2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, let’s take a look at the key numbers of 2014-15.

All week long here at PST, we’ve been taking a look back at the 2014-15 Premier League season — the season that was, if you will — but it’s not time to take an abbreviated look ahead to the 2015-16 season.

More specifically, the needs that must be addressed by each Premier League team in this summer’s transfer window before Aug. 8, the start of next season, arrives.

[ MORE: Top 10 goalkeepers | Defenders | MidfieldersForwards ]

Add one or two bodies to freshen things up Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Leicester City

Chelsea won the league by eight points this season, so wide, sweeping changes aren’t necessary at Stamford Bridge this summer. Instead, Jose Mourinho looks set to promote a handful of academy players to the first team, while probably adding just one or two big-money signings from elsewhere. The Blues’ No. 1 need: defensive midfield depth behind Nemanja Matic, who was a real difference maker this season, but can’t be relied upon to play upward of 35 games a season.

source: AP
Schweinsteiger — what the Arsenal midfield’s been missing?

Likewise, Arsenal are set up very nicely to carry over a strong second half of the season into 2015-16. Francis Coquelin may be the answer at the base of midfield, but he also might not be. A safer bet would be to sign Bastian Schweinsteiger, who seems to be on his way out at Bayern Munich, and really shore up the side’s biggest weakness the last few years.

Depending on who you ask, Man United will either challenge for the title next season, or they’ll finish around 10th and Louis van Gaal will be gone by December. Personally, I thought Van Gaal’s first season at Old Trafford was a huge success. When he’s recruiting players this summer, he’ll be doing so with the added promise of Champions League football. The quality of players his squad so desperately cries out for — someone to partner Michael Carrick and/or Ander Herrera deep in midfield — will be swayed by that. Paul Pogba? Arturo Vidal?

Tottenham finished fifth this season. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to their fans all season long, but they’re actually set up quite nicely to improve upon this season’s 64-point haul. Mauricio Pochettino was reunited with Paul Mitchell, his “head of recruitment” at Southampton, which should spell much-improved transfer dealings, compared to the debacle of two summers ago. For the first time in forever, a Spurs side isn’t crying out for a new starting center forward, thanks to Harry Kane.

Whoever takes over at West Ham will inherit a deep, talented squad. Winston Reid decided to stick around for the move to the Olympic Stadium — a development that will mean increased revenue and transfer budget — while last summer’s signings of Diafra Sahko, Enner Valencia and Aaron Cresswell worked out quite nicely. The big question: can they sign Alex Song permanently from Barcelona?

[ MORE: Top 10 newcomers to the Premier League | The best (and worst) transfers ]

In good shape, minor tweaks only — Southampton, Swansea City, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Bromwich Albion

source: Getty Images
Schneiderlin — will he stay or will her go?

Southampton were “supposed” to be relegated this season. Instead, first-year boss Ronald Koeman saw Saints to a seventh-place finish and has the South Coast club dreaming of another challenge for European qualification next season. Unless another mass exodus ensues this summer — Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne are constantly linked with moves away from St Mary’s — Southampton really only need reinforcements — depth signings — in the center of defense and an improvement upon Graziano Pelle’s feast-or-famine form of 2014-15.

There may not be a more stable, well-run club in all of England than Swansea. 9th, 12th and 9th: the Swans’ finishing positions at the end of the last three Premier League seasons. For a club of their history and respective standing in the game, that’s beyond a fantastic achievement. Out of respect to the wise folks running that club, I’m not going to even attempt to tell them what their squad needs, because I’m sure they’re already well aware themselves.

Mark Hughes’ second city at Stoke resulted in the club’s best-ever season (9th place, 54 points). Bojan Krkic proved to be an inspired signing last summer, while Mame Biram Diouf’s 11 goals (free transfer) turned out to be one of the best pieces of business done by anytime the last 12 months. This summer, the Potters could do well to re-work a somewhat aging defense, and add a bit of midfield depth to push Steven N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan in the center of midfield.

Likewise, Alan Pardew has a great thing going at Palace, where the players so obviously believe in his vision. Now that he’ll have an actual transfer budget to work with, look for Pardiola to push Palace onward and upward, toward another top-half finish next season.

[ MORE: 2014-15 Premier League season by the numbers ]

Complete overhauls needed — Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Sunderland

Manuel Pellegrini may not be going anywhere — maybe, but who knows? — but it seems as though half of Man City’s current squad will be moving on this summer. Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetic have long been rumored to be leaving the club this summer, setting the stage for a hugely important transfer window in the City Football Group’s plans for world domination. Pogba seems like the obvious answer, though it’ll take a lot more than the brilliant French midfielder and the $100 million price tag he’ll carry.

source: Getty Images
Markovic — in for a better second season, or a speedy Anfield exit?

