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Chelsea players Luiz, Azpilicueta, Rudiger open up on Kepa defiance

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Chelsea players all over the pitch tried to play mediator as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga shockingly refused to be substituted towards the end of the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.

While Kepa shocked manager Maurizio Sarri with his act of defiance, others looked to calm the situation. Defender David Luiz was first on the scene, approaching Kepa during the confusion and speaking in his ear while the goalkeeper looked to the bench.

[ WATCH: Kepa clashes with Sarri by refusing sub ]

“I told him to respect the decision of the coach,” Luiz told the media after the match. “But, I don’t know if the coach wanted to change him because he was feeling pain or it was his [tactical] decision. I think the coach he wished to do the substitution because of the injury, he didn’t understand that [Kepa was ok].”

Fellow center-back Antonio Rudiger was on hand as well to calm Sarri as the boss looked to have angry words with his goalkeeper during the break before penalties. However, he wasn’t in a sharing mood after the match as the media looked to get his view of the events.

[ MORE: Sarri, Kepa explain Carabao Cup “misunderstanding” ]

“This is something the coach and the player have to speak about,” Rudiger said. “I cannot say much about it. I think, for sure, the coach and the goalkeeper will speak about it and everything will be fine.”

However, many Chelsea fans noted that captain Cesar Azpilicueta was nowhere to be found during the heated moments. That’s because, he says, he was on the opposite end of the field. “Honestly I don’t know because I was on the other side of the pitch so I cannot comment on this incident,” he said to Sky Sports. There was plenty of discontent after the match about Azpilicueta’s lack of response, with fans believing the captain should be the first to step in and help calm the situation.

Azpilicueta has never been an outspoken or fiery individual, but has worn the captain’s armband the entire season, having played every single minute in Premier League play and nearly every minute of the whole Carabao Cup run. He is not yet the official full-time captain, but has worn the armband all season with captain Gary Cahill out of the squad. It would have been difficult to not notice the incident at all, even if “on the other side of the pitch,” because the verbal back-and-forth lasted a good two full minutes and presented a massive delay in the match. Nevertheless, the captain pled the fifth to explain why he wasn’t involved, and it will be interesting if Sarri not only disciplines Kepa for his public display of insubordination, but also Azpilicueta for not fulfilling his role as captain.

What is going wrong at Chelsea? What next for Sarri?

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Chelsea’s 6-0 hammering at Manchester City on Sunday was their heaviest defeat in the Premier League era.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Just six months into his time in charge at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is under severe pressure and many are calling for the Italian coach to be fired as his famed “Sarri-ball” has failed to catch on so far in his first season in England.

Despite all of their issues Chelsea remain just one point off the top four, but Sarri knows the next few weeks are pivotal if he’s going to be given time to make this a success.

Do Chelsea fire yet another manager during the season to spark their squad into life? Does Sarri need to show more tactical flexibility?

Below we take a look at the key factors behind Chelsea’s slump in recent months and how Sarri can turn things around.


Jorginho overpowered, Kante out of position
This is the key problem for Chelsea. Jorginho has been found out in the Premier League, badly. His range of passing is superb, but the best teams can shut him down easily if they press him high. Jorginho’s ability as a deep-lying playmaker is key to Sarri-ball working and the fact he hasn’t got N'Golo Kante alongside him to protect him is another reason why Chelsea are so easy to break down right now. In their last three away games (all defeats) they’ve now conceded 12 goals and scored zero. Kante is the player who is often making runs into the box and it makes no sense to turn the greatest defensive midfielder on the planet into an attacking midfielder. Sarri needs to take Jorginho out of the line of fire, put Kante back in holding midfield and try to shield his porous defense. He isn’t going to do this. But he should.


Eden Hazard isn’t bothered
With his future at Chelsea still in doubt, it is quite clear Eden Hazard isn’t the leader this team in a rut needs. He tried his best away at Man City, but failed to help out Marcos Alonso on the first goal and is not known for digging deep and doing defensive work at the best of times. Hazard’s mind seems like it is somewhere else and that’s a real shame. At times this season he has been unstoppable. But in other spells he has been unspectacular. Chelsea need Hazard to make up his mind on his future, and fast, because he just isn’t focused. Without him in top form they will not finish in the top four.


Replace Alonso, Luiz now
In recent weeks the duo of Marcos Alonso and David Luiz have put in some horrendous displays. But they still start every game. That can’t happen. Emerson Palmeri should now play over Alonso, while Andreas Christensen or Gary Cahill should be given the chance to replace Luiz. Both Alonso and Luiz love to attack, score goals and deep down believe they should be strikers. First and foremost they need to defend and they just aren’t doing that like they did in Conte’s first season in charge. The hammering at Man City has to be the final straw for Luiz and Alonso under Sarri and if this doesn’t force him to hand chances to Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu, what will?


Further backing for Maurizio Sarri needed
It is clear that Chelsea’s model of hiring and firing managers has worked over the past decade. The trophy cabinet says so. But the one constant throughout all of the sackings was that a squad of elite, opinionated players remained. It often came down to this: if the players wanted to player for the manager they would. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t. As we saw with the core of this squad, they threw in the towel for Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte once they were bored of their defensive tactics. Conte said while he was still at Chelsea that this squad needed a huge overhaul and that is crystal clear. He was spot on. This isn’t a Chelsea squad with Drogba, Lampard and Terry, characters who can keep the DNA of the side and win trophies no matter who is in charge.

Conte’s achievement of winning the PL and the FA Cup over his two campaigns in charge is looking better by the day. If Chelsea truly want to usher in Sarri-Ball they must give their manager the players he needs to suit his style. Christian Pulisic might be able do that, but Sarri’s other key additions Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho seem unable to cope with the demands of the Premier League. A huge clearout is needed. Not just shipping out Alvaro Morata on loan and bringing in Higuain on loan. 10-12 players need to leave this summer if Sarri remains in charge.

The vast majority of this squad isn’t capable of playing the way he wants, and that’s something which will not change overnight. Sarri said he will happily chat with Roman Abramovich in the coming days, but admitted that he doesn’t really speak to him. Is that an admission that he wants to clear up the big issue here: how much do Chelsea really want Sarri to remain in charge? Right now both Sarri and the club seem ambivalent about seeing this out.

PL Sunday Preview: Man City hosts Chelsea in high-profile matchup

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There’s plenty on the line in Sunday’s high-profile matchup between Manchester City and Chelsea. Meanwhile, in the first match of the morning, surging Tottenham takes on Leicester City side that is winless in its last five.

[READ: Liverpool back on track with win over Bournemouth]

Man City v. Chelsea — 11:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

After a week in which Manchester City defeated Arsenal and Everton in somewhat comfortable fashion, Pep Guardiola‘s side faces a new, even tougher test.

It was only Huddersfield Town last week, but Chelsea looked back to its best once again in its 5-0 victory, with Gonzalo Higuain already looking like a terrific fit at the top of Chelsea’s attack. Higuain’s addition will take up a lot of Manchester City’s mental energy as they plan to face Chelsea, which could leave more space for Juninho to quarterback the Blues attack or for Eden Hazard and Willian to break down the wings on the counter attack.

Then again, this is Manchester City. Guardiola has his team firing on all cylinders. Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling are set to return to the starting lineup. Manchester City can set a new Premier League record if they score two goals; it will be their 15th consecutive home match with at least two goals scored.

Though this is the Premier League, this game could be played with some caution. Both teams face each other again later this month at Wembley Stadium in the Carabao Cup final.

INJURIES: Man City —  OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Vincent Kompany (muscular) | Chelsea — OUT: None; PROBABLE: Callum Hudson-Odoi (Illness), Gary Cahill (back)


Tottenham v. Leicester City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

They won’t be on the field, but Harry Kane and Dele Alli gave Tottenham a huge boost this week by returning to training. That could be just what the team needs as it makes a mid-season push to stay in the top four, and potentially – who knows?! – try and win the Premier League title. Tottenham can win its fourth successive Premier League match and could come within two points of Man City before it plays Chelsea. Despite cup defeats in late January, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has found a way to win in each of its last three league matches, all one-goal victories.

