Transfer Talk: Return Of The Rumours

(Anyone else start getting the Star Wars theme music in their heads there? No? Carrying on then….)

Could Costa really be heading to China? What on earth has happened to West Ham’s Golden boy? And who the blaaady hell are PSG looking at?!

Yes that’s right chaps ( & chapettes!) Transfer Talk is back! A week seems a long time in football, with so much speculation flying around, I’ve dissected some of the week’s best rumours from the ‘yeah I can see that working’ ones to the damn right ridiculous ones.

Let’s start with the realistic ones first.

Martin Olsson (28) (Norwich – Swansea) Defender

As I’m writing this, I can see that the deal has actually happened. Way to rain on my parade their Swans. Couldn’t just give me a few more hours could you. But anywhooo, a very solid acquisition for Swansea City.  Who are still crying more than this fella, over the sale of Ashley Williams.

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Olsson will bring some very much needed Premier League experience to Swansea and excellent cover for the injured Neil Taylor. Although it might not be long until he’s playing against his old club Norwich in the Championship.

Robbie Brady (25) (Norwich – Sunderland / Crystal Palace) Midfielder

Things aren’t going well for Alex Neil at Norwich at the moment, and players are taking a chance to move whilst they can. Brady who came through the Manchester United Youth System.

Has already seen a bid for £10m turned down from Palace for his services. If Sunderland do make a bid, it’ll be in monthly instalments as they are strapped for cash. Would provide some extra impetuous going forward especially for the Black Cats.  Scored twice for ROI during Euro 2016 and for a midfielder 7 goals in 31 International appearances, is a rather tasty record.

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Scott Hogan (24) (Brentford – West Ham United) Striker

After 2 previous failed bids, have a feeling this one will drag on until the end of the window.  But after being left out of the defeat by Newcastle United with his manager stating ‘it was in the long term interest of the club’ it would appear it won’t be long until Hogan is pulling on a West Ham shirt.

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Brentford are rumoured to want £9m + £6m in add ons A.K.A £15m, but West Ham are only willing to pay £3m in add ons… But with 21 goals in 33 apps for Brentford, you’d imagine it won’t be long till West Ham cave.

Carl Jenkinson (24) (Arsenal – Crystal Palace) Defender

Doesn’t quite fit into Wenger’s plans unfortunately. With added knowledge of knowing that Bellerín is the 1st choice RB by some distance. Spent a fair amount of time on loan at West Ham previous seasons gone by.

Would appear that he’s not far away from joining up with one of his old managers in Big Sam at Palace. Who is in the market for defenders.

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Fernando Llorente (31) (Swansea City – Chelsea) Striker

Would be the jammiest move. Going from a relegation battle to a title battle. I personally don’t see Llorente key to Swansea’s survival hopes, he’s not like a Defoe who is going to score all the goals.

As the majority of us know, Conte worked with Llorente at Juve several seasons ago, but by no means did Llorente set Serie A alight. With a goal scoring record, just better than a goal every 3 games in the league.

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With the future of Costa uncertain, Llorente could be a shrewd bit of business from the Italian, with perhaps the unfavoured Michy Batshuayi heading in the other direction.

But with Chelsea playing some fantastic free-flowing football at the moment, it would appear strange to change that up to accompany a big target man who’s less mobile than Costa. But we wait to find out.

Jake Livermore (27) (Hull City – WBA) Midfielder

 This one broke over the last couple of days or so. WBA are keen to strengthen their midfield options, and have targeted Livermore. Underrated Premier League player, can play as a box to box midfielder or as a defensive one. Could work well with Pulis at WBA.

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£10m has been offered already for him, but Hull City want closer to £15m. You’d have to think that if Livermore and Snodgrass leave, Hull should almost definitely begin preparing for life in the Championship.

Bojan (26) (Stoke – Middlesbrough / WBA) Striker

When Bojan burst onto the scene at the Camp Nou in 2007, we were told he was going to be joining the likes of Messi and Ronaldinho. Did he really think 10 years later he would be choosing between staying at Stoke or joining ‘Boro?

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Did you know: Bojan made his Barca debut at 17 years and 19 days, breaking Lionel Messi’s record.

A career which promised so much at such a young age, looks likely to happen with ‘Boro, as Gaston Ramirez fancies a move to Leicester City.

