Having safely secured the services of Cesc Fabregas from the lure of Catalunya for at least one more season, Arsene Wenger's next task is to finally solve the long-standing problem between his posts. A 6-5 friendly win over Legia Warsaw highlighted the Gunners' defensive frailties and their French manager has earmarked Mark Schwarzer, the Fulham goalkeeper, as an ideal recruitment. Wenger is also keen on bolstering his backline, with Gary Cahill, the Bolton Wanderers' centre-half, a potential target, but Wenger may be reluctant to part with the money to prize him away.
Martin O'Neill's exit has rocked the Midlands club. The Northern Irishman's reasons for departing remain unclear, but talk is rife that the money Villa will recoup from the sale of James Milner to Manchester City - a deal that is expected to go through before the weekend's action - will not be invested back into the club. Ashley Young, the speedy winger, now also wants showdown talks with Randy Lerner, the club's American chairman. Young has been heavily linked with Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, with a £21 million (Dh121m) deal touted.
Drawn against Rochdale at home in the second round of the Carling Cup, Alex McLeish, the manager, continues to look to strengthen his Midlands side before business gets under way tomorrow at Sunderland. Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso, the Juventus pair, have been strongly linked ahead of the Blues' opening day tie, while talks are ongoing for Moussa Dembele, the AZ Alkmaar striker. Stephen Carr, the club's 33-year-old captain, meanwhile has extended his contract at the club, keeping him at St Andrews until the summer of 2012.
With Jason Roberts, the striker, being told his future lies elsewhere, Sam Allardyce, the Rovers coach, sees either Benjani Mwaruwari, the Zimbabwean forward, or Daniel Guiza, Fenerbahce's Spainish forward, as an ideal replacement. Benjani, a free agent after leaving Manchester City, is training with the club, while Guiza is believed to have been the subject of a £5m bid. Meanwhile, Frank Fielding, the club's young goalkeeper, has expressed his surprise after being called up to replace teammate Paul Robinson for England's friendly win over Hungary on Wednesday evening. Norwich City await them in the Carling Cup.
* Compiled by Paul Radley and Gary Meenaghan