Club guide: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham and Blackburn

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Manager Arsene Wenger (France) Last season 3rd Untimely injuries to key players handicapped the north Londoners' title aspirations last term and the club have gone five years without a trophy. Retaining the services of Cesc Fabregas, the Arsenal captain, represents Wenger's most important piece of business this summer and his exciting young side will definitely be pleasing to watch. The strike force has been by the arrival of Marouane Chamakh. Key man Fabregas - the Spaniard was a captain marvel last season. Key transfers In: Laurent Koscielny (Centre-half, 24, Lorient, £8.5m), Marouane Chamakh (Striker, 26, Bordeaux, free). Out: Eduardo (Striker, 27, Shaktar Donetsk, £6m), William Gallas (released). If they were a movie ... Leon - French leading man will do anything for his youngsters. Once considered a classic, now losing its lustre with each passing season. Prediction 4th

Manager Kevin McDonald is caretaker manager (Scotland) Last season 6th For the second successive summer, Villa have been forced to stubbornly resist big-money offers from the division's leading sides for their top players. James Milner is likely to follow last season's departure, Gareth Barry, to Manchester City by the end of the week. Martin O'Neill's subsequent decision to quit as manager could have a major influence on Villa's season. They need the right coach to continue O'Neill's work which has bought three successive sixth-place finishes. Key man Richard Dunne - Defied critics after being dumped by Manchester City with an outstanding season and three important goals. Key transfers Out: Wilfred Bouma (Defender, 32, released). If they were a movie ... Jerry Maguire - Pathos aplenty for the lovable lead in this American production, as he struggles to keep his clients. Even the neutrals want him to succeed. Prediction 8th

Manager Alex McLeish (Scotland) Last season 9th After finishing an impressive ninth on their return to the English top flight, McLeish's over-achieving - and under resourced - side will be eager to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome which often results in a relegation battle. Modest close-season expenditure has not yielded a flood of marquee players - as promised by Carson Yeung, the Hong Kong businessman, when he bought the club last year - arriving at St Andrews. Could be a difficult year. Key man Roger Johnson - A solid defence was the key last season, led by the English centre-back Key transfers In: Nikola Zigic (Striker, 29, Valencia, £6 million (Dh35.1m), Ben Foster (Goalkeeper, 27, Man Utd, £6m). If they were a movie ... Trainspotting - Unexpected success is based on their gritty Scottish roots. Casting director clearly has an eye for potential stars in the making. Prediction 13th

Manager Sam Allardyce (England) Last season 10th Allardyce's resilient unit will again prove stubborn hosts at Ewood Park, where they conceded only 18 goals - out of 55 in total - last season. It is at the other end of the pitch, however, where Rovers' inefficiencies lie. After watching his Lancashire side manage just 41 goals in 38 league games, Allardyce's pursuit of a top-class forward depends largely on the success of a reported take-over bid by Ahasan Ali Syed, a Bahraini businessman. Key man Morten Gamst Pedersen - A few seasons ago, it seemed a big money move was likely for the erratic winger, who can be inspirational when he wants to. Key transfers In: Mame Biram Diouf (Striker, 22, Man Utd, loan). If they were a movie ... Groundhog Day - Yep, they are still here. No, not much has changed since last term. Will this season be much different? Not very likely. Prediction 11th

* The National

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