And now for the crazy audacious rumours.

Christian Benteke (26) (Crystal Palace – PSG / WBA) Striker

Quite possibly the maddest of the lot. From a Premier League relegation battle to a probable Ligue 1 title. PSG are looking for a battering ram – esque striker as a back-up for Edison Cavani.  But could you really see Benteke pulling on a PSG shirt? I think he might like to mind!

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West Brom on the other hand seemed willing earlier on in the window, with the virtually non – existent Saido Berahino heading in the other direction plus cash. But that rumour seems to have run it’s course now.

Andre Gray (25) (Burnley – West Ham) Striker

With the Hammers having little success in the market so far with bids for Defoe & Hogan both rejected, and with one of their most attacking options in Payet refusing to play for the club. West Ham’s attack is looking in pieces.

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The form of the Championship’s player of the season 15-16, has lead to being linked with a host of Premier League clubs with West Ham supposedly ready to make a £15m offer to Burnley.

But you’d think the Clarets would be bonkers to let him go. With 28 in 56 games for Burnley so far, fans will be hoping he continues that great record.

Patrice Evra (35) (Juventus – Manchester United / Crystal Palace) Defender

Could the former United star be heading home? His former team mate in Rio Ferdinand hasn’t helped speculation with his posts via social media adding to the rumours.

With Luke Shaw fading into the background ever more at United, and Darmian a natural right footed player playing at Left Back, you have to think this rumour could turn into something. As we all know Evra ‘loooooves this game’ and keeps himself incredibly fit and dedicated so even if he provides cover for the rest of the season.

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Crystal Palace offer that attraction of playing Premier League football and being able to live in London, but I see United as the front runners on this one.

Let’s see what next week brings us!

Thanks for reading folks!

T

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‘The Art of Defending’

‘They like to play it out from the back’ quite possibly the most over used phrase in English football over the last 18 months or so. Free – flowing attacking football seems to be the main trend at the moment especially in the Premier League. We’ve had the seasons where counter attacking football has ruled the league and we’ve also had the seasons where a defensive approach has served teams well in the past.

But as for now it appears the late great Johan Cruyff’sTotal Football’ ideology is dominating how teams play in the PL, by that I mean managers want to fill their teams with 10 players (11* if your Bayern Munich & Manuel Neuer) who can all contribute to a team attack.

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With this said, it’s no surprise that ‘quality’ CB’s’ are at a premium. Centre Backs who can defend but can also contribute in an attacking capacity. Last summer we saw John Stones move from Everton to Manchester City for £47.5m, 2nd to David Luiz in the list of most expensive defenders in history.

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Make no bones about it, even for Manchester City and their bankrollers that’s a lot of money to spend on a player still making his way in the game. Pep’s justification? ‘He’s one of the World’s most promising Centre Backs’ with the characteristics of a ‘ball playing, 21st century defender’.

There’s that word again ‘Ball Playing’ defender, we’ve got to a point now where our beloved game is so advanced that managers want players who have multiple strings to their bows.

There seems to be an epidemic at the moment for these new ‘21st century model’ defenders, but are they really the right option? We often find that these same players slip up during games. So quick to set up an attack – it leads to poor decision making moments. Which ultimately effect the overall result.

On the other hand, we have players like Wes Morgan & Robert Huth (also known as The Human Battering Rams) who last season blew us away with some of their heroic defensive displays. Players who certainly aren’t known for their ability to ‘thread a pass through the eye of a needle’ but they certainly were effective in helping the Foxes to the league title.

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 IMO, Managers are sometimes quick to forget the fundamentals of a defender. To defend and help keep clean sheets should always be the priority. Defenders are similar to goalkeepers, if they make a mistake it will inevitably end up in a goal. (E.g. Ragnar Klavan’s air kick against Southampton in the EPL Semi Final 1st leg).

We’ve also disappointingly seen a decline in youth players coming through who are born to defend, your Jamie Carragher’s of this world.

But I suppose when there are defenders who can do things like this, why would a manager want anything else?

But anywhooo let’s look at my Top 3 Centre Backs in the PL at the moment.

Player: Virgil Van Dijk  virgil-van-dijk-741335

Club: Southampton

Age: 25

Is there a better defender in the PL?

An absolute monster for Southampton this season. When Virgil signed for Saints back in 2015, he had potential for sure, but no one could have predicted what a player he’s turned into.

He’s turning into a match winner for Southampton, and if they can keep hold of him until the summer they will have done well.

A clear replacement for the injury prone Kompany, but City will have a battle to sign him. Will take a world record transfer bid for a defender to sign him.

Player: Toby Alderweireld toby-alderweireld-463126

Club: Tottenham

Age: 27

He probably would have been my number 1, but for injuries. Makes Tottenham tick, when Dier deputised at CB earlier in the season, they weren’t the same force. His passing and reading the game is exceptional. Especially with Spurs having two aggressive full backs in Rose & Walker who are continuously bombing forward.

Spurs have arguably the best defence in the league but if they want to continue to challenge for the title they need Alderweireld fit and playing consistently. Helps that he has mate Vertoghan next to him.

Player: Cesar Azpilicueta (Dave) football-chelsea-full-back-cesar-azpilicueta_3199118

Club: Chelsea

Age: 27

Mr. Reliable for Chelsea over the years. Spent the majority of the time playing at left back, when he first arrived. For someone who’s naturally right footed that is quite the achievement. Since Conte has switched to a 3 man CB system, he’s looked at ease playing on the left side, so much so he’s keeping club legend JT on the bench.

He’s the quickest and most mobile out of Cahill & Luiz and often finds himself covering others due to great positioning. Often overlooked for praise and awards but not this time Dave.

Ta for reading folks!

Tom

Welcome to Liverhampton

Afternoon folks!

With us whizzing through January like Trump and ermm certain ladies of the night. Yep, let’s leave it at that.

We have the EFL Semi – Final Cup competition upon us. Last night saw Manchester United win 2-0 against Hull City, and even with the 2nd leg still to play at the KCOM stadium, you’d have to suggest that Manchester United fans should start sorting their travel arrangements to Wembley.

It’s a competition José knows well, being a previous winner on 3 occasions with Chelsea, but who will his United side be facing come 26th February?

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Southampton or Liverpool are the candidates; common sense would suggest Liverpool with the depth of squad at their disposal and with the 2nd leg at Anfield it should be easy going. For Saints, tonight’s Semi – Final should provide a break from the league, where Claude Puel’s side have lost 3 on the bounce. But we shall have to wait and see.

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But what I want to focus on today, is the added spice that has crept into Southampton Vs Liverpool games over the past couple of seasons.

Which of course as you know is down to The Reds let’s say ‘selective’ transfer approach of Saints players over the 3 years. I’m going to look into how those players who swapped the red of Southampton for the red of Liverpool have gotten on.

You do have to wonder if Liverpool’s chief scout Barry Hunter, has a renewable season ticket down at St. Marys, with the club forking out in excess of £95m for 5 Saint players.

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Let’s get crackin!

First up, Rickie Lambert £4m (June, 2014)  MISS

Talk to any Saints fan, and they will only speak in the highest regard of the man. From scoring goals in League 1 to scoring against City away in the Premier League, what dreams are made of for any professional footballer. He gave everything for Southampton football club, and with 117 goals in 235 games for the club – twice voted Saints player of the season.

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When news broke, that his boyhood club Liverpool had submitted an offer for his services, he was always going to go and I think the majority of SFC supporters would have wished him luck.

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Didn’t work out for him at Liverpool as he would have hoped. A season of bit part performances from the bench mainly, meant that he only lasted 1 season at Anfield before securing a move to West Brom.

Lambert’s the sorta player which gives hope to all professionals in the lower leagues that they can do it at the top level.

Adam Lallana £25m (July, 2014)  HIT

265 games for Saints between 2006 – 2014, as an academy graduate his first experience of professional football for Saints was in League 1. Was instrumental in Saints securing back to back promotions, to get back to the promised land. Made captain of the club in 2012.

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His Liverpool career took a while to take off, but this season the boy can do no wrong! So far in this PL campaign he’s scored 7 and got 7 assists. Transformed himself from a bit part player into a key player for The Reds. Willing to put the miles in for Jurgen Klopp’s high pressing side too.

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Pub Quiz Question: Who’s been named in the League 1, Championship & Premier League team of the year in consecutive years? Adam Lallana.