On the other side, Leicester City has dropped to 12th in the table as discontent for manager Claude Puel grows. Leicester hasn’t won a match since New Year’s Day, but they suffered a narrow loss to Manchester United and drew with Liverpool, perhaps showing some improvement, even without the result. Youri Tielemens appears to have improved the midfield, and Jamie Vardy has a great history facing Tottenham. He’s scored four goals with three assists in his last seven matches against Spurs.

INJURIES: Tottenham —  OUT: Dele Alli (hamstring), Harry Kane (ankle), Ben Davies (groin), Vincent Janssen (knee), Eric Dier (illness) | Leicester City — OUT: Mark Albrighton (hamstring), Daniel Amartey (ankle)

Premier League January transfer window grades (video)

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The deals have now been done. Every Premier League club now knows the squad of players they have until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Like it or not, this is what they have to work with.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

After a flurry of deals on Transfer Deadline Day, and some big movements in January, plenty of clubs have freshened things up ahead of the final push between now and May.

Below we give each team a grade based on how they fared, overall, in the January transfer window.


Arsenal: C

A pretty average window for Arsenal. Denis Suarez arrived on loan and will add some extra quality in midfield, but did they really need another silky midfielder? Probs not. A failure to strengthen in defense, especially after a spate of injuries, is a real concern. With no money to spend, we probably expected too much as late deals for Ivan Perisic and Christopher Nkunku didn’t materialize.

In: Denis Suarez (Barcelona) Loan
Out: Emiliano Martinez (Reading) Loan, Emile Smith Rowe (RB Leipzig) Loan


Bournemouth: B

The Cherries did their business early and their squad is looking stronger with Clyne and Mepham adding quality to their defensive unit. Solanke, when he returns to full fitness, will be a handful and keeping hold of Callum Wilson was perhaps the best piece of business Eddie Howe did this month.

In: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) Loan, Chris Mepham (Brentford) $15 million, Keelan O'Connell (Morton) Loan, Dominic Solanke (Liverpool) $24.1 million
Out: Jermain Defoe (Rangers) Loan, Alex Dobre (Yeovil Town) Loan, Tyrell Hamilton (Salisbury) Loan, Jordan Holmes (St Mirren) Loan, Corey Jordan (Eastbourne Borough) Loan, Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) Loan, Marc Pugh (Hull City) Loan, Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Wimbledon) Loan, Charlie Seaman (Dundee United) Loan, Matt Worthington (Yeovil Town) Free


Brighton & Hove Albion: D

Very quiet January for Brighton and you have to think they needed a bit of extra quality, especially in attack, to stop their recent slide down the table. Chris Hughton brought in plenty of players in the summer, so this stance is understandable.

In: Tudor-Cristian Baluta (Viitorul Constanta) Undisclosed, Alexis Mac Allister (Argentinos Juniors) Undisclosed, Jan Mlakar (NK Maribor) Undisclosed

Out: Billy Arce (CS Emelec) Loan, Ben Barclay (Notts County) Loan, George Cox (Northampton Town) Loan, Anders Dreyer (St Mirren) Loan, Josh Kerr (Derry City) Loan, Jordan Maguire-Drew (Leyton Orient) Undisclosed, Mathias Normann (FC Rostov) Undisclosed, Oliver Norwood (Sheff Utd) Undisclosed, Ezequiel Schelotto (Chievo) Loan, Markus Suttner (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Loan, Ben White (Peterborough) Loan, Alexis Mac Allister (Argentinos Juniors) Loan, Stefan Ljubicic (Eastbourne Borough) Loan


Burnley: C

A bizarre deal on Deadline Day highlighted January for Sean Dyche‘s improving side. Sam Vokes left for Stoke and Peter Crouch arrived as the veteran will fit their system well off the bench. You can already picture Crouch getting on the end of those crosses from Burnley’s wingers and full backs…

In: Peter Crouch (Stoke City) Undisclosed

Out: Jimmy Dunne (Sunderland) Loan, Ali Koiki (Swindon Town) Loan, Ntumba Massanka (RWD Molenbeek) Loan,, George McMahon (Ashton United) Loan, Conor Mitchell (Linfield) Loan, Sam Vokes (Stoke City) Undisclosed


Cardiff City: C+

Neil Warnock focused all of his attention on Emiliano Sala, who became their club-record signing, and his tragic disappearance has hit Cardiff City hard on and off the pitch. Niasse and Bacuna will play right away and are shrewd additions, but Cardiff would have wanted to do a bit more business.

