Premier League transfer window grades – Which team did the best business?

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With the transfer window now shut, it’s time to look back on the summer of transfer activity and assess how each Premier League time fared.

Over $1.4 billion was spent this summer, as the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool splashed the cash, but did they improve their squads?

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Below we have given each PL team a grade and broken down some of their key ins and outs during the summer.

Lets us know if you agree.

SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW 2014-15 – GRADES

Chelsea – A

No doubt that the big winners from this window have been Chelsea. Jose Mourinho has managed to get rid of David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku and Fernando Torres and replace them with Loic Remy, Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Cesc Fabregas… plus, he made a profit. Remarkable summer for the Stamford Bridge club.

Hull City – A-

Steve Bruce worked wonders in the final few days of the window. They signed Abel Hernandez from Palermo for a club record fee, grabbed Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez on loan, plus got Mohamed Diame from West Ham after offloading George Boyd. The Tigers spent the $20 million they got for Shane Long wisely. Great deals all round.

Southampton – B+

Southampton handled a mass exodus superbly and are arguably stronger than they were in May. Lallana, Shaw, Lambert, Chambers and Lovren left, but players like Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Fraser Forster have arrived to help Ronald Koeman build a new team. Deadline Day buys Toby Alderweireld and Sadio Mane were great pieces of business as the Saints looked well stocked and made a profit of over $50 million during the summer.

Liverpool – B+

Brendan Rodgers has spent over $200 million this summer, but he did rake in over $128 million for selling Luis Suarez. Lallana, Lambert, the main man Mario Balotelli, Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and others have arrived as Rodgers has brought in quantity. Liverpool look stronger across the board and with a European campaign coming up, the Reds will be better off for it.

Arsenal – B+

The Gunners bagged Danny Welbeck on Deadline Day and his capture was crucial. He will compliment Alexis Sanchez superbly and with Sanchez’s $65 million signing, Welbeck, Calum Chambers and Matheiu Debuchy, the Gunners did very well overall. However, Wenger probably should have brought in a striker of Falcao or Edinson Cavani’s caliber. That said, big, big money has been spent.

Manchester United – B+

The Red Devils left it late but have brought in six new players over the summer. Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao have arrived. The latter will be influential, as Falcao’s goals could be the differnce. Louis van Gaal has also got rid of plenty of veterans such as Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, as the squad looks a lot younger and fresher. Work to do defensively but the summer moves has seen over $200 million spent at Old Trafford. LVG’s revolution is well underway but they missed out on Mats Hummels and Arturo Vidal.

Everton – B

Roberto Martinez spent his entire loot on Romelu Lukaku this summer and it could come back to haunt him. Look, Everton got Gareth Barry in and locked down Lukaku, but elsewhere they have only signed Mohamed Besic and Samuel Eto’o. More defensive players were needed.

Queens Park Rangers – B 

Harry Redknapp, of course, wheeled and dealed on deadline day. He lives for it. QPR brought in Sandro from Tottenham and Niko Kranjcar on loan from Dynamo Kiev. After signing two Chilean internationals on loan, Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas, plus the likes of Leroy Fer, Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch, Rangers are a lot stronger.

Crystal Palace – C+

On Deadline Day, Palace moved to sign James McArthur for a club record fee of $13 million. They also added young defender Zeki Fryers from Tottenham, plus former star Wilfried Zaha via a loan deal late in the window. New boss Neil Warnock has a solid core of players to build from in South London.

Aston Villa – C+

A few seasoned pros arrived at Villa in what has been a quiet yet steady summer. Roy Keane arrived as assistant boss, while Alan Hutton, Charles N’Zogbia and Darren Bent all come back into the fold after falling out with manager Paul Lambert. Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho, Carlos Sanchez and Joe Cole all arrived, plus they held onto Ron Vlaar. Not bad at all for Villa.

Swansea City – C

Garry Monk had an uneventful Deadline Day and that was just the way he likes it. Wilfried Bony had been the subject of plenty of inquiries but the Swans held onto him, plus added the likes of Federico Fernandez, Jefferson Montero and, most importantly, Gylfi Sigurdsson. He has been a revelation on his return to South Wales from Tottenham and the Swans are in fine shape.

Sunderland – C

Gus Poyet has done okay this summer with Jack Rodwell the main signing, but you do wonder if Sunderland have enough strength to stay away from a relegation battle. Ricky Alvarez has arrived from Inter Milan on loan and the Argentine winger could be a star for the Black Cats. He needs to be.

