Alan Hutton

Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

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Before we get to the business at hand — discussing which three Premier League clubs must spend money in a wild and irresponsible manner during tomorrow’s transfer deadline day proceedings — let’s take a moment to discuss how ludicrous it is that “Christmas Eve shopping” is still a modern-day practice.

[ MORE: All of the latest transfer news ]

In terms of running a football club, we’re talking about billions of dollars at play. Not hoping you’ll get lucky and snag the last Turbo Man action figure to give to your kid the next morning. Billions — with a B — of dollars. If I’m the chairman of a club — say, Everton — and another club — say, Chelsea — wants to buy one of my most-prized possessions — say, a center back named John Stones — there’s no way I’m giving the buying club any sort of cut-rate price just because the transfer window is winding down.

Not only do you have little or no time to reinvest that incoming cash, but an entire preseason of preparation and planning is thrown out the window with four months still to pass before you can do a thing about it.

[ JPW’S PL Playback: It’s time to change the rules of the transfer window ]

With that being said, the cash will be flowing once again tomorrow. Here’s a fair guess at who could be writing most of the checks:

3. Sunderland

Disclaimer: It was quite difficult to pick a third team that needs to make waves on transfer deadline day, so I ended up with Sunderland. You might look at their transfer activity this summer and think, “They’ve already net spent $24 million,” which yes, is true. But let’s examine the manner in which they did so.

Fabio Borini for $15 million — risky; Jeremain Lens for $12 million — completely unproven in a major European league; Younes Kaboul for $4.5 million — he’ll be out for three months soon enough; Sebastian Coates for $3 million — never played more than 10 games in a Premier League season; Adam Matthews for $3 million — this ain’t the Scottish Premiership.

What I’m saying is, Sunderland finished last season in 16th place, just three points clear of relegation — and that only happened after another “great escape” in the season’s final weeks. There’s still work to be done for Dick Advocaat’s side, which currently sits bottom of the league with 10 goals conceded through four games, or they’ll be praying for yet another miracle.

[ DONE DEALS: Recapping Man United (and others’) very busy Monday ]

2. Aston Villa

In short, I don’t believe Tim Sherwood has been given enough free reign to spend like the second coming of Harry Redknapp that we all know he is. I need from him a net spend greater than $9 million in his first transfer window as a permanent first-team manager. But more importantly, he needs players capable of keeping the Villans in the Premier League.

Let’s have a look at the backline Sherwood trotted out in their most recent league game, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland: Jordan Amavi (21 years old), Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards and Alan Hutton. That’s a defensive unit capable of resigning even the league’s most prolific of attacks — which they don’t have — to a bottom-third finish, as evidenced in that very game.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday’s officially confirmed transfers ]

1. Arsenal

Let’s count all the areas in which Arsene Wenger should have been strengthening his squad in the 99 days since last season ended: 1) defensive midfield — are we to assume Francis Coquelin can play 38 games without incident? 2) another central midfielder — Jack Wilshere has already missed the season’s first four games; 3) center forward — Olivier Giroud and…who?

If the goal is, as the Gunners said again and again all summer long, to challenge for the title, they don’t just need players to fill those positions. They need genuinely world-class players to do so — the kind of players you don’t acquire in a last-minute deal at a cut-rate price, both of which being characteristics on which Wenger seems intent. Outside of Petr Cech, not a single signing will play a meaningful part in Arsenal’s 2015-16 season.

Not a single one of Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic — all players “linked” to the Gunners this summer — are walking through that door on Tuesday.

Micah Richards set to join Aston Villa from Manchester City

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Aston Villa will secure another Manchester City reject on July 1, adding Micah Richards to the fold on a free transfer.

Richards joins Scott Sinclair as players who bombed out of Manuel Pellegrini’s City side, having spent last season on loan at Fiorentina.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule released ]

The 13-times capped England defender is just 26 years-old, but feels older due to his teenage success with City, where he debuted as a 17-year-old.

But Richards couldn’t cement his place in the side under Pellegrini despite being a big part of the side’s 2012 Premier League title.

Richards is a former Man City Young Player of the Year, and joins a Villa back line with Jores Okore and Alan Hutton amongst others.

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

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On Saturday Southampton welcome Aston Villa to St Mary’s (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) with plenty on the line for both teams.

After picking up just one points from their last four games, Saints need a win to try and boost their top six chances as they aim for Europa League qualification. As for Villa, Tim Sherwood’s side go into this match in good form after three wins in four and know another victory would officially stave off relegation.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

Despite their recent poor form, Saints have won three of their last four at home and have collected 10 out of a possible 12 points. That said, they have only beaten Villa once in their last six homes games against the Midlands club and the two teams drew 1-1 earlier this season.