In: Leandro Bacuna (Reading) Undisclosed, Oumar Niasse (Everton) Loan, Emiliano Sala (Nantes) Undisclosed

Out: Omar Bogle (Portsmouth) Loan, Ciaron Brown (Livingston) Loan, Mark Harris (Port Vale) Loan, Gary Madine (Sheffield United) Loan, Paul McKay (Morecambe) Loan, Anthony Pilkington Released, Lee Tomlin (Peterborough)


Chelsea: B

Christian Pulisic’s arrival for $73 million happened right at the start of the window and long-term he will prove to be a good buy. Gonzalo Higuain arriving on loan was necessary, as Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi all departed. Maurizio Sarri needs to make Higuain’s move work, but he will be a little miffed he didn’t sign a new central midfielder.

In: Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) Undisclosed, Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus) Loan

Out: Lewis Baker (Reading) Loan, Cesc Fabregas (Monaco) Undisclosed, Josh Grant (Yeovil Town) Loan, Matt Miazga (Reading) Loan, Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) Loan, Victor Moses (Fenerbahce) Loan, Lucas Piazon (Chievo) Loan, Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) Loan, Kasey Palmer (Bristol City) Loan, Karlo Ziger (Sutton United) Loan, Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) Loan


Crystal Palace: B+

The addition of Michy Batshuayi on Deadline Day changed Palace’s fortunes, as he will provide a real focal point to their attack. Bakary Sako‘s return was unexpected but makes sense, and Palace really needed extra options in attack as they’re sorted in mdifield and defense. A very good window for Roy Hogdson, overall.

In: Lucas Perri (Sao Paulo) Loan, Bakary Sako (West Brom) Undisclosed, Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) Loan
Out: Joseph Hungbo (Margate) Loan, Sullay Kaikai (Breda) Undisclosed, Nya Kirby (Blackpool) Loan,  Jordon Mutch (released), Jason Puncheon (Huddersfield Town) Loan, Alexander Sorloth (KAA Gent) Loan, Oliver Webber (Greenwich Borough) Loan, Jonny Williams (Charlton) Undisclosed


Everton: D

Marco Silva will have wanted to sign a new striker in the window, but he did spent plenty of cash in the summer. Everton have loaned out a few fringe players, but if they had signed someone like Batshuayi then they would have improved their chances of finishing seventh drastically. Keeping hold of midfield destoryer Idrissa Gueye, who was chased by PSG up until the window closed, was their best piece of business this window.

In: None
Out: Kieran Dowell (Sheffield Utd) Loan, Mason Holgate (West Brom) Loan, Shayne Lavery (Falkirk) Loan, Cuco Martina (Feyenoord) Loan, Oumar Niasse (Cardiff City) Loan, Yannick Bolasie (Anderlecht) Loan


Fulham: D

Claudio Ranieri‘s side needed to sign plenty of new defenders this month. They signed one in Norwegian utility man Havard Nordtveit on Deadline Day, but Gary Cahill turned them down. Lazar Markovic also arrived right at the end of the window, but he’s yet another attacking player. Ryan Babel adds an extra dimension to their attack, but you have to feel that this Fulham squad is still unbalanced.

In: Ryan Babel (Besiktas) Undisclosed, Havard Nordtveit (Hoffenheim) Loan, Lazar Markovic (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Out: Stephen Humphrys (Southend) Undisclosed, Aboubakar Kamara (Pictured, Yeni Malatyaspor) Loan


Huddersfield Town: D

The Terriers look resigned to relegation and their business in January proved it. David Wagner‘s departure meant big deals were unlikely for new manager Jan Siewert, but Jason Puncheon is a solid addition. That said, Huddersfield needed to spend big in the window if they were going to give themselves any chance of staying up. They didn’t.

