The Premier League Positional Top 5.

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This is going to be a pretty simple list where I will name the players who I believe are at the top 5 of each position in the Premier League.  This is a list of the elite players at each position.

 

Goalkeeper

  1. David De Gea     (Man Utd)
  2. Asmir Begovic     (Stoke)
  3. Hugo Lloris     (Spurs)
  4. Petr Cech     (Chelsea)
  5. Michel Vorm     (Swansea)

I think that De Gea is not only the best keeper in the league; I also think that he has them most upside of any keeper in the league.  If you consider that De Gea is only 22 and the next oldest on this list is 26 (Begovic & Lloris), you wonder how good he may get.  The major omission on this list is Joe Hart, and that is because he hasn’t played at an elite level for well over a year.

 

Right Back

  1. Rafael     (Man Utd)
  2. Pablo Zabaleta     (Man City)
  3. Branislav Ivanovic     (Chelsea)
  4. Glen Johnson     (Liverpool)
  5. Seamus Coleman     (Everton)

A close contest between the top 3, but I think that Rafael edges it because of his superior attacking skills (he also has more upside that the other two as well).  Ivanovic (who is really a centre back) and Zabaleta are both better defenders than Rafael but for me if I were to pick a team right now I would have Rafael in there first.

 

Left Back

  1. Leighton Baines     (Everton)
  2. Jose Enrique     (Liverpool)
  3. Patrice Evra     (Man Utd)
  4. Ashley Cole     (Chelsea)
  5. Luke Shaw     (Southampton)

Baines is easily the best left back in the league.  There isn’t a massive gap between the next three but Cole (one of the most overrated players in the league) is the worst of them.  Luke Shaw gets the fifth spot because he is a top prospect and there isn’t another stand out left back in the league, Ben Davies at Swansea would’ve been another option.

 

Centre Back

  1. Vincent Kompany     (Man City)
  2. Nemanja Vidic     (Man Utd)
  3. Younes Kaboul     (Spurs)
  4. Rio Ferdinand     (Man Utd)
  5. Jan Vertonghen     (Spurs)

Oddly enough the five top centre backs in the league have all recently been injury prone.  Kompany and Vidic are the two best in the league, with Kompany edging it because he has been fitter recently.  If you had told me that Rio Ferdinand would be on this list two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you but his play over the past year has been vastly improved.  Mamadou Sakho would be my man to watch for the future that got edged out because he hasn’t actually played a game yet.

 

Right Midfield

  1. Jesus Navas     (Man City)
  2. Theo Walcott     (Arsenal)
  3. Kevin Mirallas     (Everton)
  4. Antonio Valencia     (Man Utd)
  5. Victor Moses     (Liverpool)

Wow there is a distinct lack of right midfielders/wingers in the Premier League.  I was scraping the bottom of the barrel here, with players like Valencia getting in because there wasn’t much else to offer.  I wouldn’t say that any of these players were elite on the world stage, which really tells you that the Premier League is seriously lacking in quality.

 

Left Midfield

  1. Andre Schurlle     (Chelsea)
  2. Hatem Ben Arfa     (Newcastle)
  3. Ashley Young     (Man Utd)
  4. Willian     (Chelsea)
  5. Pablo Hernandez     (Swansea)

Basically the exact same as right midfield, a distinct lack of actual quality.  It says a lot when three out of five of these guys didn’t even play in the league last year, which says a lot.  Bring back Bale!

 

Defensive Midfield

  1. Yaya Toure     (Man City)
  2. Sandro     (Spurs)
  3. Morgan Schneiderlin     (Southampton)
  4. Leroy Fer     (Norwich)
  5. Victor Wanyama     (Southampton)

At the top end of the game there does seem to be a lack of holding midfielders, with many teams either not utilising one, or using a player that doesn’t actually fit the position.  Southampton have two excellent young defensive midfielders, both of whom have bright futures in my opinion, as does Fer.

 

Central Midfield

  1. Michael Carrick     (Man Utd)
  2. Marouane Fellaini     (Man Utd)
  3. Paulinho     (Spurs)
  4. Ramires     (Chelsea)
  5. Jack Wilshere     (Arsenal)

Odd to think that Utd have the two best central midfielders in the league, yet they don’t have a great central midfield.  To be fair Fellaini hasn’t really played yet, and the drop off to the next central midfielder would be quite large.  Unlike the defensive midfielders, the central midfield is dominated by players from top teams.

 

Attacking Midfield

  1. Juan Mata     (Chelsea)
  2. David Silva     (Man City)
  3. Mesut Ozil     (Arsenal)
  4. Santi Cazorla     (Arsenal)
  5. Eden Hazard     (Chelsea)

Both Arsenal and Chelsea have two top attacking midfielders (Chelsea have more than two), and you can see the quality of attacking midfielders in the Premier League when guys like Kagawa (play da man!), Eriksen, Oscar and Coutinho can’t get on the list.

 

Striker

  1. Robin van Persie     (Man Utd)
  2. Sergio Aguero     (Man City)
  3. Luis Suarez     (Liverpool)
  4. Wayne Rooney     (Man Utd)
  5. Christian Benteke     (Villa)

RVP is by far the class of the strikers in the Premier League, the next three are also quality strikers and Benteke is one of the brightest young talents in world football (where are all these Belgian’s coming from!).

 

Overall

Overall there were 11 Man Utd players, 6 Man City players, 8 Chelsea players, 4 Arsenal players, 5 Spurs players, 4 Liverpool players, 3 Everton players, 3 Southampton players, 2 Swansea players, 1 Newcastle player, 1 Villa player, 1 Stoke player & 1 Norwich player.

Based on those figures you wouldn’t be discarded for thinking that Man Utd has by far the best squad in the Premier League, however it is probably because Utd are stacked at certain positions (multiple players in top 5) and also because of the lack of quality wide men in the league (allowing Young and Valencia to push up numbers, despite not being that great).  The other numbers aren’t overly shockingly high or low for what you would expect from each team (maybe City could’ve been higher but that’s about it).

One of the things that became blatantly clear to me whilst picking the top 5 players at each position was the distinct lack of good wide players in the Premier League.  It is odd because if you were to describe the style of play of English football, you would talk about high paced counter attacking wide play, yet it seems like the Premier League has moved into a more attacking midfielder based league, surely concerning for an England national side that has lost its identity and doesn’t know what way to turn.

There were only 10 English players in the entire list (three of whom were left backs, and one of whom is retired).  In comparison there were 7 Spaniard’s, 5 French, 6 Belgian’s & 4 Brazilian’s, if you consider further that these nationalities have players playing all across Europe it becomes even more stark for England who’s players only play in England.  There is clearly a lack of quality English players playing at the current moment, and only two made it to the top of their positional rankings (ironically neither starts for the international team…..go figure).

 

Premier League Best 11

GK-  David De Gea

RB-  Rafael

LB-  Leighton Baines

CB-  Vincent Kompany

CB-  Nemanja Vidic

RM-  Jesus Navas

LM-  Andre Schurlle

CDM-  Yaya Toure

CM-  Michael Carrick

CAM-  Juan Mata

ST-  Robin van Persie

If you’re counting that’s 5 Utd players, 3 City players, 2 Chelsea players & 1 Everton player.  Maybe you disagree with the team (I imagine many will) but if I were to pick my perfect Premier League starting 11 this would be it.

For fun here’s a bench:

Subs-  Asmir Begovic, Branislav Ivanovic, Theo Walcott, Marouane Fellaini, Paulinho, David Silva & Sergio Aguero.

 

So there you have it the Premier League Positional Top 5, what did you think?  Did you love it and couldn’t have written a better list yourself?  Or more likely did you hate it and will send me hate comments about how I hate every single team in the league and how dare I leave John Terry out?  Either way leave a comment and send your love!  Also like bm23reviews on Facebook and follow bm23reviews on Twitter.

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Is Sebastian Vettel Bad for Formula 1?

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The picture that so many Formula 1 fans have become accustomed to seeing through the years happened again this weekend at Monza; Sebastian Vettel from pole position lead the entire race (excluding a few laps where Fernando Alonso was out of synch with pit stops) and never looked like losing in any way at all.  It is becoming a pattern that most fans will recognise, and many fans will despise.  Vettel going from pole to the top step of the podium is not a new pattern for Sebastian Vettel; Monza was the 22nd occurrence of this happening in his fairly short career.  However there is a new pattern emerging for Sebastian Vettel (especially in Europe), one where he finds himself on the podium and is royally booed by the attending crowd, much to his own dismay.

Why are so many people starting to turn against Vettel?  You could comment that he was booed at Monza because he beat Alonso in the Ferrari, however why then was he booed at Spa, Silverstone, Canada and Australia?  The booing of Sebastian Vettel is one of those things that cannot be ignored or dismissed with a simple explanation like this; there are greater issues at the heart of the Sebastian Vettel hate that is going around Formula 1 at the current moment.

First off let me say that Sebastian Vettel is one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers ever (three world championships, with a fourth pending), and I know that a lot of people will vehemently disagree with this but at the age of 26, Vettel is already the (tied) fourth highest most winning Formula 1 driver ever.  I do think these numbers should be taken into context, because Vettel has spent the majority of his career (the past five seasons) in a car that is the best on the grid, obviously there are more races now than there was in the 60’s, reliability it at an all-time high and the chances of fatality are at an all-time low, essentially Vettel is driving in a time that allows him to set these incredible feats.  However the best comparison to Vettel is Lewis Hamilton, because both started around the same time and both have mainly raced in a top car (Hamilton with a couple seasons in a top car more than Vettel), and Vettel has ten more wins.  People say that Vettel can only win from the front and can’t overtake, although this is clearly not true because Vettel has won ten races after not being on pole, and at Toro Rosso (as well as at Red Bull) he showed he is excellent at overtaking.  Is Vettel brilliant at taking the lead and holding onto it for an entire race?  Yes, he is clearly the best at it on the grid but that doesn’t mean the man can’t overtake, because he can.

The easiest comparison that somebody could create for Sebastian Vettel is Michael Schumacher.  Not only are they both German, they both upset Formula 1 fans, they are both perennial winners and they both drove in the best cars on the grid.  In many ways the comparison seems lazy, but Vettel will openly tell you that he emulates Schumacher and that he is his hero.  When Vettel wins he jumps onto the top step ala Schumacher, Vettel has had some (let’s say) questionable incidents ala Schumacher and Vettel dominates his opposition ala Schumacher.  There are serious comparisons between the two, almost to the extent that Vettel is the second coming of Schumacher.

