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

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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.

PL title & FA Cup in sight, Conte says Chelsea still rebuilding

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Antonio Conte might be just seven games away from guiding Chelsea to a Premier League and FA Cup double this season, but the Blues’ first-year Italian manager insists his squad is nowhere near being a finished product.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking after Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, Conte insisted that the team he inherited last summer, after a disastrous 10th-place finish in the PL, is “in a period of transition” and that “[they] need time” as the club moves on from an accomplished, foundational generation — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I think that now at Chelsea we are in a period of transition. In this season, we have lost (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John Obi) Mikel and next season we lose John Terry.

“We are talking about players who wrote the history of this club. They won a lot. Now we have to find the right substitutes for these players and then work to put these players at the same level.

“I think that in the period with Carlo (Ancelotti) — and Carlo is the best Italian coach, I have great respect for him — he arrived at Chelsea when they had a really strong squad. Now we are building. We are building something important. We need time.”

[ MORE: Kante takes home PFA Player of the Year | Dele wins Young Player ]

Conte is doing two things with the above comments: 1) he’s tempering expectations for next season, when Chelsea will be back in the UEFA Champions League and automatically expected to repeat as PL champions — not to mention, taking a bit of pressure off in these final two months of the 2016-17 season; and, 2) pointing out just how impressive his work to date has been, the fact he’s potentially seven games away from lifting two trophies in seven days’ time next month.

Ligue 1: Mbappe, Falcao fire Monaco top again

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PARIS (AP) Strikers Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe continued their fine form with a goal each to help Monaco secure a 2-1 win at Lyon and reclaim top spot in the French league on Sunday.

Monaco moves above defending champion Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference, with Monaco having played a game less. PSG has four games left.

“It wasn’t easy and it was a big win for us tonight,” Monaco center half Andrea Raggi said. “We all play for each other and it’s now or never.”

It has been an astonishing season for Monaco, which has now scored 143 goals in all competitions and remains on course for the treble. Monaco faces PSG in the French Cup semifinals next Wednesday.

Falcao and Mbappe scored in midweek when Monaco beat German side Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal to reach the last four 6-3 on aggregate.

Lyon also did well in Europe, going through on penalty kicks away to Turkish club Besiktas to reach the last four in the Europa League.

Falcao and the 18-year-old Mbappe have combined for 51 goals.

Falcao put Monaco ahead in the 36th minute with a header from close range – his 28th goal of the season – and Mbappe made it 2-0 just before halftime with a trademark surging run and cool finish for his 23rd.

“I just try and give my best whenever I play,” said Mbappe, who has recently been called into the France team. “I wasn’t playing much at the start of the season, so I’m still quite fresh and I hope I can help us win the remaining games.”

PSG beat Montpellier 2-0 at home on Saturday with Edinson Cavani scoring his 31st league goal of the season and 44th overall.

Nice has already guaranteed third place and a spot in the qualifying round for next season’s Champions League.

But with four games remaining, it is six points behind Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. Nice hosts PSG next Sunday.

Striker Corentin Jean gave mid-table Toulouse the lead in the 57th minute. Midfielder Valentin Eysseric continued his fine form with the equalizer three minutes later.

The game was briefly halted early in the first half after a group of Saint-Etienne supporters forced themselves into the stadium.

The match was supposed to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for unruly supporters during Saint-Etienne’s local derby against Lyon.

After a brief delay for police to remove the fans, Slovakia striker Robert Beric put the home side ahead in the 39th and center half Edson Mexer leveled just before the break.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, while Rennes is ninth.

Serie A: Napoli waste chance to go 2nd; Juve win big (again)

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MILAN (AP) Arkadiusz Milik scored his first goal since his lengthy injury layoff but it wasn’t enough to prevent Napoli from drawing 2-2 at Sassuolo on Sunday and missing the chance to move second in Serie A.

Milik scored two minutes after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Napoli and move it to within one point of second-placed Roma, which visits bottom club Pescara on Monday.

Second spot in Serie A secures automatic entry into the Champions League group stage, while the team that finishes third has to go through a playoff.

“The road to second spot has got more difficult, we have to hope our rivals slip up,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “We have a point more than last season, even though we played in the Champions League, even though we lost (Gonzalo) Higuain at the beginning of the season and Milik for four months, so I think the team has had an extraordinary season until now.”

After an even first half, Napoli broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break thanks to a rare header from Dries Mertens. It was the diminutive Belgian’s 22nd league goal of the season – as many as he had scored in total in his three previous seasons at Napoli.

