Transfer Window So Far

I know there are still 25 days left of the transfer window and as always there will be some last minute moves, most of which made my Harry Redknapp, but I thought I would do a quick evaluation of what has happened for the Premier League teams so far.

I’ll start with Arsenal, a team I have mocked before for never spending any money and showing no real ambition. Well it does appear Mr Wenger has been listening. Alexis Sanchez for £31.8 million, Mathieu Debuchy for £12 million, David Ospina for £3.2 million and Calum Chambers for around £16 million and I still believe there will be more money spent. Arsenal have gone from perenial 4th placers to genuine title contenders. If their teams can stay fit for once then they have a genuine chance especially with players like Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain and Cazorla they have some of the best attacking options in the league.

However Arsenal will have to get past Chelsea, who we’re unlucky not to win the league last year and to improve has signed Fabregas, Costa, Luis and brought back Didier Drogba. Chelsea are my favourites for this season because of the massive strength in depth they now have, they literally have a world class player in every position and enough left over to fill their bench.

Everton have made 2 massive steps this summer to move themselves, hopefully, into the top 4. They have resigned Ross Barkley on a 5 year contract and signed Romelu Lukaku for £28 million (which for a team like Everton is a massive amount of money). Those deals with the players they already have will push them on but unfortunately Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Man United and Tottenham will all be pushing for 4th as well. A very interesting season ahead!

Liverpool have splashed the cash big time but in my opinion they haven’t massively improved their starting 11 but they have improved their depth, which for them will be huge with a season in the Champions League ahead.

Man United biggest chance was at manager and will be with their formation. I expect more deals from them once Van Gaal has had his much publicised clear out.

Newcastle have brought in 7 new players so far and players like Cabella and Janmaat, on paper at least, are very good signings but Newcastle still strike me as a team who could finish 4th or could finish 16th you just have no idea which Newcastle will turn up.

QPR have made 2 of the best deals in my opinion. As a newly promoted team having a solid defence can be the key that keeps a team up. To address this they have signed Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker. This is the perfect balance of experience, youth, ability and potential and they should form a solid partnership but more importantly for QPR and maybe even England Caulker will learn masses from Rio that will move his game onto a new level.

Southampton have let go 12 players so far and most of them have been big name players; Shaw, Lambert, Lallana, Lovren and Chambers. Obviously this will have a massive effect on their team. They have signed two players so far Pellè scored 23 goals in 28 games last year and Tadić scored 16 so they have so far brought in players who on paper can score goals but will that be enough. They need more players but for some reason I have faith that they will have more youth players who are ready to step up when called upon.

Stoke. Stoke signed Bojan Krkic. Stoke. The same Bojan who since he joined Barcalona at the age of nine scored over 850 goals. Aged 15, he was joint top-scorer at the 2006 Under-17 European Championships. A year later and he scored the winning goal for Spain in the final of the same tournament. He beat Lionel Messi’s record as the youngest player to score in La Liga for Barça by nearly eight-and-a-half months and soon after he became the first footballer born in the 1990s to play in the Champions League. He now plays for Stoke, if he can play to his full potential and abilty he will be the best player to ever wear a Stoke shirt by a long long time.

Sunderland have signed Jack Rodwell and all I’ll say about that is that for Englands sake I hope this kick starts his career because he is the type of players England desperately need.

Eric Dier has signed for Spurs and if you read my other blog posts you will see how much I have ranted and raved about Eric Dier and I am massively excited to see him play in the Premier League. I will say it again that I believe he will be Englands starting centre back of the future.

So all of that has happened so far and I imagine most of it will be eclipsed by what will happen in the next 25 days, god I love the transfer window.

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Aside

What if the English Premier League was truly English?

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This table taken from the New York Times shows what would happen if only goals by English players counted and it is shocking how far some teams rise or fall.
I do recommend you check out the site as it highlights the teams on both tables as you select one.

