Premier League club-by-club needs, as transfer deadline looms

4 Comments

Happy Monday morning to all of you out there. “Why does he sound so chipper?” You may be ask. Well folks, I’ll tell you exactly why.

This time next week the summer transfer window will be slammed shut. No more outlandish transfer rumors, cryptic Tweets and confusing reports leaked by agents, clubs and other outlets…. Well, until, mid-December, early January at least.

This transfer window has had some man sagas since the 2012-13 season finished back on May 19.

But with seven days left to wheel and deal, plenty of clubs will be readying final bids for players as the deadline edges closer. So I thought we’d take look at the specific areas each Premier League squad should strengthen in.

Will all the business be done before 00:01 on Monday September 2? History suggests plenty of deals will go right up to midnight on Sunday. The tension is already building.

A tense week for teams, players, chairman, managers and fans has begun.

Arsenal: Where do we start? Arsene Wenger obviously needs a whole host of names. Their squad has been decimated over the summer, with plenty of players released and no senior players of note arriving. They’re being linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, who would be a tremendous addition. Arsenal is two quality signings away from pushing on this campaign.

Aston Villa: It seems as though Paul Lambert is going to stick with what he has at Villa Park, and following promising displays against Arsenal and Chelsea and a tough loss to Liverpool, they look okay. However adding extra depth in defense should be a priority.

Cardiff City: After that showing against Manchester City on Sunday, it’s hard to see where Cardiff can improve. Maybe another winger to add to Craig Bellamy would be worthwhile. Other than that the arrival of Andreas Cornelius, Gary Medel and Steven Caulker has developed a new core to their hungry squad.

Chelsea: José Mourinho doesn’t really need to add anyone… but he probably will. Wayne Rooney is the obvious candidate, but will Manchester United sell him to one of their biggest rivals? Apart from that the arrival of Willian this week will add more competition out wide.

source: AP
Will Rooney and Torres be teammates next season?

Crystal Palace: Ian Holloway still needs heavy reinforcements if Palace has any chance of staying up. It’s early in the season but it’s very clear the South Londoners will struggle without signing quality. One new signing in attack, midfield and defense will give them a chance but the Eagles need to splash the cash. Can’t see that happening.

Hull City: A proven goalscorer will be at the top of Steve Bruce’s wish list. Hull are hard to beat and a horrible team to play against. They have plenty of depth in midfield and defense but lack a real difference maker going forward. Can Bruce loan in another gem, like he did by getting Mikael Forssell when he was in charge at Birmingham back in the day, before the deadline?

Everton: Roberto Martinez has already done plenty of business, but we could still see a few of the Wigan old boys popping up at Goodison Park. Callum McManaman and maybe James McCarthy could arrive depending on what happens to Marouane Fellaini.

Fulham: The Cottagers are struggling to find the correct balance in their squad. They have Darren Bent, Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz and now Adel Taarabt who are great going forward, but there’s no solidity. How can Martin Jol fit them all in? Don’t expect him to do any business, picking up Scott Parker was a good buy.

Liverpool: The Reds seem to have calmed Luis Suárez’ situation down and reports suggest the Uruguayan may sign a new contract later this week. They maybe need one great wide player, but Rodgers may persist with Iago Aspas out wide or stick Daniel Sturridge out there when Suárez returns.

Manchester City: A new central defender would be handy to have at the Etihad. Both Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic have gone done injured and suddenly City look thin at the back. Manuel Pellegrini could move to bring in Pepe from Real Madrid. Do the Citizens need him?

Manchester United: Three new players will ideally be added by David Moyes, another central defender and an attacking midfielder are needed. If Rooney leaves, United are still covered up top with Danny Welbeck and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez still around. But maybe Moyes will add another forward. Work to do this week.

Newcastle United: Another central defender to boost their options at the back would really suit the Magpies. Steven Taylor has been caught out plenty of times and question marks surround him despite his passion and commitment to the cause. Maybe another top striker too, but Loic Remy should start when he recovers from injury.

Norwich City: Don’t expect Norwich to add any more players. A trio of quality attackers have arrived over the offseason, with Gary Hooper, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Johan Elmander giving the Canaries strength in-depth up front. They’re set.

source: Getty Images
Will Newcastle add another attacker alongside Remy?

Southampton: Only three new names for the Saints, but they spent over $55 million on Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo. A new winger with real pace to burn could be the only signing needed for Mauricio Pochettino.

Stoke City: Mark Hughes should add another forward to his ranks. He has Juan Agudelo coming in but that isn’t until January. Peter Crouch is going through a drought, while Jonathan Walters, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome have hardly been prolific.

Sunderland: Paolo Di Canio has added 11 new faces to his squad and will be content with how they’ve fared so far. May take a few months to gel. Can’t see the Sunderland board releasing more funds until January.

Swansea City: Michael Laudrup’s side has lost two from two but they shouldn’t be concerned. He has no real areas to strengthen and will be happy with his squad as they aim for another top 10 finish.

Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs should bolster their defense with another central defender a priority. Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue are backups behind Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen. But only young Zeki Fryers is around after those four.

West Bromwich Albion: Steve Clarke may need to invest in another forward, Nicholas Anelka’s sudden departure has left him short up top. Goals will be a problem for the Baggies this season if they don’t add someone this week.

West Ham United: Big Sam has bought well again, with Stewart Downing already looking revitalized out on the wing and Andy Carroll set to return from injury. The Hammers did all their business early.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday