Kostas Mitroglou

Transfer window: Biggest winners, losers in Premier League

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The January transfer window is shut.

Take a deep breath after what has been a whirlwind day of deals around the Premier League.

Dollar signs and contracts terms are floating around the heads of many fans, players, managers and chairman after crucial deals have been pushed through in the final few hours of the deadline.

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Now it’s time to break down the big winners and losers from the window, as certain clubs have definitely fared better than others in the transfer window.We’ve had panic buys, loan deal, multi-million dollar signings and some will turn out better deals than others.

That’s the beauty of it. Leaving it so late in the window to do your business is risky and some clubs will get their fingers burnt.

Let’s analyze who stood out with their business acumen and we will simply pick out three Premier League teams that did the best business… then we will lambast another three who should’ve done better business.

BIGGEST WINNERS

Fulham

This was massively needed in the window, Fulham have overhauled their roster and finally spent some big cash to get guys in that they really wanted. On deadline day they first brought in Lewis Holtby from Tottenham on loan, and the little man is a terrific workhorse in the middle and exactly what Fulham needed at the point in midfield. Then the big signing came as Greek international striker Kostas Mitroglou signed for $18 million from Olympiakos. He swapped the UEFA Champions League for a relegation battle, this guys is a top class striker who scores boat loads of goals. Best signing of the day. Hands down. Great buys from Rene Meulensteen and American owner Shadid Khan. They’ve also added John Heitinga from Everton, who is a terrific Dutch center back that will stop the Cottagers leaking goals. Great window.

source: Getty Images
Can Zaha kick-start his career on loan at Cardiff?

Cardiff

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has made plenty of bold moves in the window, and I like what he’s doing. The Bluebirds needed some fresh legs and new faces around the place, because let’s face it, despite all their grit and determination they aren’t getting it done in the PL. Norwegian trio Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mats Moller Daehli and Jo Inge Berget have arrived,  as well as Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones. But the most significant signings could be Wilfried Zaha and Fabio from Manchester United. Zaha is on loan and has something to prove, which means the England international could be the difference between Cardiff staying up or going down.

Crystal Palace

Jason Puncheon, Wayne Hennessey and Scott Dann all arrived on deadline day, with deals for Thomas Ince and Joe Ledley being pushed over the line as the window slammed shut. If they do get those five players, Palace have a tremendous chance of staying in the Premier League this season. Tricky attackers, solid midfielders, a good ‘keeper and a solid center back. The spine of their entire squad now looks incredibly strong. Tony Pulis is the master of deadline day deals, he proved that at Stoke. He’s done it again for the Eagles.

BIGGEST LOSERS

Arsenal

The Gunners had a big chance to bring in a top striker to challenge for their first title in almost 10 years. But they blew it. With just Oivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner as recognized strikers, Arsene Wenger somehow moved for Spartak Moscow midfielder Kim Kallstrom instead of getting a forward in. With a few midfield injuries, you can see why Wenger’s done it. But Arsenal fans were just hoping for a big-time striker to arrive as they desperately seek some silverware after an eight-year drought. No such luck. Opportunity missed.

Liverpool

source: AP
If Liverpool would’ve sealed the deal for Konoplyanka, it would salvage their transfer window. But they struck out.

For so long the Reds looked like they were about to seal a $22 million deal for Yevhen Konoplyanka but it looked like it all fell apart at the end. I really hoped Brendan Rodgers would go out and spend some big money on another good defender as well as the Ukrainian winger. I think that Liverpool’s squad isn’t quite strong enough, and they may now miss out on fourth place due to a bit of laziness in the window. I hope I’m proved wrong, because this is a good side. Sometimes you have to buy big when you’re on the edge of becoming a great team. You can’t stand still.

Stoke City

The Potters big transfer target was Lee Cattermole… No disrespect, but that says it all really. A holding midfielder, of which Stoke have a plethora of, should not have been the priority for a Stoke side dropping alarmingly down the table. They can’t score goals. They needed to bring in a top striker and they grabbed Peter Odemwingie and John Guidetti, while getting ride of Kenwyne Jones. I think Mark Hughes’ side are going to struggle for the rest of the season, they really needed some new additions in this window.

Stoke City announces partnership with Orlando City

during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England.
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Americans have been heavily involved in Premier League management, including John Henry at Liverpool and the Glazer family who own Sunderland.

[ MORE: LAFC is one step closer to joining MLS, after finding home for stadium ]

Friday marked a dawn of a new relationship between the PL and MLS though, when Stoke City announced a strategic partnership with Orlando City SC.

[ MORE: Rapids-RSL highlights Week 10 action around MLS ]

The goal of the agreement between the two sides is to advance player recruitment and development, as well spark fan engagement in both leagues.

Potters Chief Executive Tony Scholes:

“It’s an opportunity for us to share best practice with Orlando in a variety of areas, primarily in player recruitment, marketing and development, but also to give both clubs chance to grow in each other’s markets,” said Scholes.

“A large number of our fans already regard Orlando as their MLS side and I know that Stoke City are already followed by many Orlando fans.

“As an established Premier League club we are always looking at new ways to develop our profile overseas and our strategic partnership will help us to develop in the United States.”

NBC’s recent coverage of the PL has sparked massive interest in the United States, giving fans various opportunities to watch matches over the course of a weekend. As MLS continues to grow as well, you can surely expect interest abroad, specifically in Europe, to grow too.

Phil Rawlins, Founder and President of Orlando City, is excited with the relationship building between the two clubs.

“It was very clear that we’ve always had a good relationship with Stoke City and it came down to us wanting to reignite that synergy and bring our brands closer together. This will be our only partnership in England, and we hope to ignite passions for both our clubs in each other’s markets.”

The pursuit of MLS to become a top league has a ways to go, but a move like this will surely only benefit commissioner Don Garber and the rest of MLS.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas injuries present challenge for Real Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 18:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid controls the ball under pressure from Joel Matip of Schalke uring the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between Real Madrid and FC Schalke 04 at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 18, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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After narrowly escaping Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal against Manchester City, 1-0, Real Madrid is facing a bit of difficult news.

[ MORE: Ben Afra drawing interest from Barcelona ]

The club has confirmed injuries to both Gareth Bale and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, despite each player going the full 90 minutes midweek. Bale has reportedly sustained a knee problem, while Navas has suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon.

The extent of the injuries is not yet known, although Bale’s appears to be less severe. With Madrid down a goalkeeper, reserve team keeper Kiko Casilla will likely take over in net for Real while Navas recovers.

Madrid will host Valencia on Sunday in La Liga, with both players expected to miss the match. Bale could reportedly return for Real’s match against Deportivo La Coruna on May 14, their final league game. The team can then turn its attention to the Champions League final against rival Atletico Madrid on May 28.

Real currently sits one point behind La Liga leader Barcelona and second place Atleti with two games to play.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Top 5 Premier League storylines: Week 37

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United reacts at full time during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St James Park on April 30, 2016 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
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The Foxes have pulled off the unthinkable, clinching the Premier League title, but that doesn’t mean that Week 37 won’t hold significance.

[ MORE: Full Premier League TV schedule: Week 37 ]

While the title race is no longer an option, a three-team battle at the bottom of the table has taken shape in this year’s relegation battle.

Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich City each have their eyes set on staying in the PL in 2016-17, and despite having their fair share of down this season one team will emerge and remain in the top flight of English football.

Here’s a look at the top five Premier League storylines you should be keeping on eye on this weekend.


Newcastle could be aided by opponent — (Aston Villa vs. Newcastle, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra 

Rafa Benitez was brought into Newcastle to save the team from relegation. Well, if the season were to end today he would have accomplished that goal. Unfortunately for he and his side though, two matches remain for the Magpies, and the two teams chasing aren’t going away.

