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January transfer window: Grades for each Premier League club

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How did each Premier League fare in the January transfer window?

[ MORE: Latest January transfer news ]  

Let’s just say some did remarkably better than others…

Below is a grade and a brief assessment for each PL club based on their transactions in the transfer window after it slammed shut on Jan. 31.

Time will tell who did the best business, but here’s our assessment.


Arsenal: C — Gunners didn’t have to do any business and they shipped out a few youngsters such as Zelalem and Akpom on loans. Still, I’m sure Arsenal fans wanted to see one more defender for cover.

Bournemouth: D — The Cherries failed to replace Nathan Ake after he went back to Chelsea and also couldn’t force through a deal for Asmir Begovic. Eddie Howe‘s men looking a little bit suspect in defense now.

Burnley: B+ — A wonderful window for the Clarets as they picked up Joey Barton on a free transfer, plus experienced campaigners Ashley Westwood and Robbie Brady for a combined fee of $22 million. Money well spent as they look set to fight off relegation for the first time ever.

Chelsea: C – The Blues brought back Ake and kept hold of Begovic and Diego Costa, plus they sold Oscar for an astronomical fee. Conte didn’t get the experienced striker he wanted as cover for Costa but that was the only stumbling block. Overall the squad was trimmed significantly and the Costa situation was handled. For now…

Crystal Palace: A – The Eagles finally got what they needed. Patrick Van Aanholt and Mamadou Sakho (on loan) will add plenty of quality to their defense and Serbian midfielder Luka Milivojevic will be an instant starter. Jeffrey Schlupp adds pace and power out wide and Palace should be much tougher to break down. A nice flourish saved their transfer window.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Patrick van Aanholt of Sunderland celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and A.F.C. Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light on January 23, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Everton: B – The Toffees probably could have added one more defender to make it a perfect window but Morgan Schneiderlin was the biggest buy in January at over $29.2 million. Ademola Lookman looks a handful and Koeman got rid of plenty of fringe players in Cleverley, Kone, Niasse, Oviedo, Deulofeu and Gibson. Solid window.

Hull: D – Hard to know how this will go for Hull. They sold Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass for big money and Marco Silva has brought in plenty of unfamiliar faces. Evandro, Niasse and Omar Elabdellaoui have already made a big impact, while Ranocchia and N’Diaye have quality pedigree. Did the Tigers really need to sell Snodgrass, their top scorer, now?

Leicester City: D – Not a good window for the Foxes as they gambled on more players based in Europe. Although Wilfried N’Didi looks a good player, can he really help them battle against relegation? They needed more help in defense than they got (they took a gamble on Molla Wague on Deadline Day) and after refusing to let Leonardo Ulloa to leave they now have a player sitting there unwilling to play. 

Liverpool: C – Jurgen Klopp should have moved for a central defender in the window but there was a lack of quality out there in January. No incomings at all tells us that Klopp is happy with his squad. They are in the top four mix and have trimmed their squad accordingly.

Manchester City: C – Another big club which didn’t really do anything. Gabriel Jesus finally joined but that deal was done in the summer. Surely Pep Guardiola had to buy some new defenders in January? If he had done, they could have kicked on and mounted a title challenge. Now it’s all about the top four or bust.

Manchester United: C – See above. United didn’t really need much in January and managed to move on some of their fringe players such as Memphis and Schneiderlin for big money. Job done. Like City and Liverpool, their long-term target remains a top-class center back.

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 17: Manolo Gabbiadini of Napoli in action during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on September 17, 2016 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
(Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough: F – A really bad window for Boro. They brought in Gestede, Bamford and Guedioura who are all solid players but they needed extra quality in attack. You can understand why manager Aitor Karanka looks so frustrated at the Riverside. Deals for Snodgrass, Bojan and Jese Rordiguez fell through to compound their misery.

Southampton: B – Saints brought in a talented striker for a club record fee in Manolo Gabbiadini, but they didn’t add the center back they wanted after letting Jose Fonte leave. Claude Puel can be happy with his squad who now don’t have a plethora of games to deal with. Holding on to Virgil Van Dijk, for now, is massive for their chances of winning the EFL Cup and finishing in the top 10.

Stoke City: B – A pretty decent window for the Potters as Saido Berahino finally arrived from West Brom to give them the forward presence they needed. They also added Lee Grant on a permanent deal. Bojan went out and Mark Hughes did a little bit of trimming.

Sunderland: F – It turned in to a bit of a nightmare window for the Black Cats. It’s obvious David Moyes didn’t have much money to spend and he’s lent on his old clubs to bring in Gibson, Oviedo and Lescott. Losing Van Aanholt was a blow and Sunderland really need to spend big on strikers to help Jermain Defoe. A potentially fatal decision not to strengthen this month with relegation looming.

