Premier League Transfer News: The 3 Biggest Mid-Table Winners
While a lot of the Premier League transfer stories this summer surrounded the "big six" clubs, many of the less popular English sides did great business to give themselves a chance at competing for spots in European competitions or to remain in the top flight.
This article will take a look at three of those teams.
Biggest Names In: Jonathan Woodgate, Matthew Upson, Wilson Palacios, Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome
Biggest Names Out: Abdoulaye Faye, Eidur Gudjohnsen
While they don't play a particularly attractive brand of football, Stoke City have certainly carved out a niche as a tough side that plays resolute defense.
Their biggest pre-deadline signing is certainly Woodgate, as he has been a quality player for them thus far. Hopefully he won't run into the same injury problems at Stoke that he has at Tottenham.
On the day of the deadline, Stoke addressed one of its biggest needs: strikers. Up until now, Stoke has been relying on Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters up front, who have combined for only one goal in three league matches.
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While Crouch may be lacking form as he gets older, he could be revitalized by the change in scenery and a side that is more than capable of pumping in crosses for him to head home.
Jerome provides a great deal of pace, something Stoke lacks, so he provides another offensive option for the Potters.
I'm excited to see how Palacios pans out for Stoke because he should fit right in with their style of play. He should provide an even tougher physical presence in the center of the pitch.
Along with these signings, Stoke didn't sell any major pieces. They very well could compete for the fifth spot in the table and reach the Europa League for a second consecutive year.
Biggest Names In: Seb Larsson, Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-won, Wes Brown, Nicklas Bendtner
Biggest Names Out: Jordan Henderson, Anton Ferdinand
Steve Bruce's Sunderland made many moves this summer and the list of players above doesn't come close to being comprehensive.
While they were relatively quiet on the deadline day (Bendtner and Ferdinand were the only moves), during the off season the sale of Jordan Henderson allowed the Black Cats to add depth to the squad and buy some young strikes to replace Darren Bent for years to come.
Before I look to the situation at striker, some of Sunderland's smartest business was the signings of Seb Larsson, a fantastic winger who scored a goal-of-the-season contender against Liverpool, and Wes Brown, an underrated central defender from Manchester United.
Both have been consistent performers and should expect to see a great deal of first team action this season.
At striker, while I don't believe Bendtner will even prove to be a band-aid at striker, he shouldn't be a detriment.
Also, Sunderland signed two exciting prospects in Wickham and Ji. Both are under 20, have huge potential and can be the future of the Sunderland strike force after Asamoah Gyan.
The loss of Jordan Henderson, their primary creative force last season, was certainly a big hit.
But the £16 million they received from Liverpool went to nearly buying an entirely new team that add to both depth and quality.
Perhaps those signings will prevent the second half collapse Sunderland had last term and will keep the Black Cats in contention for a Europa League spot.
Queens Park Rangers
Biggest Names In: Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell, Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips
Biggest Names Out: None
Despite their 1-0 win at Everton, newly promoted Queens Park Rangers might at this point simply hope to remain in the top flight after getting hammered by Bolton and Wigan and losing their first League Cup match to Rochdale.
There is hope, however, as QPR managed to hold on to its biggest star last term, Adel Taarabt. They have made several interesting signings, particularly for the front line.
Before I delve into the new forward signings, however, arguably the most intriguing signing QPR made this summer was Joey Barton for free.
It will be fascinating to see if he can keep a cool head and not constantly find his way into the referee's book.
If he can maintain his form for an entire season he can be a real threat in the midfield and on set pieces. His ability to control his temper, however, remains to be seen.
Before the season began, QPR signed forwards Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell. The former scored 20 goals for Cardiff last season and the latter, 13 for Blackpool.
If they can translate last year's success for championship and relegation-bound sides into this season, QPR shouldn't have problems finding the back of the net.
On the deadline day, The Hoops signed one of the many players rotting on Manchester City's bench and reserves, Shaun Wright-Phillips. If he can find his form he will will prove to be a valuable asset on the wing.
Since the Rangers held on to their biggest player from last season and added some quality forwards and depth throughout the side (with players like Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon and Luke Young), I wouldn't be surprised if they went right back down to the championship.
Was another side more deserving of inclusion? Should I have included some other players on the teams I mentioned? Leave your comments below.
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