In: Jaden Brown (Spurs) Undisclosed,  Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) Loan, Karlan Grant (Charlton Athletic) Undisclosed
Out: Jaden Brown (Exeter City) Loan, Rarmani Edmonds-Green (Brighouse Town) Loan, Rekeil Pyke (Rochdale) Loan,  Collin Quaner (Ipswich Town) Loan, Ryan Schofield (Notts County) Loan, Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly) Loan, Rajiv Van la Parra (Middlesbrough)


Leicester City: C

One addition in January came on Deadline Day, and Leicester added promising Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans from Monaco. Adrien Silva went in the opposite direction, and Tielemans is a quality pick up. The 21-year-old shone at Anderlecht in the past and played for Belgium at the World Cup in the summer.

In: Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco) Loan
Out: Yohan Benalouane (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed, Fousseni Diabate (Sivasspor) Loan, Callum Elder (Ipswich) Loan, Vicente Iborra (Villarreal) Undisclosed, Adrien Silva (Monaco) Loan


Liverpool: C

No additions for Liverpool, and their squad is so strong that is not surprising. Solanke and Clyne moved to Bournemouth and Jurgen Klopp may have been tempted to bring in a new defender to help with some injuries. In the end, Liverpool did what they needed to: nothing.

In: None
Out: Nathaniel Clyne (AFC Bournemouth) Loan, Ovie Ejaria (Reading) Loan, Liam Miller (Kilmarnock) Loan, Dominic Solanke (AFC Bournemouth) Undisclosed


Manchester City: C-

Pep Guardiola‘s men were linked with adding cover in central midfield to help Fernandinho, and they did sign promising Croatian midfielder Ante Palaversa from Hajduk Split. He was loaned back to the Croatian side right away and the 18-year-old is highly rated in his homeland.

In: Ante Palaversa (Hajduk Split) Undisclosed
Out: Brahim Diaz (Real Madrid) Undisclosed,  Ed Francis (Wolves) Undisclosed Luke Bolton (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan, Rabbi Matondo (Schalke) Undisclosed, Ante Palaversa (Hajduk Split) Loan


Manchester United: C

A quiet window, as expected, at United as caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has improved their star players straight away. Easy window.

In: None
Out: Ethan Hamilton (Rochdale) Loan, Joel Pereira (KV Kortrijk) Loan, Regan Poole (Newport) Loan, Ro-Shaun Williams (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed


Newcastle United: B+

One of the winners of the window, as Rafael Benitez was given money to spend as they broke their club-record transfer fee and paid $27.5 million for Miguel Almiron. The Paraguayan attacker has been a revelation in MLS and although this is a huge step up, his arrival is something we didn’t think we would see under Mike Ashley.

In: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) $27.5 million, Antonio Barreca (Monaco) Loan
Out: Liam Gibson (Accrington) Loan, Elias Sorensen (Blackpool) Loan, Jamie Sterry (Crewe) Loan,  Josef Yarney (Chesterfield)


Southampton: C-

No arrivals at Saints in January as Ralph Hasenhuttl focused on trimming his squad and promoting youth players. Out went Davis, Gabbiadini, Hoedt and Cedric, with Charlie Austin nearly leaving too. Could the failure to add a striker this month cost Southampton their place in the Premier League? We will wait and see, but this was a window which sees them have a leaner and better-balanced squad. From the outside looking in it seems like Saints got rid of plenty of talented players for no reason. A risky tactic from Hasenhuttl, but he is all about the team-first approach.

In: None
Out: Steven Davis (Rangers) Loan, Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria) Undisclosed, Wesley Hoedt (Celta Vigo) Loan, Ryan Seager Released, Cedric Soares (Inter Milan) Loan


Tottenham Hotspur: C

Tottenham have now gone a full 12 months without signing a single player. Wow. Losing Mousa Dembele was a blow, but expected, as Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp will be expected to pick up the slack. Tottenham have suffered with injuries, but can they afford players who will make their squad better? Not right now given the move to their new stadium. Sensible business for Mauricio Pochettino even if they tried to chase an extra striker late in the window.

