Portsmouth's guide to the Premiership Part One

Arsenal

Last Season: 2nd

In: Clichy (AS Cannes), Lehmann (Borussia Dortmund), Senderos (Servette)
Out: Barrett (Coventry City), Brown (Released), Luzhny (Wolverhampton), Seaman (Man City)

More important as to who's arrived at Highbury is who has stayed - Bergkamp and Viera have both agreed to stay. Problems with a proposed new stadium has lead to the Gunners being unable to keep up with the Chelsea's - but remember that this is almost the exact same team that were declared unbeatable until Wayne Rooney sunk them late last year. A serious challenge on all fronts is a given.
Key Player: Jens Lehmann (GK) wasn't the big money goalkeeper most were expecting to follow Arsenal legend David Seaman, and will have little time in which to impress Arsene Wegner who lost patience with Richard Wright in little time.

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Aston Villa

Last Season: 16th

In: McCann (Sunderland), Olejink (FK Austria), Sorensen (Sunderland)
Out: Husbands (Southend), Hylton (Released), Leonhardsen (Released), McGrath (Doncaster), Stuart (Released), Taylor (Derby), Wright (Middlesbrough)

David O'Leary has the task of rejuvinating an under-achiveing Villa side who's last day defeat to Leeds summed up the season. But the team has promising individuals in Thomas Hitzlesperger and England forward Darius Vassell, and with the right leadership, Villa could be top ten material. Could be. The signing of two Sunderland players will not quell the discontent among Villa fans who remember the Wearsiders appalling form last time round.
Key Player: Thomas Sorensen (GK) Enckleman's blunders last season must have been fresh in the memory as O'Leary went all out to sign a new keeper. An attempt for Leeds' Paul Robinson went under but Danish international Sorensen is proven at this level.

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Birmingham City

Last Season: 13th

In: Dugarry (Bordeaux), Dunn (Blackburn), Figurosa (Rosario Central)
Out: Davies (Bradford City), Hutchinson (Darlington), Marriott (Released), Mooney (Swindon), Vickers (Released)


Birmingham became members of a select few who have thrived following promotion from the play-offs and their signings this summer have proven their desire to become top dogs in the midlands. Dunn will link up in a rugged midfield including Robbie Savage, and they have resisted the urge to sell some of their bigger names. An enjoyable nine months should await the blues.
Key Player: Matthew Upson (D) former Luton and Arsenal centre-back who has burst onto the international scene and raised both his and his club's profile with some exceptional displays.

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Blackburn Rovers

Last Season: 6th

In: Amoruso (Glasgow Rangers), Emerton (Feyenoord), Gresko (Parma), Reid (Millwall), Yelldell (Stuttgart Kickers)
Out: Berg (Glasgow Rangers), Corbetts (Southend), Curtis (Leicester), Duff (Chelsea), Dunn (Birmingham), Dunning (Released), Gillespie (Leicester), Hignett (Leicester), Hockenhull (Released), Richards (Northampton), Robinson (Southend), Sukur (Galatasaray)

Blackburn have made a big return by cashing in on homegrown heros Damien Duff and David Dunn, but whilst Australian international Emerton will fill the gap left by Dunn, replacing Duff will be notoriously difficult. An ageing front line of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole may find goals a bit tricky to come by this time.
Key Player: Gerry Flitcroft (M) will have to organise the midfield well to ensure the front line get the service they require.

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Bolton Wanderers

Last season: 17th

In: Campo (Real Madrid), Davies (Southampton), Laville (Lyon), Gianniakopoulos (Olympiakos), Powell (Leicester)
Out: Armstrong (Wrexham), Bergsson (Released), Downey (Released), Hendry (Released), Richardson (Blackpool), Tofting (Released), Warhurst (Released), Whitlow (Sheffield Utd)

Bolton stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, and having seen off the challenges of Ipswich and West Ham over the last two years, will fancy another fight this year. Jay Jay Okacha kept the Trotters up last season with his performances in the last third of the season, but needs to be more consistant in a side without a proven goalscorer. If not, the team from the Reebok are in trouble.
Key player: Florent Laville (D) Full-back who entered strong performances on loan at the Reebok last year and will need to be on form as Bolton aren't going to outscore many teams.


Tomorrow: Charlton - Leeds!