Liverpool, oh Liverpool. You did a Tottenham, you know that, right? The combination of Champions League and Luis Suarez money spent last summer ($180 million) was…how can I put this nicely?…a complete disaster. The Reds spent a combined $110 million on Dejan Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli, Alberto Moreno and Rickie Lambert. They can either ride out the storm and hope more than just Emre Can and Adam Lallana ($54 million combined) come good, or scrap last summer’s missteps and rebuild, again, this time without the allure of Champions League football.

As for Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland, the 2014-15 season nearly spelled relegation, and all three sides changed managers mid-season, while the latter two are expected to endure further managerial turnover this summer as well. God bless Tim Sherwood as he attempts to build his first team; best wishes to John Carver or whoever replaces him at Newcastle, working on a shoestring budget; and good luck to whoever fills the vacancy at Sunderland, getting a completely apathetic, disinterested group of players to suddenly care.

UEFA Champions League last 16 draw

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The draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League took place on Monday and it was a mixed bag for the four Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City will play Schalke, while Manchester United were handed a tough draw after finishing second in their group as they face PSG.

Tottenham have also been handed a tough, but very likeable draw for the neutral, as they’ll play Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be heading back to Germany as the current PL leaders will play Bayern Munich.

Below is the draw in full, as the first legs will be played on 12–13 & 19–20 Feb. 2019 and the second legs on 5–6 & 12–13 Mar., 2019. The teams drawn first in the list below will play the first leg at home, with the second legs away.

And remember, VAR will be used in the UCL for the first time for all knockout round games. Get your VAR hand signals ready…


Last 16 draw for UEFA Champions League, 2018-19

Schalke v. Manchester City
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Manchester United v. Paris Saint-Germain
Tottenham Hotspur v. Borussia Dortmund
Lyon v. Barcelona
Roma v. Porto
Ajax v. Real Madrid
Liverpool v. Bayern Munich

England captain Kane finishes 3rd for Sportsman of the Year

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Geraint Thomas has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year after becoming the third British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

In a public vote, Thomas beat five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton — a former winner of the BBC award — into second place, while England soccer captain Harry Kane, who led his team to the World Cup semifinals, was third.

The 32-year-old Welshman joined Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Chris Froome (2013, ’15, ’16, ’17) as Britons to win the Tour de France. Wiggins has won the BBC award, but Froome never has.

“It’s been an amazing year for British sport,” Thomas said, “and long may it continue.”

Liga MX: America wins at Cruz Azul to capture Apertura title

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Club America had a tall mountain to climb following their scoreless draw, at home, with Cruz Azul in the first leg of Liga MX’s Apertura final on Thursday, but climb that mountain they did with a 2-0 victory at Estadio Azteca on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Lionel Messi’s hat trick paces Barcelona in rout of Levante ]

Midfielder Edson Alvarez scored both goals in the game — five minutes into the second half and one minute before full-time — as America claimed their record 13th league title (first since 2014).

Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona committed a costly error to set up Alvarez for the opener, and ultimately the winner. Alvarez’s second came courtesy of a bit of fortuitous timing, as Corona made the initial save on Cecilio Dominguez’s shot, but the rebound fell to Alvarez for a straightforward finish.

It was the second league title of manager Miguel Herrera’s career, and his first since his first stint with America, in 2013.

Cruz Azul saw their title-less streak reach 21 years, in heartbreaking fashion, after finishing top of the table in the regular season. They are now the first team in Mexican history to lose six straight finals appearances.

La Liga: Messi’s hat trick paces Barcelona in rout of Levante

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ SATURDAY: Atletico Madrid pull level with Barcelona; Real two points back ]

Levante 0-5 Barcelona

Lionel Messi recorded his 43rd hat trick for Barcelona (all competitions) on Sunday, leading the way in a 5-0 rout away to eighth-place Levante. The five-goal hammering could be seen as a measure of revenge for Barca’s only La Liga defeat last season, a 5-4 defeat to Levante on the penultimate weekend, with the title already wrapped up and sans Messi.

“We had circled this match on the calendar after what happened here last season,” Barca manager Ernesto Valverde said after the game.

While the goals will get most of the headlines, it was Messi’s assist — the first one, to clarify — that was perhaps most impressive. Dribbling down the left side of the penalty area, he drew three defenders into his orbit before threading a chipped cross between two of them and setting up Luis Suarez for a difficult acrobatic finish.

Messi then proceeded to score the game’s next three goals before setting up Gerard Pique for the fifth — his second assist of the day — to play a key role in all five goals.

The victory restores the three-point lead which Barca held coming into the weekend, prior to Atletico Madrid pulling level on points on Saturday.

Sevilla 2-0 Girona

Sevilla reclaimed second place from Atleti (level on points) with a 2-0 victory over Girona. Ever Banega (penalty kick) and Pablo Sarabia scored the goals nine minutes apart early in the second half to extend Pablo Machin’s side’s unbeaten run to seven league games.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 1-3 Real Betis
Huesca 2-2 Villarreal