In: None
Out: Jaden Brown (Huddersfield Town) Undisclosed, Mousa Dembele (Guangzhou R&F) Undisclosed, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Monaco) Loan, Kazaiah Sterling (Sunderland) Loan


Watford: C

The biggest win in January for Watford was keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucoure as PSG were linked with a move for him. Quiet window for Javi Gracia, as he continues to get this Watford squad performing above their potential.

In: Adam Parkes (Southampton) Undisclosed
Out: Stefano Okaka (Udinese) Loan, Jerome Sinclair (Oxford United) Loan, Ben Wilmot (Udinese) Loan, Randell Williams (Exeter City) Undisclosed, Marvin Zeegelaar (Udinese) Loan


West Ham United: C+

A strange window for the Hammers as Marko Arnautovic was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but ended up signing a new contract with the club. They were linked with a big money move for Uruguayan striker Maxi Lopez and that may now happen in the summer, while Samir Nasri‘s arrival on a free transfer was a smart pick up.

In: Samir Nasri (Unattached) Free, Mesaque Dju (Benfica) Undisclosed
Out: Sead Haksabanovic (Norrkoping) Loan, Moses Makasi (Stevenage) Loan, Toni Martinez (Lugo) Loan, Vashon Neufville (Newport) Loan, Reece Oxford (FC Augsburg) Loan,
Joe Powell (Northampton) Loan


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C

Wolves were looking at adding some extra cover in attack, with Tammy Abraham close to joining on loan right at the start of the window. In the end, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men didn’t really need extra help going forward and signing right back Jonny from Atletico Madrid on a permanent basis on Deadline Day was superb business.

In: David Wang (Jumilla B) Undisclosed, Ed Francis (Manchester City) Undisclosed, Jonny (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed
Out: Benik Afobe (Stoke) Undisclosed, Danny Batth (Stoke) Undisclosed, Harry Burgoyne (Falkirk) Loan, Ethan Ebanks-Landell (Rochdale) Loan, Bright Enobakhare (Coventry) Loan, Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) Loan, Ben Stevenson (Colchester United) Undisclosed,  David Wang (Sporting Lisbon) Loan

Premier League transfer needs: Final week of the window

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One week ladies and gents, that is all we have left.

Until the January transfer window slams shut in the Premier League, of course. Sorry for sparking any apocalyptic thoughts among you…

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Anyway, with the transfer window closing at 6 p.m. ET next Thursday, Jan. 31, there are still plenty of PL clubs who have yet to make a single signing and are coy on the possibility of adding to their squads. There are also plenty of players praying for a big move, or just a switch to somewhere they can lock down some guaranteed playing time.

You just know everyone loves a last-minute bargain.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the business each of the Premier League’s clubs should do if they dip into the market in the final seven days.

Tick-tock…


Arsenal
Key transfer needs: Center back, CM – Unai Emery has had so many injuries in defense that he needs to add cover, but he’s already said he can only bring players in on loan. With Aaron Ramsey agreeing his move to Juventus for the summer, Denis Suarez seems to be coming in on loan from Barcelona, but do Arsenal really need another central midfielder? Getting a new center back in should be the priority and although they’ve been linked with Eric Bailly, that seems like a long shot.


Bournemouth
Key transfer needs: None – They’ve done their business nice and early with Nathaniel Clyne and Dominic Solanke arriving from Liverpool, then promising young Welsh center back Chris Mepham arriving from Brentford for $15 million. With Jermain Defoe moving to Rangers, buying Solanke was a big risk at $24.1 million but he has bags of potential and Eddie Howe will think he can develop that talent a la David Brooks, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson. Clyne is only on loan, but you can see a permanent deal happening this summer. Mepham could be a long-term replacement for Nathan Ake, who reportedly has a buy-back clause in his contract and his former club Chelsea are keen to exercise it.


Brighton & Hove Albion
Key transfer need: Central midfield – Some extra depth in central midfield is all that is needed, as Chris Hughton has a strong squad and the quality of his starting XI doesn’t drop significantly when a regular is replaced. Having some extra nous in central midfield would be a good move, but not essential. The Seagulls probably won’t sign anyone.


Burnley
Key transfer needs: Winger, attacking midfielder – Injuries to key players in attack have hampered Burnley for most of this season, and with their defense sorted out in recent weeks and Tom Heaton back in goal, they are shored up at the back. They could do with adding more creativity in the final third but Sean Dyche will be hesitant to spend big.


Cardiff City
Key transfer needs: Striker, defenders – There is real work to do for Cardiff to seal some signings, and with the tragic situation regarding their club-record signing Emiliano Sala they are likely without a new forward to push them away from the relegation zone. Cardiff do not have a big budget and will have to wait for the last minute. They will have to get creative and look at loan deals, as Neil Warnock was angry to lose out to Bournemouth for Nathaniel Clyne.


Chelsea
Key transfer needs: Central midfield – With Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud misfiring, Maurizio Sarri needed a new striker and he finally got one: Gonzalo Higuain arrived initially on loan from Juventus and will be tasked with putting away the copious chances Chelsea create. Cesc Fabregas left for Monaco and Sarri wants a new central midfielder, but a $55 million move for Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella seems unlikely, while Leandro Paredes seems to be heading to PSG instead. Maybe just play Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi or Ross Barkley more, Maurizio?


Crystal Palace
Key transfer needs: Striker, striker, striker… – Roy Hodgson needs one thing to turn this team into a midtable side: a striker. Michy Batshuayi has been mentioned on several occasions but Hodgson has had to rely on less than prolific Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew for goals. Palace are set elsewhere, but need a new targetman. If they don’t sign anyone, at least Christian Benteke is  now back from injury. Reports that Borussia Dortmund want to sign Wilfried Zaha in the summer are worrying for Palace, but the Ivory Coast winger would demand a huge transfer fee if he did leave Selhurst Park. All of the focus should be adding help for Wilf as the Eagles aim to push away from a relegation battle in the final months of the season.


Everton
Key transfer needs: Striker, center back – The Toffees need a new center forward too, as Cenk Tosun‘s move just hasn’t worked out and Dominic Calvert-Lewin may not cut the mustard at the top level. Richarlison has had to play through the middle a lot this season and he is clearly better coming off the left. Jean-Kevin Augustin has been linked with a move to the Toffees, as well as other PL clubs, but he may be too expensive after a big outlay on new players over the past 12 months. Perhaps getting Michy Batshuayi in on loan makes more sense? As for defense, Kurt Zouma, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina have had rollercoaster campaigns and getting them extra cover, especially in a 3-4-3 formation, is vital.


Fulham
Key transfer needs: Center back, full backs – Claudio Ranieri has improved this Fulham defense significantly but this may be all he can do with his group of players. Gary Cahill has been linked with a loan move from Chelsea and Ranieri could do with strengthening both full back positions and adding two new center backs. Going forward they look more than adequate, and added Ryan Babel on loan to help with that, but there’s no real balance in this team. Gary Cahill was linked with a move to Fulham on loan, and his experienced would be helpful for plenty of teams at the bottom of the table.


Huddersfield Town
Key transfer needs: Everywhere – It is quite simple, Huddersfield need to spend big in the transfer window or they are going to get relegated. It seems they’re already resigned to their fate. Jason Puncheon has arrived from Crystal Palace on loan and has made a difference, but top quality in midfield and attack is needed. Losing Aaron Mooy and Danny Williams for a key part of the season was a blow. The Terriers know they will have to add a few new players in the next week to give themselves a chance of staying up, but that likely depends on how they get on in their next game.


Leicester City
Key transfer needs: Striker, central midfield – With Vicente Iborra sold to Villarreal, there is a hole in central midfield for Claude Puel to plug. Up top the likes of Shinji Okazaki and Kelechi Iheanacho continue to deliver lackluster displays and Jamie Vardy really needs some support. Bringing in a strong center forward who can link up with Vardy would be ideal. But Leicester probably won’t spend anything.


Liverpool
Key transfer needs: Defenders – Injuries have hit Jurgen Klopp‘s side hard in this area of the pitch, but Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be back fit soon. Maybe a young defender or right back who can be developed is the way to go. Either way, Liverpool don’t need to do anything in the final days of the window.


Manchester City
Key transfer needs: Left back, defensive midfielder – Benjamin Mendy‘s injury problems mean that left back is the main area needed to strengthen in. Pep Guardiola‘s plan to play Fabian Delph there worked last season, but not so much this season, while Oleksandr Zinchenko hasn’t settled in that role. Aymeric Laporte has plugged the gap for now, but a long-term left back to challenge Mendy is badly needed. A long-term replacement for Fernandinho is needed too, as the Brazilian is badly missed when he’s been out injured. A few names thrown around to come into central midfield include Declan Rice (despite his new contract at West Ham) and Everton Soares, while City were priced out of a deal for Frankie de Jong as he signed for Barcelona.


Manchester United
Key transfer needs: Center back, left back – Defensively United need some serious help, as their stable of center backs are getting by in games but David De Gea is usually bailing them out. Luke Shaw is their only real option at left back, with Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young able to play there out of position in a pinch. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer probably won’t be allowed to spend money as he isn’t the permanent boss.


Newcastle United
Key transfer needs: Striker, central midfielder, winger – Now, it is very unlikely Rafael Benitez will be given money to spend in January, but he does need to strengthen in a few areas. Defensively they are solid enough and they are all set. But going forward he is woefully short of quality options. Extra quality off the wing, a No. 10 and a striker to partner Salomon Rondon is needed. Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United has been linked with a move to St James’ Park but the Magpies are baulking at the $35 million transfer fee and Atlanta will let this run until the final hours of the window as they are in no rush. Benitez will be pulling his hair out right about now, as Newcastle just need a few reinforcements to push well clear of the relegation zone.  Another club which could use Batshuayi to strengthen their attack.


Southampton
Key transfer needs: Winger, striker, center back – Saints have yet to bring in a new signing, while Wesley Hoedt, Manolo Gabbiadini and Steven Davis have all been moved on and Cedric is on his way out. It seems like Ralph Hasenhuttl is keen to head to his former club RB Leipzig add the likes of Dayot Upamecano or Willi Orban to shore up his defensive unit, while adding Jean-Kevin Augustin, also from Leipzig, would be a major coup. Time is ticking for Saints, and their biggest need is for a new speedy striker to challenge Danny Ings, Michael Obefemi, Shane Long.


Tottenham Hotspur
Key transfer needs: Central midfield, striker – The latter has become essential given injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while Heung-Min Son‘s absence throughout January has also hurt Spurs. It is unlikely they will do any business in the final week of the window, even after selling Mousa Dembele to the Chinese Super League. Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp will be asked to step into prominent roles in midfield in the final months of the season and that’s the great thing about Mauricio Pochettino: he loves giving young players a chance to shine.


Watford
Key transfer need: Center back – It is unlikely Watford will do much business but if they do, a new center back should be a priority. The Hornets are going along nicely under Javi Gracia and their squad looks extremely strong. If Abdoulaye Doucoure forces a move then it will be tough, but it is likely he will leave in the summer.


West Ham United
Key transfer needs: Striker – The Hammers are pretty set and spent a lot of money in the summer but Marko Arnautovic‘s stance that he wants to leave for the Chinese Super League has complicated what should have been a quiet window. Javier Hernandez reportedly wants out, while Andy Carroll is struggling after his latest return from injury. If Arnie is allowed to leave, Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez is said to top their list of replacement strikers. Batshuayi could be a short-term fix until the summer.


Wolverhampton Wanderers
Key transfer need: Striker – Recent wins have shown the strength Nuno Espirito Santo already has in his squad. Having another option for Raul Jimenez up top would be handy if they are going to finish seventh and qualify for Europe. A move for Tammy Abraham fell through, and although they’ve been linked with Jean-Kevin Augustin too, they may not spend at all.