Swansea City: B – Really good window for the Swans who have have added four key starters in Olsson, Carroll, Narsingh and Ayew. Three wins in four games in January also helps with Paul Clement‘s new-look squad. Keeping hold of key players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente was also key.

Tottenham Hotspur: C – Another meh window for a big club. Spurs have had a few defensive injuries but they have cover. With an expensive new stadium to pay for this was always going to be a quiet window.

Watford: B – A decent enough window, especially getting $25 million for Ighalo at the end of it. Cleverley, Zarate and Niang will all contribute right away Walter Mazzarri moved on six players. Tidy.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United at The Hawthorns on September 17, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion: C – Jake Livermore was a surprise buy considering all of the midfielders the Baggies already have. Another striker was high on their list to replace Berahino but they couldn’t quite get Jay Rodriguez.

West Ham United: C – Fonte and Snodgrass came in and Dimitri Payet went out. The latter will be a huge loss but after he refused to play, what more could they do than take the $25 million? Slaven Bilic‘s team have improved since Payet has been out of the team so that’s promising. Adding another striker would have been ideal.

Serie A: Napoli’s perfect season ends after draw with Inter

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MILAN (AP) Napoli’s perfect start to Serie A finally came to an end on Saturday in an enthralling 0-0 home draw with Inter Milan, the only other unbeaten side in the Italian top flight.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

There were plenty of chances at the San Paolo, and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was kept busier than his Napoli counterpart Pepe Reina.

It was the first time since April and a 2-2 draw at Sassuolo that Napoli has failed to win in Serie A.

Napoli remained top of the standings, two points above Inter and six above Juventus and Lazio, which face Udinese and Cagliari respectively on Sunday.

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

Napoli was looking for a ninth successive league win. It was boosted by Lorenzo Insigne passing fit to start after injuring a thigh on Tuesday in the Champions League defeat at Manchester City.

Inter was full of confidence after Mauro Icardi’s hat trick helped it win last week’s derby against AC Milan, but it hadn’t won in Naples in 20 years.

Napoli almost went in front but Handanovic pulled off a stunning double save to deny first Jose Callejon and then keep out Dries Mertens’ rebound attempt from point-blank range.

Handanovic then kept out an effort from Insigne following a great ball over the top from Marek Hamsik.

[ MORE: Mourinho — “We deserved the punishment of defeat” to Huddersfield ]

Inter went close shortly before halftime but Reina did well to fingertip Borja Valero’s close-range attempt over the bar.

Insigne had more chances after the break, going closest with a curling effort just past the right post.

Hamsik also fired narrowly wide, and Handanovic parried a powerful shot from substitute Piotr Zielinski.

Mertens should have won the match for Napoli in the final minute but Handanovic was again on hand to keep out his close-range volley.

Tactics Session: Inside the mind of Kevin De Bruyne

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If not for Harry Kane‘s prolific scoring of goals during the early days of this season, Kevin De Bruyne would almost certainly be the early runaway favorite for 2017-18 Premier League Player of the Season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

Alas, Kane, the one-season wonder that he is, seems hellbent on cracking the century mark in the PL this season, rather than waiting until 2018-19. This sets up what should be a thoroughly exhilarating seven-month battle between two polar opposite players — Kane, the goalscorer; and De Bruyne, the assist machine.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle delved into the mind of De Bruyne (above video) in light of last weekend’s 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City, during which De Bruyne notched another pair of assists to take season tally to five through eight games. Later on Saturday, De Bruyne added another in Man City’s 3-0 victory over Burnley.

[ MORE: Matchday experience — behind the scenes at Southampton ]

The first thing pointed out by Earle is the recovery — though deployed as more of a central midfielder on the day, De Bruyne sits wide with City in possession high up the field, just waiting for the opportune moment to surge forward and join the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero (now that he’s back from injury). When Jesus’ ball is too lightly weighted, De Bruyne reacts quickest to make the recovery.

From there, his head is up and scanning the entire field. One touch forward, and he’s already accounted for the positioning of each of his teammates, as well as the Stoke defenders, and every pocket of space into which he’ll either carry or play the ball. He knows the precise spot on the field he must get to in order to pull the defense to him, thus opening the necessary space (and time) for the final man — Sane, in this instance — to make his run in behind.

