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Top 12 signings of 2018-19 Premier League season

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As we enter the final seven weeks of the Premier League season, now seems like a good time to focus on which players have stood out at their new clubs.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

From new star strikers to game-changing playmakers and much-needed defensive additions, a lot of clubs were extremely shrewd in the transfer market last summer.

Below we rank the top 12 signings of the season across the PL based on their performance so far.


1. Raul Jimenez (Wolves, on loan from Benfica) – The Mexican striker is Wolves’ top scorer and has them in seventh in the PL and in the FA Cup semis. Wolves are probably the best-ever newly-promoted team in PL history and his hold-up play, finishing and ability to run in behind and link-up with Diogo Jota is a big part of that. Now, they must try to sign him permanently. That is the hard part as clubs all over Europe are now chasing him after a wonderful debut campaign in the PL.


2. David Brooks (Bournemouth from Sheffield United, $15.2 million) – This was an absolute bargain. Brooks, 21, has shone in the top-flight and surprised everyone, including himself, at how well he has adapted. In his first PL season he has brought pace and trickery and he’s complemented Bournemouth’s other forwards perfectly. The Welsh winger has a bright future.


3. Joao Moutinho (Wolves from AS Monaco, $6.6 million) – The man who makes Wolves tick, the experienced Portuguese midfielder has oozed class and his set-piece deliveries cause all kinds of problems. Alongside Ruben Neves he just keeps chipping away, keeps the ball effortlessly and his range of passing is sublime. A real unsung hero. And a bargain.


4. Sokratis (Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund, $23.4 million) – After a bit of a shaky start, he’s come into his own in recent months and is one of the first names on Arsenal’s teamsheet. The towering Greek defender is a real character and is making the defenders around him better. A proper no-nonsense center half, Sokratis is becoming a cult hero at Arsenal and is a big reason they are in the top four.


5. Richarlison (Everton from Watford, $53 million) – It was big money for a Brazilian youngster who had just one season in the PL under his belt, but it was money well spent by Marco Silva. Richarlison, 21, has been called up to the full Brazil team and has scored 13 goals in his debut season at Everton. His pace has been crucial for the Toffees and although he’s played up front a lot on his own, out wide is where he is at his best.


6. Salomon Rondon (Newcastle, on loan from West Brom) – The big Venezuelan striker has been a revelation for the Magpies as Rafael Benitez has built his entire attack around Rondon. Able to hold the ball up and finish off plentiful crosses into the box, Rondon is perfectly suited for this Newcastle side. He gets the best out of the attackers around him, and his goal return of 10 is pretty decent for a team which has struggled at the bottom for most of this season. You’d think Newcastle will sign Rondon permanently this summer, but he does have one more year left on his contract at West Brom.


7. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal from Sampdoria, $33 million) – A huge signing for Arsenal, as Torreira has added extra bite to the Gunners midfield. After a wonderful start to life in England he has been a little subdued in recent weeks, but he has still been very important in pushing them into the top four.


8. Felipe Anderson (West Ham from Lazio, $42 million) – The Brazilian playmaker has lived up to his status as the Hammers’ club-record signing, with some classy performances. His goals have dried up but he has continued to deliver consistently good displays. A little inconsistent, but very good overall.


9. Rui Patricio (Wolves from Sporting Lisbon, $20 million) – Initially a free transfer after the player situation at Sporting, Wolves have agreed to pay $20 million for the Portuguese international goalkeeper via a tribunal. That is still a bargain. Patricio has made some wonderful saves and his distribution is very good and he brings a calming influence to the defense.


10. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford from Barcelona, $14.7 million) – Okay, he was on loan at Watford last January, but he didn’t play too well in the second half of last season. That said, Watford signed him permanently in the summer and he’s been very good with seven goals and five assists so far. A nomadic career finally seems to have settled down for the 25-year-old Spaniard.


11. James Maddison (Leicester from Norwich, $26.5 million) – The young Englishman has settled into life in the PL very quickly and he’s scored some stunning goals. Maddison has been called up to the England squad but didn’t make his debut, however he is a key part of Leicester’s future under new manager Brendan Rodgers. A fast start to the campaign has dissipated, but in recent weeks he has picked up form again. At 22, he has so much potential.


12. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal from Lorient, $9.2 million) – Like Torreira, his arrival made a big difference early in the season but he has gone off the boil a little bit. That said, for a 19-year-old he has shown admirable maturity and the way he rattles into challenges and keeps the ball is a perfect fit for the Premier League. A rising star.