Sport is about competition, it is about unpredictability and it is about excitement.  When one person dominates a sport, it makes it less entertaining and people are more likely to tune out than in.  Would people watch the Premier League if a team won every single game they played?  No, they wouldn’t.  I’m not saying that Vettel wins every single race, but only once this season (British GP, retirement) has Vettel finished outside of fourth, and only once has he qualified lower than third (9th at Chinese GP); hardly exciting nail biting stuff.  It is to Vettel’s credit that he is very consistent but people want to watch the front runners battle it out for first, not the middle pack battling it out for tenth, and when Vettel leads this doesn’t happen.  Monza was a great example of how boring Formula 1 can be, at no point did it look like Vettel wouldn’t win, and the battles for positions up to sixth were a total non-event.  Formula 1 has been a bit like this in all of Vettel’s championship winning seasons (2011 being by far the worst) and 2013 feels like just another version of this in the Sebastian Vettel book of winning world championships.  So is it the way the Vettel consistently wins that makes people boo him?  I honestly don’t think it helps him, but I don’t think it is the root of the problem.  It is frustrating though to sit down and watch a sport only for the same result to happen at the end of the season, it isn’t Vettel’s fault (because why shouldn’t he try and win every year) but for the viewer it is not what you want to see.

I don’t think that his perceived boring driving style or his domination of the sport over the past four years help Sebastian Vettel in people’s minds, but I also don’t think that they are enough for people to boo him.  In my opinion the reason Vettel jumps from disliked to booed is his treatment of the drivers around him and his general arrogance.  There is no doubt that Vettel thinks that he is the best driver on the grid (which is highly questionable) and I am sure that this rubs a lot of people up the wrong way.  When Vettel throws up his one finger salute, you can almost hear the entire Formula 1 audience cringe.  Even the drivers have made derogatory comments about the Vettel salute (in particular Jenson Button).

It is however Vettel’s disregard for his fellow drivers that makes people hate Sebastian Vettel.  There are two examples that best exemplify this to me, and they both include Vettel’s fellow Red Bull teammate Mark Webber (the man who has been most at the brunt of Vettel’s selfishness).  The first example of this was in Turkey in 2010 when both Webber and Vettel were battling for the World Championship.  Webber was just in front of Vettel (and a number of others) in a tight race, where the team told both drivers to not do anything stupid.  Vettel obliged by attempting to overtake Webber, getting half his car in front before inexplicably turning into Webber’s car and causing the two of them to crash (forcing Vettel to retire).  Not only did it cost Webber the race (finished 3rd) but it was more Vettel’s reaction after the race where he thoroughly blamed Webber for an incident that was clearly his fault.  However the greatest moment of them all, the moment where it became apparent that Sebastian Vettel was a total dick and only cared about number one (also the very moment that I myself began to dislike him) was this year (2013) in Malaysia.  With Webber in first after a nice race and Vettel sitting in second, Red Bull told both drivers to turn their engines down and stay in formation.  Webber obliged because he is a good team man, whereas Vettel decided that he was above the team orders and with total disregard for his teammate forcefully passed him despite being told over the radio that he had to stop doing what he was doing.  It is made even worse when you consider that Mercedes forced Nico Rosberg to sit behind Lewis Hamilton despite being faster, for the entire race, showing not all Germans don’t listen to team commands.  Surely after the race Red Bull would punish Vettel, however not unsurprisingly nothing happened.  It is at this very moment that I think the Formula 1 universe turned against Sebastian Vettel, and it is the reason that so many people are now booing him.

For all the people that say that Vettel is the superior driver to Webber, don’t forget that Vettel gets all the upgrades before Webber, he gets the preferential treatment from the team and he gets preferential treatment in regards to race day tactics.  I’m not saying that Vettel isn’t the better driver, because he is but the gap isn’t as big as the point’s differential would show because of the reasons above.  If you watched the pre-podium footage at Monza you can clearly see how strained (being nice) the relationship between Webber and Vettel is.  Webber deliberately stood with his back towards Vettel, excluding him from the conversation he was having with Alonso.  This is Mark Webber, one of the nicest guys in Formula 1, yet Vettel has pushed him so far that he is blatantly excluding him from a conversation.

Monza was just the first of many, and you have to wonder how he is going to be received outside of Europe where it is more likely he will receive generous welcomes.  However the question of the post was is Sebastian Vettel bad for Formula 1?  I have to say yes, because of his arrogance, his unsportsmanlike conduct and his domination for the sport.  The first two are just part of his personality and will likely never change, and in many ways sport is at its best when there is someone that you can root against.  It is however his (and Red Bull’s) dominance that is ruining Formula 1.  It isn’t fun tuning in to watch the same man win a race or win a championship every time, for a sport to be great it needs parity, and currently Formula 1 doesn’t have parity.  Things don’t look like they are getting better either with Mark Webber retiring (most likely because of how he has been treated throughout by Red Bull in regards to Vettel) and is being replaced by the fairly inexperienced Daniel Ricciardo (who will very much play second fiddle to Vettel).  Teams likes Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are going to have to step it up because it seems just now that Red Bull are well ahead of each team when it comes to developing a car that can win a championship.  I am certain that Vettel will win his fourth Formula 1 World Championship this season, but for the good of Formula win he can’t win a fifth one in 2014.

 

What do you think of Sebastian Vettel?  Do you disagree that he is bad for Formula 1?  How do you think the rest of the season will go, and do you think someone could catch him?  Let me know and leave a comment.  Also you can like BM23reviews Facebook page or follow BM23reviews on Twitter by clicking on the links.  Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on Scotland vs Belgium.

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I wouldn’t usually write about an individual game and especially about one that quite frankly was meaningless to Scotland (other than pride we always have our pride).  However I was at the game and thought that I would share my thoughts on how the game went and the experience in general.

  • Useless SFA
    • I had no intentions on going to this game because I was working, however I got the night off and thought it would be nice to go and see the resurgent Scotland take on a glamorous Belgian side, so I only bought my ticket on Thursday and had to collect it at the stadium.  Now anyone who did the same as I did (which based on the queue was many) will know what a disgrace this was.  I showed up at 7.15 p.m. (45 minutes prior to kick-off) naturally thinking that how long can it take to pick up a ticket?  However I soon found out that apparently it takes forever.  It is bad enough having to stand in a line that runs for about 500 yards (and that’s when I joined it, and there were many behind me) but then imagine standing in it for 1 hour and 10 minutes as it rains the entire time, not what I’d call an enjoyable experience.  Now the arithmetic savvy of you will have also noticed that I showed up 45 minutes before kick-off, yet was in the line for 1h 10 minutes, so yes I missed the first 25 minutes of the game, not really ideal after you have paid £35 for a ticket.  It’s frustrating in so many ways because one of the best parts of going to a home international match is the pre-match atmosphere and anthems, because it doesn’t matter how you play afterwards it is still enjoyable, naturally I got to hear Flower of Scotland from outside the stadium, not quite the same experience.  So finally I get up to the portacabin (along with a number of angry and frustrated fans) to see that there were more people outside directing the line of spectator than there was in the actual portacabin giving out tickets.  Now I have sympathies for those in the portacabin because it isn’t their fault, but the SFA must have known how many people would be collecting tickets, yet they still managed to allow around 5000+ people miss the start of the game (to the extent I would wonder if those at the very back of the line would have seen the first half at all).  So I am sure you can imagine my general displeasure after finally receiving my ticket and hurdling some horse shit as I rushed to my gate cold, wet and late, despite leaving plenty of time.  Disgraceful from the SFA, showing a total lack of respect to their loyal fans.
    • As a side note, some wee fanny jumped the line by offering some guys a few places in front of me a fiver (they rejected the money but let him skip anyway, idiots).  So again you are annoyed by this and then you hear this absolute dick’s amazing story about how he battled the police after he was caught pissing in the street and handed a £30 on the spot fine.  He was an intelligent man and said ‘bit whit if a doan’t pay it the noo?’, the police told him it was a £60 fine, but this intelligent man of the Glasgow area then said ‘bit whit if a doan’t pay that, whit ya gonna dae?’ and the police told him we’ll put you in jail (which I’m sure he’s used to).  In the end our brave hero decided that paying the £30 fine was in his best interests, but sadly not in the best interests of the people of Scotland.  It turns out that the very intelligent young man hadn’t actually bought a ticket yet and was in the wrong line……so he and his equally dim-witted friend shuffled off to the correct line that had nobody at it at all.  You can only wonder how long he had stood in the line before he figured this out, I imagine pretty long.  The future of Scotland looking bright once again….
  • The match
    • I thought we played pretty well, but not great (similar to against England).  Belgium is clearly a better side than us and after they went up 1-0 they very much controlled the game and we never looked like getting back into it.
    • The first half (or what I saw of it) was better than the second half, where both teams seemed to be rather lethargic at times.
    • I thought that Marshall, Brown, Mulgrew and Anya (when he came on) were the bright sparks for Scotland.  Whereas Maloney, Griffiths, Snodgrass, Whittaker, Hanley and Forrest were all very poor.
    • For Belgium I thought defensively they were solid, Fellaini and Witsel dominated the midfield and Mirallas was almost unplayable once he came on.  Was very disappointed with Benteke and de Bruyne’s performances.
    • 2-0 was a fair result (Belgium never looked under pressure and were always in control), although 1-0 would probably have been a bit fairer after a gutsy performance from Scotland.
  • Frustrations
    • We managed to get good width throughout the game, yet were never able to put in a good ball because there was nobody in the middle to play it to.  Griffiths cannot play as the lone striker in this system, and we showed how much we missed Steven Fletcher tonight.
    • How many times did Scotland players get into positions to cross first time yet cut back or took a touch too many?  Too often.  The same could be said about the play in the middle of the pitch, where we were often taking to many touches rather than just having a pop from outside the box.
    • Someone needs to tell the fullbacks that they shouldn’t be diving into tackles and missing; I don’t know how many times Chadli and de Bruyne got past Whittaker and Hutton, and when Mirallas came on he gutted Whittaker at least three times.  Hanley also needs to stop diving in and missing tackles, very much at fault for their second goal.
  • Lack of goals
    • It is really concerning that of the players that are still eligible for Scotland; Darren Fletcher is the top scorer with 5 goals.  Fletcher is long term injured and who knows if he will ever play again (hopefully he will).  In that case our highest scorer is Jordan Rhodes and James Morrison, both of whom have 3 goals apiece.  3 goals, is not good for your top scorer in your squad.  This game was a good example of Scotland’s blatant lack of goals throughout the squad, and it is a major concern going forward.
  • Scotland’s progress
    • It is incredible the difference between Scotland under Strachan and Scotland under Levein.  We have just had three matches in a row where we have beaten Croatia away, just been beaten by England away and then beaten in a good contest against in my opinion the third best team in Europe.  The squad seems to have a lot of confidence which I would attribute to Strachan, and are now beginning to put in very respectable performances against top teams.  We are heading in the right direction, and the future under Strachan is looking really bright.
  • Tartan Army
    • A really good attendance considering that this was essentially a meaningless fixture for Scotland, good to see the people are still showing up and supporting the team.
  • Belgian Support
    • The Belgian support was raucous throughout the match and really seems to be enjoying this golden era of Belgian football (rightly so).
    • There were also a large number of Belgian fans in the Scotland end, to the extent that at times I was wondering if I was in the right section.
    • Apparently there were 7000 fans that made the trip from Belgium, but it felt like more.
    • Excellent away crowd that really added to the atmosphere of the match.
  • Fanny’s in the crowd
    • Why do people think it is funny to shout stupid things out during a football match?  It isn’t funny, it is just really annoying.  You know when you can hear his mates telling him to shut up, that he is a total fud.