In team news Saints continue with young Argentine goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, while James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long come into the starting lineup for Elia and Reed. Villa make one change to the side which beat West Ham United last time out as Alan Hutton comes in for Kieran Richardson.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, S Davis, Ward-Prowse, Long, Pelle, Mane. Subs: K Davis, Yoshida, Targett, Gardos, Elia, Djuricic, Reed

Aston Villa: Given, Bacuna, Vlaar, Okore, Hutton, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley, N’Zogbia, Grealish, Benteke. Subs: Guzan, Weimann, Agbonlahor, Senderos, Sanchez, Lowton, Sinclair

Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa

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  • Tottenham are unbeaten in 12 league meetings against Aston Villa (W9, D3). They have won the last five, equalling their longest winning run in this fixture.
  • No team has used more substitutes than Tottenham (91) this season but they have only contributed one goal (Kane v Aston Villa in November). Only Villa have fared worse.
  • Villa are still nine points adrift of their lowest final tally in a Premier League campaign: 38 points in 2011-12 and 2013-14. (BBC Sport)

Tottenham Hotspur, in the thick of contention for a Europa League position, will protect their home turf against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Tottenham, currently at sixth place in the Premier League table, is hoping to get a leg up on Liverpool and Southampton. The Reds, at fifth, are tied in points but beat Spurs on goal differential, while the Saints are positioned one point behind Mauricio Pochettino’s crew in seventh place.

Harry Kane has the highest goal tally in the PL beside Chelsea striker Diego Costa, making his case for multiple year-end awards, assuming he contributes for the remainder of the season.

Spurs have won the three out of their past five games, losing to Manchester United, 3-0, and tying Burnley in a scoreless draw last week.

[RELATED: Pochettino praises Sherwood’s eye for young talent]

Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood is trying to avoid relegation, an area dreaded by every team in England’s top-flight.

Heading into this contest, the Villans haven’t won since a 4-0 blanking of Sunderland on Mar. 14, and they sit at 16th place right now, just three points in front of Queens Park Rangers in the final demotion spot.

Christian Benteke has spurred Villa’s attacking magic as of late, with the Belgian netting seven goals in the past five competitions.

Expect an exhilarating match, available for viewing on NBCSN, or online at NBC Sports Live Extra, at 9:45 a.m. ET.

What they’re saying

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood believes on time at former club Tottenham (BBC Sport): “Spurs were a good club for me. I had a good time there. I wouldn’t be here as Aston Villa manager if it wasn’t for my time at Tottenham…It’s good to be the chosen one at a football club the size of Aston Villa. This is the dream job of all time for me. I need to be in the Premier League, I’ve come here to be a Premier League manager.”

Spurs midfielder Erik Lamela on maintaing form for Villa match (Tottenham official website): “We have the firepower in our team to win and, in front of our fans at White Hart Lane, I’m confident we can beat Aston Villa..I hope we can do well against them. It was not a good game for us against Burnley last week but we can change that this weekend…I hope we can win so that we can finish the season well. We need to play very aggressively and try to get the three points.”

Match injuries/absences

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and defender Jan Vertonghen are the notable players labeled as doubtful for Spurs. Lloris is dealing with a knee injury, and Vertonghen has sickness.

Defender Kyle Walker is also not up for selection due to a foot issue.

The Villans will be without Scott Sinclair, Alan Hutton, Ashley Westwood and Carles Gil once again. Left back Aly Cissokho is set to return from a groin ailment after a solid week of training.

Prediction

Villa will have the chance to draw level many times, but Tottenham should be able to manage three points behind a excited home crowd. Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa.

Watch Live: Aston Villa vs QPR (Lineups and Live Stream)

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A massive game with relegation implications comes to us today from Villa Park as a pair of teams with threatened futures square off at 2:45pm ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Aston Villa, just three points above the drop zone in 17th, welcomes 19th-placed Queens Park Rangers. The winner of today’s match will find themselves outside the bottom three, while the loser will find themselves on high alert.

WATCH LIVE: Aston Villa vs QPR live on NBC Sports Live Extra

Tim Sherwood will have to find a way to collect vital points at home knowing he has a less than full strength lineup. Defender Alan Hutton is out with an ankle injury, and creative minds Scott Sinclair and Ashley Westwood both miss out with hamstring problems, which will prove a major hole to fill for a team already severely lacking in creative talent.

[ MORE: Full ProSoccerTalk preview of Aston Villa vs QPR ]

QPR has its own injury problems. Eduardo Vargas will be out the rest of the season after requiring knee surgery for a knock he picked up against West Brom, a devastating blow to the Londoners’ attacking force.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Richardson, Cleverley, Delph, Sanchez, Grealish, Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Bench: Given, Baker, Okore, Weimann, Cole, N’Zogbia, Lowton.

Queens Park Rangers: Green; Isla, Onuoha, Caulker, Hill; Phillips, Sandro, Barton, Kranjcar; Austin, Zamora.
Bench: McCarthy, Traore, Henry, Hoilett, Mitchell, Doughty, Grego-Cox