TRANSFER GRADES: How did each Premier League team fare in January?

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Below is a look at how each Premier League team fared during the 2016 January transfer window.

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With plenty of ins and outs this month, it’s safe to say some did better business than others.

Do you agree with these grades?

TEAM GRADE
source:  A- Newcastle: Adding Shelvey and Townsend for $17.3 million each was pricey but worth it from the top spenders in January. Saivet will add competition and grabbing Doumbia on loan is a gamble which could save them from relegation. Brave, and a very good, window.
source:  B+ Watford: The Hornets kept splashing the cash. Bringing in Pantilimon, Suarez and Amrabat made their squad stronger and adding two prospects then loaning them out on Deadline Day. Very good way for the PL new boys.
 

source:

 B+ Stoke City: Mark Hughes and Stoke kept up their trend of surprising transfers late on in the window. Giannelli Imbula arrived on Deadline Day for a club record $26 million and will strengthen them considerably in midfield. The Potter look to keep pushing for the top six.
source:  B Bournemouth: The Cherries added plenty of bodies in attack, which is what they needed. Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban have settled quickly, while Juan Iturbe looks dangerous. A top defensive addition would’ve made this window better.
source:  B Norwich City: Like Bournemouth, the newly-promoted Canaries added plenty of numbers as they aim to avoid the drop. Naismith and Bamford arrived up top, while Klose and Pinto arrived at the back. Promising youngster James Maddison joined late on as Alex Neil bought well.
source:  B Everton: The Toffees were very quiet up until the last day and then they signed Oumar Niasse from Lokomotiv Moscow for $20 million. Perhaps Roberto Martinez should’ve spent more on new defenders but Niasse will add goals and assists and is the Russian Premier League’s reigning player of the year. Tidy.
source:  C+ Sunderland: Kone, Khazri, Kirchhoof and N’Doye all arrived, while Sam Allardyce did some necessary trimming to their squad. Not a bad window but will the new additions be enough to keep them up?
source:  C+ West Brom: The main aim in this window was not to sell Saido Berahino to a relegation rival and chairman Jeremy Peace achieved that. Alex Pritchard coming in will add some trickery in midfield.
source:  C+ Crystal Palace: Emmanuel Adebayor arrived on a short-term deal and could deliver the goals to push Palace into the top six. With his temperament, he’s a gamble, but Palace need goals to keep their good start to the season going.
source:  C+ West Ham: The Hammers brought in Emmanuel Emenike on loan to help push them into the top five and his goals will help. Adding Sam Byram at right back is also a shrewd acquisition.
source:  C+ Leicester City: The Foxes were hoping to get a move for Loic Remy or Ahmed Musa over the line late in the window but the title-chasers did add Demarai Gray and Daniel Amarety during January. They also kept hold of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
source:  C Southampton: Saints had two aims in the window: keep hold of Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama. Check. Add a striker. Check. A $6 million move for Charlie Austin could be the bargain of the season. Job done for Ronald Koeman.
source:  C- Swansea City: Leroy Fer joined on loan and striker Alberto Paloschi arrived from Chievo in Italy. Swansea fans will be concerned with the hole Jonjo Shelvey has left. A relegation battle now beckons. Can this squad cope?
source:  C- Manchester City: Not a lot going on at all for City… well, on the playing side at least. With Pellegrini confirming he’s out in the summer and Guardiola confirmed as his replacement, pretty simple to expect no ins or outs.
source:  D Liverpool: Steven Caulker arriving on loan was as good as it got for Liverpool, plus youngster Marko Grujic arrived. The pursuit of Alex Teixeira turned into a saga and Shakhtar Donestk wanted $75 million for the Brazilian. It is likely Jurgen Klopp will go back in for him this summer when his price drops.
source:  D Manchester United: Like Liverpool, a little disappointing for United. They added nobody and you have to think someone like Berahino would make a difference between now and the end of the season. Maybe Louis Van Gaal has spent all the cash?
source:  D Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny was Arsenal’s only signing and they let Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Debuchy go on loan. This was a big chance for the Gunners to add some real depth and perhaps another attacking option to breath new life into their title charge.
source:  D Chelsea: The Blues were trying to move on Falcao and Remy until the end, and many Chelsea fans were hoping for a new striker (Pato joined on loan but is more of a winger and unlikely to feature often) to ease the pressure on Costa. USMNT youngster Miazga arrived which was big news Stateside. That said, the biggest news in January from Stamford Bridge was John Terry not being handed a new deal and he will leave this summer.
source:  D- Tottenham:  A real missed opportunity for Spurs. Berahino, again, would’ve made sense and with Jan Vertonghen going down they look a little short at the back. Just five points off the top, why didn’t Spurs board back Pochettino and give him some money to spend?
source:  F Aston Villa: A very, very bad window for Remi Garde. No new arrivals means the Villans will struggle on between now and the end of the season. How did this happen? Is owner Randy Lerner already resigned to relegation?