 

Overall I enjoyed my night; I got soaked before the game and missed the start, enjoyed the game despite the result because I thought Scotland put in a respectable performance and then got soaked again after the game, typical Scotland.  I think the future looks bright for Euro 2016, but we still need the wins to get a better seeding and the first step towards that is a win against Macedonia on Tuesday, here’s hoping.

As far as Belgium are concerned, I think they have a bright future ahead of them and could have a real outside chance of winning the World Cup in Brazil.  I think they are the third best team in Europe just now (behind Germany and Spain), which is a real achievement for a country of Belgium’s size and should be something the Scotland should be trying to emulate for the future.  You know you have a good squad when your subs are a starter at Spurs, a starter at Everton and a starter at Hannover.  You also know that you have a good squad when you lose arguably your two best players (Kompany and Hazard, plus Vermaelen) and you barely miss a beat.  The only thing holding Belgium back is inexperience, and personally I’d love to see them lift the World Cup, although I doubt it will happen.

 

Leave a comment on what you thought of the game and whether you think that Scotland are on an upward swing that will finally see us qualify for our first tournament since France 1998.  Thanks for reading.

The NFL Season Preview

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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!?!?!?  Yes it is finally here, no longer do we need to sit and wonder about training camp battles, who our team is going to draft or wonder what the point of pre-season is, no business is about to start and it’s about to get nasty.

2012 was the season of the inexperienced young quarterback, as names like Wilson, Kaepernick and Griffin took the league by storm on their way to the playoffs.  However in the end it was won by team of old duffers called the Baltimore Ravens, go figure.

Anyway, because of the way the NFL operates nothing really stands still, and the rosters that battled it out over last season are not recognisable to what we seen last year.  With trades, the draft and good ol’ free agency every team will line up with new stars that are looking to make a positive impact on this year’s NFL.  So let’s get it going.

 

AFC East

New England Patriots

The Patriots had a bad off-season when their once enviable tight end duo was split up for differing reasons.  Firstly Aaron Hernandez was jailed (yet to be convicted although highly likely) on murder charges, and then possibly the best tight end in the league Rob Gronkowski cannot stay fit (four on his left forearm, among others) and you have to wonder if he will ever become the dominant force he once was (which is the Patriots fault for rushing him back too often when he wasn’t fully fit, short term thinking that will hurt the player and the team in the long term).

Honestly if it weren’t for the fact that I know better, I would be predicting that the Pats are going to have a bad season, they have an average (at best) defence, no players to catch passes (lost Welker) and have questions over their offensive live.  However they do have some pretty boy called Tom Brady and some ugly guy called Bill Belichick, who are both pretty damn good.  It also helps the Pats that they just happen to play in the weakest division in football.  Pretty much the Pats will once again win the AFC East, unless something unseen happens like Brady out for the season in week 1, although it is very unlikely (Brady don’t take no hits!)

Record prediction:  11-5 —–playoffs

 

Miami Dolphins

I think the Dolphins may be one of the most over rated teams in the NFL, because not only is Tannehill a sophomore QB that has shown glimpses but nothing truly special, but they also don’t have any skill position players.  Who is going to catch the ball?  Who is going to run the ball?  Exactly nobody, Mike Wallace has major questions over whether he is actually a good receiver or was just in a perfect fit system, behind him is absolutely no one (Hartline? Seriously?).  They signed Keller from the Jets, who could have been a really nice pick-up and flourished under the system, but he is out for the season and the Dolphins don’t have any other tight ends to speak of.  The running back situation is even worse with no established name on the roster at all, to the extent that of the four RB’s none of them has rushed for 1000 yards in their career never mind in a season.  So nobody to run the ball, and nobody to catch the ball, with an inexperienced QB….sounds like a long season.

‘Yea but their defence is gnarly!’  Is it?  Look at the roster and it really isn’t.  They have a very strong D-line and the addition of Ellerbe to the linebacking core is a nice pick up, but they have a paper thin defensive backfield.  When your best D-back is Brent Grimes (who can’t stay fit for a full season) you have to start worrying about whether you are realistically going to be able to defend the pass.  This is a team that will play Tom Brady twice this season, and I imagine in both games they will be ripped for big numbers.  If you also look at their schedule it is pretty rough as well, I think they are really going to struggle this year.

Record prediction:  5-11

 

New York Jets

The Jets have a lot of young potential talent on their books; the problem is more that they don’t have many players who are currently playing at their peak.  After last years (and the one before) debacle, the Jets have stripped out a lot of their old players and have decided that youth is the future (who knew).

When you look at the Jets you know they are going to have a good defence; Rex Ryan is a defensive genius and will make even an average roster better with his scheming.  Now Ryan is taking over the defensive play-calling for the first time in two years, so expect the Jets defence to improve dramatically.  The Jets are going to have one of the best and youngest D-Lines in the league and also possess one of the best cornerback corps in the league.  The biggest issue for the Jets defensively is that they lack competent safety starters, with only Dawan Landry having previous extensive starting experience.  The linebacking corps also aren’t the best and once the surface is scratched there isn’t much behind.  However I imagine that Ryan will be able to scheme out of this dilemma because he is an excellent defensive coach.

The Jets have major problems with their offence; they have two new starters in their offensive line (both at guard); there is no established running back (nobody with a 1000 yard season), questions at tight end (can Winslow stay fit?  Is Cumberland good enough?), without Santonio Homes (who has his own questions) the Jets have a very inexperienced WR corps and there is something I’m missing…..oh yeah have you seen their quarterbacks?   Geno Smith is not ready to start, but is being forced into because of the injury to Mark Sanchez, and the team will go as Geno goes.  The Jets have a fairly easy schedule and if they resonate the Colts of 2012, then they have a chance of playoffs (highly unlikely) but it’s more likely they will follow in the footsteps of the Jaguars (in any season, pick your favourite).

Record prediction: 6-10

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are worse than both the Jets and the Dolphins; quite frankly they suck and are going to have a bad season.  They are going to have an even worse season because EJ Manuel is starting and he isn’t anywhere near NFL ready, it is going to be worse than a train wreck, mixed with a car wreck which hit a puppy sanctuary; essentially it is going to be pretty bad.

Record prediction: 3-13

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

I know I’m going to upset a lot of Ravens fans by writing this but you aren’t making the playoffs this season.  It seems odd because after all they just won the Super Bowl, but that team was at its maximum and can’t go much further than it did there; if you then add to that the fact that the Ravens have lost a number of key players from that team (Ellerbe, Lewis, and Boldin) it isn’t looking good.

Joe Flacco is possibly the most over rated QB in the league, he is paid like he is elite and is talked about like he is elite, but in no way is this man elite.  Yes he played well in the playoffs and yes the Ravens needed to resign him but he got paid way too much all because there is a lack of quality QB’s in the league and Flacco’s agent had them by the scrotum.  When you waste so much money on an average player, the whole team suffers and this is what has happened to the Ravens.

Record prediction: 7-9

 

Cincinnati Bengals

I really like the Bengals and think they could be outsiders for the Super Bowl, but I do mean outsiders.  I like what I see in Andy Dalton, it also helps that he is throwing the ball to AJ Green (my pick for top receiving yards) but also when you have a really strong tight end corps.  I think we will see the Bengals put up some big scores as they get pass happy and will be an exciting team to watch this year.

If having a good defence wasn’t enough to wet you appetite, then how about an under rated defence?  Well the Bengals have one of those with an excellent D-line and in my opinion the best D-backs in the league.  There are depth issues at linebacker but their starters are very solid and there isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have any depth issues at every position.

Record prediction: 11-5———playoffs

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Much like the Ravens, I think the Steelers are going to have a tough year.  Obviously Big Ben will always give them a chance to win, but who is going to catch the ball?  The receiving corps are paper thin (Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown are your 1-2, not a good sign) and the tight ends are lacking a quality pass catcher (Miller is past his best).  It doesn’t look good at RB either and the Steelers will be hoping that one of their RB by committee will step up and take the reins.  It isn’t helped further by an O-line that has some talent (Pouncey, De Castro) but has a lot of holes that are worrying.

Defensively it is a bad sign for the Steelers as well, with very few of the players being reliable.  On paper the Steelers have a good group of players on defence, but in reality this is an old group that is beginning to creak and crack.  Too many of the Steelers stars on D are past their best (Polamalu, Woodley, Foote, Timmons, Clark, Gay, Taylor) and a slow defence is a bad defence.  A young fast team could rip this group to shreds, and really they are going to need a defensive masterpiece (which Dick LeBeau is more than capable of) to not have a bad season.  One thing the Steelers have got going for them is a softish schedule and this is an experienced group, so could play above the quality of their roster.

Record prediction: 9-7——playoffs

 

Cleveland Browns

I can hardly remember the last time the Browns were actually good (Derek Anderson/Kellen Winslow/Braylon Edwards year, so very long ago), and this year is going to be no different.  The Browns just suck, simple as that.  They have a good linebacking corps and Trent Richardson may show flashes of why he was drafted so highly but beyond that it is another bad season for the Browns.

Record prediction: 2-14

 

AFC South

Houston Texans

The Texans have become one of those teams that make the playoffs every year and are expected to do so every year as well.  I think the Texans are a good team, and have a number of star players like Watt, Foster, Johnson and Cushing (to name a few), but the Texans do have an aging roster, and with aging rosters come a greater chance of injuries.  The age of the roster is my biggest concern about the Texans, because I don’t have a doubt they will make the playoffs but I think when it comes to the business end of the season I think that they will be too gassed to really make a major impact.

Record prediction: 11-5——-playoffs

 

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are a young team which surprised many (myself included) when they made the playoffs last year with such an inexperienced starting unit.  When you break the Colts offence down into individual talent, there isn’t really that much there; it is a group of has beens and never weres.  The one exception in this list is Andrew Luck, and to be honest the Colts will go as he goes; if he builds on his excellent rookie season then this is a play-off team, if he has the dreaded sophomore slump then a losing record could be on the cards.  There isn’t that much of a running game and the receivers aren’t that much better either; although last season despite the lack of an outstanding running game the Colts still played very well.  The biggest question for the Colts offence is whether Reggie Wayne will be able to replicate last season’s form (after looking done the year prior) and whether the team will be able to get the most out of their young receivers (especially Heyward-Bey).

The defence is another greater than the sum of its parts and really has no star player on the list (players like Mathis are well past their best).  You don’t look at the Colts defence and say ‘whoa watch out for this guy’; it isn’t really built in that manner.  However when you are in a tight game, sometimes you need that star player that will step up and make the big play that changes or wins the game, and I don’t think the Colts have that.

Record prediction: 9-7——-playoffs

 

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are a weird team, when you look at their talent positionally; they are actually quite a talented group of players.  They have an excellent O-line (Roos, Stewart, Levitre, and Warmack), they have experienced and proven depth in the backfield (Greene, Chris Johnson) and their receiving corps isn’t too shabby either (Walker [TE], Britt, Washington).  There is one major problem, and something that the Titans are seriously missing on offence, and no it isn’t that CJ2K hasn’t been the same since his 2000 yard season (which is very true) but rather their QB situation is a total mess.  When your options at QB are Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick (the same guy that wasn’t good enough for the Bills, THE BILLS!), you know you are going to struggle to throw the ball.  You can have all the talent in the world, but if you can’t get them the ball then it is a waste of time (look at Larry Fitzgerald), that is how I see the Titans offence, a good offence on paper with a bad QB, and in the NFL that gets you nowhere.

Record prediction: 4-12

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

The worst team in the league by quite a distance, the Jaguars know that they are in a rebuilding mode after being taken over recently by Shahid Khan.  The Jags are a total mess; they don’t have a QB and the defence is average at best.  They do have bright sparks in MJD (but who knows if his body or mind will be in the right place this season), Cecil Shorts (concussion problems), Mercedes Lewis and a good O-line, but if nobody can get the ball to the skill players then it doesn’t matter.  The Jags are heading for the first pick in the draft, and more worryingly could be heading for a 0-16 season.  It will be interesting to see how long it is until the Jags begin plans to move to London (which I assume will happen eventually), the owner Shahid Khan buying Fulham FC (a London team) sent out further signs that he may have serious interest in creating the first Atlantic based NFL team.  Let’s be honest Jacksonville shouldn’t have a team in the first place, when cities like LA don’t have one.

Record prediction: 1-15

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos

It is pretty simple when it comes to the Denver Broncos; they have a high scoring offence and a low conceding defence, so not too shabby then.  If there is one concern about the Broncos, it would be the health of Peyton Manning.  Even the most adamant of Peyton fans surely would agree that towards the end of the season and in the playoffs Peyton had lost some zip off of his passes and definitely had tired from what he saw from the start of the season.  It is harsh because Peyton had just come off of major surgeries on his neck and hadn’t played competitive football in almost two years.  This can only be two things; he was a little rusty and lacked game fitness which if this is the case he should be better this season, or he is getting old and is no longer the Peyton Manning of a few years ago which would be seriously concerning for the Broncos if they have the goal of winning the Super Bowl (and why wouldn’t they?)  The Broncos will be in the playoffs because they have a weak division and they are a good team but one has to question if they can be a force in the playoffs.  Currently there are still question marks.

Record prediction: 14-2——playoffs

 

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers just aren’t that great a team anymore and never seem to have recovered from losing LT (which is odd because he was past his best).  When you look at the roster no name jumps out at you as being elite; Rivers was once elite but has slowed down dramatically in recent years and has become a major turnover machine.  Maybe it is unfair on Rivers because the players around him aren’t really helping his cause and he is clearly carrying the team on his shoulders and trying to drag them up the rankings.  San Diego is a team in transition, and this season they should be looking to build for future seasons.

Record prediction: 7-9

 

Oakland Raiders

It is hard to talk about the Raiders because they are so unpredictable in terms of either how awful they are or how ok they are.  The one thing that the Raiders don’t really do is make the playoffs, and that about them is consistent.  You know you don’t have a talented side when your best player is a kicker (which isn’t meant as a slight at Janikowski).  Realistically the Raiders aren’t going to do anything; they don’t have any skill players outside of Darren McFadden, who seems to be made out of glass.  Another tough season for Raiders fan I’m afraid.

Record prediction: 3-13

 

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have a very talented roster and their best addition this off-season Alex Smith because the Chiefs have for too long been held back by terrible QB play.  The roster was better than 2-14 last year, and they have brought in Andy Reid to try and correct this, the Chiefs could be an outside chance of making the playoffs.  The major issue for me about the Chiefs is that this team was way too good to be 2-14 last season, yet they were 2-14 last season.  I know that they have a new coach, QB and more star players but I can help but think that when you put so many egos together, the outcome isn’t always positive.  This season will be a real test and show whether or not Alex Smith actually has the ability to be a franchise quarterback, it’s put up or shut up time.

Record prediction: 8-8

 

NFC East

Washington Redskins

With RG III, anything is possible for the Redskins.  Not the greatest roster in the league, but with one very special player, and with that one very special player the Redskins will win or lose.  It does sound harsh to call the Redskins a one man team, because they are better than that, with Alfred Morris and a very strong linebacker corps.  However it is hard to not think that if RG III does struggle with his knee issues (which he is not over yet and will play this season wearing a knee brace, which will hamper his mobility and therefore his game) then the Redskins as a team will struggle as well.  There is no doubt that RG III can run and throw the ball to a high level, the question is if his ability to run is lowered will that affect his ability to throw because defences will know he is less likely to scramble?  It will be interesting to find out and see how RG III is able to mature into a more passing QB than he was last season.

Record prediction: 10-6

 

New York Giants

The Giants have this weird tendency to bounce in and out of the playoffs despite having a solid roster almost every year.  When you have Eli Manning under centre you are always going to have a chance of winning.  On top of Eli the Giants have good young players at the skill positions that will keep defences up at night (Wilson, Cruz), and as always one of the best D-lines in the league.  A major area of concern for the Giants must be the lack of depth and quality at the linebacker positions (an issue for a number of years), which in a league that is moving more towards passing miss-matching tight ends is not ideal at all.

Record prediction: 10-6——playoffs

 

Dallas Cowboys

It is tough for the Cowboys, not only do they play in what is consistently a very competitive division but they are also their own worst enemies.  Dallas always have a talented side but too often they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.  The talent is there, the mind-set is not.  Jason Garrett has shown that he is not a strong head coach and isn’t willing to take those hard decisions when it really matters, which isn’t ideal when you are playing so many close games within your own division.  It also doesn’t help that your QB, Tony Romo is a notorious choker when it comes down to the nitty gritty.  It’s just how it is for the Cowboys, a talented roster that just hasn’t got the bottle to win the big one.

Record prediction: 8-8

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Possibly the most intriguing team this season in the NFL is the Philadelphia Eagles, thanks to the hiring of Chip Kelly from Oregon.  Kelly couldn’t have walked into a better team in the NFL to suit his high paced quick time offence than the Eagles, because the Eagles offence is already built totally towards speed.  Vick, Jackson and McCoy are all lightning fast and will flourish in the Chip Kelly system.  The biggest issue for the Eagles (like it is for many teams) is can they keep their QB Michael Vick fit?  In four seasons with the Eagles Vick hasn’t managed to paly sixteen games in a single season, so it is fair to assume that he is highly likely to miss some playing time at least.  The Eagles aren’t totally reliant on Vick but Barkley and Foles aren’t ready to step up and be a starting QB yet.

Record prediction: 10-6——playoffs

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers

The Packers don’t have a running game, they have a leaky O-line and their defence isn’t that great at stopping teams moving the ball, sounds like they shouldn’t be a good team, yet they have a guy called Aaron Rodgers that makes them one of the best.  You know that the Packers are going to be there at the end of the season because their passing attack is too prolific and their defence creates turnovers for fun.  They play in a tough division (most teams in the NFC do) and the competition for the wildcards in the NFC are highly competitive, so the division games for the Packers are going to be vital.

Record prediction: 11-5——playoffs

 

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are that weird occurrence of a team that doesn’t solely rely on their QB, but rather solely rely on their RB.  Adrian Peterson ran for over 2000 yards last season and dragged the Vikings almost single handedly into the playoffs against all the odds.  As great as AP is, I just can’t see him being able to repeat his feat of the previous season because it has never been done before and there must be a drop off of some kind in his production.  The Vikings have a lot of young talent (Kalil, Harrison Smith, Rudolph) and the experience of making it to the playoffs will have been a huge benefit to them, but like many teams the Vikings just don’t have a QB and sadly for them I think it will cost them dearly.

Record prediction: 6-10

 

Chicago Bears

The Bears have a great defence (they always seem to as well); they also have a franchise calibre QB who likes to throw the ball to his favourite target the elite WR Brandon Marshall.  It all sounds pretty good on paper, but there all also the questions about will the O-line protect Cutler?  Who is going to run the ball?  Who is going to take advantage of the Marshall double team and find themselves open?  In these questions lies the answer to how well the Bears’ season will go, could be playoffs could be nothing.

Record prediction: 9-7

 

Detroit Lions

The Lions are an interesting case because last year when Calvin Johnson was tearing the league up and breaking records, the team managed to go 4-12 (go figure).  There is no doubt that there is talent on the offensive side of the ball of the Lions, with Stafford, Johnson and the one two punch of Leshoure and Reggie Bush.  The Lions have a strong D-line but lack much else defensively; there are also questions of the ability of the O-line to protect Stafford from the oncoming rush.  The Lions fall victim to the fact that they play in a tough division and also that they play in the NFC, playoffs aren’t beyond this talent pool but their inconsistencies in previous seasons make me doubt them doing very much.

Record prediction: 7-9

 

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have so many offensive weapons to utilise that it is hard to not see them making the playoffs.  The passing attack is one of the most deadly in the NFL, with Ryan being able to throw to quality receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White as well as the legendary (and still elite) tight end Tony Gonzalez.  There isn’t an out and out clear favourite to take the running back role, but Steven Jackson could flourish in a pass happy team which will allow him to see more seven man fronts.  Defensively the Falcons have a nice front seven, but look a little bit thin at defensive back (not a great thing in a league built on passing).

Record prediction: 10-6

 

Carolina Panthers

It is pretty simple with the Panthers; it all depends on how Cam Newton has developed.  Newton was excellent in his rookie year, but wow did he have a huge drop off in his second year.  Clearly teams learned how to play against him, and he didn’t have the composure to deal with it.  If Newton has matured and has improved his throwing then the Panthers as a team will improve along with him, if he hasn’t then this team are back to the drawing board and is rebuilding once again.  Sadly for the Panthers, I think it is more likely to be the latter of the two.