Manchester City – C

Man City have spent the summer signing their experienced players to new deals. They have also added a few new players with young defender Eliaquim Mangala arriving from FC Porto for $54 million, plus midfielder Fernando also arriving from Porto. They let Alvaro Negredo leave on Deadline Day. Will Manuel Pellegrini rue that decision?

Newcastle United – C

An okay window for the Magpies. They failed to bring in a new top class striker, which is a real worry for Alan Pardew’s men. They signed Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere but you do wonder where the goals will come from after losing Loic Remy.

Tottenham Hotspur – C

Mauricio Pochettino has added Federico Fazio, Benjamin Stambouli, American defender DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Dier but all four are solid defensive players. Spurs were looking to add a pacey wideman and couldn’t get a deal for Jay Rodriguez done on Deadline Day. They will be okay, that’s for sure, but Spurs fans were hoping for a lot more.

West Bromwich Albion – C-

Alan Irvine brought in 11 new players at West Brom, but the new manager has a lot of unknown quantities. Nigerian international Brown Ideye looks a real handful but plenty of other signings have yet to shine. Let’s see how this plays out but the Baggies should have signed some more experienced faces.

Leicester City – C-

Esteban Cambiasso, Leonardo Ullo and Marc Albrighton were the big arrivals as Nigel Pearson decided to stick with the core squad he had in place from their Championship success. You have to think the newly-promoted squad didn’t bring in enough players. Will it cost them dear?

Burnley – C-

Sean Dyche found it hard to sign players on a shoestring budge at Turf Moor. George Boyd arrived on Deadline Day for $5 million, but plenty more players arrived looking for a second chance in the PL. A mixture of youngsters and veterans came in, with Matt Taylor, Steven Reid and Michael Kightly arriving. Not a great window.

Stoke City – D-

The Potters are going to be okay, but only Oussama Assaidi came in on loan from Liverpool on Deadline Day. Mark Hughes’ men finished ninth last season and you would have hoped to see big money spent by Stoke’s board. Bojan arrived from Barcelona and Diouf looks like a gem up top, but they didn’t add the quality we would have expected.

West Ham United – D-

Sam Allardyce is under pressure and the Hammers’ moves this summer leave a little to be desired. Alex Song coming in on loan from Barcelona is a good deal but I’m not convinced Enner Valencia can score the goals they need up top. West Ham’s squad looks weaker than last season. The January window will be vital for the East London club.

VIDEO: Schweinsteiger asked if Chicago Fire can win World Cup

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Big press conferences bring unusual media members out of the woodwork, and this can be pretty embarrassing when it comes to sports.

I remember a few years ago in Buffalo, when the NHL’s Sabres had not resigned Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. A TV newsman, not known for his sports coverage, asked the general manager what they would say to fans who bought Drury and Briere jerseys.

The awkward reply: “Sorry?”

[ MORE: Lamela out for rest of season ]

There was no exception when the Chicago Fire unveiled Bastian Schweinsteiger on Wednesday. The World Cup winning midfielder faced the press and was asked if his arrival would help Chicago win the World Cup.

You read that right. Here’s the video, even as the communications man jumped in to try and save the reporter by suggesting he meant the FIFA Club World Cup.

Woof. The media overseas are having a field day with this one, but it doesn’t have anything to do with American soccer fans, perhaps even sports media. I’d be stunned if the reporter spent a ton of time around the game.

But man, oh man.

Celtic’s dominance under Rodgers reaching new levels

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They’re unbeaten in 29 games, winning 27 of them. They hold a 25-point lead. They’re about to clinch a sixth straight league title this weekend and it’s still not even April.

Celtic’s players have taken their supremacy of Scottish soccer to a new level this season, putting the storied club from Glasgow in the conversation when discussing the most dominant sides in Europe’s domestic leagues in the 21st century.

Celtic will be the Scottish champion again as early as Friday if its closest rival, Aberdeen, loses to Dundee. If Aberdeen wins, Celtic will take an unassailable lead in the Scottish Premiership by beating Hearts on Sunday.

[ MORE: Lamela out for rest of season ]

There’s been a sense of inevitability about the whole thing since the turn of the year, by which time Celtic had jumped into a 19-point lead. It’s long stopped being called a “title race” in Scotland, more a procession.

