, £2.5m).

Out: Steve Sidwell (Chelsea, free), Greg Halford (Sunderland, £2.5m), Curtis Ujah (Yeovil, free), Jonathan Hayes (MK Dons, loan).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: I believe in the second-season syndrome and I think that Reading might just experience it this year.

They have lost a quality player in Steve Sidwell, who I think will prove difficult to replace.

They looked a bit ropey defensively towards the end of last season and everyone knows what they are about now.

KEY MAN: STEVE COPPELL
Might have to convince his chairman to spend more than he has budgeted.


SUNDERLAND

Sunderland

Nickname: Black Cats
Ground: Stadium of Light
Capacity: 48,300
Last season: Promoted (Championship champions)
Manager: Roy Keane (August 2006)

In: Dickson Etuhu (Norwich, £1.5m), Kieran Richardson (Manchester United, undisclosed), Greg Halford (Reading, £2.5m), Russell Anderson (Aberdeen, £1m), Michael Chopra (Cardiff City, £5m), Paul McShane (West Brom, £2.5m), Craig Gordon (Hearts, £9m), Roy O'Donovan (Cork City, undisclosed).

Out: Kenny Cunningham (released), Tommy Miller (Ipswich, released), Stephen Elliott (Wolves, undisclosed).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: They had a great season in 2006-2007 but I think they could be in for a bottom-six finish back in the Premier League.

I am not convinced by Michael Chopra at the top level and although Sunderland have great support the fans cannot put the ball in the back of the net.

Sunderland, like several others, have had to pay top prices for players.

KEY MAN: MICHAEL CHOPRA
Important that he gets off to a good start with some early goals.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Tottenham Hotspur

Nickname: Spurs
Ground: White Hart Lane
Capacity: 36,236
Last season: Fifth
Manager: Martin Jol (November 2004)

In: Gareth Bale (Southampton, £5m), Adel Taarabt (Lens, undisclosed), Yuri Berchiche (Athletic Bilbao, undisclosed), Darren Bent (Charlton £16.5m), Younes Kaboul (Auxerre, £8m), Danny Rose (Leeds, undisclosed), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Hertha Berlin, undisclosed).

Out: Emil Hallfredsson (Lyn-Oslo, undisclosed), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria, undisclosed), Mark Yeates (Colchester, undisclosed), Charlie Daniels (Leyton Orient, loan).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Spurs have some very good players but I think to break into the top four they need to improve on their left side.

I think that teams will attack them in that area and I'm not convinced by them on the road.

They will be pushing for a top-four finish but I'm not sure that Martin Jol will always know his best team.

KEY MAN: LEDLEY KING
King is a crucial player, especially when Spurs are playing away.


WEST HAM UNITED
Latest club news

West Ham United

Nickname: Hammers
Ground: Upton Park
Capacity: 35,056
Last season: 15th
Manager: Alan Curbishley (December 2006)

In: Scott Parker (Newcastle, £7m), Julien Faubert (Bordeaux, £6.1m), Richard Wright (Everton, free), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool, £7.5m), Freddie Ljungberg (West Ham, £3m).

Out: Paul Konchesky (Fulham, £3.25m), Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa, £8.5m), Tyrone Mears (Derby, £1m), Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool, undisclosed), Marlon Harewood (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Teddy Sheringham (Colchester, released), Shaun Newton (Leicester, released), Roy Carroll (Rangers, free), Carlos Tevez (Man Utd).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: Chairman Eggert Magnusson may be looking for West Ham to clinch a Uefa Cup spot and that is a possibility.

The Hammers had a great end to last season after Alan Curbishley managed to sort out the dressing room.

Dean Ashton is back and although Craig Bellamy is inconsistent, he will win matches. †

KEY MAN: DEAN ASHTON
Ashton knits the team together. Natural replacement for Teddy Sheringham.


WIGAN ATHLETIC

Wigan Athletic

Nickname: Latics
Ground: JJB Stadium
Capacity: 25,000
Last season: 17th
Manager: Chris Hutchings (May 2007)

In: Antoine Sibierski (Newcastle, free), Titus Bramble (Newcastle, free), Mario Melchiot (Rennes, free), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg, undisclosed), Carlo Nash (Preston, £300,000), Jason Koumas (West Brom, £5.3m), Michael Brown (Fulham, undisclosed).

Out: Leighton Baines (Everton, undisclosed), Lee McCulloch (Rangers, £2.25m), Matt Jackson (Watford, free), Arjan de Zeeuw (released), David Unsworth (released), Andreas Johansson (AaB Aalborg, free).

606: DEBATE

Lawro's verdict: The Latics survived a very tough examination last season and I think new boss Chris Hutchings has decided that he needs some fresh faces.

I think, though, that they are lacking something without Paul Jewell.

It will be difficult again for Wigan, who will struggle for goals and finish in the bottom six.

KEY MAN: JASON KOUMAS
May well end up top scorer with valuable goals from midfield.

  • Mark Lawrenson was talking to Paul Fletcher.



    see also
    Alan Hansen's column
    08 Aug 07 |  Premier League
    The point of pre-season
    08 Aug 07 |  Football
    Premier League's top 10
    08 Aug 07 |  Premier League
    The sack race
    07 Aug 07 |  Premier League
    Premier League's community goals
    07 Aug 07 |  Premier League
    How to watch football this season
    02 Aug 07 |  Football
    Premier League ins and outs
    31 Jul 07 |  Premier League
    Summer transfer photos part one
    01 Jul 07 |  Football
    Summer transfer photos part two
    03 Jul 07 |  Football
    Summer transfer photos part three
    17 Jul 07 |  Football


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