The biggest shocks for me are;

Man City drop from 1st to 18th which shows their over reliance on foreign players which could be interpreted to show that the English players aren’t developing good enough or maybe they just prefer the style of play foreign players bring with them. When you look at this though it is clear to see why Greg Dyke was ‘saddened’ by them winning the league.

Newcastle also drop to relegation but that it down to a team of French players which has its well documented problems.

At the top of table are Liverpool (Sturridge and Gerrard were key to this) and Southampton. This to me shows why in England’s World Cup squad there are 8 players from these two teams, they really have done well at bring through very good young English players and should be applauded.

I realise it is just a hypothetical situation that will never arise but some of the big teams really need to think about their under use of English players as I think it the future they will have to have a certain number of home grown or English players in their squads and if they can develop that talent now it will help not only them, but the English national team as well.

 

 

The Premier League 2013/2014: A brief review.

So the season is over, Man City are champions but there was much more to the season than just that.

Man City – Champions for the 2nd time in 3 years and over the season nobody can deny they were the best team. Yaya Toure was immense and I fully expect them to challenge again next year. Had their away form been better at the start of the season they would have been even further clear.

Liverpool – 7th to 2nd is still a massive achievement but they will feel that they could have won the league. At one point they were the only team who knew if we win all our remaining games, we win the league. If they can buy the right players in the summer they will be back up there again next year with Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez, Henderson etc. all continuing their development.

Chelsea – Against the big teams Chelsea were by far the best team in the league but it was against the smaller teams that their season unravelled and this is where Jose has to improve. If they sign Costa and recall some of their loaned played they definitely will be challenging for the title. At this stage I would be betting on them to win the league next year.

Arsenal – Arsenal will look back on this season the same way they have every year for the past few. At the start of the season they were dominant, they were top of the table for longer than anyone else but, as always seems to be the way, their season unravelled in spring and they scrapped their way to 4th. Over the summer Arsene needs to spend spend spend if they are to truely challenge but he won’t so expect to see them scrapping for 4th again next year.

Everton – What Martinez has done at Everton is phenomenal, yes they are still 5th but the way they are playing their football, the way their young players have stepped up has been excellent. If he is given some money to spend to replace their loan players (Barry, Lukaku, Deulofeu) and I believe they will be challenging for top 4 again. The future is very bright for Everton at this point in time.

Tottenham – After the money the club spent in the summer under AVB they were expected to mount a serious challenge on 4th spot. For one reason of another this hasn’t happened but I still believe there are many reasons for Spurs fans to be optimistic. Eriksson has been a revelation and without key injuries they would have done much better. The question around Spurs is at manager. Who will it be and how much time will they get? Tim Sherwood has the best win % of any Spurs Premier League manager and he spent no money yet he won’t be given the job next year and his treatment by the board has been questionable at best. If they can get a proven manager who spends wisely then next year they should be okay.

Man Utd – Losing a manager like Sir Alex was always going to have a knock on effect. The squad he left was shaky with too much reliance on older players and this came back to bite David Moyes. In some ways the next manager has an easier job already because the fans expectations have been lowered and rather than following Sir Alex he is following Moyes. They have a lot of holes in their team and a lot of spending is needed but most of all they need stability in the dugout and for the fans to realise that they are not the best club in the country any more and are one of the top 7 so there will be a real challenge to finish back in the top 4.

Southampton – Southampton have been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League with their hub of young english players. Lallana, Shaw and Rodriguez were excellent all year. As was Lambert who have all been rewarded with World Cup places. How well they do next year depends of how many players they can hang on to. I expect Shaw and Lallana at least to go so if they can replace them well you can expect to see them back in the top 10 next year, if not then it might not be a fun year.

Stoke – When Stoke got rid of Pulis and brought in Mark Hughes many fans and pundits slated the decision for one reason or another but I fully believe they have been proven wrong. Stoke have had their best season in the Premier League yet and I expect them to go onto bigger and better things again next year.

