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.

Struggling Atleti in unfamiliar territory under Simeone

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MADRID — This is uncharted territory for many Atletico Madrid fans.

Few other times in recent years have they seen their team struggle so much under Diego Simeone.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

Few other times have they seen their coach fail so often while trying to put the team back on track.

Atletico hit a new low under Simeone on Thursday when it was eliminated by third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The 2-1 loss in extra time was the team’s worst result in the cup competition since losing to third-tier club Albacete at the same stage in 2011-12.

Two days after that loss in 2011, Atletico hired the then-mostly unknown Simeone to replace Gregorio Manzano, a move that kick-started one of the club’s most successful eras and led to a Spanish league title, two Europa League trophies and two Champions League final appearances.

Atletico did go through difficult moments under Simeone, including when the team failed to advance past the group stage of the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.

“There were always complicated moments in past seasons, maybe after we didn’t make it in the Champions League, or when we lost in the Champions League finals,” Simeone said. “After being at the club for so long, things like this can happen, although they shouldn’t happen.”

There is a greater sense of urgency about the team’s struggles this time.

In addition to Wednesday’s embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination, Atletico lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, and already is eight points off the Spanish league lead after 20 matches.

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Before, there used to be a notion that Simeone would quickly turn things around and put the team back on track, but this time there aren’t many signs things will improve again soon.

Atletico has yet to impress since undergoing its biggest squad revamp under Simeone at the end of last season, when it lost Antoine Griezmann and other veteran players such as Filipe Luis and Diego Godin. Young Portugal forward Joao Felix, who arrived to replace Griezmann after a transfer from Benfica worth more than 120 million euros ($133 million), has yet to meet expectations.

More concerning, Atletico is not being nearly as effective as it used to be, when it always seemed to find a way to win matches despite not playing well.

The team remains solid defensively — it has the second-best defense in the Spanish league with 14 goals conceded — but it hasn’t been able to do much in attack recently.

“Everything is harder when you can’t score,” Simeone said.

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than Atletico’s 22 in the 20-team standings.

Diego Costa has been mostly out injured, and Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Alvaro Morata haven’t done much in attack. Morata is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, and no one else has more than five.

“We have to be humble enough to be self-critical,” Simeone said. “We need to keep working to try to be ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us. We have a very good squad and I’m sure that the results that we want will start arriving soon.”

Atletico biggest chance to rebound will come next month against European champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be on Feb. 18 in Spain.

Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong

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Jose Mourinho seems to be quite happy that the Premier League will implement its first-ever winter break next month, allowing players a bit of rest and recovery time during a marathon campaign, but says its timing makes the break almost worthless for clubs competing in European competitions.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

The next four weeks will play out as follows for Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup against Southampton this weekend; PL fixture against Manchester City next weekend; the following weekend off which results in two weeks without a game; PL fixture against Aston Villa the following weekend; Champions League first leg against RB Leipzig three days later.

In Mourinho’s perfect world, that first round of PL fixtures following the break would be held a week earlier, leaving the seven English clubs competing in the Champions League and Europa League with a week and a half between games before setting out once again to chase European glory. Instead, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea will all have a quick turnaround from PL action to UCL competition — quotes from the Guardian:

“It is what it is. I’m not happy that the break comes in the wrong moment. The break should be before the Champions League and, in the end, before the Champions League we don’t have the break. We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday, playing [RB Leipzig three] days later. So we don’t really care about the break, honestly.”

Mourinho’s point is a solid one: if the winter break is going to exist — and it should — then why shouldn’t its benefits be maximized? Non-European sides — typically those with smaller squads — would still have the full two weeks between games, while those in Europe are able to better leverage their slightly larger squads with only 10 or 11 days between games — still a lengthy break relative to the rest of the season.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

It’s only the first year of the winter break in the PL, so perhaps hopefully they’ll receive Mourinho’s criticism — and that of any other managers — constructively.

Serie A: AC Milan extends unbeaten run since Zlatan’s arrival

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BRESCIA, Italy (AP) Ante Rebic scored his third goal in two matches, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was superb and AC Milan won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Brescia on Friday to climb into the Europa League places in Serie A.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Rebic, who scored twice in a win over Udinese last weekend, pounced on a loose ball directly in front of the goal following a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 71st minute.

Since Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan over the holiday break, Milan is unbeaten with four wins and a draw across all competitions.

Donnarumma produced several difficult saves to deny Dimitri Bisoli and Ernesto Torregrossa.

Also, Milan fullback Theo Hernandez hit the crossbar in the closing minutes.

The Rossoneri moved up to sixth place, four points behind fifth-place Atalanta.

[ MORE: Solskjaer’s transfer update; positive on rebuild ]

“Our goal is to qualify for Europe,” Donnarumma said. “We’ve got to continue like this and not rest for a moment. There’s another big Italian Cup match coming up with Torino midweek and we want to reach the semifinals.

“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to keep this momentum going.”

Brescia was without Mario Balotelli, who was suspended for two matches after protesting a booking last weekend that ended up with the striker being sent off.

Brescia remained one point above last-place Genoa.

FA Cup: Sheffield Wednesday into 5th round; Derby headed for replay

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Sheffield Wednesday became the first club to reach the fifth round of the 2019-20 FA Cup by beating Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Friday.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

The Owls took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Morgan Fox squeezed his shot past the goalkeeper from a tight angle, and Sam Winnall put the EFL Championship side 2-0 up by slotting the ball home just before full-time. QPR pulled a goal back through Nahki Wells just moments later, but it wasn’t enough and the game finished 2-1.

It’s the second time in three seasons that Wednesday has reached the fifth round after doing so just twice in their previous 17 seasons.

[ MORE: Solskjaer’s transfer update; positive on rebuild ]

Elsewhere, fellow Championship side Derby County, featuring Wayne Rooney who played all 90 minutes, couldn’t see off League Two side Northampton Town and will be forced into the dreaded replay after struggling to a scoreless draw away from home.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.