However, Napoli gifted Sassuolo the equalizer seven minutes later as Marek Hamsik’s terrible headed backpass to Pepe Reina was intercepted by Domenico Berardi, who fired home from close range.

Mertens almost immediately restored his side’s lead but saw his free kick come off the crossbar, while Lorenzo Insigne’s effort also hit the inside of the post for Napoli.

Sassuolo took the lead 10 minutes from time following a superb save from Reina to deny former Napoli hero Paolo Cannavaro, but Antonino Ragusa hooked the ball back in from the byline for Luca Mazzitelli to drive into the bottom right corner.

Milik was brought on in the 82nd and immediately leveled. Jose Callejon’s corner was knocked down by Raul Albiol and the Poland international spun to fire in from close range for his first goal since he was injured on World Cup duty in October.

AC Milan missed a penalty as the new era at the famous Italian club continued without a win.

Milan drew 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan last weekend in the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg ended Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign.

Sunday’s defeat saw Milan remain in the last qualifying spot for the Europa League, two points above Inter.

“If we relate everything to the result, it didn’t go well but I shouldn’t do that,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We created 15 chances, it’s difficult to create more in Serie A.”

Empoli took a surprise lead five minutes from halftime when Levan Mchedlidze headed in a corner.

Milan should have leveled shortly before the hour, after Lukasz Skorupski pushed over Mario Pasalic, but the Empoli goalkeeper made up for his error by keeping out Suso’s penalty and then parrying a follow-up effort from Gianluca Lapadula.

Empoli doubled its lead in the 67th when Massimo Maccarone nodded on the ball for Mame Thiam to score his first goal in Italian football.

Lapadula reduced the deficit five minutes later, curling into the bottom corner and Milan had a good chance to level when it was awarded an indirect free kick six yards out from goal after Skorupski got the ball, put it down and picked it back up again.

However, with all the Empoli players on the line, Milan couldn’t equalize.

Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his side in the match with a fantastic one-handed save to deny Maccarone and it almost proved decisive as Lucas Ocampos volleyed off the crossbar at the other end.

Keita Balde Diao notched a five-minute hat trick as Lazio crushed Palermo to move back into fourth in Serie A.

Ciro Immobile scored two in as many minutes to put Lazio 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, before Keita’s quickfire treble – including a penalty – ensured the match was all but over with less than half an hour played.

Lazio relaxed and Palermo threatened an unexpected comeback with two goals from Andrea Rispoli in five minutes at the start of the second half.

But Luca Crecco extended Lazio’s lead in the final minute with his first ever senior goal.

Juventus continued its march to an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title by routing Genoa 4-0 to move 11 points clear of Roma.

Ezequiel Munoz scored an own-goal in the 17th and magnificent strikes from Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic put the hosts 3-0 up at the break. Leonardo Bonucci scored another stunning goal in the 64th after sprinting forward from inside his own half. Juventus also hit the woodwork three times.

Crotone kept its faint hopes of survival alive with a surprise 2-1 win at Sampdoria.

The result left it five points behind 17th-placed Empoli and safety with five matches remaining.

Elsewhere, Torino won 3-1 at Chievo Verona, while Udinese beat Cagliari 2-1.

MLS Snapshot: Sounders cruise, 3-0, as Galaxy struggles continue

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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy’s midfield remains… nonexistent, to put it very nicely. It was a problem in 2015; it was a major problem in 2016; and it remains a problem early in 2017. On Sunday, Curt Onalfo’s side (as a quick aside, no, his seat isn’t yet getting hot) sat by and watched — almost literally — as the Seattle Sounders found the back of the net three times in the first half at StubHub Center.

Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris scored the goals for Seattle, to go with an own goal from Ashley Cole. It’s LA’s fifth loss in seven games, while Seattle have their second win of the season and put to bed a three-game winless skid.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundup — FCD win battle of unbeatens ]

Three moments that mattered

29′ — Dempsey heads into an open net for 1-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro floated the cross toward the back post, and Dempsey made extremely easy work of it with Brian Rowe scrambling through no man’s land.

35′ — Cole applies the finish into his own net — If it happened at the other end of the field, we’d have said it was a cool, calm, composed finish. Alas…

44′ — Morris fires past Rowe for 3-0 — The counter-attack was quick, what with no one stepping to the ball as Seattle covered two-thirds of the field. The finish wasn’t so simple for Morris.

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Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (29′), Cole (OG – 35′), Morris (44′)