Record prediction: 5-11

 

New Orleans Saints

Last season was a disaster for the Saints; after the bounty scandal led to the suspensions of a number of players and more seriously of head coach Sean Payton who missed the entire season.  The preseason for the Saints last season was less than ideal; in fact it was a disaster.  It didn’t matter how talented Brees is, the Saints were never going to have a good season last year, and 7-9 was quite an achievement.

As far as this season is concerned, it should be back to normalcy for the Saints and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a massive chip on their shoulder for the unfair treatment they feel they received.  I don’t actually think that the Saints have that great a team but what they do have is an impressive passing attack with Coulston, Lance Moore, the returning Meacham and Jimmy Graham.  They also have one of the best collections of RB’s in the league (Pierre Thomas, Sproles, and Ingram).  The problem is that they don’t have anything particularly impressive to talk about defensively; in fact their defence looks really weak.  I think because of their chip on their shoulder the Saints will play above their ability just to stick it to the rest of the NFL and will head onto the playoffs.

Record prediction: 11-5—–playoffs

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have teased to take the next step to the playoffs since Josh Freeman (the forgotten man of the 2009 draft QB’s) was handed the starting role.  Each year it seems that the Bucs show enough potential to make you think that next year they could be contenders but then ultimately don’t follow through.  The Bucs added the nice pick up of Darelle Revis (the best corner in the league) for a cheap price, but there are questions about Revis’ fitness and ability to return to previous form after a serious ACL injury.  With Revis the Bucs have one of the best defensive backfields in the league, mixed with a solid D-line it could make the Bucs defence tough to play against.  On offence they have the electric Doug Martin as well as Vincent Jackson who once again showed what a weapon he is last season.  So will Josh Freeman finally step up and take the team by the reigns and finally lead them into the playoffs?  I doubt it, but there will be improvement on last year.

Record prediction: 9-7

 

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers

Quite simply the most stacked roster in the NFL and the best team in the NFL as well.  It doesn’t seem fair that one team should possess so much talent, but the 49ers do.  If the 49ers don’t make the playoffs I will eat my face (I won’t but I’m still pretty sure they will make the playoffs).  I don’t think I really need to explain why the 49ers are so good, just look at their roster where they have elite talent all over the place.  Very good chance of winning the Super Bowl this year after last year’s near miss.

Record prediction: 14-2——-playoffs

 

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are in the unlucky position of being one of the best teams in football who just happen to find themselves in the same division as the best team in football, gutted.  The Seahawks have everything; a young talented QB who will be better this year with more experience (imagine that), they have Marshawn ‘the beast’ Lynch (not a nickname given lightly), a good WR corps, nice TE’s, a good O-line, a sack hungry D-line and the best defensive backfield in the league.  The only thing you could criticise the Seahawks is they don’t have the best linebackers but it is a small gripe.  If it weren’t for the 49ers being so good, we could be talking about the Seahawks being the best team in football.

Record prediction: 12-4—–playoffs

 

St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford hasn’t really been able to fulfil the hype that he received before entering the league (not really his fault, the Rams suck).  It will be interesting to see how Bradford and the Rams utilise their new weapons in Jared Cook and Tavon Austin, both of whom could add an extra couple of dimensions to the offence.  I think in most other division the Rams would be a playoff calibre team, however they play in a division with two of the best teams in the league.  Essentially you expect them to lose four games to the Hawks and 49ers, so they need to win at least 10/12 games which is highly unlikely.  It’s a shame because the Rams have a good overall team and will be better than a lot of the teams that will make it to the playoffs (especially on the AFC side).

Record prediction: 8-8

 

Arizona Cardinals

The QB situation at the Cardinals last season was a total mess, this season they signed Carson Palmer who was to put it politely well past his best at Oakland last year, an improvement but not by much.  They don’t have a great O-line, or a great RB, they have good receivers but they don’t get them the ball enough (poor Fitzgerald, talent is being wasted); the Cardinals have a good front seven and a decent defensive backfield.  The problem overall is that the Cardinals are distinctly average and just happen to find themselves in what is the most talented division in football, not exactly ideal.

Record prediction: 4-12

 

Overall

Realistically I don’t think that it is likely that all of my predictions of records and who will make the playoffs will be totally correct, because there is usually a total shocker from a good team and an out of nowhere from a team that is perceived to be poor.  It also doesn’t help that when I counted up the win records I got 255-257, which is obviously a mistake, although I’m surprised it is as close as that because I just looked at the games I thought they would win on their schedule, so not too bad.

Anyway here are the teams I have making the playoffs and the seeding’s they have as well.

AFC

  1. Broncos
  2. Texans
  3. Patriots
  4. Bengals
  5. Colts
  6. Steelers

NFC

  1. 49ers
  2. Packers
  3. Saints
  4. Giants
  5. Seahawks
  6. Eagles

 

I’m not going to break it down much further than that because I get the feeling I would be wasting my time because so much will change during the regular season.  However at the moment I think the Super Bowl is setting up to be:

 

Bengals v Seahawks

 

I really like both teams and I think they are both set for big years.  If I were to pick a winner I’d go Bengals.  If I were to pick my second favourite it would naturally be the Broncos and the 49ers at the current moment because both teams are the best in their respective conference.

 

So leave me a comment about what you thought about the post, or what your predictions are for the upcoming NFL season.  I feel it is going to be a long one for myself (being a Jets fan), but I’m hoping they might surprise a few people and be this year’s Colts (doubtful but you can only hope).  Thanks for reading.

The Premier League Transfer Window Review.

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The transfer window slammed shut at 11 p.m. on Monday night (sort of) and once again somehow three months of transfer activity was left to the last minute as clubs across Europe tried to get that one extra (or several in some cases) player that would take them to the next level.

I have always been of the opinion that all the clever and savvy workers of the transfer window get their work done in June (before the window opens), July and August (before the season starts).  However as I have already said, inevitably most clubs leave it to the last minute to get their transfers in (with very few exceptions).

Nothing really changes from year to year when the transfer window is about to close; inevitably Sky Sports News will big it up to be more exciting than it actually is, some idiots will jump about behind reporters and give the camera the fingers and Jim White will get super excited over very little because he has been given a pack of Haribo Tangfastics and an espresso before going on air.  It is the same formula every year and for some reason it works.

The review is going to be pretty simple; it will break down each club in the Premier League’s signings and how that will affect their league position and whether or not the club has done good business.  So let’s get started.

 

Arsenal

When Arsenal were beaten by Villa on the first day of the season almost any who watched football would tell you that Arsenal needed to spend that money they bang on about having all the time because they are being left behind.  Since then Wenger has steadied the ship and shock horror actually managed to break Arsenal pitifully low transfer purchase record (Sylvain Wiltord for £13 million in 2000 [yes teams like Sunderland had a higher transfer fee paid record than Arsenal, not that you could tell from their league positions]).

Ins:  Yaya Sanogo (free), Mathieu Flamini (free), Emiliano Viviano (Loan) & Mesut Ozil (£42.5m)

Outs:  Gervinho (£8m), Chamakh (free), Arshavin (free), others of varying insignificance.

Arsenal didn’t lose anybody of importance; all the players that either left or were sold never managed to develop into the players Wenger was hoping for.  On the flip side, Arsenal brought in Sanogo who is very much one for the future and will have a limited impact on the first team this year, Viviano is really just there to give back-up depth in nets and Flamini who wasn’t good enough for Arsenal when they were actually good but all of a sudden after five years away, he’s good enough even though he hasn’t improved as a player (after finding himself released from AC Milan because he wasn’t good enough for them either).  Flamini very much seems like the desperation signing that everyone thought Arsenal was going to be partaking in before the window closed, and that is what he is.  I’m not saying he is an awful player, but he isn’t that good.  He does give Arsenal a holding midfield type of player that is more capable of tackling than most of their other central midfielders, but he isn’t good enough to start and should very much be a stop gap type of player.

The big signing of course was Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for an Arsenal record £42.5 million, hold on did I just say that Arsenal spent lots of money all on one player?  Surely I meant to say that they got him on a free transfer or something?  No?  Wow, who saw that coming?  I certainly didn’t.  Ozil is quality (read that again, it said QUALITY) player; he is the sort of player that Arsenal have been criticised for not being able to purchase anymore.  Ozil is in his prime, is a starter for the excellent Germans and is arguably one of the best attacking midfielders in the world.  In recent years you haven’t seen superstars move from La Liga to the Premier League (usually the other way about) but in this case he has.  It is a very good signing…..but (wait for it) they overpaid for him (by at least £12.5m), don’t they have a guy called Santi Cazorla who is pretty damn good and plays the same position? (I imagine one is being played out of position, and I get the feeling it isn’t going to be the record signings [poor Santi]), he is very inconsistent (shows up in about 1 in 5 games and is unplayable in those but it happens to rarely) and I’ve heard people say that he is the best no.10 in the world but if he were the best no.10 in the world, would Real Madrid be selling him?  The answer is no, they are selling him because they believe that he is surplus to requirements and they obviously don’t think that he has developed into the player they thought they were buying all those years ago.  It sounds like I don’t like this signing, which is not the case I do; however when a club has so many holes to fill (I wrote about it here) to use a lot of that money on a position that you are actually quite strong and not fill the gaps that are more concerning (defence and up front) is papering over the cracks.

Have Arsenal improved their squad?  Yes they have, Flamini gives them more depth in midfield and Ozil is a quality player that will instantly make them a better team, I see 4th on the horizon.

 

Aston Villa

Ins:  Libor Kozak (£5m), Jores Okore (£4m), Leandro Bacune (£3m), Aleksander Tonev (£2.5m), Nicklas Jensen (£2m) & Antonio Luna (£2m)

Outs:  Nobody of significance (squad players at best) although Bent (Loan) left….yeah nobody of significance

Hm…..I don’t really think I am educated to give my opinion on any of these players because to be honest I don’t know very much about them and have never seen any of them play (outside of sparingly since they joined Villa).  I will say this however, Villa didn’t lose any of their side from last season (mainly Benteke) and it was a young side.  This season is setting up to be a marked improvement on last year, and with a number of cheap additions to the squad I expect Villa to do well in Lambert’s second year.

Have Villa improved their squad?  Yes I think they have, they have more depth and that is vital (and was a major issue last year) if they are to push on from last season.

