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Rediff.com  » Sports » English Premier League club-by-club guide

English Premier League club-by-club guide

Last updated on: August 15, 2009 

Chelsea start as favourites

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Chelsea have been relatively frugal in the transfer market with Russian Yuri Zhirkov, a left-sided player who usually performs as an attacking midfielder but can also operate as a full-back, the only notable purchase.

Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea's fifth manager in just under two years, will be relieved that captain John Terry and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba stayed put. He will need both of them at the top of their games if Chelsea are to break Manchester United's hold on the league title and finally land the Champions League.

Premier League title odds according to Ladbrokes: 2/1

Last season finish: 3rd


Photographs: Reuters
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Man United bidding for four in a row

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Manchester United are bidding for an unprecedented fourth successive title and even without the departed Cristiano Ronaldo and to a lesser extent Carlos Tevez, United are set to be in the title hunt again.

The free signing of Michael Owen from Newcastle United could prove to be inspired if he rediscovers his old scoring touch, while manager Alex Ferguson has plenty of faith in a new crop of young players and a maturing Wayne Rooney.

Title odds: 5/2

Last season finish: Champions



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Liverpool can challenge United again

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Two decades on since they were last English champions, Liverpool finished just four points behind Manchester United last season after dropping too many points at home, with seven draws at Anfield proving costly.

Still, they lost only two league games all season and despite financial restraints, Rafa Benitez has a strong squad that will challenge United again.

Title odds: 7/2

Last season finish: 2nd



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Wenger needs to weave his magic

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Four years without a trophy and with Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure departed to Manchester City, manager Arsene Wenger will need to weave his magic to keep the Gunners in the hunt for the title this season.

Then again, Russian Andrei Arshavin looked the real deal after joining in January and if Eduardo and Cesc Fabregas stay fit they could be a lot closer than last season when their title challenge was over by Christmas.

Title odds: 10/2

Last season finish: 4th



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Man City eye top four spot

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The arrivals of Roque Santa Cruz (18 million pounds), Carlos Tevez (25.5 million), Emmanuel Adebayor (25 million), Kolo Toure (16 million) and Gareth Barry (12 million) have raised expectations at City, who may now be the richest club in England with the advent of wealthy Arab owner Sheikh Masour bin Zayed al Nahyan but are still one of the biggest underachievers, having not won a major honour since 1976.

Manager Mark Hughes' task is straightforward but far from simple -- break into the top four. Anything else will probably be deemed a failure.

Title odds: 14/1

Last season finish: 10th



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Spurs capable of top six finish

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Tottenham Hotspurs recovered to finish eighth and to miss out on a Europa League place after Harry Redknapp arrived as coach in September following the terrible start the team had made under Juande Ramos with just two points from their first eight matches.

Redknapp has brought in striker Peter Crouch from Portsmouth, defender Sebastien Bassong from relegated Newcastle United and young defender Kyle Naughton from Sheffield United to give the squad a more balanced look and they should be capable of a top-six finish this time.

Title odds: 150/1

Last season finish: 8th



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Villa squad looks short of depth

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Aston Villa faded badly in the second half of last season after threatening to break the top-four monopoly and with midfielder Gareth Barry sold to Manchester City their squad looks short of depth.

Winger Stewart Downing, when he recovers from injury, will have to quickly justify the 12 million pounds ($20 million) Villa splashed out to take him from Middlesbrough if they are not to revert to mid-table.

Title odds: 250/1

Last season finish: 6th



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Everton still best of the rest

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David Moyes performed wonders with the Merseysiders last season, finishing as the best of the rest in the league and reaching the FA Cup final despite operating on limited funds.

Midfield artist Mikel Arteta's return from a ruptured cruciate ligament will be a huge boost while in Marouanne Fellaini and Tim Cahill Everton boast two of the Premier League's most consistent performers. Expect another challenge for a European place but not the top four.

Title odds: 250/1

Last season finish: 5th



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Fulham should stay clear of trouble

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The homely club on the banks of the River Thames were the surprise team of last season, culminating in a Europa League place.

The extra demands of Europe will be hard for Roy Hodgson's side this season, however, and they will be hard-pressed to make the top half although they should stay clear of trouble.

Title odds: 1000/1

Last season finish: 7th



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Sunderland have options in attack

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New manager Steve Bruce, who built good sides at Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic, now has the chance to do even better at Sunderland, a club with a much bigger fan-base and better resources than either Birmingham or Wigan.

