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Clubs vying for capital gains

LAST YEAR might have been a bad one for the City, but for London&rsquo;s clubs it was a boom time of sorts. Although Chelsea were the only side to finish with silverware, all five of the capital&rsquo;s outfits claimed top 10 places, and most have reasonable hopes of improving this season. But on the eve of the Premier League&rsquo;s big kick-off each have major questions hanging over them.<br /><br />Chelsea&rsquo;s challenge was over by February but they are being widely tipped to land the title this time. As Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari will attest, the Stamford Bridge hot-seat is hotter than most, and much will hinge on how Carlo Ancelotti adapts to English football. The early signs are good, with a new diamond formation in midfield showing promise, but will they regret their new-found thriftiness when injuries bite?<br /><br />On matters frugal, Arsenal rule the roost. Sadly for them, the same has not applied in the league table, and fans are itching for a trophy after four barren years. Ideally, Arsene Wenger will find a centre-back partnership to rely on and a young midfield will develop the steely streak it sorely lacks, allowing the Gunners&rsquo; attacking talent to flourish. Realistically, they face a tougher fight than ever to stay on the heels of the top three.<br /><br />Seventh, their best top-flight finish, and a place in Europe had Fulham fans pinching themselves last year, and if Roy Hodgson repeats that he deserves a Harrods trolley dash. Defensively robust &ndash; provided they keep rock Brede Hangeland &ndash; it is in attack that they lack. Just 39 goals in 38 games was woeful; a forward who can reach double figures looks essential for another top 10 finish.<br /><br />Peter Crouch was linked with Fulham before plumping for Tottenham, where his reunion with former Portsmouth strike partner Jermain Defoe is an intriguing and potentially prolific prospect. A settled midfield remains an enigma, but Harry Redknapp can surely rely on a better start to the season than Spurs&rsquo; endured last year &ndash; their worst ever.<br /><br />A bad start also afflicted Gianfranco Zola, but the Italian recovered to steer West Ham to ninth, and will be hopeful of an improvement. England internationals Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole stand out among a modest squad, but lingering money worries cast doubt over the club&rsquo;s ability to keep them.