 

Cardiff City

Ins:  Gary Medel (£9.5m), Steven Caulker (£8m), Andreas Cornelius (£7.5m), Peter Odemwingie (£2.5m), Kevin Theophile-Catherine (£2.1m) & John Brayford (£1.5m)

Outs:  Nobody of significance

Cardiff were the best equipped (in my mind) of the promoted clubs this season, and they have also had the best (of those clubs) dealings in the transfer market.  Gary Medel is surely too good for Cardiff if it weren’t for the fact that he was a total lunatic (there’s a reason he’s nicknamed pitbull).  Steven Caulker is an England international and has good potential (possibly future of centre back position with Phil Jones) and I really don’t understand why Spurs sold him in the first place.  Cornelius is only 20 but Cardiff obviously saw enough potential in him to pay £7.5m for the Danish hot prospect, and he will get plenty of chances in a Cardiff side that lacks a standout striker (sorry Fraizer).  Odemwingie is a weird one, because if you get the Odemwingie that was making standout appearances for WBA then you have signed a very good player, although then again you might get the odd Odemwingie who takes drives to London try and leave you club.  Is he worth £2.5m?  Not based on his conduct at WBA but then again I guess it is relatively low risk when you might receive a good player who is proven in the league in return.  Good window for a club that I see doing very well in their first season ever in the Premier League.

Have Cardiff improved their squad?  Obviously yes, they have added at least two first team players who are going to contribute straight away and also added some other nice pieces.

 

Chelsea

Chelsea’s biggest signing during the transfer window was Jose Mourinho who made his long awaited comeback to the team that he ‘supposedly’ loves……

Ins:   Willian (£30m), Andre Schurrle (£18m), Marco van Ginkel (£9m), Christian Atsu (£3.5m), Mark Schwarzer (free) & Samuel Eto’o (free)

Outs:  Courtois (Loan), Marin (Loan), Romeu (Loan), Atsu (Loan), Moses (Loan), Lukaku (Loan) and many others who are insignificant.

If you had broken down the Chelsea team at the end of last season, you would have commented that they had a wealth of attacking midfielders but were weak in defence and up front.  Naturally you would then assume that most of Chelsea’s transfer activity would relate to and fix those areas; well if you did then you were wrong.

First off I’d like to say that I love the signing of Mark Schwarzer, a player who is still good enough to start in the league and will make an excellent back up to Cech.  Atsu was clearly signed for the future (hence why he was sent out on loan directly after signing), van Ginkel is also one for the future but will have more of an impact on the first team.  I like the signing of Schurrle, because he gives Chelsea width (something they lack) and is also a very good player, who was an established veteran of the Bundesliga in a very good Bayer Leverkusen side.  Paying £18m for him is an absolute bargain and was a great get for Chelsea.  However that is where it ends for me in praising Chelsea’s transfer dealings (here we go, you ready for this?).

Why did Chelsea sign Willian?  A player that plays in a position that in no way did they need to fill, fix or improve depth.  Chelsea now has six players (Willian, Mata, de Bruyne, Hazard, Schurrle and Oscar) who are all vying for three positions in the starting line-up, plus they let Moses (who had a very good year last season) go on loan to Liverpool because there was too much competition.  So why in the hell did they sign Willian?  Was it just to piss off Spurs?  Because it sort of feels like it was, because he was in no way needed by Chelsea.  I think Willian is a good player (not a £30m player though) but he was a luxury in a team that still lacks so much up front (hello Man Utd game, 4-6-0 WTF?) and has serious question marks defensively.  Anyway Chelsea managed to fulfil their silly transfer dealings by signing a player that has been sitting in insignificance in Russia for the past number of years, because he would rather receive a big pay cheque than gain prestige (sounds like a nice guy).  Yes Eto’o has once again found himself at a big club (who knows why).  What does Eto’o bring to the club?  Well he brings attitude issues, dressing room disharmony and your brightest young striker being loaned out to Everton (so good for his amazing season, ay Chelsea fans).  What are the positives about Eto’o?  Well he was free…..hm……the last time he was good (Inter Milan) Mourinho was his manager, but then again that was three years ago and this is not the same player as then.  Regardless of the fact that I think this is a bad signing, if there is one manager who can get the best out of an old player that is past his best, it is Jose Mourinho, and he is going to have to hope he does because Chelsea have only three recognised strikers (Torres, Ba and Eto’o), and they all suck (good luck with that).

Have Chelsea improved their squad?  The answer is yes, but if the question was have Chelsea improved their first team?  The answer would be no because the players they have signed aren’t better than the players they already had in these positions.  They have however improved the manager, because Benitez sucks and Mourinho doesn’t.  Third all the way bayby!!!!!

 

Crystal Palace

Ins:  Lots and lots and lots and lots (aka too many for me to be bothered listing)

Outs: Wilfried Zaha, Nothing of significance

It doesn’t really matter who Palace signed because they are going to get relegated regardless of what they do (unless they signed amazing players……which they didn’t).  Gayle looks like he has potential but £6m was a steep price to pay.  Bannan is a good passer and will fit beautifully into the Palace first team, excellent passer and set piece taker (bit like a thin Charlie Adam).  Chamakh is rubbish and he will fit in well with the other Palace players because they also on the main are shit as well (for this level).  Look all you crazy Palace fans that came and gave me lots of abuse for saying you sucked, well you do suck and when you are signing players who played for Reading (the worst squad in the league last season) and they’re some of your biggest signings, you have relegation written all over yourself.

Have Palace improved their squad?  Hard to tell because they weren’t very good to begin with and they still aren’t very good; so I’d say maybe marginally but not noticeably (doesn’t help when you sell your best player, Zaha).  20th is calling and Palace is singing the tune, enjoy the Championship next year guys!

 

Everton

Ins:  James McCarthy (£13m), Arouna Kone (£6m), Joel Robles (£2m), Antolin Alcaraz (free), Gerard Deulofeu (Loan), Gareth Barry (Loan) & Romelu Lukaku (Loan)

Outs:  Marouane Fellaini (£27.5m) & Victor Anichebe (£6m)

Wow Man Utd should take note and listen to Everton on how to handle the last day of the transfer window, because they aced it.  Prior to the window closing they had signed Kone and Alcaraz from Wigan as well as Deulofeu (really hard name to spell), nothing to get excited about.  However throughout the window speculation had been rife about them losing their two best players (Baines and Fellaini) to Man Utd, and if they were to lose these two players their squad would not be anywhere near good enough.  Going into the last day of the window they stood firm over Baines (poor Baines, Utd were never going to pay £20m for a 28 year old left back regardless of how good he is) and were willing to let Fellaini go for the right price (£27.5m apparently).  Well Utd came in with the sufficient bid for Fellaini and Everton didn’t faff about and went straight out and got their man in James McCarthy (the best Scottish talent in 20 years, that doesn’t represent Scotland internationally….).  Now they overpaid for McCarthy but did so because they really wanted the player and were willing to pay that little bit over the odds because of that (are you watching Utd).  This was then followed up with the excellent loan signings of Barry from City (although not good enough for City, he could have an excellent impact at Everton) and Lukaku from Chelsea (just look what he did at WBA last season, and then look at how well Everton’s strikers played last year, great signing).  Put on top of that, somehow Everton were able to get £6m for that big lump Anichebe and you get the perfect formula (the Heisenberg formula) for a transfer deadline day success (ARE YOU WATCHING UTD!?!?!?!?!?).

Have Everton improved their squad?  Yes they have; despite losing arguably their best player (I would say Baines is their best) they have also improved their first team.  McCarthy is a better scheme fit (to Martinez) than Fellaini, Barry will be a good anchor and Kone and especially Lukaku will give Everton some much needed striker goals.  I think they are set for a big year.

 

Fulham

Ins:  Maarten Stekelenburg (£4.76m), Scott Parker (£2m), Darren Bent (Loan), Adel Taarabt (Loan) & others.

Outs:  Schwarzer (free), a bunch of ordinary

I still am not sure how Fulham managed to sign Stekelenburg, why weren’t Arsenal in for him? (why is Julio Cesar still at QPR?  So many questions, not enough sensible answers).  Parker, Bent and Taarabt all add quality to the Fulham first team and are all good signings, but Fulham haven’t done enough.  After looking like they were going to have no problem staying up this season, I am beginning to doubt that.  The squad is too old, and although that means you have lots of experience, it also mean that you don’t have that youthful exuberance that only young players possess.  The perfect mix for a team like Fulham is half youth and half players past their best that can still do a job; just now Fulham only have the second half, and that is very worrying when they are contesting a long season.

Have Fulham improved their squad?  Yes they have, but they are ignoring the long term future by signing players who are past their best and this will come back and haunt them in the long run if not by this season.

 

Hull……something

Ins:  Tom Huddlestone (£5m), Ahmed Elmohamady (£2m), Allan McGregor (£1.8m), Curtis Davies (£2.25m), George Boyd (free), Yannick Sagbo (£1.5m), Maynor Figueroa (free), Danny Graham (Loan) & Jake Livermore (Loan)

Outs:  Corry Evans (£750k), lots of others

Unlike their other highly likely fellow relegation candidates (Palace), Hull have managed to make (for them) quality signings.  Boyd and Elmohamady were at the club  last season (on loan) but the real improvements have come with Hull’s other signings; Huddlestone is way too good to be playing at a relegation struggler (should be at a mid-table side), McGregor has already shown his worth so far this season and is a bargain at £1.8m, and Hull have also done very well in the loan market, picking up Livermore (who will compliment Huddlestone nicely) and Graham (who showed capabilities in Swansea’s first season in the league).  When you consider the additions that Hull has made, plus the fact they lost none of their significant players, it is a good transfer window.

Have Hull improved their squad?  Yes they have because they added quality that wasn’t there last season and have added maybe four starters to their first team.  Although Hull have gotten better, I still don’t see them really doing anything but getting relegated (at least you’re better than Palace).

 

Liverpool

Ins:  Mamadou Sakho (£18m), Iago Aspas (£9m), Simon Mignolet (£9m), Luis Alberto (£6.8m), Tiago Ilori (£7m), Kolo Toure (free), Aly Cissokho (Loan) & Victor Moses (Loan)

Outs:  Andy Carroll (£15.5m), Stewart Downing (£6m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5m), Pepe Reina (Loan), Fabio Borini (Loan) & Jamie Carragher (Retired)

It hurts me so much to say it (because I’m a Utd fan) but what a transfer window Liverpool have had.  It isn’t even about the players they brought in (I’ll get to that in a minute) but also the ones they got rid of; dumping the deadwood of Carroll, Downing, Borini, Reina and Carragher (sorry Liverpool fans he was well past his best [now we have to put up with the worst accent in football every Monday night….yippee….]).  The only player that Liverpool sold that I could questions is Shelvey, who I though looked like a good player and definitely had a future at the club.