The arrival of Darren Bent and Fraizer Campbell will give him options in attack where Kenwyne Jones remains a dangerous threat on his day.

Title odds: 1500/1

Last season finish: 16



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Hammers should challenge for Europe

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The Hammers also narrowly missed out on European soccer last season after playing some excellent football at times under Gianfranco Zola, who replaced Alan Curbishley early in the season.

Although the ownership of the club and its immediate financial future remains uncertain, the Hammers should challenge for a European place again.

Title odds: 1500/1

Last season finish: 9th



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Loss of Santa Cruz will hurt Rovers

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Sam Allardyce stabilised Rovers after Paul Ince was sacked last season but do not expect them to spend much of the season outside the bottom half.

The loss of striker Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City will hurt them while most of the new signings could probably walk through the town unrecognised.

Title odds: 2500/1

Last season finish: 15th



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Knight will bolster Bolton defence

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Poor old Gary Megson. Having kept them up in 2007-08 and guided them into the relative safety of low mid-table last season, a significant proportion of fans still seem unhappy with his appointment as coach.

Zat Knight, signed from Aston Villa, will bolster a defence that also includes Gary Cahill, a rugged stopper tipped for an England call. Up front, the barrel-chested Kevin Davies will again leave his mark on opposing defenders.

Title odds: 2500/1

Last season finish: 13th



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Pompey face uncertain future

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The squad has been weakened by the departures of striker Peter Crouch and defenders Glen Johnson and Sol Campbell and with little money and a relatively inexperienced manager in Paul Hart, Pompey have been widely tipped by the bookies to be involved in the relegation scrap.

Much has changed at Fratton Park since Portsmouth won the FA Cup 15 months ago and until the club's future is resolved and a sale agreed, Pompey are facing uncertain times.

Title odds: 2500/1

Last season finish: 14th



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Stoke face another tough season

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Direct, uncompromising football and a pragmatic approach from coach Tony Pulis meant Stoke surprised many people last season by avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.

Stoke's home fans helped them build a solid total of points at the Britannia Stadium, but their opponents know what to expect now and they face another tough season, but probably have more than enough to survive.

Title odds: 2500/1

Last season finish: 12th



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Wolves look good to surive

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Expectations are always high at Molineux where the club's illustrious past remains a heavy millstone -- but Wolverhampton Wanderers look better equipped to surive in the Premier League than they did when they lasted for just one season in 2003-04.

Manager Mick McCarthy, who suffered a torrid time with Sunderland in 2005-06, seems to have a squad able to consolidate and avoid an immediate return to the Championship although much will depend on the form of former Manchester United trainee Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Wolves' top scorer with 25 goals when they won the Championship last season.

Title odds: 2500/1

Last season finish: Promoted



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Martinez faces a stiff task at Wigan

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New coach Roberto Martinez impressed at Swansea City in the lower divisions and has inherited a sound squad from Steve Bruce, even if a number of Wigan's top players like Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios have left.

Trinidad and Tobago striker Jason Scotland has followed Martinez from Swansea into the Premier League and will need to adjust quickly to life in the top flight to help Wigan maintain their status.

Title odds: 3500/1

Last season finish: 11th



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Birmingham should avoid relegation

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The yo-yo club are back for another crack at the Premier League and have spent the summer beefing up their squad with signings such as Ecuador striker Christian Benitez.

Former Scotland international midfielder Barry Ferguson has re-joined Alex McLeish who was his manager at Glasgow Rangers and with Scotland. Solid at home, Birmingham should have enough to avoid an instant return to the second tier.

Title odds: 10000/1

Last season finish: Promoted



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Burnley need to cash in early

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Back in the top flight for the first time since 1976, Burnley will have plenty of goodwill coming their way in the opening weeks of the season but victories might be harder to come by.

Highly-rated manager Owen Coyle, whose side played eye-catching football last season, will need to make the most of the feel-good factor and try and get as many points on the board as possible in the first half of the season when they will still be something of an unknown quantity.

Title odds: Promoted

Last season finish: 10000/1



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Hully City need a good start to avoid drop

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Hull began their first season in the top flight like an express train but ended it like a hot air balloon struggling to avoid ditching in the ocean. They managed it, just, despite winning just one of their last 22 games.

Sun-tanned manager Phil Brown, whose eccentricities added a touch of the bizarre to last season's campaign, needs a good start if Hull are not to become relegation certainties.

Title odds: 10000/1

Last season finish: 17th



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