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?

[RELATED: Latest transfer window news]

[RELATED: Every Deadline Day deal]

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.

How can Spurs get over Wembley jinx?

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LONDON — There is a real danger that the book “That’s so Spursy!” will have to add an entire chapter for their ‘home games’ played at Wembley Stadium over the next season.

[ MORE: Three things we learned ]

Fans of every club get butterflies in their stomach when they first spot the famous arch of Wembley either from the train, the road or on foot.

Supporters of every club except Tottenham, that is.

Spurs lost 2-1 to Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday as the first-ever Premier League game at their temporary home followed the narrative to a tee. Let’s get this straight from the offset: Tottenham didn’t deserve to lose this game. At all. They did, because, well, Wembley. Is it as simple as that?

Everyone connected with Tottenham will be saying so, but there are so many factors to consider, and to try and alter.

After dominating the game Spurs were hit by two sucker punches courtesy of Marcos Alonso‘s first half free kick and then a late Alonso goal following a mistake from Victor Wanyama.

Tottenham have now lost more games at home this season than they did all of last season and they’ve won just two of their 11 games at the new Wembley and one of their last five ‘home games’ there.

Mauricio Pochettino, who continues to be positive above moving to Wembley, insisted that Spurs’ new home wasn’t to blame for his first London derby defeat as Spurs boss.

“It doesn’t affect me. I understand that we need to talk and everyone today I think the Wembley effect is not the reason because we lost the game,” Pochettino said. “The team played really well and it is not fair to blame Wembley because Wembley is, for me, one of the best places in the world to play football.”

“Today was clear today that if you love football and watch football and you want to watch again the game, you will see Wembley isn’t the problem and the size of the pitch. I think we played better, we created chances to score but that is football,” Pochettino continued.

The main qualm from those connected with Tottenham is the size of the Wembley pitch. Here is a fact: it is only five yards longer and two yards wider than their White Hart Lane pitch where they failed to lose a game last season with the size of the pitch supposedly a key factor in allowing them to high-press teams into submission.

Spurs have a system which only works if they push their defensive line high. Jan Vertonghen revealed in preseason that he sees Harry Kane, their highest line of attack, as the reference point for when they need to push higher. The gap between Spurs’ defense and Kane was much more than it was last season, but maybe that’s because they were too scared about leaving space in-behind for Chelsea to hit them on the counter and that would leave the ultimate sweeper-keeper, Hugo Lloris, with too much ground to cover. Five yards it a lot of space to make up time and time again at the top.

Those were the tactical issues, but some of the aesthetics were also challenging.

With confetti still on the floor from Arsenal’s FA Community Shield win against Chelsea two weeks ago, plus beating drums being broadcast over the loudspeakers to generate more noise which prompted chants of “what the f***** hell is that!” from the Chelsea fans, this will take some getting used to.

There are many positives to Spurs playing at Wembley this season.

My ears are still ringing from the roar when Michy Batshuayi scored an own goal late on to make it 1-1. Adults can pay as little as $25 for a ticket, with children paying just $10. It was notable that more families were present at the home of soccer on Sunday with Spurs suddenly able to accommodate double the amount of home fans they could at White Hart Lane. From that point of view it is fantastic.

Every game will be an event but on the flip-side every game will feel like a cup final for visiting sides. Burnley next week, Swansea in mid-September and Bournemouth in October will all relish the chance to play at Wembley in Spurs’ next three home games.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte told Pro Soccer Talk after the game that Chelsea found extra motivation by playing at Wembley.

“Honestly, I think to see this atmosphere was great. This stadium, Wembley, it is a fantastic stadium, to see this, it is amazing. It is amazing also for the opponent,” Conte admitted, as he smiled. “In this atmosphere, so strong for us, our fans tried to push the same despite 70,000 Totttenham supporters. Honestly I think to see this atmosphere is also great for the opponent.”

Tottenham’s players will not only have to deal with that but the bigger pitch, the increased pressure from larger crowds and also trying to settle into a temporary home. Even after Tottenham get through this season on the road, they will move into the new stadium at White Hart Lane and have to do this all over again in 2018-19.

The mental side of this is huge, hence why putting your finger on how to solve this jinx is so complex.

Just as West Ham proved last season, it’s tough to settle into new, larger surroundings. Mentally it plays tricks with players, the staff and supporters. Everyone. Just like Arsenal struggling in UCL games many years ago before them at Wembley, the truth is that not much can be done to lift this hoodoo.