It is a clear sign of how well you have done when they go to your stadium/training ground with two hours to go and everyone at the club has left (just in case you didn’t know, it means you’ve done pretty well).  Sakho is a French internationalist (capped 14 times) and is only 23 who only found himself surplus to requirements at PSG because they throw money at everyone and Sakho needed first team football to be called up for the upcoming World Cup; he could be the rock in the heart of Liverpool’s defence for the next 10 years, great signing for the future and for now.  Mignolet was arguably the best keeper in the league last year (he wasn’t, it was De Gea, Mignolet was second though), to pick a quality keeper like Mignolet up for £9m is a bargain and is another quality signing for now and the future.  Ilori and Alberto are good signings for the future and I doubt will have that much of an impact on the first team squad this season.  I don’t think Aspas is that great a player, but £9m in this market is buttons, so even if he does fail it isn’t that big a deal.  I have never been a fan of fatty….sorry Kolo Toure, and I don’t really understand why Liverpool signed him.  Oh well you can’t win them all, and to be fair he has started the season well, but even shit players play well sometimes (just ask anyone that plays for Crystal Palace).  I’m not quite sure what the point of signing Cissokho was (Jose Enrique is a better player) but Victor Moses is a really nice pick up, and if they have an option to buy clause then it is another piece of excellent business.  Oh yeah, they also managed to hold onto their best player, not bad indeed.

Have Liverpool improved their squad?  Yes they have, quite considerably; it isn’t just that they have improved the squad, but they have also added players that have the potential to contribute for the next 10 years, that’s called forward thinking and it is how you are supposed to run a football club.

 

Manchester City

Ins:  Fernandinho (£30m), Stevan Jovetic (£22m), Jesus Navas (£17m), Alvaro Negredo (£16.4m) & Martin Demichelis (£3.5m)

Outs:  Tevez (£10m), Maicon (£3m), Barry (Loan), Santa Cruz (free), Bridge (free) & Kolo Toure (free)

Similar to Liverpool, City got rid of a lot of deadwood this season (so many players that never played but had big wages and bigger egos [I’m looking at you Tevez]).  City smartly did most of their business early on in the window and picked up four players before adding Demichelis later on (after recognising they had a lack of central defensive cover).  The Demichelis signings is clearly a squad signing (because he is slow and past his best) but he plugs a gap in an area of concern and is a smart signing.  Jesus Navas is a nice pick up for £17m and will give City the width they were severely lacking last season (although there are questions about his size, lack of versatility and homesickness).  Alvaro Negredo was a bit of an odd signing because he is almost the exact same player as Dzeko, and you can’t really see them playing together because they do the exact same thing (so far this year he looks better than Dzeko, let’s see how it develops).  Stevan Jovetic was another odd signing because I don’t see him currently being able to start for City and contribute to an acceptable level; if he was signed to play a squad role then he is a very good signing, but if that is not the case he is not a great signing (then again I am probably being harsh because he is only 23 and could develop nicely if given the chance, but will he be given that chance to develop?  I guess we will wait and see, currently I doubt it).  Fernandinho is the worst of the signings; not because I think he is a bad player (before this season I had barely seen him play at all) but because a guy that is 28, played the majority of his career in Ukraine and has only been capped 5 times for Brazil, doesn’t scream £30m player.  He still has time to prove that his transfer fee is legitimate and he is that good, but I have seen him play three times and each time I have thought to myself that ‘this doesn’t look like a £30m player’, in fact he doesn’t look like a £15m player.  Maybe it is too quick to judge him, but when you have such a big transfer fee you are always going to be scrutinised to a greater degree.

Have City improved their squad?  Yes they have, they are a much better team, with a much better manager and with much less baggage than they did last year.  Things are looking up at City and the club is beginning to be run in a more professional manner.

 

Manchester United

Ins:  Marouane Fellaini (£27.5m) & Guillermo Varela (£2.4m)

Outs:  Nothing

Let me sum up to you in one word Utd’s transfer window conduct, embarrassing.  How about another word?  Shambles.  Another one?  Pathetic.  Yes the once savvy transfer kings Manchester United had a transfer window that everyone connected to the club will want to forget.  Utd wanted Thiago, and then they didn’t as he was signed by Bayern.  Utd wanted Fabregas, but he never wanted to move in the first place.  Utd teased signing Ronaldo and Bale, but in the end never came close to do either.  Utd were all set to sign Herrera but weren’t willing to pay a measly extra €6m (approximately £4.5m) so the deal fell through, but not after three men who may or may not be connected to the club (who knows based on how Utd have conducted themselves throughout the window) made a further mockery of Utd.  I know what you’re thinking ‘surely there wasn’t more stupidity?’ well you would be wrong, because Utd with seconds left of the window seemed to have gotten Fabio Coentrao on loan from Real Madrid with an option to buy,  you are now thinking ‘wow great business, he is one of the best left backs in world football, great signing!  What’s that?  You didn’t get the paperwork through in time?  Jesus Christ you guys are fucking idiots, how did you get to run a football club?’  To be honest you could also add the whole Baines thing in here but to be fair to Utd a 28 year old left back isn’t worth £20m regardless of how good he is.

Well onto the positives; Utd didn’t lose any of the players from their 11 point margin championship winning side (even Rooney stayed somehow).  Surely this is a positive?  Well no it isn’t; guys like Bebe (who got loaned out), Macheda and to a lesser extent Anderson and Nani (because Utd didn’t get anyone to replace them) were all deadwood and were supposed to be sold, yet all are still at the club.  Utd got Fellaini though, surely that is a positive?  Well no not really when you consider that a month ago you could have gotten Fellaini for £23.5m but instead Utd ended up paying £27.5m……good business guys.  Now consider that, not only does it clearly show that Fellaini was at best choice five, it also makes you scream into your hands and pull out what is left of your hair (not much after this transfer window and the last two games) as you question ‘so you’re willing to go an extra £4m for Fellaini because of your own stupidity, but aren’t willing to go an extra £4.5m for Herrara?’  It really begs belief, because with such stupidity you have to question what is going on at Utd and what is the future going to be like?  All very worrying.

What makes this worse is that all these idiots are blaming David Moyes for this, read my words (or lips if you can imagine me saying this) David Moyes is not the man who puts in bids or negotiates contracts, the man who does that is Ed Woodward and he has shown his blatant inexperience for this role.  David Moyes tells this man what players he would like to add to his squad and Woodward is supposed to oblige and go out and get them.  I personally don’t see this faffing about being allowed to happen if Fergie was still in charge, but he has more clout than Moyes (not really Moyes’ fault).  The loss of David Gill (a man that used to receive a large amount of abuse from the Utd fans) seems to have had a larger effect than it really should have (wasn’t Woodward shadowing Gill all these years?).  When you look at this, is it really a surprise that Fergie just happened to go at the exact same time as Gill?  I don’t think it is.  Woodward is going to have to learn very quickly, because this kind of conduct is not acceptable at Manchester United, and to be honest he should be a candidate for the sack if this farcical behaviour continues.

Have Utd improved their squad?  It is so ironic but the answer is yes.  Utd didn’t lose any players and added Fellaini (who is a good player, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned) who will give them that nastiness in midfield that they have been sorely lacking.  However Utd really needed a midfielder who could pass the ball in the middle of the pitch (a Herrera type…..why wasn’t he signed?) and somehow still managed to not sign anyone.  I thought all Utd needed was one big signing and they would be deserved favourites for the title, Fellaini isn’t a big enough signing for this to be the case.  Fellaini and Coentrao, Baines or Herrara would have been, but it seems that would have required Utd to have been competent.

 

Newcastle United

Ins:  Loic Remy (Loan)

Outs:  Perch (750k) & lots of mediocrity

If it weren’t for Newcastle, Utd would have had the most shambolic transfer window, but thanks to good old Joe Kinnear (who makes Ed Woodward look competent) Newcastle managed to have another stinker start to the season, not exactly what Alan Pardew needed.  They didn’t really lose anyone but the only player they added was a player that didn’t want to join the club 6 months ago but is stuck joining them now because nobody else wants him (good business Joe).

Have Newcastle improved their squad?  I guess, but barely.  You almost get the feeling that Kinnear has went out his way to not sign anyone so that Pardew gets the sack and he can take over, dark days ahead for Newcastle fans.

 

Norwich City

Ins:  Ricky van Wolfswinkel (£8.5m), Leroy Fer (£7m), Gary Hooper (£5m), Martin Olsson (£2.5m), Nathan Redmond (£2.2m), Javier Garrido (£1.275m), Carlo Nash (free) & Johan Elmander (Loan)

Outs:  Holt (£2m), Vaughan (£1m), Barnett (£500k), others

Norwich are one of many teams who broke their transfer record fee this season, with the signing of van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon.  With the signing of van Wolfswinkel and Hooper, Norwich now have a legitimate striking force that will strike fear (although probably not) into opposition defences.  No longer will Norwich have to rely on the labouring runs of Grant Holt (a man who looks like he would run faster to the chip van than he does into an oppositions defence), and instead they have players who are good goal scorers.  The signing of Leroy Fer is also a very clever signing and it will give Norwich a stud in the middle of the pitch (have to wonder why nobody else wanted him).

Have Norwich improved their squad?  Yes they have by dramatically improving their strike force with three new players, as well as adding an excellent player into their central midfield, they will be easily safe this season.

 

Southampton

Ins:  Pablo Osvaldo (£15m), Victor Wanyama (£12.5m) & Dejan Lovren (£8.5m)

Outs:  Nothing really to talk about.

Southampton only signed three players this transfer window, but they managed to sign three players that will instantly make their first team better.  They probably overpaid for all three players, but if you want to add quality to your team you need to overpay sometimes.  When you consider that Southampton also didn’t lose any of their players from last season, overall a very good transfer window.

Have Southampton improved their squad?  Yes (fell like I’ve said that a lot), they have added three first team players that will make them a better side instantly.

 

Stoke City

Ins:  Erik Pieters (£3m), Marko Aranutovic (£2m), Marc Muniesa (free), Oussame Assaidi  (free), Stephen Ireland (Loan) & others

Outs:  Nothing of significance.

When you are serious candidates for relegation, you need to have a belter of a transfer window to take yourself a couple of steps higher to safety; however these are the hardest steps to take.  Stoke haven’t spent much money (especially in comparison to previous years) this transfer window but have brought in a number of players that could have a positive effect on the team this season.  The biggest problem for me about Stoke and their transfer window is that they needed a striker that could score 15+ a season, they didn’t get that, they also could have done with signing a midfielder who could pass the ball and although Ireland has joined he can never stay fit.

Have Stoke improved their squad?  I think they have, but not to the extent that would make me feel comfortable if I was a Stoke City fan.

 

Sunderland

Ins:  Jozy Altidore (£6.5m), Emanuele Giaccherini (£6.5m), Charis Mavaris (£3m) & so many other players that I can’t be bothered listing them.

Outs: Mignolet (£9m), Sessegnon (£6m), McClean (£1m) & others.