[ MORE: Mourinho — “We deserved the punishment of defeat” to Huddersfield ]

This is the part of De Bruyne’s game which he does better than anyone else in the world right now; no one can hold a candle KDB’s timing and vision — not Henrikh Mkhitaryan, not Isco, not Mesut Ozil, not even his brilliant teammate (and fellow six-assist man) David Silva. He’s almost operating at peak-Andres Iniesta level right now, which makes KDB and Co. appointment viewing every weekend.

Even now, after creating the passing lane and providing Sane the extra half-second to get level with his man before accelerating past in the blink of an eye. Even then, having seen the pass he has to play, there’s still the (major) matter of threading the needle through and around four defenders. On this occasion, the perfect pass is nearly 15 yards in front of Sane, and far less than that distance in front of the goalkeeper. An inch or two too short, it’s cleared by the right back; and inch or two too long, and the goalkeeper collects it easily.

As usual, no player in the world comes close to matching De Bruyne’s genius.

PL Sunday preview: Spurs take on bogey Reds; Everton vs. Arsenal

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Every club in the world has a bogey team (or teams) that no matter what they try, no matter the circumstances, it always seems to go sideways when they meet — a side that everyone associated with the club dreads when they see their name on the upcoming schedule.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man United shocked by Huddersfield; City, Chelsea win ]

For Tottenham Hotspur, the thorn currently in their side is Liverpool, who they’ll host at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, following Arsenal’s seasonal trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton.

Everton vs. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

After starting the 2017-18 Premier League season with just two wins from eight games, every game could very well be Ronald Koeman‘s last game in charge of Everton, thus a visit from top-four-chasing Arsenal is anything but well-timed for the distressed Dutchman. What’s worse, the Toffees are also without a win in their last four games (all competitions) and on the verge of crashing out of the Europa League group stage.

“The performance was under level in the first half,” Koeman said following Thursday’s home defeat to Lyon. “We made a lot of mistakes, and the team played with a lot of doubts and little confidence. It’s very difficult (to reach the next stage). Most of the time you get your points at home but we have only got one out of the two we have had at Goodison. Nothing is impossible, but to gain more points — and I think we need six or seven — we need to improve the level and that is more important.”

Sounds similar to their league performances, strangely enough — Everton currently sit 16th in the PL table, mere months after spending in excess of $200 million during the summer transfer window.

European competition has treated Arsenal far better this season, as Arsene Wenger‘s side is three-for-three in the Europa League following Thursday’s win away to Red Star Belgrade. A number of key figures — Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny, to name a few — were left in London, as a reserve- and youth-heavy side got the job done courtesy of an Olivier Giroud goal five minutes before full-time.

Still, the Gunners are in desperate need of a quick rebound following last weekend’s late defeat to Watford, after which Watford captain Troy Deeney publicly characterized the Arsenal players as mentally weak and said they lack the necessary “cojones” to compete at this level. On the bright side, Deeney’s 71st-minute equalizer (from the penalty spot) was the first goal Arsenal had conceded in 444 minutes in the PL, a streak they’ll look to start anew and build off Thursday’s win in Serbia.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Ross Barkley (back), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (fitness), Yannick Bolasie (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Calum Chambers (hip), Santi Cazorla (achilles)

[ MORE: Mourinho — “We deserved the punishment of defeat” to Huddersfield ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Mauricio Pochettino has never beaten Liverpool in six tries as Tottenham manager (two triumphs in his 18 months at Southampton); in fact, Spurs themselves haven’t beaten Liverpool in the PL since Nov. 28, 2012 (three draws and six defeats in nine tries) — the north London side’s truest bogey club this decade. Having already fallen eight points behind leaders Manchester City, Pochettino’s side will have to clear that mental hurdle on Saturday if they’re to go on and challenge for the PL title for a third straight season. On the other hand, they’re unbeaten in 10 games (seven wins) across all competitions.

Fortunately for Spurs, the Wembley monkey is off their back after narrowly edging past Bournemouth their last time out at home. Harry Kane is without goal in his last 241 minutes for club (two for England during the last international break), which is practically an eternity after scoring seven goals in the previous 188 minutes.

As for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp‘s side enters Sunday’s clash mired in a month-long slump, having won just one of their last four league games, and just two of their last nine in all competitions. A major part of the problem is more of the poor defending that dogged the Reds last season, but perhaps they’ve been a bit unfortunate as well.

“We had bad luck in the last three or four games,” summer signing Mohamed Salah said this week. “Everyone was confident a good result was coming.”

The tough stretch has seen Klopp somewhat recalibrate his expectations in the direction of reality, dubbing his side the “challenger” when they take on Tottenham.

“(Spurs) are in a really good moment as a club and we are the challenger when we go there, that’s how it is,” he said this week. “But they know it will not be an easy game, so good, let’s play and let’s see what happens.”

