SPORTSMAIL'S PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW - PART ONE: Jesus is key to Arsenal's top four bid, Gerrard must keep momentum at Aston Villa while Bournemouth look likely to go straight back down

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Pre-season is complete and now the big countdown is underway for the new Premier League season starting on Friday night when Arsenal visit Crystal Palace.

Over the next four days, Sportsmail will bring you a comprehensive preview of every Premier League side and assess how their fortunes could fare over the season as well as address the shape they are in heading into a new campaign.

We begin the week by looking at Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford and Brighton, who will have various targets at both ends of the table. 

Arsenal launch the new Premier League season away at Crystal Palace on Friday night

Arsenal launch the new Premier League season away at Crystal Palace on Friday night

Arsenal launch the new Premier League season away at Crystal Palace on Friday night

ARSENAL 

Arrivals: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City, £45m), Fabio Vieira (Porto, £30m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City, £32m), Matt Turner (New England, £5.75m), Marquinhos (Sao Paulo, £3m).

Departures: Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille, £9m), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart, £4.5m), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon, free), Nuno Tavares (Marseille, loan).

Good summer?

Arsenal may have capitulated at the end of last season to hand rivals Tottenham a Champions League place, but it hasn't stopped them from spending like a top four outfit this summer.

Mikel Arteta's team have splashed out nearly £120million on new recruits, making them among the biggest spenders in Europe but they look to have bought well.

Oleksandr Zinchenko has come in from Manchester City to add depth as well as competition for a left-back spot alongside Kieran Tierney but the big move comes up top, with a brand new striker in Gabriel Jesus who has also arrived from the Premier League champions.

Pre-season has shown much promise especially in attack, with Gabriel Jesus having already found an eye for goal and appearing to settle in well.

Gabriel Jesus could be key to firing Arsenal back into the Champions League this season

Gabriel Jesus could be key to firing Arsenal back into the Champions League this season

Success would be...

Nothing less than qualification for the Champions League will do for Arsenal who have not featured in the competition now since 19 straight years of competing in it was ended in 2017.

This will likely depend on the success of their summer transfer window and if Jesus can become a main figurehead in their attack and build on a promising pre-season.

Disaster would look like...

Simply not reaching the Champions League again. This is two consecutive years of big spending for Arsenal now and they are running out of excuses over why they still haven't returned to Europe's elite.

Yet that could still be a possibility. The defence still remains a little suspect and it remains to be seen how an effective brand new attack stands up against Premier League opposition when the real drama gets underway.

The man in charge: Mikel Arteta

It's been a strange tenure for the former Arsenal midfielder. After arriving in December 2019 he won an FA Cup to instantly mark his credentials but then a year later guided Arsenal to their worst Premier League finish since 1995.

While improvements were made last term, there was deep frustration among fans over the team's inability to get over the line in fourth place at the end of the season.

Coming up to three years in the hotseat, this does feel like a season he has to start delivering better results on the pitch.

The key man: Gabriel Jesus

While he won't exactly be the talisman, that's arguably Bukayo Saka on the flank, you get the sense the former City striker's form could be make-or-break for the Gunners. 

Sportsmail’s prediction: 4th

Progress has been small but constant under Arteta and providing they avoid injuries in key areas there is enough promise to believe Arsenal can finally deliver the goods. 

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (left) will finally hope to guide the Gunners back into the top four

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (left) will finally hope to guide the Gunners back into the top four

ASTON VILLA

Arrivals: Diego Carlos (Sevilla, £26m), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona, £17m), Robin Olsen (Roma, £3m), Ludwig Augustinsson (Sevilla, £500,000 - loan), Boubacar Kamara (Marseille, free) 

Departures: Matt Targett (Newcastle, £15m), Trezeguet (Trabzonspor, £3m), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split, free), Conor Hourihane (Derby County, free), Jaden Philogene-Bidace (Cardiff City, free), Wesley (Levante, loan)

Good summer?

Reasons to be cheerful, for sure. Diego Carlos looks to be a significant upgrade in the defence, and Steven Gerrard has been so impressed with the Brazilian's impact that he's made him one of the club's vice-captains this season.

Philippe Coutinho's future was settled back in May to ensure the attack is well stocked and there have been no significant exits that appear to require an urgent replacement - although a defensive midfielder is still perhaps needed.

Villa have looked solid pre-season and, while they don't look a major force appear, to be heading in the right direction.

Success would be...

It's not beyond Aston Villa to target at least a European spot this season, and while that seems highly ambitious a top 10 finish would also show promising signs of progress. 

It will build on last season's lower mid-table standing where the club never really looked like being in danger following Steven Gerrard's arrival, but they also didn't kick on to trouble the top 10.

Ideally the circumstances offer Villa a chance to target cup competitions.

Steven Gerrard will hope he has shaped Aston Villa more to his liking during pre-season

Steven Gerrard will hope he has shaped Aston Villa more to his liking during pre-season

Disaster would look like...