It has been a constant dull noise scrambling away in the back of the mind of Spurs’ players for well over a year. Pochettino didn’t want to blame the Wembley pitch but he did point at Tottenham’s unlucky streak continuing.

“I think we were a little bit unlucky, if you don’t have sometimes this bit of luck, it is difficult to win,” Pochettino explained. “I am only disappointed, I am not upset.”

Tottenham’s players will park their cars in different spots, sit in different places in the locker room and may even wear new boots for their next home game at Wembley against Burnley next Saturday. Maybe they can train on the Wembley pitch more, sleep in the executive boxes at night and have lunch in the glitzy suites to become more familiar with their new surroundings.

In truth, it will take time. Nothing more, nothing less.

They must simply do anything to break this hoodoo before the UEFA Champions League group stage rolls around next month as they cannot afford any more home defeats in the PL to harm their title hopes any further.

Right now this is just a jinx, but soon the negative noise about Wembley will drown out the optimism of over 70,000 Tottenham supporters.

Chelsea’s Conte: “This is a perfect response of the champions”

AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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Chelsea’s Antonio Conte heard all the grief after his reigning champion Blues fell 3-2 to Burnley last week at Stamford Bridge, so forgive him if he preens a bit after beating Spurs 2-1 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Recap | JPW’s 3 things from Wembley ]

Missing Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas from red card suspensions and already dealing with a relatively thin squad — admittedly of Conte’s choice with many sanctioned sales and loans — Chelsea started Andreas Christensen and not-yet 100 percent Tiemoue Bakayoko and pulled out a win against a very good Spurs side.

“This is a perfect response of the champions. We won the league last season, winning 30 games, and that is not easy. We lost in the final of the FA Cup. We have arrived in some problems with bans and injuries but we must be ready to work and focus on the pitch. The club is trying its best in the transfer market to improve our squad but I must be happy.”

And there’s the rub: Chelsea’s bench did include Pedro and Michy Batshuayi, but also had unfamiliar surnames Musonda, Kenedy, Tomori, and Scott.

[ POCHETTINO: “The better team did not win the game” ]

Eden Hazard will return from injury, but Diego Costa isn’t walking through that door and Chelsea has already sold Nemanja Matic, Nathan Ake, and Nathaniel Chalobah while sending Kurt Zouma, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Tammy Abraham out on loan.

Expect buys in the next two weeks, whether a linked name like Danny Drinkwater or unexpected targets.

Spurs’ Pochettino: “The better team did not win the game”

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Both Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino and defender Ben Davies says Wembley Stadium has nothing to do with why their club lost to Chelsea.

Pochettino was clearly stung by a loss in which their side out shot the Blues but conceded goals on both of Chelsea’s shots on target. Calling Chelsea a team only aimed to counterattack, Pochettino says Spurs deserved all three points.

[ MORE: Recap | JPW’s 3 things from Wembley ]

“I’m not frustrated, I’m disappointed,” Pochettino said. “The better team did not win the game.”

Earlier on television, Pochettino illustrated that point. From the BBC:

“We are one step ahead than last season. We were much better in every aspect of the game than Chelsea, they were just clinical. I am not frustrated or upset I am happy with the performance of the players. We are working hard, there are plenty of games to play.”

In other questions you can tell both Pochettino and the club are exasperated by the questions regarding Wembley Stadium as a home venue. And, at least Sunday, they are right to feel aggrieved by the idea that the stadium is to blame.

Hugo Lloris allowed a bad goal and Thibaut Courtois made a number of fine saves for Blues. That was probably the difference in the match.

Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win vs. Spurs

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Sunday in the first-ever Premier League game at Wembley Stadium.

The reigning champs put all of their early season worries to one side to sneak out of Tottenham’s temporary home with a narrow win as Spurs squandered chances and Marcos Alonso scored twice, including a late winner.

Here’s what we learned from Wembley.


3-5-2 FOR NEW-LOOK CHELSEA?

When Chelsea’s teamsheet was passed around in the Wembley Stadium press box, there was much debate as to exactly how Antonio Conte would line his side up.

Given suspensions to Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard out injured and Diego Costa exiled in Brazil, Conte was forced into a reshuffle with David Luiz in midfield and youngster Andreas Christensen starting in a three-man defense alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and new signing Antonio Rudiger.

The 3-5-2 system worked to start with as Alvaro Morata squandered a glorious chance by heading wide, then Marcos Alonso curled home a superb free kick to give Chelsea the lead.

However Tottenham soon found space out wide with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso asked to do more attacking than in the 3-4-3 formation and this system seemed to be more out of necessity to protect youngster Christensen and help ease in Tiemoue Bakayoko, than something which will stick around for the rest of the season. Bakayoko and Kante shut down Wanyama and Die from getting on the ball and Luiz shut down the space for Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli to work in.

Chelsea’s new signings settled in relatively well with Morata guilty of missing a gilt-edge chance early on and somewhat weak in the challenge, while Bakayoko roughed up Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele in midfield and Rudiger was solid. With Cahill, Fabregas and Hazard to return, it seems like many wrote off this Chelsea side too quickly this season following the shock defeat to Burnley on the opening weekend.

Yes, Conte will want reinforcements in the final weeks of the window, but things aren’t as bad as they seemed last week for the reigning champs.


WEMBLEY HOODOO CONTINUES FOR SPURS

Perhaps it was the confetti still on the floor from Arsenal’s Community Shield win over Chelsea two weeks ago. Perhaps it was the bigger pitch. Perhaps it was the increased expectation from a crowd of over 75,000. Perhaps it was Chelsea’s fine record against Spurs as they’ve now lost just twice in their last 18 encounters against Tottenham.

Whatever you put this defeat down to, this was the last thing Tottenham wanted to happen in their first-ever league game at Wembley Stadium.

The Wembley hoodoo remains as Harry Kane hit the post, Thibaut Courtois came up with a string of fine saves and there were some horror misses for Spurs. To top it all just when Spurs thought they had nicked a point for all of their endeavors, Alonso scored in the 88th minute after a horrible giveaway by Victor Wanyama.

Much has been made of the size of the pitch and how unfamiliar surroundings could cost Tottenham dear in 2017-18 during their one-year move as their new 61,000 capacity home at White Hart Lane is finished.

Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home is closer to Wembley than Spurs’ White Hart Lane and the Blues looked more comfortable there from the start with Alonso’s late strike the difference.

Spurs have now won just two of their 11 games at the new Wembley, failing to win in nine of their last 10 trips to Wembley, and for five of those games they were “at home.”

Does it really make that much difference?

When it comes to the pitch size there isn’t much difference between White Hart Lane and Wembley. The pitch size at Wembley is listed as 105 x 75 yards. That makes it five yards longer and two yards wider than the pitch Spurs dominated teams on last season with Mauricio Pochetino’s high-pressing style seeing Tottenham unbeaten at home all season.

Before the season started Pochettino and Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen discussed how high Spurs push up the pitch and how the defense use Harry Kane as a reference point for the rest of their team. If Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld realize they’re too far away from Kane, they’ll push the entire team up. With an extra five yards to cover, time and time again, it makes a difference at the top. We saw that on Sunday with over half the pitch often separating Spurs’ defense with Kane, presumably because Pochettino was worried about Chelsea launching counters and his team being exposed.

With Spurs still getting used to new surroundings, their fans settling into their new matchday routine and a much different atmosphere generated compared to the cramped, hostile White Hart Lane, this will take time.

The main reason Spurs finished second last season was due to their home form. They will have to adapt to their new home quickly, amid an increased wave of negativity following this defeat, to try and remain not only as title contenders but top four challengers.

Tottenham dominated vast swathes of this game but the Wembley hoodoo remains.


DRY AUGUST FOR KANE

Harry Kane has now gone 12 Premier League games without scoring a goal in August.

Considering he is the top scorer in each of the PL’s past two seasons, that’s quite an achievement.

Kane, 24, hit the post, had shots saved and blocked on Sunday as he did everything but score. The curse of August continues for Kane.

But what can you attribute it to?

Kane is one of those strikers who has to feel the game, to feel the moment and then play on his instincts.

He has all of the raw ingredients — pace, power, aerial ability, vision — to dominate but he needs time to settle down on the pitch and get in the groove.

It is not easy to do that after getting 45 minutes here and 60 minutes there in preseason. Kane seemed a little hesitant when the ball dropped around the box to him on Sunday, waiting an extra split second or taking an extra touch.

In the 77th minute Mousa Dembele played him through after a mazy run but Kane slipped at the vital moment. Even if their stadium has changed, some things never do.

September to January is peak Kane time.