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Mousa Dembele (foot), Victor Wanyama (knee), Danny Rose (fitness), Erik Lamela (hip) | Liverpool — OUT: Sadio Mane (hamstring), Adam Lallana (thigh), Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring)

PL Roundup: City separation; Stunning goal show (video)

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From Pedro‘s pipe cleaner to Boufal’s wondrous solo march, the Premier League’s day started and ended with glorious goals.

[ SUNDAY PREVIEW: Spurs face bogey reds; Everton vs. Arsenal (streams) ]

Manchester United lost for the first time this season along the way, one a few notable score lines on Saturday in the United Kingdom.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap ]


Southampton 1-0 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Tony Pulis tried to park the bus, but Sofiane Boufal is a stunt driver. Southampton found a winner late at home to move into the top half.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester UnitedRECAP

It had been 65 years since Town beat Manchester United, and the way it looked Saturday it won’t be that long before it happens again. Maybe United was beat from the UEFA Champions League midweek, or just wasn’t prepared to answer the bell, but goals from Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre gave Town a 2-0 lead before Marcus Rashford provided for a tighter ending.

Manchester City 3-0 BurnleyRECAP

United’s neighbors took advantage of their loss, as Sergio Aguero converted a penalty before Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane barged down the door and carried all three points with ease.

Swansea City 1-2 Leicester CityRECAP

A Federico Fernandez own goal gave interim manager Michael Appleton an early lead, and red-hot Shinji Okazaki made it 2-0 just after halftime. Alfie Mawson pulled one back for Swans, but that was all she wrote: Leicester had leapt out of the drop zone, and ahead of its hosts.

Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal PalaceRECAP

Rafa Benitez‘s men might’ve been second-best over 90 minutes to Roy Hodgson’s Eagles, but it was a Matt Ritchie corner kick to the noggin of Mikel Merino that did the trick and lifted Newcastle sixth before Sunday’s matches.

Stoke City 1-2 BournemouthRECAP

Mame Biram Diouf’s pull back was not joined by another Stoke goal, as an Andrew Surman goal and Junior Stanislas penalty kick combined to give the Cherries a notable win at the Potteries. Bournemouth is now just one point back of four teams with eight points, including 18th place Stoke.

Chelsea 4-2 WatfordRECAP

When Abdoulaye Doucoure canceled out Pedro’s fantastic 12th minute goal just before halftime, the Blues and Hornets went to the locker room with very different feelings. When Roberto Pereyra made it 2-1 Watford four minutes into the second, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was desperate. Fortunately, super sub Michy Batshuayi scored a brace wrapped around Cesar Azpilicueta’s 87th minute marker to give Chelsea a big win after its midweek draw with Roma in the UEFA Champions League.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 9 8 1 0 32 4 28 4-1-0 4-0-0 25
 Manchester United 9 6 2 1 22 4 18 4-0-0 2-2-1 20
 Tottenham Hotspur 8 5 2 1 15 5 10 1-2-1 4-0-0 17
 Chelsea 9 5 1 3 17 10 7 2-1-2 3-0-1 16
 Watford 9 4 3 2 15 17 -2 1-2-1 3-1-1 15
 Newcastle United 9 4 2 3 10 8 2 3-1-1 1-1-2 14
 Arsenal 8 4 1 3 12 10 2 4-0-0 0-1-3 13
 Liverpool 8 3 4 1 13 12 1 2-2-0 1-2-1 13
 Burnley 9 3 4 2 8 9 -1 1-2-1 2-2-1 13
 Southampton 9 3 3 3 8 9 -1 2-2-2 1-1-1 12
 Huddersfield Town 9 3 3 3 7 10 -3 2-2-1 1-1-2 12
 Brighton & Hove Albion 9 3 2 4 9 10 -1 2-1-1 1-1-3 11
 West Bromwich Albion 9 2 4 3 7 10 -3 1-3-0 1-1-3 10
 Leicester City 9 2 3 4 12 14 -2 1-1-2 1-2-2 9
 Swansea City 9 2 2 5 6 10 -4 1-0-4 1-2-1 8
 Everton 8 2 2 4 5 13 -8 2-0-2 0-2-2 8
 West Ham United 9 2 2 5 8 17 -9 2-0-2 0-2-3 8

 Stoke City 9 2 2 5 10 20 -10 2-1-2 0-1-3 8
 Bournemouth 9 2 1 6 6 13 -7 1-1-2 1-0-4 7
 Crystal Palace 9 1 0 8 2 19 -17 1-0-3 0-0-5 3