Notable buys: Alisson (Liverpool from AS Roma, $74 million), Fabinho (Liverpool from AS Monaco, $51 million), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth from ), Harry Arter (Cardiff City from Bournemouth, loan), Lucas Digne (Everton from Barcelona, $23 million), Andre Gomes (Everton from Barcelona, loan), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham from Newcastle, $25 million), Issa Diop (West Ham from Toulouse, $29 million), Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham from Swansea, $9.2 million), Willy Boly (Wolves from FC Porto, $15.9 million)


Bonus – Best January buys: Youri Tielemans, Miguel Almiron, Michy Batshuayi, Samir Nasri

The quartet above have all made big differences to their respective teams, with Tielemans a classy addition for Leicester on loan from Monaco, Almiron adding some much-needed creativity to Newcastle’s attack after a club-record arrival from Atlanta United, Batshuayi banging in goals during his first few months on loan from Chelsea and Nasri making a big difference at West Ham. All four have delivered exactly what has been asked of them, so far. It is too early to say they deserve to be in the top 10 signings of the season, but it is clear they have made fast starts at their new clubs.

What we learned from a crazy PL Saturday

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Breathe. Take a walk outside. Put your arms above your head and try to drink in what you’ve actually seen today.

It is only Matchweek 2, but few Premier League days will match this.

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Saturday’s games delivered high drama with VAR outrage, howlers, stunning goals and intense battles playing out.

Below is what we learned from a wild seven games across the league.


VAR DRAMA MARS MAN CITY, SPURS CLASH

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur played out a gripping, enthralling 2-2 draw, but it was marred by VAR at the death. Gabriel Jesus‘ late winner for City was ruled out for a handball on Aymeric Laporte, which enraged Pep Guardiola and delighted Mauricio Pochettino. Man City dominated the game and Spurs had two shots on target and scored with both of them. City will have a bitter taste in their mouth, especially after the late VAR drama against Spurs in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg last season. Pochettino said he is “in love with VAR” and Guardiola said it “needs to be fixed” as it is too subjective. The VAR debate will rumble on, as the ball clearly hit Laporte on the arm but many will have a bad taste in their mouths at the way it impacts the outcomes of games.


GUARDIOLA, AGUERO FALL OUT

Man City’s all-time leading goalscorer was not happy, at all, after being subbed out in the second half of their game against Spurs. He and Guardiola went at it, with words being said, fingers pointed and both had to be separated.

With tensions bubbling under the surface for years over Aguero’s playing style in a Pep side, this looked a lot more personal.

In the coming weeks we will find out just how damaging this public spat will be for both Guardiola and Aguero, as City may be starting to feel the pressure.


LIVERPOOL SHAKE OFF RUST

Liverpool edged by Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday and it was a really strange game. Saints started well and given Liverpool’s 120 minutes against Chelsea for the Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday, it was expected that they’d start sluggishly. But when they kicked through the gears around half time they tore Saints apart with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino leading the charge. Adrian’s late howler gifted Saints a way back into the game and Danny Ings should have scored his and Saints’ second to snatch an unlikely draw. Liverpool held on and after the travel week they’ve had, Jurgen Klopp was a happy man at the final whistle. Two wins from two for the Reds, and they’ve been far from their best as their stars recover from busy summer tournaments.


PUKKI READY TO STAR FOR NORWICH

Teemu Pukki has four goals in his first two games as a Premier League player. Those questioning whether or not the Finnish striker could translate his form from the Championship to the PL are now having a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. Pukki scored a hat trick in Norwich’s 3-1 win against Newcastle and the first was a stunner. After his spells with Sevilla, Schalke and Celtic, Pukki has finally arrived in the big time and his clinical finishing will be a theme of the season. Norwich have been written off by plenty of teams and the way they hammered Newcastle suggests the Canaries will be well clear of the relegation scrap.


ARSENAL, CEBALLOS CLICKING THROUGH THE GEARS 

Arsenal’s attacking unit now has a deep playmaker as Dani Ceballos starred in their win over Burnley. Ceballos is the perfect replacement for Aaron Ramsey and he not only created chances but worked back defensively. He is the perfect player for Unai Emery to build his attack around. Of course, Aubameyang and Lacazette (who both scored) are stars who can finish, while Nicolas Pepe looked bright off the bench as Arsenal’s attacking options will feel their rivals with serious envy. At the back they had some issues dealing with Burnley’s direct style as David Luiz took a few unecessary risks and Bernd Leno flapped at a few crosses, but overall two wins from two is a very good start for the Gunners. Now come the real tests as they head to Liverpool and host Tottenham in their next two games. Lets see how good the Gunners really are.