 

Dejan Lovren £20m (July, 2014)   MISS

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Only the one season spent at St. Marys for Lovren, signed from Lyon for £8.5m on a four-year deal. Went on to be sold to Liverpool the following summer for £20m after rumours of a transfer request. From Saint’s perspective, you’d have to say it was a wise move selling him.

Liverpool have been looking to fill the void left by the retirement of Jamie Carragher for some time now, not sure Lovren is the right man personally. 

He’s a tough tackling centre back who will always be an attacking threat from corners granted. But his decision making has to be questioned at times, Klopp will want to build the team around Joël Matip.

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Nathaniel Clyne £12.5m (July, 2015)  HIT

A solid performer for Saints and now for Liverpool. I believe the 25-year-old will be battling it out with Kyle Walker for the next couple of years for the starting RB position when it comes to England duty though.

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Always does a good job and quietly goes about his business. This season he has really impressed onthe eye though, leading the assist charts for defenders. A constant threat down the right-hand side for Liverpool, one of the Reds key players. 

Klopp will be delighted with his full back’s form this season.

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Sadio Mané £34m (June, 2016) UNDECIDED

The former Red Bull Salzburg player spent two seasons at Southampton. Unknown quantity in his first season but give Koeman his credit he clearly knew about Mané’s raw ability.

 Unbelievable acceleration and became a major part of the game plan for Southampton & a fan favourite. During his 2nd season, you could see the writing was on the wall for Sadio, after being fined for turning up late to team meetings several times throughout the season.

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It’s too soon to decide if his Liverpool career will be one which will be looked back on fondly or not, but he’s off to a great start so far. Scoring against Arsenal on the opening day of the season, and then scoring the winner in the Merseyside derby. Liverpool will be thankful that Coutinho is back playing, with Mané off for ACON duty.

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So there you have it peeps, let’s hope for two great cup legs and see who ends up on top.

 

Ta,

 

Tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer Talk: Gossip to Dead Certs

It’s the 3rd Round of the FA CUP weekend. Wahooo, What a glorious fixture in the football calendar. A time where if big teams roll in with their pumped-up egos, they will inevitably leave with their tail between their legs. Magic.

But anywho, I’m sitting waiting for Mike Dean to ruin, oops I mean run* the Tottenham Vs Villa game on the Beeb and thought it would be time to follow up my previous blog.

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If you can’t remember / haven’t read it YET/ a disgruntled Chelsea fan / I’ll catch you up to speed, I discussed the January Transfer Window and also where I think the Top 6 need to strengthen to increase their respective chances of lifting the coveted Premier League trophy.

Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the gossip flying around in the first week of the window, some might be seen as speculative dross and some could be a dead cert.

Anyway, Let’s be havin’ yaaa!

I’ll start with the ones which I can see happening:

  • Steven N’Zonzi (29) (Sevilla — Manchester City / Chelsea) (CM)

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Interesting one. When the former Blackburn & Stoke midfielder left for the sunny sights of Sevilla and La Liga, I was convinced we wouldn’t be seeing him in the Premier League again.

I think City need him more than Chelsea do at the moment. Losing the versatile Gündogan is a massive blow for City and with Yaya not being the biggest fan of defending.

Although Fernando has excelled this term I think Pep needs more defensively minded players in his squad.

Sevilla are looking for £25m for the tough tackling midfielder, which after signing him originally for only £7m looks like a bloody good deal.

  • Morgan Schneiderlin (27) (Manchester United — Everton) (CM)

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Probably not the move he wants, but the one his career needs.

Sadly for Southampton’s player of the season for 2012-13 the move to Manchester United just hasn’t worked out.

Once one of the hottest box to box midfielders on the market, but after a lack of game time under Mourinho, looks destined to go and re-join his former manager at Everton.

Schneiderlin will be hoping a move can re-ignite his international career.

Around £20m for the midfielder should seal it.

  • José Fonte (33) (Southampton — Manchester United) (CB)jose-fonte-403002

From League 1 to Europa League, Fonte has been there through thick and thin for Southampton.

But this season has lost his place in the starting line-up down at St. Marys and unable to dislodge Van Dijk & Yoshida and after handing in a transfer request last week, it’s looking more likely that Southampton will be parting company with their club captain this month.

After playing a key role in Portugal being crowned European Champions in the summer, it would appear he’s keen to link up with his Portuguese counterpart Mourinho.

On a personal note and as a Saints fan, cheers for the good times José! Anywhere from £7-£10m should see Fonte a Manchester United player come February.

  • Victor Lindelöf (22) (Benfica —- Manchester United) (CB)

After being on and off more than tube strikes, it looks like Lindelöf’s proposed move to Manchester United is now back on. Known as ‘The Iceman’ at Benfica for his confidence and composure, should help to provide stability to an ever-improving Manchester United defence.

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Has been deployed as a RB for Sweden before but better known for his ability to read the game in the heart of defence. Comparisons have been made to one Rio Ferdinand. Bodes well.

  • Memphis Depay (22) (Manchester United — Everton) (W / IF)

What has happened to Memphis? He was supposed to light up the Premier League like Ronaldo did at the start of his career at United. We all saw the free kicks he was rattling in most weeks in the Eredivisie.

Struggling to get in United’s match day squad, looking more likely that a move is needed to get his career going again. But Jose is unwilling to let Memphis leave on loan, and with Everton spending the bulk of their funds on Schneiderlin. Memphis could be looking at more time in the reserves at United.

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Long Shots

 Manolo Gabbiadini (25) (Napoli — Southampton / Stoke / Everton) (ST)

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The creative and hardworking forward is gaining the attention of managers in the Premier League with Stoke & Saints looking the most likely to bid. Saints are looking for a replacement with Charlie Austin cruelly dealt another injury blow after being in good form.

But Stoke are also looking to replace the woeful Wilfred Bony who seems more than happy to just collect his mega bucks from Man City.

William Carvalho (24) (Sporting CP — Manchester City) (DM) 

Another transfer window, and another transfer rumour involving William Carvalho.

Another defensive midfielder target like N’Zonzi, the Portuguese international would be an excellent addition to Manchester City’s squad. A consistent 1st team player for Sporting CP since 2013.

Ben Gibson (23) (Middlesbrough — Chelsea) (CB)

Gibson has been a key figure for Middlesbrough achieving a good start to life in the Premier League and has already been touted for international recognition. Been a ‘Boro boy for his entire career so far, but if Conte comes a knockin’ what would his answer be?

Conte will be looking for a long-term replacement for Cahill, and Gibson could be the answer as a mobile CB playing in a three.

Could take a deal involving up to £25-£30million to take him away from Aitor Karanka’s team.

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Jermain Defoe (34) (Sunderland —- West Ham) (ST) skysports-premier-league-football-jermain-defoe_3863145

One of the Premier League’s gems over the years, deadly from anywhere inside the box. Give him an inch at your peril. Jermain only deals in Goals. Instrumental in keeping Sunderland up last season, and even at the ripe old age of 34, still shows defenders a clean set of heels most weekends.

A move to his boyhood club West Ham would have turned his head, but while West Ham keep up this pathetic low ball transfer approach, no clubs will take them seriously.

Could do a job for any Premier League team who wants to solve a lack of goals crisis. Could see him linking up well with Rondon at West Brom but probably doesn’t want to move again at this time of his career. Unless it was back to London…

James Rodríguez (25) (Real Madrid — Manchester United) (CAM)

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Seems a rather big long shot, but doesn’t seem to be a key player in Zidane’s plans and wants to link up with former boss Mourinho. But how often do we see big money spent in January? If this is going to happen, I suspect it’ll happen in the summer.

If the Columbian did sign though, how bloody good would that be? Well, not for everyone..

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Kasper Schmeichel (30) (Leicester City — Liverpool) (GK)

Could be a really interesting one. Kasper showcased his abilities in a special season last year, and with Liverpool known for their poor goalkeepers it could happen. Liverpool are going head to head with Chelsea for the title and this would certainly be an improvement to their current squad.

Although Kasper will want to play knockout Champions League football with Leicester City later on in the season.

Kasper Dolberg (19) (Ajax — Premier League) (ST)

When comparisons start getting made between yourself and Zlatan, you know you must be doing something right.

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Kasper Dolberg, could be the next big thing. Already a full International with Denmark at the age of 19.

You might have read about him earlier his season when he scored an 18 – minute hat-trick against NEC Nijmegen.

Reports suggest he’s a very relaxed individual, so it might take a big money offer to turn his head.

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Let’s see what next week has in store for us!

Ta,

Tom

 

 

6 into 4 Doesn’t Work

Welcome / Willkommen / Bienvenido!

It’s true folks I’m back.

Apologies for the lack of content towards the back-end of 2016. Things to do, people to see etc.  You know how it goes.

But like I said I’m back, but more importantly welcome to 2017! Let’s hope it doesn’t put us through 12 rounds with AJ like 2016 did.

When Andy Williams wrote the trademark Christmas song ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ rumour has it, he was actually singing about January. Yes that’s right people, January brings us crazy spending, impulse buys and career making decisions. It is of course the January Transfer Window.

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One whole glorious month dedicated to clubs to either strengthen or save their respective season. It’s a pivotal moment in the campaign for managers, with only half a season left to avoid the ever-present fear of getting the proverbial boot. (No pun intended. Okay you saw through me, maybe a little one was intended)

With Chelsea topping the table at Christmas time, this season has a much more ‘familiar’ feel about it after Leicester City’s unexpected incredible feat last season. Make no bones about it, last season was an astonishing season, but for different reasons this season could turn out to be even more exciting (Perhaps not if you support Leicester City though!)

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The 2016-17 season could and hopefully will be remembered for being a 6-horse race, and should provide to be an exhilarating journey until the Champions get crowned in May.

Even when Chelsea have threatened to run away with the title race in recent weeks, deadly Dele struck twice for Spurs to ensure the winning streak came to an end for Conte.

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It would appear that all six, yes that’s right SIX teams have a realistic chance of lifting the trophy come May and become champions of England.

So.. Aim of this article?

I’m going to attempt to apply some of that useless irrelevant football knowledge I have, and discuss where each of these teams need to strengthen, during the January window and also try to predict the final league standings.

 Wish me luck.

Let’s start with the leaders; Chelsea  img_1183

After a rocky start to life in the Premier League, Conte has adapted superbly – Guiding his side to top of the table and 13 victories on the bounce. At this moment in time they are obviously favourites to win the league. But favourites don’t always succeed. Otherwise we’d all win our acca’s at the weekend.

Area to Strengthen:

 LWB: Marcos Alonso deserves a lot of credit for his performances this season, his ability to bomb up and down the flank and his crosses in particular have been an added bonus to Conte’s team. But Italians pride themselves on their defensive displays and defensively I’m still not sold on the Ex – Real Madrid man. Chelsea’s search to replace Ashley Cole continues.

(Did you know? Marcos Alonso only made 1 appearance for Real Madrid in 2010)

CM: This is a late addition. But after watching how the Spurs midfield controlled the game against Chelsea in midweek, and in particular how Mousa Dembélé played. It was noticeable what Chelsea were missing. The Belgium international is known for his silky dribbling and his ability to maintain possession, something IMO Chelsea need next to the destroyer known as N’Golo Kanté. There’s no argument that Chelsea have the best defensive midfielder in the league. They just need more energy in the middle of the park which Fàbregas & Matić haven’t got anymore.

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ST: With the lack of game time and the consistently great form of Diego Costa this season, it seems Michy Batshuayi’s time at Chelsea might be short-lived. It would appear that Batshuayi has fallen down the pecking order considerably under Conte, who would rather play Pedro as the lone attacking option when Costa isn’t available. But perhaps a run in the FA Cup will help Batshuayi to impress the Italian.

Prediction:  2nd    *Chelsea fans before you begin reporting me, hear me out*

I firmly believe Spurs showed a real weakness in Chelsea during the midweek game, and with having to travel to Anfield at the end of January. I can only see a victory for Liverpool with a fit again Coutinho as well.

I would highlight Kanté & Costa as key men for Chelsea, but they are also battering rams in a sense, who are likely to have to serve a suspension ban at some point before May. Could prove to be key.

But if Chelsea can get a win at Anfield, the title is heading to Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool img_1184

 It would appear Klopp likes to do things the hard way. An excellent home victory against Manchester City, followed up by giving 2 points away against Sunderland. Klopp is an Anfield favourite already and given time he will take Liverpool to the top of the league, but will it be this season?