Newcastle – Newcastle can not continue to expect to sell their best players and still finish high in the table. Mike Ashley is trying to make money and Alan Pardew is wanting to spend it but there isn’t a way both of those things can happen so this is where the problems occur. Newcastle obviously have very good scouts so if they have the money available I believe they can bring in the right players but I think the fans need to be more realistic with their expectations of the club next year.

Crystal Palace – In November they were already being labelled a certainty for relegation but then Tony Pulis came in and completely transformed their style of play and their fortunes. What Pulis has done there has been spectacular and when you look at what happened to Cardiff that could very easily have been Palace and the fact they have finished where they have should be applauded.

Swansea – Mid table is about when Swansea fans could have expected them to finish so this season has been okay for them. Bony has been very good and keeping his will be key as will getting Michu fit. If both those things happen I expect Swansea to be upper mid table again next year.

West Ham – It’s been a funny year for West Ham. The fans are really not happy with Big Sam even though they have finished 13th which really isn’t that bad.

Sunderland – The Great Escape is the only way I can think of to sum up Sunderland’s season. At Christmas they were gone but a string of great results against Chelsea and both the Manchester clubs has kept them up. Poyet deserves a lot of credit. Next year will be more challenging and if they don’t improve they will be back in a dog fight.

Aston Villa – Another disappointing year for Villa. For one reason or another things just haven’t gone well and they will be hoping for a change of fortunes next year. With the club up for a sale a new owner and new players may be just what is needed. They have a good core of young players so should be okay going forward.

Hull – Hull started the season fantastically well and the FA cup run may have slightly altered their league form but survival would have been their goal pre season and they have achieved that. Next season they will need some more new players but they should be okay.

West Brom – When Pepe Mel was sacked earlier today I can’t say I was surprised. West Brom didn’t lose much this year but they drew far too many games and this is why they finished where they did. What happens next year will very much depend on who the manager is and the ambitions of the chairman. They are more than capable of surviving in the league for the foreseeable future but that all depends on what happens off the pitch.

Norwich – After a decent season last year Norwich tried to spend and stay up by signing players, who on paper at least, should really have seen them survive. But what a team needs more than anything is goals and their strikers simply didn’t provide this and that is why Norwich finished where they did. They will struggle to get back out of the Championship due to the competitive nature of that league but if they can get an experienced manager and keep the majority of the squad together their chances will be greatly increased.

Fulham – You can not change mangers like Fulham did this year and expect to survive. Felix Magath did okay and thier owners have money to spend but the Championship is so competitive that you never know what could happen. If money is invested wisely then we may be seeing Fulham return to the Premier League quite soon.

Cardiff – Vincent Tan has become the laughing stock of Cardiff and quite rightly. Sacking Mackay was a terrible decision and probably condemned his team to relegation at that point. Solskjaer may turn out to be a good manager but with no Premier League experience he wasn’t the right man to take over. Cardiff need to keep their squad intact and maybe, just maybe they can get back up in the Premier League but Vincent Tan needs to realise this won’t happen over night and he may be facing a few years of watching Championship football.

Repost: Liverpool error sees City closer to league title

Missed this game as I was working but wow, sounds like a great game but even if Liverpool finish second or even third to get there from seventh last year is still an amazing achievement, the only question is what happens next year? Can they continue to Improve or will other teams power past them by spending big over the summer?

Expressing My Thoughts...

Everyone had high expectations in today’s match where Liverpool was against Crystal Palace, who are sitting in the middle of the table. It was expected that Liverpool would win in their current form and their winning streak, but today wasn’t meant to be.

