Friday, September 21, 2018

January Transfer Window – Winners and Losers

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Championship 3 Feb 2018

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The January transfer window has recently slammed shut, and its echoes have barely finished ringing around the Premier League. That doesn’t mean that we can’t begin dissecting it however, especially in our modern culture of instant gratification. Everyone wants to know the winners, and everybody especially wants to know the losers, so that’s exactly what this article will be examining.

Winners 

Arsenal 

Contrary to normal practice, Arsene Wenger made a number of purchases in this window, perhaps in an attempt to make a final challenge for a top four spot by the end of the season. The Gunners currently sit five points off Chelsea, and the Blues have a game in hand, which means that Arsenal have an uphill battle if they want to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

They should be able to give it a good go however, especially due to the addition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The former Borussia Dortmund man is a proven goal scorer, and netted on his debut against Everton. With summer signing Alexandre Lacazette struggling, the absolute worst Aubameyang can do is provide a bit of competition for places.

The North London club also dealt well with the Alexis Sanchez debacle, ultimately swapping him with Manchester United for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian registered an impressive three assists against Everton, and he could revitalise his career at Arsenal. The Sanchez situation was becoming a real drain on the club and the morale, so the mere fact that it is over should be a positive thing.

The impressive movements in the transfer window also had another positive impact as they convinced Mesut Ozil to stay. The midfielder was in a similar boat to Sanchez, but his new long-term contract has put a stop to the doubt. Ozil is a star, so keeping him around is a definite win.

Chelsea

The reigning Premier League champions may not be quite living up to the same standards as last season, and they may well struggle to even hold onto their current fourth spot with Tottenham breathing down their necks. Thankfully for Blues fans, Antonio Conte made several moves in January that could aid them in their quest.

Ross Barkley finally made the switch to Stamford Bridge after months of rumours and links, and once he fully recovers from injury he should make a good addition to the Chelsea squad. There is little doubt of the midfielder’s talent, and with the right coaching he could become a top player at Chelsea, especially if given an extended run of game time.

The London club were also involved in a stunning transfer triangle that saw them ship Michy Batshuayi off to Dortmund, while securing the services of Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. With Alvaro Morata still likely to be the starter when fit, Chelsea essentially upgraded their backup forward, and Giroud has a great goal scoring record in the Premier League.

Everton

Sam Allardyce did what all good managers should do in January – identified a problem with his squad and made moves to solve it. Everton had been struggling for goals in the first half of the season, something that had been preventing them from climbing the table given their equally poor defensive record.

The addition of Theo Walcott should certainly help with the attacking issue, and the former Arsenal winger has grabbed two goals and an assist in his first three games for the Toffees. He will at the very least inject some pace into a previously sluggish Everton offence, allowing them to hit teams on the break.

Cenk Tosun, previously of Besiktas, should also be able to start contributing goals to the Everton cause once he finds his feet in the Premier League, and will provide a nice compliment to their other attacking options.

Big Sam also added Eliaquim Mangala on loan in order to shore up the defence, something that seems to be fairly vital at this stage, especially given their recent 5-1 defeat to Arsenal. The French defender has Premier League experience, and when given enough minutes should develop into a talented centre half.

Losers

Tottenham

While what Mauricio Pochettino has achieved at Spurs is admirable, and their style of football is often to be admired, there is a constant feeling that the North London club are never quite in a position to compete with their Premier League rivals, especially in a financial sense. Unfortunately in today’s footballing climate that often transfers to the pitch too, and it’s difficult to see Tottenham finishing any higher than fourth this season.

In this window they added Lucas Moura from PSG, which on the face of it looks like a decent signing. What makes it worrying is that he was their only new recruit in a window that the teams above and below them used to bolster and refresh their squads.

The problem for Pochettino’s side during this campaign has been their inability to turn draws against the lesser teams into wins. Their tendency to lean on Harry Kane is partly to blame for that, and until they can find players to be real, competitive backups for their stars, they could be stuck one step behind their rivals.

Southampton

The Saints are the classic case of a predominantly mid-table team slipping up and falling a tad too close to the relegation battle. They currently sit 14th, two points above the drop zone, but have been struggling for much of this season. A lack of goals and an inability to keep other teams out has left Mauricio Pellegrino needing additions at both ends of the pitch, but he only managed one.

The sole arrival was Guido Carrillo, signed from Monaco, and he will likely take some time to adjust to the Premier League. Perhaps after a few weeks he will be a sensation, but four goals in 15 games for Ligue 1 giants Monaco before joining the Saints isn’t hugely inspiring. In fact it’s less goals than Charlie Austin had for the south coast side before his injury, and only one more than Shane Long’s tally.

At the other end of the pitch Southampton not only failed to purchase a defender, which seemed like a necessity upon noticing that they have conceded 38 times this season, but they sold their best centre half. Virgil van Dijk always looked destined to join Liverpool, but the fact that Pellegrino had nobody in mind as a replacement is slightly shocking. It is difficult to see how things will improve when little changes have been made.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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