Here’s the thing about Sunderland and their transfer window, it doesn’t really matter what they do (and they needed to do a lot) because they have a lunatic managing the team.  Essentially what I am saying is that Di Canio doesn’t know what he is doing and it amazes me that he would be allowed to have a job never mind manage a football club.  Sunderland lost probably their best player in Mignolet and their only players with something a bit special in Sessegnon and McClean (who I know didn’t have a great year last year).  It also doesn’t help when so many other players who didn’t leave the club are clamouring to get out of the club because they realise that there is a crazy man in charge who keeps saluting at them inappropriately.  Did Sunderland bring in good player though?  It isn’t that they brought in bad players, it is more that they brought in ordinary players, and for a team that needs better than ordinary to avoid relegation, that isn’t good enough.  For instance there is no way that Altidore is a £6.5m player, because he just isn’t that good and has shown that previously in this league.  Another concerning sign for Sunderland fans will be the fact that Sunderland signed so many player, not only because it means your squad can’t be that good but it also means that 16 (or that’s how many I counted) players have to gel with the players already at the club as well as amongst themselves, something that is no easy feat.

Have Sunderland improved their squad?  No they have not (first time I’ve actually wrote that); they have lost their best player and have added regular players to their squad.  It is usually a sign of desperation when so many players are signed in one window, and in this case it is a sign of desperation.  If Sunderland were a ship they would be shooting off their flare guns with reckless abandonment because the ship is going down…..to the Championship.

 

Swansea City

Ins:  Wilfried Bony (£12m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5m), Jordi Amat (£2.5m), Jonathan de Guzman (Loan) & others.

Outs:  Ki Sung-Yeung (Loan) & others

I loved what Swansea were able to do in the summer; they picked up Bony who can link up perfectly with Michu to make a deadly strike force and they made the great signing of England international Jonjo Shelvey for a paltry £5m (which in the football market is like a packet of Smarties to you and me).  Laudrup has improved his first team with these two signings and has made further additions to help the squad get through the tough European calendar.  They didn’t really lose anyone either, with Ki clearly being surplus to requirements.

Have Swansea improved their squad?  Yes they have with two excellent signings which will allow them to push on from another solid season in the Premier League.

 

Tottenham Hotspur

Ins:  Erik Lamela (£30m), Roberto Soldado (£26m), Paulinho (£17m), Christian Eriksen (£11.5m), Vlad Chirrices (£8.5m), Nacer Chadli (£7m) & Etienne Capoue (£9m)

Outs:  (some guy called) Gareth Bale (£86m), Caulker (£8m), Dempsey (£6m), Huddlestone (£5m), Parker (£2m), Assou-Ekotto (Loan) & others.

Well, well, well, well, well (not a Motherwell song).  Spurs were just a bit busy in the transfer window, weren’t they?  Nobody spent more than they did, and nobody brought in more than they did, remarkably almost breaking even for their transfers overall (go figure).  First I will deal with the players Spurs sold; how they managed to get £86m for Bale is beyond me.  It isn’t like Bale isn’t a good player (he’s one of the best in the world) but you can’t honestly tell me that he is worth more money than Ronaldo when he left Utd and went to Madrid (he isn’t, at that time Ronaldo was the best player in the world, Bale is not).  If I were to evaluate Bale and give him a price that I think he is worth, I would say around £50m, £36m less than Madrid paid.  You have to applaud Daniel Levy who has once again shown that he is one tight bastard and knows how to eek every penny out.  I don’t really understand the selling of Caulker when Spurs don’t really have that much depth at central defence.

On to the big stuff, the signings and oh god was there lots of them.  There is good signings, bad signings and ugly signings…..actually there are only good signings (damn Spurs work their stuff well).  Let’s break it down by saying that Soldado was exactly what Spurs have lacked the last few seasons, Paulinho looks like a steal at £17m, Eriksen is an absolute steal at £11.5m (why weren’t Arsenal and Utd in for him?) and Chadli and Capoue also look like good value for money (haven’t seen Chirrices play but even if he does suck, it isn’t like he cost much).  The only blot on the Spurs copy book is Lamela, who they have paid well over the odds for (probably Bale’s fault) but he does give them another striker and makes them a better rounded team.  Spurs have not only gotten better at a number of positions, they have also gotten younger, which in the long run is vital if they are going to push on and possibly challenge for the league in future seasons.  The AVB revolution continues.

Have Spurs improved their squad?  Incredibly after selling by far their best player they have gotten better.  They have improved their squad vastly (more than any other team) and this will help them not only challenge in the Europa League (which I think they will win) but also for fourth position.  The biggest criticism I can have of Spurs is that they lost a player that was truly special, one who could do something out of nothing, and have not really been able to replace him.  However eight very good players is better than having one outstanding player.

 

West Bromwich Albion

Ins:  Stephane Sessegnon (£6m), Victor Anichebe (£6m), Nicolas Anelka (free), Diego Lugano (free), Matej Vydra (Loan), Scott Sinclair (Loan), Goran Popov (Loan), Lee Camp (free) & Morgan Amalfitano (Loan)

Outs:  Odemwingie (£2.5m), Fortune (free) & others

Can’t help but feel WBA have failed to add to the success they had last season; missing out on the loan signing of Lukaku was just the tip of the iceberg.  Sessegnon is a good signing because he adds creativity and quality to the WBA attack, however beyond that I just don’t get the signings.  Vydra is a stab in the dark (he did well in the Championship but that means very little), they signed a bunch of players on loan which is useless for the long term future of the club (none of who will be starters either), they vastly overpaid for Anichebe (£6m? what were they thinking?) and why the hell did they think Anelka was a good signing?  The only thing Anelka brings is selfishness and chaos (the guy was set to retire on a whim before the season started); very odd signings from WBA, at least they didn’t lose anyone (other than Lukaku of course, who they never actually had).

Have WBA improved their squad?  Not really, when you look at it they had Lukaku last year and now have Anichebe, not what I’d call an upgrade.  The only signing that has improved the first is Sessegnon, and that is not enough to say that the squad has improved.

 

West Ham United

Ins:  Andy Carroll (£15.5m), Stewart Downing (£6m), Adrian (free) & Razvan Rat (free)

Outs:  Nobody of significance, unless you think Carlton Cole is good, which if you do then….I don’t know what to say.

God this is a long list and it is finally finishing (thank god, for me and you); West Ham brought in Carroll (who was there last season) and Downing as their two big signings (Liverpool rejects).  I like both the signings and think that the step down will be good for both of their careers and they should both do well under Allardyce (because of the style he plays).  However that doesn’t take away from the fact that West Ham grossly overpaid for both players,  Liverpool were just wanting both guys off the books and you can’t honestly tell me Andy Carroll is a £15.5m player (some idiots paid £35m for him once, hahahaha).  That is the major concern for West Ham that they blew their entire transfer kitty on two players that they could probably have gotten for half the price, I doubt it will come back to bite them in the arse but you never know.

Have West Ham improved their squad?  Yes but not as much as they should have.  Really only the signing of Downing is a major new addition to the squad, in a squad that is lacking good depth.

 

Overall

It is interesting to note that the only teams that I would say lost players of importance were Spurs, Sunderland and Everton (and sort of Palace although Zaha left last January technically).  Spurs and Everton have become better teams because of the money they received from the players they lost (Sunderland didn’t), but I am pointing this out more because it shows a trend that Premier League players aren’t that desirable (even the English clubs weren’t really buying from each other).  It also shows that English players/Premier League players are massively over-priced, and then the FA wonder why youth players aren’t being developed, that’s why, because they are too expensive (well that and too many old dumplin’s that are well past their best [I’m looking at you Fulham]).  It shows a worrying trend for the Premier League (and England), who are now lacking quality players (after losing Bale) and not really developing home grown talent.

 

Top 5 signings.

  1. Eriksen (Spurs)
  2. Shelvey (Swansea)
  3. Stekelenburg (Fulham)
  4. Mignolet (Liverpool)
  5. Fer (Norwich)

 

Worst 5 signings.

  1. Altidore (Sunderland)
  2. Fernandinho (Man City)
  3. Anichebe (WBA)
  4. Carroll (West Ham)
  5. McCarthy (Everton)

 

Top 5 transfer window teams.

  1. Liverpool
  2. Spurs
  3. Norwich
  4. Hull
  5. Southampton

 

Worst 5 transfer window teams.

  1. Newcastle
  2. Sunderland
  3. Palace
  4. Man Utd
  5. WBA

 

So now that the transfer window is closed (and I’ve seen the teams play a few games), here is what I think the league will look like in comparison to my prediction in the preview.

 

1st— Man City                            0

2nd— Man Utd                           0

3rd—Chelsea                              0

4th—Arsenal                              +1

5th—Spurs                                 -1

6th—Liverpool                         +2

7th—Everton                           -1

8th—Swansea                         -1

9th—West Ham                      +1

10th—Villa                              +3

11th—Southampton             +5

12th—Cardiff                         +2

13th—Norwich                      +2

14th—WBA                            -5

15th—Newcastle                -3

16th—Fulham                       -5

17th—Stoke                          +1

18th—Sunderland                -1

19th—Hull                              0

20th—Palace                         0

 

As I’m sure you can see, I have changed my mind with all but five of the positions (although to be fair I have always thought Arsenal would finish above a Baleless Spurs but wrote this about their current squads and at the time Bale was at Spurs, so I’m counting it as seven).  The amount of changes I have made isn’t really surprising because it is so hard to predict the mid-table that often it is just a guessing game (might as well through a dart at a wall with your eyes closed [this is not recommended for children and should only be partaken when intoxicated]).

I said that all Utd needed was to make one big signing to be my favourites, but Fellaini isn’t that big signing that was required (although Fellaini- Coentrao or Baines would have been enough).  I have decided that Stoke will finish above Sunderland after they have had a good start to the season, and I further realise that Sunderland under Di Canio is a total mess and are going nowhere fast.  I think Liverpool are deservedly higher up (2 positions higher) because they have started the season well (although not 9/9 points well) and I really like some of their signings (especially Sakho [beast], Mignolet and Moses).  Villa and Southampton have both impressed me so far this season and I feel once their new signings settle in (especially at Southampton) it will reflect on their league position.  WBA have plummeted down the table because I have become seriously concerned about who is going to score their goals (Anichebe signing didn’t allay my fears).  Fulham are beginning to look older and older to me and that has also become a serious concern of mine, even though I like their signings I fear that near the end of the year if they are in trouble, the old guys might not have the energy or desire to get them out of it.  Newcastle have dropped down for obvious reasons; one because they didn’t sign any players and two because the club is an utter shambles and there is a good chance of Joe Kinnear taking over (shame they have good players).

 

Teams who raised the most.

  1. Southampton +5
  2. Villa +3
  3. Liverpool, Norwich & Cardiff +2

 

Teams who fell the most.

  1. WBA & Fulham -5

3 .   Newcastle -3

 

 

So there you have it the long winded and hard to read without crying Premier League transfer window review.  What did you think of the transfer window?  How do you think it will affect the league table?  Let me know and leave a comment.  I am going to bath my fingers in ice because man is not meant to type so much for such a long period of time.