Two points separate Newcastle from Sunderland and Norwich City, although the latter two have games in hand, which could prove crucial down the stretch. The one thing that does work in the favor of Newcastle though is their opponent, at least this week.

Aston Villa, who already knows they are being relegated, will host Newcastle on Saturday, giving the Magpies a legitimate opportunity to feast on the backline that has conceded an astounding 72 goals this season. Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic will need to find the back of the net a few times in order to give Newcastle a chance at staying up.


Can the Black Cats scratch past the Blues? — (Sunderland vs. Chelsea, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra 

The relegation battle will likely come down to the final day, which at least gives Sunderland a chance at staying up next season. The Black Cats have three matches remaining, including their dance with Chelsea. Things won’t be easy for the home side though.

Chelsea is fresh off a thrilling draw against Tottenham, which handed Leicester the PL crown and the team still has the firepower to burst out for goals at any time despite their lackluster campaign.

Jermain Defoe is undoubtedly the man to watch for the Black Cats, posting 14 goals in the league this season. If Sunderland looks to avoid relegation Defoe will surely be at the forefront of his side’s efforts to do so.


Twice as nice? — (Norwich City vs. Manchester United, Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra 

It may have come awhile ago, but Norwich has beaten the Red Devils this season. It came back in December, a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. Just like the two teams their chasing though, Norwich has failed miserably in stringing together positive results.

Losers of three straight, the Canaries are in desperation mode as they look to break their goalless run against United. With just 35 goals on the season and facing a team that is amongst the PL’s elite when it comes to keeping goals out, Alex Neil‘s team must work some sort of brilliance to get past United for a second time.

The Red Devils on the other hand still have a shot at the Champions League. With three games remaining, one more than the teams they are chasing, United can still mathematically jump Manchester City and/or Arsenal in pursuit of the CL. If not, the Europa League may have to do, unless West Ham has their say in the matter.


Sights set on the Champions League — (Manchester City vs. Arsenal, Sunday, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra 

Lost in the relegation battle is a meeting between two of the PL’s top sides. City currently sits three points behind Arsenal in the table, but that could all change with a victory from the Citizens at the Etihad Stadium.

In a closely-contested meeting just before Christmas, the Gunners managed a 2-1 win against Manuel Pellegrini‘s men. After recently bailing out of the Champions League semifinals though, City must has amnesia if they are to lock up the third and final automatic CL spot. Finishing fourth would mean that they have to go through qualifying in the CL.

The match goes beyond the CL though for both teams. Each side has had their share of struggles in 2015-16, so a win on Sunday could at least temporarily put those disappointments behind them.


Hammers seeking place in Europe — (West Ham United vs. Swansea City, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime and online via Live Extra 

In many seasons West Ham would have been the PL darling. Unfortunately though, that title was taken away by Leicester, who ironically also won the PL crown.

Dimitri Payet will likely see astronomical offers this summer from Europe’s top sides if he can couple his season with a strong Euro campaign with France. That being said, he and his side still have work to do. West Ham sits five points out of the final Champions League spot and one point behind United for Europa League qualification.

Obviously the CL would be nice for a club that is still looking to make its mark on the PL, but the Europa League is nothing to sneeze at either for the up-and-coming team. A fifth-place standing would tie the club’s best finish in the Premier League Era.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

City Council approves plans for new Los Angeles soccer venue

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The City Council has approved plans to build a $250 million stadium for Major League Soccer’s expansion Los Angeles Football Club.

[ MORE: Can MLS teams begin to create separation in Week 10? ]

The council voted 12-0 Friday to move forward with a 22,000-seat stadium on the site of the old Sports Arena next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and USC.

The 15-acre complex is also slated to include a conference center, restaurants, 140,000 square feet of plazas and streetscapes, and a soccer museum.

At its center would be the home to the new MLS team when it makes its debut in 2018.

LAFC is owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen and a celebrity-studded list of investors including Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra.