Following a deadline day arguably more notable for the deals that did not happen than the ones that did, the Premier League’s top six from last season have their squads assembled and must plot a route to glory.
But which of the division’s heayweights can be happy with their business, where should judgement be reserved and did anyone collapse into shambles?
In a manner hopefully more decisive than Ross Barkley midway through a medical, we try to find out.
Jose Mourinho famously always wins the league during his second season at a club (let’s leave any third-season analysis alone for the time being) and appears to have all his pieces in position at United. Aside from a missed penalty against Leicester City, Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running and the £75million striker, along with ex-Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic are archetypal Mourinho buys. Victor Lindelof will bolster an already strong defence and missing out on Inter winger Ivan Perisic is tempered by the fact United are already well-stocked in that department, with Anthony Martial finding form in timely fashion. Throw in self-proclaimed medical marvel Zlatan Ibrahimovic being back to “finish what he started” and all looks rosy in the Old Trafford garden.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 10, 2017
Jolted by an embarrassingly public climbdown in their pursuit of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk early in the transfer window, Liverpool recovered to complete some sharp business that sits in an even kinder light on the back of some exhilarating showings on the field from Jurgen Klopp’s men. Mohamed Salah has three goals in five competitive games and the Egypt star means Liverpool’s attack is no longer so dependent on Sadio Mane for dynamic pace and creativity. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain represents a coup, given his £35m deal both weakened Arsenal and dealt a blow to champions Chelsea, who coveted the England international, while Naby Keita will be along for the ride next season. All the indications are that the RB Leipzig man will enter a successful team.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 22, 2017
Spurs’ main challenge this window was to keep hold of attacking jewels Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen and they did so with the minimum of fuss. However, with talk of a Wembley hoodoo yet to be extinguished, Mauricio Pochettino could have done with the sort of arrival to keep Danny Rose away from popular internet search engines. Giving Chelsea a bloody nose by snatching Fernando Llorente from Swansea City was undoubtedly enjoyable for Spurs fans and the experienced Spain international will provide better cover for Kane than the wayward Vincent Janssen, who failed to secure an exit to Brighton and Hove Albion. Record signing Davinson Sanchez comes into an area of the team, centre-back, where Tottenham are already strong and Serge Aurier is a replacement for Kyle Walker who has more questions about his temperament than his pedigree.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 1, 2017
Last season, Pep Guardiola could have justifiably complained over being hamstrung by the imbalanced and aging squad he inherited from Manuel Pellegrini. That can no longer be the case after an outlay in excess of £200m, with Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo in place as much-needed full-back upgrades. Bernardo Silva’s arrival from Monaco for a reported £43m might prove to be the steal of the window and Ederson has already completed the relatively straightforward task of being a more reassuring presence than Claudio Bravo in goal. However, the unedifying and fruitless final-day scramble for Alexis Sanchez, along with failure to bring in Jonny Evans as centre-back cover, left a bitter taste. Guardiola has one senior left-back and an aging central-midfield base and City spent the final days of the window unsuccessfully pursuing a £60m forward to compete with Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne. Which brings us to…
How does it feel? pic.twitter.com/PXRrZCSYti
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 24, 2017
Arsene Wenger entered the new season in possession of the FA Cup, the Community Shield, a fresh contract and a new star striker. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring within two minutes on his debut against Leicester City at Emirates Stadium, from which point very little has gone right. The Gunners scrambled a 4-3 win on the opening night, but a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City and 4-0 thumping by Liverpool showed the clear need for reinforcements that never arrived. Shkodran Mustafi really should be introduced into a back-three comprised largely of left-backs playing behind a familiarly flaky central midfield. Seeing the benched Germany international linked to Inter was bizarre, while the Sanchez saga proved to be one where neither club involved came out with any credit. Oxlade-Chamberlain reportedly took a pay cut to escape the whole sorry mess and Thomas Lemar wanted no part of it. Once again, Wenger is operating with mutiny in the air.
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) August 31, 2017
The transfer window has caused no little exasperation for Antonio Conte, who might reasonably have expected the English champions to be an easier sell. On deadline day he secured Davide Zappacosta from Torino and Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, but saw Oxlade-Chamberlain, Llorente and Barkley – the latter bizarrely – thumb their noses at Stamford Bridge. Danilo, Lukaku and Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci can also be counted as Conte targets who ended up elsewhere, while Matic’s move to United went down far better in the boardroom than in the dressing room. Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko are high-class additions and are settling into their new surroundings as Diego Costa kicks his heels in Brazil – another man nursing rejection. He and Conte have little else in common anymore.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 9, 2017
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!