The English premier league has so far this season served a tantalizing menu of scintillating football, breath-taking upsets, massive wins and edge of the seat action.
As the teams approach the New Year many clubs will be keen to dip their fingers into the transfer market. Some to make much needed additions while others will be seeking to stem a crisis. Below is an overview of the likely transfer deals and what options various clubs may be looking at:
- MANCHESTER UNITED
Manchester United are sitting pretty at the top of the log. Boasting a total of 46 points from 19 games and a massive goal difference of 20 the Red Devils as they are popularly known also lead the form table with a total of 16 points out of a possible 18 in their last six games.
The age-old resilience of Manchester United has been present all through this season and was best typified by their incredible Boxing Day come-back win against Newcastle. Despite being behind three times against the Magpies Manchester United kept coming back for more and eventually won the thrilling tie 4-3.
As a result despite not being at their best Manchester United is still a dominant force this season. Much of their success is attributable to their goal scoring defensive duo of Johnny Evans and Patrice Evra who between them have notched up seven goals. The defenders’ goal scoring antics have however come at a price as Manchester United have been leaky at the back conceding a total of 28 goals.
Consequently despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence that there will be very little if any activity during the January transfer window it is possible that he may be looking at a few available defenders to bolster the back four. This is especially so because United are still in contention in the Champions League and the FA Cup and a drawn out season may stretch the reserves of central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic to the limit.
Available options are Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay and Chelsea’s Ashley Cole who are both rumoured to be on the United radar. Garay is tenacious and known for his consistency whereas Cole would provide the same kind of defensive/attacking option currently being provided by Patrice Evra.
Manchester United’s midfield is solid. Smalling, Valencia, Young, Cleverly and Carrick have so far combined well both in the middle and on the wings.
Upfront Manchester United have been imperious scoring a total of 48 goals. The club has an over abundance of strikers. Apart from Robin Van Persie who has been at his lethal best, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez complete a formidable attacking outfit. Ferguson may not want to tamper with this attacking unit as they await the marquee signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandoski in the summer.
- MANCHESTER CITY
The Champions are having a rough time this time round. In their last game Sunderland beat them 1-0 on Boxing Day to hand them their 2nd loss in six games. In the form table the Citizens are a distant 8th having garnered just 10 points in their last six games.
The Championship winning team remains intact and it is difficult to decipher a reason for their recent decline. However the fact that they will not be engaged in Europe may be a positive factor for them as far as attempting to retain their Premier league Crown is concerned.
All positions look solid and one would expect Man City to be the least busy in the transfer period taking into account that the Manchester City squad is the most talented in the league.
Man City are said to be interested in snapping up sensational striker Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund to replace the ineffective Mario Balloteli. This may be the only business that the Manchester Club engage in during the January transfer window as their sights are firmly set on signing 32million pound rated Brazilian super star Neymar in the summer.
Third placed Chelsea have hit a rich vein of form since the entry of experienced Rafa Benitez as interim head coach. Records were set as the Blues crushed Aston Villa 8-0 at the Bridge and their three successive wins in the league place them 5th in the form table.
The Blues are another club that may not venture too deeply into the jungle that is the January Transfer market. Despite the added distraction of Europa League football on Thursday nights in addition to challenging in the League Cup, where they face Swansea in the semi final, the FA Cup and the League itself Roman Abrahmovich may want to see out the rest of the season with his hands in his pockets.
The Russian Billionaire is however known to be finicky and a last minute big money signing will not be entirely unexpected.
In the summer the club spent over 80 million pounds buying Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin. The players have added venom to a flat footed attack and Fernando Torres has found some of his form.
Actually it is the imminent departure of club legend Frank Lampard that has raised eyebrows. The club have been clear that they want him out in January. Many football lovers are appalled at the treatment meted out at the star especially after he had just broken Bobby Tambling’s club scoring record in his 500th appearance for the club.
The Gunners are a difficult team to understand. Just when one writes them off they quietly put together a run of games that propels them up the table. At the time of writing this article Arsenal were seventh in the league table with 30 points, their position boosted by three successive wins.
In the summer the London club were busy with Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud all joining the club. The rumour mills have it that Arsene Wenger is interested in Manchester United out of favour winger Luis Nani who will definitely provide a bit of trickery on the wing and a focal supply point for the Arsenal forwards.
With a transfer kitty said to be in the region of 62 million pounds Arsenal may spend big in the transfer window. Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a viable option. The striker netted 48 times last term and the goal machine may be the answer to Arsenal’s blunt attack. Arsenal are also said be interested in Atletico Madrid star Arda Turan who is estimated to be worth 19 million pounds.
Of concern however is the fact that Theo Walcott’s contract stalemate has not yet been resolved. Arsene Wenger would like to tie this up before the transfer window shuts down.
At Liverpool it is said that the goalkeeping position picks itself.
With over 100 clean sheets in the Premier league Liverpool’s number 1 goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been the bulwark of the Liverpool defence since the start of the 2007-2008 season.
Reina has averaged an impressive 15 clean sheets per season from the 2007 season onwards with his most effective season being the 2008-2009 season where he had 20 clean sheets. However after his double hernia operation in June 2011 he has had a dip in form which has affected the team as a whole. It is now rare for Liverpool to keep a clean sheet and Anfield is no longer the fortress it once was.
It may be time for Liverpool to consider getting a new number one. Michael Vorm of Swansea fits the bill quite well though Liverpool’s interest are said to be on Birmingham’s goalkeeper Jack Butland.
The signing of Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is almost a done deal. The addition of a new striker will ease the pressure off Luis Suarez who has been fantastic this season. Liverpool are also in the market for strikers Franco Di Santo of Wigan and Newcastle’s Demba Ba. Attacking midfielder Thomas Ince is also on his way back to Liverpool from Blackpool.
- OTHER POSSIBLE DEALS
Reading are said to be interested in signing Arsenal misfit Andriy Arshavin. The Royals are precariously languishing in the basement of the Premier League equal on points with QPR and Arshavin may give them the much needed firepower upfront to stave off relegation.
Newcastle are set to sign Marseille striker Loic Remy for 10 million pounds, a move which will certainly threaten the futures of Demba Ba, Pappis Cisse and Shola Ameobi at the Magpies. One of this three may have to leave to pave way for the French sensation. Demba Ba is the likely victim.
Tottenham Hotspurs have been linked with a move for Montpellier attacker Younnes Belhanda and also sensationally for Wesley Sneijder who is unsettled at Inter Milan. If Spurs were to seal the deal for Sneijder the Spurs attack will benefit from the craft of the Dutch midfielder.
Everton are doing well this season. The Merseyside club is challenging for a Champions league spot with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham. David Moyes will want to strengthen his squad to ensure a strong finish. Former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou, now at Lille, and Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott are potential targets.
The January transfer window is thus very crucial for most teams as it paves way for the drama of the second half of the season. The deals made during this period will be the platform that the top clubs will use to challenge for domestic or European honours or, in the case of the perennial strugglers, will provide the necessary impetus to fight off relegation.
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