Premier League Transfer Needs: Arsenal, Villa, Cardiff, Chelsea, Palace

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With just over a week left in the January transfer window, it’s time to assess what each Premier League team needs. Some need to splash the cash big time in their quest to make the top four, or stay up, while other may resist the urge to spend.

All this week at ProSoccerTalk, we’re breaking down the transfer needs of every PL team. Here’s the first batch.

ARSENAL

Arsenal’s sole need is for a striker. Olivier Giroud has been a revelation but overuse is a worry and with winger-come-striker Theo Walcott out for the season and Nicholas Bendtner being, well, Nicholas Bendtner, Arsenal need to add a new piece up top. Tha assumes, of course, that the Gunners want to win a title (Champions League or Premier League).

Famously content with his players, there’s no guarantee Arsene Wenger will bring someone in. If he does un-latch the money clip, Wenger could do the business on the cheap – Wolfburg’s Diego (free) and Fulham’s Dimitar Berbetov (£2m) – or on the Mesut Ozil type level – Schalke’s Julian Draxler (£37m) and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa (£32m). Of course, attacking midfielders like Diego and Draxler would be striker-converts but would nevertheless be major boosts to Arsenal’s front line.

ASTON VILLA

Despite their vanilla form over the first half of the season Aston Villa are actually a squad with decent depth. Having already brought in striker Grant Holt and full-back Ryan Bertrand on loan, Villa now set their sites on a center midfielder with gusto. Karim El Ahmadi, Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph form a strong core of center midfielders but none possess true creative, attacking talent.

Paul Lambert was rumored to be hot on the tails of Belgian midfielder Steven Defour, who the Villa manager dismissed talk of swooping for last week, and Norwich City playmaker Wes Hoolahan, who Lambert previously coached at Carrow Road.

CARDIFF CITY

Suddenly Cardiff find themselves in last place and in desperate need of some new blood. With only 17 goals through 22 matches, a striker would be nice and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer had hoped to land Mame Diouf from Hannover only for the Bundesliga club to refuse selling him. The new manager has already signed Heerenveen attacking midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem Molde and  versatile midfielder Matts Moeller Daehli.

Midfield is another area the Bluebirds could use some spice and Solksjaer would be happy to take Ravel Morrison off West Ham’s hands but luring the former Manchester United player to Wales is proving difficult. Some sharps also see Cardiff as the likely loan destination of Wilfried Zaha given Solksjaer’s connections to Old Trafford.

CHELSEA

With 20+ players on loan and having already bought attacking midfielder Bertrand Traoré (already sent on loan to Vitesse) and Benfica’s midfield destroyer Nemanja Matic (£22m), the Blues are one of the few Premier League clubs all set for a spring time run.

CRYSTAL PALACE

With the worst goals-per-game ratio in the Premier League, a striker is an obvious need but after missing out on former Everton striker Nikica Jelavic (to Hull City) and Carlton Cole (re-signed at West Ham) their options have dwindled. Stoke City striker Peter Crouch remains on Tony Pulis’ radar as does Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Chelsea’s Demba Ba, who would arrive at Selhurst Park on loan.

Damien Delaney and Danny Gabbidon have formed a remarkably strong center-back partnership but defensive depth will be key if the Eagles are to avoid relegation. Look for Tony Pulis to bolster the back line with a move for a player with Premier League experience. Blackburn defender Scott Dann would certainly fit the bill.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.