Area to Strengthen:

 GK: What is it with Liverpool and Goalkeepers? From Calamity James to Simon Mignolet, they have all been prone to a howler or two. This title race is going to go down to the wire, and Liverpool can’t afford to give points away due to howlers. It’s a shame that Jordan Pickford got injured on Boxing Day, as I would have liked to see Liverpool put a bid in for a young talented English Goalkeeper. Or even a cheeky bid for Kasper Schmeichel wouldn’t be out of the question.

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CB: Klopp has found a solid CB in Joël Matip but troublesome ankle injuries have meant appearances have been few and far over the hectic Christmas period. But like the GK issue, Dejan Lovren has a clanger in him too and hasn’t convinced me of his defensive capabilities yet.

Prediction: 1st

I could be way off with this one, but I think it’s going to happen this year. One of the reasons is that, Liverpool’s final game against a Top 6 team is on the 18th March. That could provide to be pivotal.

It’s also like they are landing a new mega signing with the little Magician they call Philippe Coutinho back on the training pitch.

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Finally it’s Klopp just the best man motivator you could want in a title race?

Tottenham img_1185

 Poch is certainly building something at Spurs, and at White Hart Lane they are unplayable at times. Youth is certainly with Pochettino’s men, as of end of August ‘16 they had the youngest average age of all the Premier League teams. Arguably have the best defence and GK out of all the Top 6 teams.

Area to Strengthen:

ST: I would like to see a variation to Harry Kane. Kane’s a bit of an anomaly as he likes to play leading the line on his own, which has worked well with the continued great form of Dele. Moussa Dembélé at Celtic could be one way to go, I like the look of him and could provide to be a good speedy alternative to Kane.

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Prediction: 4th  

 Feel it might be a season too soon for Poch and his young team, with a tough Jan / Feb period where they have to travel to Manchester City & Liverpool. If they can get 4 points from those two games who knows though.

Manchester City img_1196

 

Not as easy as it looks ehey Pep? The Sky Blues have looked a shadow of the team who looked they were going to run away with the league before November. Pep looks flustered and frustrated on the touchline and his aging team needs some new life injected into it.

Area to Strengthen:

 Defence:

Some of the defensive capabilities of Kolarov, Otamendi etc would have given the likes of Jamie Carragher nightmares. With the consistently injured Kompany edging ever closer to early retirement, it would appear Pep needs to invest and spend big. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Virgil Van Dijk at City next season.

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GK: Bring Hart back. Simple.

CM: Gündogan is an exciting player but another one who’s struggling with injuries, Yaya isn’t the same player as a few seasons ago and lacks the desire to get back and defend these days.

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Prediction: 3rd

City have an opportunity to drag themselves back into this title race with Spurs, Manchester United & Liverpool all having to come to The Ethihad before April. But saying that they then have to travel to London and play Arsenal and Chelsea less than a week apart. I can already hear Pep moaning about that one..

Manchester United img_1199

Stuttering start, but looking a lot more consistent these days. The likes of Pogba & Zlatan are beginning to show why they are held in such high regard by the Old Trafford crowd. Jones & Rojo in the heart of defence isn’t a long-term fix but it seems to be working right now.

Area to Strengthen:

CM: United’s main aim should be finding a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick (35), his defensive displays in midfield have allowed Pogba to shine and take the headlines.

Prediction: 5th

 Jose is building. Next season will be the real test for his Red Devils.

Arsenal: arsenal_fc-svg

What can you say about Arsenal and Wenger which hasn’t already been said? Cazorla and Coquelin out for months with injuries, Sanchez disgruntled. What does Wenger do? Signs a Non – League player of course.

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Premier League

Area to Strengthen:

CM: Xhaka hasn’t worked at all, with consistently clumsy challenges putting Arsenal under unnecessary pressure and Francis Coquelin injured yet again, it’s time to look elsewhere.

 Prediction: 6th

My maths has never been my strong point, but even I know that 6 doesn’t go into 4. Someone’s going to miss out and for me Arsenal are looking the most likely to miss out. Perhaps that will help the board make a decision on Wenger’s future. With visits to Chelsea, Liverpool and a North London derby to come it doesn’t look promising for Arsenal.

So there we have it folks, you might agree you might not. Either way we are in for a treat up until May, let’s see what unfolds.

As always thanks for reading,

Ta Tom