The final score when the whistle blew at Selhurst Park was 3-3, where Liverpool was in the lead for the majority of the game. Goals from Allen, Sturridge and Suarez saw the title contenders soar to the top, where their lead would be hard to chase, and Palace would need to take every opportunity they could to draw level. But that is what they exactly did. Goals from Delaney, and double goal scorer substitute Gayle has scored within the last 11 minutes of the game, and this was a pity for Liverpool as they had dominated the rest of the game. The errors of the defenders and…

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Wenger vs Rodgers

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“It will be busy, but the main thing for us will be to keep the stability because we feel we are close,” he said. “We want to add something that makes us even stronger. But number wise it will not be massive.” – Arsene Wenger

 

Brendan Rodgers estimates around half a dozen players may be needed to bulk out his Liverpool squad to the required depth for the Champions League but the manager has no immediate concerns about having to buy in creativity.

 

These are the differing views coming out of Liverpool and Arsenal. I really do think that these sum up the two clubs and ultimately their ambitions.

Arsene Wenger goes on to talk about how close he believe they are to the title and that is why he believe only one or two players will be enough but the number of points they are off the top (7) makes it seem much closer than they really are. Against City, Chelsea and Liverpool they scored 7 and conceded 18. That is almost half of all their goals they conceded all year. This shows a massive gulf between Arsenal and the top 3 and in true Arsenal are more likely to be in another battle for 4th with Everton, Man United and Spurs next year than being in a battle for the top with Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City.

Liverpool on the other hand look set to finish joint top of the league and lose out on goal difference and they are as close to winning the league as they have been for years. On the back of this Brendon Rodgers is taking the exact view that Mr Wenger should be. He knows that he doesn’t need any major world beaters because his starting 11 is excellent but he also know that to compete in the league and Europe next season he needs a squad not just a team. Injuries are inevitable and if Liverpool sign 6 more good quality players, when this happens they will have quality players that can step in and keep the team achieving. Whereas with Arsenal the same thing happens every year, they get key injuries and the only players they have that can replace them are from their under 21s, players who, at the moment, aren’t ready to be premier league players. (This year in the under 21’s league Arsenal finished 14th. Chelsea, Liverpool, City and United were the top 4).

Arsene Wenger needs to adopt a new transfer policy. I’m not expecting him to sign another 3 or 4 £40 million players but he could do with signing 5 or 6 £20 million players to turn his team into a squad and really allow them to challenge next year.

Why Arsenal need to lose the Arsené.

Arsenal. 9 years with no trophies, countless trends of #WengerOut and yet he is still there. Yes this year they have reached the FA cup final (just) and they were top of the league for a large chunk of the year (although they’ve faded in the later parts of the season, again) but still I don’t believe Arsène has done enough to merit keeping his job. David Moyes had less than a year because he won nothing and wasn’t competing in the league, a new manager to a top club wouldn’t get 9 years with in trophies but because he has been there so long he is afforded the benefit of the doubt and allowed to continue and here in lies the problem, Arsenal won’t sack him because he is such an icon.

This year he spend money on Özil in an attempt to make his squad good enough to win something and yes it may work but more work is done and I don’t believe Arsène knows how to spend big money on players which Arsenal need to do this summer, that’s the main reason I would argue he is not the man to lead Arsenal forward.
With regards to the FA cup, yes it is a fantastic cup and part of our footballing history but for teams like Arsenal it should be viewed as the third best thing they can win and even ranked behind finishing in the top 4.

To win the league you need to be the best team over a 36 game season, playing 19 other teams twice, you would be the best team in the he country.

To win the Champions League you need to get through a 4 team group and then you are 8 games from the final, but those games (4 two legged ties) will be against some of the best teams in Europe, if you win that you are the best team in Europe.

To win the FA cup you could get drawn against 6 top teams in a Premier Leagues 6 game route to the cup but the chances are you will get drawn against a few championships teams and if you’re lucky some league one or two or maybe non league teams as well. These are all games teams like Arsenal should be winning so they should easily win a cup like the FA cup.
For me looking at a team like Arsenal, winning the FA cup and limping to fourth should be seen as a failure and after 9 years of failure I think the time has come for a change and for Arsène to leave Arsenal.