 

Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

Spanish FA once again opposes La Liga match in U.S.

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For the second consecutive season, La Liga and Relevant Sports have proposed a league match to take place this winter in the U.S.

And once again, the La Liga proposal doesn’t have the support of its national soccer federation.

[READ: La Liga wants to move Villarreal-Atletico Madrid to Miami]

Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), told reporters on Thursday that it would oppose the match taking place outside of Spain’s borders, keeping a consistent line in the sand on how far globalization can go in soccer.

“It would disrupt the competition,” Rubiales said, via AS. “To play a game in Miami, La Liga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.”

The five bodies Rubiales referred to are the RFEF, FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer and MLS.

Last time around, Relevant Sports and La Liga announced a long-term, lucrative marketing contract to expand the brand’s footprint in the Americas, and soon after, petitioned to move Girona’s home game against Barcelona to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of Relevant Sports owner Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins.

Ultimately, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Relevant Sports were unable to get permission from the RFEF or FIFA to hold the event outside Spain and it went off as expected in Girona. At the time, Spain’s player’s union and fans groups opposed the move. Tebas has filed a lawsuit in Spain to try to force the RFEF to approve their request, but it seems unlikely to be awarded and it surely doesn’t provide any good will between the two parties.

There’s been plenty of talk about bringing league games abroad before, but it has just been talk so far. The Premier League considered adding an extra game to the season to be played all over the world, but never went through with creating plans for matches.

Associations – not leagues, to be clear – have brought things like Super Cups abroad. For example, the RFEF moved the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangiers, Morocco, while the France Football Federation has brought its national Super Cup match to both the U.S. and Montreal, Canada in recent years. However, the argument in favor of bringing those games abroad is they’re basically meaningless. Meanwhile, one result in a league season could – in theory – determine whether a team is relegated or not, especially if the margin is three points or less.

We could see another legal fight on our hands, so watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.

Rodgers excuses Maddison’s behavior after England departure

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Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured last week watching the England match at the Czech Republic from a casino.

Despite the negative attention from Maddison’s decision to watch the game at that venue, he has the backing of his club manager, Brendan Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away,” Rodgers said, via the Guardian. “He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Considering all that went on during England’s international break, from the poor performance in Prague to the horrible racism endured in Bulgaria, this is a bit of a silly scandal. To be honest, as long as Maddison is taking care of his body and himself, why does it matter if he was at a casino, or a pub, or anywhere?

However, there’s no denying that the optics look bad. Folks didn’t know that he arrived to England camp with the flu, or a flu-like illness at least, and the England medical staff are right to send him away to make sure no one else gets sick. He may have been feeling better by Friday and wanted to get out of the house. I think we’ve all been there after being sick for a few days.

The most important lesson for Maddison is to learn that his actions, out of context, can be misunderstood. In terms of soccer, after Ross Barkley’s performance for England, Maddison will have to prove in his club form that he should still have a place in the England team for the near future. There’s only two more international dates left before the 2020 Euros, so time is running out for Maddison to make an impact to Southgate.

Tierney, Lacazette available for Arsenal

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Arsenal are edging closer to finally having a full-strength squad.

Ahead of Monday’s prime-time matchup with Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Kieran Tierney was in line to make his Premier League debut, while Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training and should be in the gameday squad.

“Today is Lacazette’s first training back with us,” Emery said in a press conference on Thursday. “He finished it well and he’s feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide.

“The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it’s whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems.”

This is a huge boost to Arsenal, which has had to rely on some youngsters and have made some lineup changes to accommodate not having Lacazette on the field. Tierney meanwhile could step into a position where there’s already a decent starter, Sead Kolasinac.

Lacazette’s return also couldn’t have come at a better time. In Premier League action, Arsenal’s high-powered offense has been stymied, scoring just two goals in the last two league games. Meanwhile, against weaker defenses in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Arsenal has bagged a total of 12 goals.

The veteran Frenchman has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season, including a big goal just before halftime in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. However, he suffered a long-term ankle injury in that match that has kept him on the sidelines for more than a month.

“[Tierney is] ready to play,” Emery later said. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We’re going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.”

Tierney, the 22-year-old Scottish left back, has made two appearances for the Arsenal first team since recovering from a double hernia operation over the summer. Signed from Celtic for around $32 million, Tierney adds a skill that Kolasinac has struggled with – expert crosser of the ball into the box, where the likes of Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score when given a decent chance.