Bonus: Harry Wilson and Douglas Luiz scored screamers in a 2-1 win for Bournemouth at Aston Villa. You need to see them.

Pep rages at VAR after Man City denied winner

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Pep Guardiola is absolutely furious.

Whether you think he should be is another story.

Manchester City had its last-gasp winner taken off the board against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, when VAR spotted the ball glancing off Aymeric Laporte‘s arm before Gabriel Jesus scored in stoppage time.

[ RECAP: Man City 2-2 Spurs ]

The Man City boss had not cooled down after the match, referencing Fernando Llorente’s uncalled handball in the UEFA Champions League last season.

That’s a different competition, however, and a different set of rules. Maybe that’s Pep’s point. Anyway, let’s let him rage:

“I thought we left that situation in Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same. The referee and VAR disallow it. It’s the second time – it’s tough. It’s honestly tough but it’s the way it is.

“It happened last week with Wolves and we saw for Chelsea on Wednesday – the keeper wasn’t on his line – Adrian in the penalty shoot-out. They have to fix it. The whistle inside matches now isn’t quite clear. But they believe it’s hands with Llorente in the Champions League and sometimes they don’t.

“It was incredible it wasn’t a penalty in the first half [for the foul on Rodri in the box] but VAR said it wasn’t and then at the end they did. I’m pretty sure people were happy today we just need to work harder at scoring our chances.”

He’s not really on point here, is he? As a neutral I hated the moment, but it follows the letter of the law. The Rodri point is a good one, but doesn’t negate the ball skittering off Laporte’s arm (and it looked to have touched Harry Skipp’s arm, too, but after the fact!).

Pochettino: “I am in love with VAR”

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Mauricio Pochettino‘s heart belongs to a set of TV monitors and a referee sat in an office in the suburbs of London.

In others words, he loves VAR.

After Spurs pegged the reigning champions back to 2-2, there was more late VAR drama between these two teams. Gabriel Jesus‘ strike was ruled out in the 92nd minute after Aymeric Laporte was adjudged to have handle the ball in the box after a VAR review.

Pochettino spoke to our partners Sky Sports in the UK after the crazy ending to the game, and simply said: “I love VAR. I’m not so happy with our performance.”

Spurs rode their luck and had three shots to Man City’s 30 and were dominated. Tottenham scored with their two shots on goal, but Man City were left ruing a number of missed chances as more VAR heartache followed.

Pochettino is off to give his nearest TV screen a few smooches as Spurs, once again, have VAR to thank for leaving the Etihad Stadium with a smile on their face.

Bundesliga wrap: USMNT’s Steffen shines on debut; BVB stomps Augsburg

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A day after Bayern needed Robert Lewandowski heroics to rescue an Opening Day draw, more thrills were on the menu Saturday.

Werder Bremen 1-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Zack Steffen was under siege but only beaten once in his Bundesliga debut, as the Man City loanee from these United States helped the visitors to a massive three points on Saturday.

Steffen saw 25 attempts from the hosts, including two from American substitute Josh Sargent, as Fortuna Dusseldorf got into the win column. From Bundesliga.com/En:

“It’s a lot of new challenges for me, and I want to perform and execute my job,” said the former Columbus Crew backstop. “I’ve got a good group of guys around me, a good coaching staff to lift me up and give me confidence, and make me feel at home.”

Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Augsburg

Augsburg’s first minute goal from Florian Niederlechner had some thinking that BVB could join Bayern Munich in an opening weekend stumble, but that was simply a mirage.

Paco Alcacer scored twice, new boy Julian Brandt also scored, and Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho found the score sheet as BVB scorched the visitors at the Westfalenstadion.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Paderborn

It was expected to be a cakewalk for the Champions League outfit, but Bayer had to twice overcome pesky Paderborn equalizers.

Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz had their 10th and 19th minute goals answered before Kevin Volland put it to bed in the 69th.

Elsewhere

Bayern Munich 2-2 Hertha Berlin — Friday
Freiburg 3-0 Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach 0-0 Schalke
Wolfsburg 2-1 Koln
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Hoffenheim
— 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Union Berlin v. RB Leipzig
— Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 5 1 4 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 SC Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Bayer Leverkusen 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 VfL Wolfsburg 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC Berlin 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Bayern Munich 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 FC Schalke 04 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 1. FC Union Berlin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 1899 Hoffenheim 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Eintracht Frankfurt 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 RB Leipzig 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 SC Paderborn 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 FSV Mainz 05 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 FC Augsburg 1 0 0 1 1 5 -4 0-0-0 0-0-1 0