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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.

Vidal rips Ronaldo ahead of Confederations Cup semifinal

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Chile hopes to make a statement on Wednesday when it faces EURO 2016 champions Portugal and Ballon d’Or champion Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2015 and 2016 Copa America champions can lay claim to another inter-confederation title with two more wins in the 2017 Confederations Cup, beginning with the semifinal in Kazan.

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Chile finished behind Germany in Group B but didn’t lose a match and only allowed two goals. That’ll be tested by Portugal and its seven goals in three matches.

Two of those goals came from Ronaldo, but don’t tell that to Arturo Vidal. Chile’s hard-edged midfielder doesn’t like him much.

From Goal.com:

“Cristiano is a smart ass,” he told reporters. “For me he does not exist.

“I have already told my Bayern Munich team-mate Joshua Kimmich that we will meet again in the final.”

Germany will have to take care of Mexico to make that happen, though we have a feeling a certain smart ass will have a thing or two to say before it’s all said and done.

Vidal has spoken loudly of his desire to get Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez, a former Barcelona man, at his club Bayern Munich. If Ronaldo is on the market, this isn’t a great recruiting tool. Ah, jokes.

Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Kwadwo Poku.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

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Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

Timo Werner abused in Germany but key to World Cup defense

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) The abuse has followed Timo Werner for months, gathering pace as rapidly as the striker has amassed goals.

No German player was more prolific in the Bundesliga last season. No player was as ostracized.

But Werner is now a full-blown Germany international, scoring his first goals at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, and he could hold the key to the World Cup defense next year.

[ MORE: USMNT’s 23-man roster questions ]

That could require Germany supporters to forgive a player they jeered at during his first competitive game for Joachim Loew’s team earlier this month.

“Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner reflected ahead of Germany’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Mexico on Thursday, seeing a kindred spirit in the basketball great. “I do not want to say that I am the best like him, but (the abuse) is a bit of an incentive.”

If playing for the ascendant but deeply unpopular Leipzig wasn’t bad enough, a dive in December by Werner provided a focal point for the animosity – jealousy, perhaps – toward the Red Bull-funded team.

The insults have even been hurled far from Germany, far from soccer stadiums. The dive won a penalty against Schalke, and provided Werner with one of the 21 goals that helped to propel Leipzig into second place and a Champions League debut next season.

“There was a dive, he made a mistake and he admitted it,” Loew said, “but he is very, very young player.”

And a potentially very important one for Loew at the World Cup in Russia next year. Germany’s striking options are being assessed at the eight-team Confederations Cup as Loew still seeks a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose as target man for the world champions.

[ MORE: Chelsea sells Traore ]

Werner opened his account for Germany on his fourth appearance, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon on Sunday in Sochi.

“Werner put in a lot of legwork,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is and that he’s got a great nose for goal. Both of his efforts were very well taken.”

Werner’s rivals for a place in the squad next year include fellow squad newcomers Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner. They are both close to 30, while the 21-year-old Werner has youth, strength and speed on his side. Even Wagner said he has “never seen such a good striker at that age.”

That’s a result of Werner fusing his pace with intelligence on the ball, mastering dribbling at high speed first with Stuttgart and then at Leipzig.

“There’s no recipe for it,” Werner said. “The quickest players just know how to do it automatically. I like to knock the ball three or four meters ahead of me when I’m on the counter or have space in front of me, that way I can increase the distance between a defender and myself.”

Such proficiency should help Werner win over fans beyond Leipzig. Time, he hopes, will heal the fractures, and there’s certainly support from his new international teammates.

“I wish him well because of the issues he has had to endure,” captain Julian Draxler told Germany’s ARD television.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup

USMNT Gold Cup 23-man roster leaves some questions

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We have Bruce Arena’s 23-man United States men’s national roster for the Gold Cup, and there are more than a few surprises left out of the bunch.

Often a chance to experiment, those who thought this year’s Gold Cup roster would be one aimed at reclaiming glory with authority may be surprised to see the status quo.

Jurgen Klinsmann brought most of his big guns to the 2015 party — which didn’t go well for Brad Guzan and Co. — but Arena will roll into this summer’s tournament without most of his big names. There’s no Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, nor Jozy Altidore.

Those aren’t huge surprises, though who Arena neglected from his original 40-man short list is a bit of a shock to the system (Players can be called into the mix after the group stage, which is a fairly simple affair for the USMNT to navigate versus Panama, Martinique, and Nicagarua).

Arena is going with Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, and Bill Hamid in a trio that fails to impress. Hamid does have a big crowd of fans who’d like to see him get a chance to assert himself as the future, and hopefully either Johnson or Hamid finds time between the sticks against a serious opponent like Panama. No surprise that Tim Howard and Joe Bendik didn’t leap into the trio (EDIT: This post initially questioned the omission of Jesse Gonzalez, but his one-time switch from Mexico to the USMNT has yet to go through).

We’ll ignore the omission of Danny Williams for the most part considering he was absent from the 40-man list, but he must have said something seriously awful to Arena or someone at U.S. soccer.

The group of forwards leaves little to complain about, as Juan Agudelo and Dom Dwyer very much deserve their chances to compete for playing time with Sounders star Jordan Morris, but the midfield provides some head-scratching. Gyasi Zardes may be a longtime Arena favorite, but the Galaxy man has been ice cold in MLS. The 25-year-old has a single assist in almost 1000 minutes of play this season, and that came back on April 8. Tommy McNamara has not lighting the league on fire and Chris Pontius and his six assists are 30 years old, so much of the grief should be directed at the 40-man again, but Zardes has to embrace this opportunity. And maybe it’s a way to help the Galaxy and Zardes get a little mojo.

As an aside, Wil Trapp is among leaders in several MLS passing stats, which leads me to believe Arena is going to play Dax McCarty and Kellyn Acosta a ton and doesn’t see much of a need for Trapp in this tournament, not ever.

Defenders Steve Birnbaum and Jonathan Spector were not rewarded with looks, though Graham Zusi was included in what must be an arm reaching out for USMNT experience. Birnbaum is leading MLS in aerials won per game and Spector is by far Orlando’s top rated player since returning from England. Yes, Spector is 31 but this is about still qualifying for next summer’s World Cup, not the 2022 cycle. Spare a thought for Matt Polster, who has been decent since returning from a knee strain. This is nothing against Zusi, a consummate professional who won’t kill the team by any means and will be an tremendous asset in leadership.

What about you? Any other gripes? Or do you love the bunch?