Meanwhile, the team coached by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers won the Scottish League Cup in late November and is also through to the semifinals of the Scottish Cup.

With Celtic’s unbeaten run across three domestic competitions currently at 36 games, this might be the most dominant season by any club in the history of Scotland’s top flight.

A glance around Europe shows a few other examples of title monopolies.

Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and BATE Borisov (Belarus) are currently on a streak of 11 domestic leagues titles in a row since 2006. Olympiakos is on course for a seventh straight Greek league title, which would be its 12th in the last 13 years, and Sheriff Tiraspol has won the Moldovan league every year except one since 2000. Basel leads the Swiss league by 17 points and is about to seal a ninth title in 10 years.

[ MORE: Zlatan to stay at United?

In these lesser-profile leagues, teams can dominate because of the cash they receive from participating in UEFA competitions, which often allow them to outspend their domestic rivals.

Last week, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, attending a conference in Lisbon, spoke of the threats to European soccer in the coming years, including the “decrease in competitive balance within European club competitions and secondary effects affecting domestic competitions.”

There are examples of lopsided championships in Europe’s big leagues, too: Juventus is closing on an unprecedented sixth straight Serie A title in Italy and on course for a third straight Serie A-Coppa Italia double; Bayern Munich is on course for a fifth straight Bundesliga title in Germany, which included winning one championship after 27 matches of a 34-round league; Lyon won the French league title seven times in succession from 2002; and Ajax won four straight titles in the Netherlands from 2011-14.

Scotland is widely regarded as a backwater in European soccer these days, mainly because of the uncompetitive nature of its league and an increasing lack of exposure and coverage outside Britain.

What didn’t help was Rangers – Celtic’s fierce crosstown rival and winner of a record 54 league titles – getting demoted to the fourth tier of the Scottish game in 2012 because of financial irregularities.

This is Rangers’ first season back in the Premiership, but it hasn’t been able to challenge Celtic and currently sits 33 points behind in third place. There used to be constant talk of the two “Old Firm” clubs crossing the border to join the English league but that has cooled.

“I want to win (the league) by 50 points,” Rodgers, who is in his first season at Celtic, said last month.

[ MORE: RSL hires Petke ]

In any other league, that would be a preposterous comment, but perhaps no longer in Scotland.

The season started so embarrassingly for Celtic and Rodgers, a 1-0 loss to Gibraltarian part-timer Lincoln Red Imps in a Champions League qualifier in July described by some pundits as the club’s worst defeat in its 130-year history.

Now, they are about to lift the league title with eight matches to spare and potentially in the month of March for the second time in four years.

“We want to continue winning, continue the run that we’re on,” Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon said, “and make sure we do that for as long as we can.”

AP Sports Writers Graham Dunbar in Geneva and James Ellingworth in Moscow, and Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey in Berlin, Daniella Matar in Milan, Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Raf Casert in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.

Steve Douglas is at http://www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

Mourinho: Midseason international friendlies don’t make sense

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Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United has a big challenge thanks to injuries and a club with far more international participants than the weekend’s Premier League rival.

It has the manager asking, frankly, why the friendlies?

While Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were injured in England training, not the friendly against Germany nor the World Cup qualifier versus Lithuania, Mourinho wonders why the national teams need to play relatively meaningless matches in the middle of club season.

[ MORE: Lamela out for rest of season ]

Mourinho says he is being careful not to be too vocal about his disappointment given that he’ll probably one day need those friendlies as an international boss. From Sky Sports:

“A couple of weeks before the Euros or a couple of weeks before the World Cup makes sense. But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don’t think that makes sense.

“On top of that the matches are not really big matches so I am not a big fan. But I think one day I will be there so I cannot be very critical.”

Mourinho will be without Jones, Smalling, and Paul Pogba this weekend. He also has several internationals who won’t arrive back at Old Trafford until Thursday. United hosts West Brom on Saturday.

Lamela needs hip surgery, out for rest of Spurs season

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Tottenham Hotspur won’t be getting an Erik Lamela boost any time soon.

The 25-year-old winger will undergo surgery on his ailing hip this Saturday, costing him availability for Spurs’ stretch run and Argentina duty.

[ MORE: RSL hires Petke ]

Lamela has been missing since Oct. 29, and left Spurs lineup with the team unbeaten in the Premier League (5W-4D).

He registered a goal and an assist in PL play, adding a goal and four helpers in the side’s first two rounds of the EFL Cup and two assists in three Champions League matches.