Getting dragged into a relegation fight is what cost Dean Smith his job as manager last term and another slide towards the bottom three can not be counted out if the new signings don't quite settle in the Premier League.

The club do appear to be at a crossroads. Villa lost half of their games last season and only Everton as well as the hapless relegated duo of Norwich and Watford lost more.

The man in charge: Steven Gerrard

Gerrard can count last season as a success given he passed his remit of preventing Villa from getting into a relegation battle.

His contacts within the game allowed him to bring key players to the club including old Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho and it will be interesting if he can keep making progress heading into his first full campaign at Villa Park.

The former Liverpool and England captain though does need to make his side tougher to beat and they will need to kick on this term after meandering in lower mid-table last season.

Villa will hope they can get the creative best out of playmaker Philippe Coutinho

Villa will hope they can get the creative best out of playmaker Philippe Coutinho

The key man: Philippe Coutinho

Pulling the creative strings in the Villa attack, there were times last season where Coutinho couldn't greatly influence his side but his contribution of five goals and three assists was important following his January arrival.

That said, Villa only won two of their last 11 games of the season and that coincided with Coutinho failing to create an assist and only scoring once - that coming in the final day defeat at Manchester City.

It appears if Villa want to make progress this term - then the 30-year-old is going to be needed at his best. 

Sportsmail’s prediction: 11th

There still appears to be something missing for Steven Gerrard's Villa and it could hinder their aims of cracking the top 10 - they should though be strong enough to avoid a relegation scrap.

BOURNEMOUTH

Arrivals: Joe Rothwell (Blackburn Rovers, free), Ryan Fredericks (West Ham United, free), Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough, £12m)

Departures: Robbie Brady (Preston North End, free), Gary Cahill (released), Gavin Killenny (Stoke City, loan)

Good summer? 

It's a concerning one. Bournemouth still haven't opened the chequebook less than a week before the season starts and their major arrival has been Ryan Fredericks who was struggling to get a game at West Ham United.

There have been many examples of teams from recent seasons who have failed to strengthen and gone straight back down, notably Norwich last term, and this will need to be addressed before the closure of the transfer window. 

On the positive side, there have been no major exits aside from Gary Cahill, but at 36-years-old and having dropped out of favour in the second half of last season, one last crack at the Premier League for the former England defender could have been a costly step too far.

Success would be...

Beating relegation. Doesn't have to be comfortably either. A final day last-gasp act will be considered a success under any circumstances for the Cherries.

This may sound odd considering they have spent five of their last seven seasons in the Premier League but trusting the same players that earned promotion has bitten hard on promoted clubs in recent times.

It's not a pipedream though. Dominic Solanke could finally realise his early career promise that saw him capped by England in 2017 as he has found his groove under Scott Parker.

Bournemouth are back in the Premier League after earning promotion from the Championship

Bournemouth are back in the Premier League after earning promotion from the Championship

Disaster would look like...

Sinking without a trace back down into the Championship. This doesn't look like a particularly strong Bournemouth team - and it's little different to the one that won just one game in eight matches during the middle of the Championship season last term.

Failure to adapt to the top flight could see them severely punished and be cut adrift quite early on the season.

The man in charge: Scott Parker

It's been an intriguing managerial career for Scott Parker so far who in just three and a half years in management has seen two relegations from the top flight and two Premier League promotions - taking into his account his previous tenure at Fulham.

He's managed to get back the Cherries back into the top flight at the first time of asking but can he keep them there? His only previous full season in the top tier came with Fulham and they were relegated without putting up much of a fight.

There does appear to be a good manager in the former England midfielder though - even if he faces an incredible task of keeping his side in the Premier League this season.

The key man: Dominic Solanke

Parker can be credited with finally mining goals out of the striker who enjoyed a breakout campaign last term with 29 league strikes. If he can translate that to the Premier League then Bournemouth have a fighting chance of staying up.

Sportsmail's prediction: 20th

If you stand still in the Premier League you go backwards, and as the new boys without a major signing to strengthen them, Bournemouth could face a very tough year.

Dominic Solanke's success in front of goal could be crucial to their top flight survival hopes

Dominic Solanke's success in front of goal could be crucial to their top flight survival hopes

BRENTFORD

Arrivals: Keane Lewis-Potter (Hull City, £16m), Aaron Hickey (Bologna, £14m) Thomas Strakosha (Lazio, free), Ben Mee (Burnley, free).

Departures: Marcus Forss (Middlesbrough, £3.24m), Christian Eriksen (Manchester United, free).

Good summer?

It's been a pro-active one for Brentford but it's not without its significant downsides - arguably most of all losing Christian Eriksen to Manchester United when his contract expired. 

The Dane joined on a six-month contract last term and was influential to keeping the team in the top flight.

That being said, the Bees have a habit of recruiting smartly and the capture of Keane Lewis-Potter from Hull as an attacking outlet looks a smart piece of business as does the arrival of Aaron Hickey to hopefully plug an ongoing issue at full-back.

Keane Lewis-Potter is among Brentford's new arrivals in the transfer window from Hull City

Keane Lewis-Potter is among Brentford's new arrivals in the transfer window from Hull City

Success would be...

Brentford finished 13th last season, and considering they were big favourites to go straight back down into the Championship it was a marvellous achievement.

Matching that though will be tough and second season syndrome in recent seasons has seen Sheffield United relegated a year after making a European charge, while Leeds United were also close to dropping back down last term.

Staying up again will be the target but if the new signings gel into the team there is no reason why they cannot at least consolidate another mid-table finish.

Disaster would look like...

That Sheffield United season that ended with their relegation last year. The Blades went from being a tough side to beat to whipping boys overnight.

Thomas Frank's side look a little more organised but it must be remembered that the Bees were already in a steep decline before Eriksen started playing last season when they took just four points from 11 games following a bright start to the campaign.

The acid test really is can they cope without their star Danish playmaker?

The man in charge: Thomas Frank

Masterminded an unlikely promotion and then built on that by delivering probably the best Premier League season any Brentford supporter could have wished for.

His reputation at the club is already cemented in a positive light but the Premier League can bring ruthless decisions and if the Bees go into another tailspin like they did late last winter, Frank's position could be under threat regardless of his popularity with supporters. 

The key man: Ivan Toney

Fired in a respective 14 goals across all competitions last term and his performances were enough to attract interest from Premier League rivals this summer - including Manchester United.

If Toney goes along with Eriksen then the Bees will be at a severe disadvantage this term with the loss of major stars.

Sportsmail's prediction: 19th

Maintaining last season's momentum could be tough having arguably become weaker over the summer and staying up will again be a huge achievement.

Ivan Toney (centre) will have to make do without the creativity of Christian Eriksen behind him

Ivan Toney (centre) will have to make do without the creativity of Christian Eriksen behind him

BRIGHTON 

Arrivals: Julio Enciso (Libertad, £10m), Simon Adingra (Nordsjaelland, £7m).

Departures: Yves Bissouma (Tottenham Hotspur, £26m), Leo Ostigard (Napoli, £4.50m), Tudor Baluta (Farul, free), Simon Adingra (Royale Union Saint Gilloise, loan), Haydon Roberts (Derby County, loan), Aaron Connolly (Venezia, loan), Taylor Richards (Queens Park Rangers, loan). 

Good summer?

It's not been an ideal one for Graham Potter's men, who have arguably become a weaker outfit during the transfer window having lost key star Yves Bissouma to Tottenham.

Moises Caicedo does return from a loan spell out in Belgium though having signed last summer and he could plug the gap left behind by the midfielder. 

Of their two new arrivals, one has immediately gone out on loan in Adingra and the other in Enciso is just 18-years-old and, while a highly promising talent is unlikely to be called upon to carry the burden of the team, the forward could even be sent out on loan too.

Success would be...

It's actually difficult to see how Brighton can improve this season. Ninth last term was already a sensational effort and the best in the club's history and it came following a few years of fending off battles against Premier League relegation.

Another top 10 finish with such little resources compared to other rivals in the division would be a sensational effort.

Goals were a problem last season and that was down to poor finishing rather than a lack of creativity and that's an easier problem to solve - providing Graham Potter can bag himself a proven goal scorer before the transfer window closes.

English manager Graham Potter has done a sensational job since taking over at Brighton

English manager Graham Potter has done a sensational job since taking over at Brighton

Disaster would look like...

Even given their success since earning Premier League promotion in 2017, avoiding relegation will once again be the main aim for the Seagulls.

Arguably a bigger disaster could hit them during the campaign though when various teams naturally start to underperform and look towards a new manager.

Potter's work down at the Amex Stadium has drawn huge admirers and if he moves on then Brighton have a huge crisis in trying to find his successor. 

The man in charge: Graham Potter

Pound for pound, is there a better manager in the Premier League right now? He is certainly up there given he has Brighton punching well above their weight and it's down to forging a team spirit and not a reliance on the individual brilliance of one player.

It's a feature of pretty much every single club he has managed and his growing reputation marking him as a superb man manager. Crucially though it's combined with attractive football and it makes him one of the most exciting English managerial prospects in the game. 

The key man: Tariq Lamptey

Near enough completed his first full season last term and the exciting young full-back appears to be constantly improving. He appears to keep getting better and is still only 21 years old. 

Sportsmail's prediction: 12th

A drop in performance levels from last season but another mid-table finish of any sorts will be a good campaign for the Seagulls who continue to soar above expectations.

Tariq Lamptey's performances at right-back for Brighton have turned him into a star talent

Tariq Lamptey's performances at right-back for Brighton have turned him into a star talent

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