EPL Transfer Window: Ranking Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, City, United, Spurs

Ratan Postwalla@@ratanpostwallaCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2011

EPL Transfer Window: Ranking Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, City, United, Spurs

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    After a summer of comings and goings, the transfer window has finally slammed shut. For many clubs, this will bring relief, because there is now an element of certainty to their squads.  It has been a summer of contrasts for the "big 6" - Arsenal" target="_blank">Arsenal, Chelsea" target="_blank">Chelsea, Liverpool" target="_blank">Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.  United and Liverpool bought early, and added depth to their respective squads.  City, particularly, and Chelsea made a few marquee signings. Arsenal left it all very late, signing as many as five players in the last 36 hours of the transfer window.  Spurs didn't do much business, but maybe their best piece of business was the one they didn't do!

    In the aftermath of transfer season, let's take an in-depth look at the transfer activity of the Big 6, and see who the winners and losers are.  I'll be rating teams on three aspects:

    • Quality of players gained and lost
    • Timing of transfers
    • State of current squad

6. Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Houdini Misses a Trick

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    Players in:  Brad Friedel, Scott Parker, Emmanuel Adebayor (loan)

    Players out: Jonathan Woodgate, Jamie O'Hara, Allan Hutton, Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Robbie Keane

    There were no deadline day heroics from Harry Redknapp this time around.  In fact, the two biggest pieces of transfer news for Spurs fans on August 31 were surrounding transfers that did not happen.  First, Harry tried to hijack neighbors Arsenal's move for Bolton center half Gary Cahill.  But Cahill went nowhere.  

    And secondly, Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy resisted £40 million worth of Roman Abramovich's cash to hang on to star midfielder Luka Modric.  In hindsight, that seems like a masterstroke now, given the expected six-week absence of Rafael van der Vaart due to a hamstring injury.

    Scott Parker will be a solid addition, and Emmanuel Adebayor may be terrible or great, depending on which way his head is fitted on.  But the best signing of all is the old man in goal, Brad Friedel, who, even at 40, is one of the top 'keepers in world football.  

    The number of departures will definitely reduce the wage bill, but the squad has definitely lost some quality in Palacios, Crouch and Jenas.

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Parker, Bale; van der Vaart; Adebayor.

    Subs (from): Gomes, Cudicini, Corluka, King, Bassong, Gallas, Sandro, Kranjcar, Pienaar, Rose, Townsend, Huddlestone, dos Santos, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe

    Quality of transfers:  5/10

    Timing of transfers:  6/10

    Squad strength:  5/10

    Average score:  5.33

5. Liverpool: Quantity, Not Quality for King Kenny

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    Players in:  Jordan Henderson, Doni, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Sebastien Coates, Jose Enrique, Craig Bellamy

    Players out: Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen, David Ngog, Raul Meireles, Joe Cole (loan), Emiliano Insua, Alberto Aquilani (loan), Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Milan Jovanovic

    Looking at the number of movements, it appears to be all-change for Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.  And given the start his team have had, that might not be a bad thing at all.  

    Dalglish brought a majority of his new players in early, giving them plenty of time to settle in.  And there was a nice surprise on deadline day, with the addition of Craig Bellamy.

    The only question that remains to be answered is how good these new signings can be.  On the face of it, they all look like squad players at a top club.  However, don't be surprised if Dalglish can make them realize their true potential.

    Liverpool fans won't shed too many tears when looking at the list of departures.  Only one player will be a real miss - Raul Meireles. Personally, I am surprised that Dalglish let him go.  I rate him higher than most of Liverpool's midfielders.

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Kuyt, Gerrard, Lucas, Downing; Suarez, Carroll. 

    Subs (from): Jones, Doni, Aurelio, Coates, Kelly, Skrtel, Flannagan, Adam, Henderson, Maxi, Spearing, Shelvey, Bellamy 

    Quality of transfers:  6/10

    Timing of transfers:  9/10

    Squad strength:  6/10

    Average score:  7

3. Chelsea: Slim Pickings for Andre Villas Boas

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    Players in:  Oriol Romeu, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Raul Meireles

    Players out: Yuri Zhirkov, Yossi Benayoun (loan), Gael Kakuta (loan)

    It seems almost incredible that Chelsea made a total of only seven transfer deals (in and out) of significance.  And three of the four incoming players are youngsters, two of whom have barely cut their teeth at club level football.  I guess financial fair play really means business, huh??

    The biggest concern for Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas is the age of his squad, with John Terry, Paulo Ferreira, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka all much closer to the end of their respective careers than the beginning.  With that in mind, his focus on bringing in young players is understandable.  But will they add enough to a squad that is expected to win a major trophy every year?  Is there adequate depth in the squad to cope with injuries and suspensions for a few key players?  And how much faith does the hierarchy have in young players like Gael Kakuta (out on loan) and Josh McEachran?

    Only time will tell.

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mata, Lampard, Essien, Malouda; Torres, Anelka. 

    Subs (from): Hilario, Turnbull, Bosingwa, Alex, Ferreira, Bertrand, Mikel, Ramires, Meireles, Romeu, McEachran, Drogba, Lukaku, Kalou, Sturridge

    Quality of transfers:  7/10

    Timing of transfers:  7/10

    Squad strength:  8/10

    Average score:  7.33

3. Arsenal: Did Arsene Wenger Really Do THAT??

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    Players in:  Carl Jenkinson, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chu Young Park, Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Yossi Benayoun (loan), Mikel Arteta

    Players out: Denilson (loan), Gael Clichy, Carlos Vela, Emmanuel Eboue, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Armand Traore, Nicklas Bendtner

    Having been pilloried for 99% of the transfer window, and most brutally so after the 2-8 mauling at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger stormed back on the last two days of the transfer window, signing five new players.  The obvious response was that this was a panic-driven response from le Professeur, but if one analyzes each of these buys, they are exactly what Arsenal need.  Add to that Gervinho, and three outstanding youngsters in Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell from Costa Rica, and Wenger hasn't done badly at all.

    It wasn't all good news, though.  Arsenal have definitely been impacted by the forced sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.  Besides losing two of their best players, it was the timing of their departures, after the commencement of the season, that has hurt the Gunners the most.  One point and a -8 goal difference from three games represents anything but a dream start.

    However, with Champions League qualification assured for a 14th consecutive season, things can only get better, and Arsenal fans can now look forward with hope. 

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Wilshere, Arteta; Walcott, Gervinho, van Persie. 

    Subs (from): Fabianski, Almunia, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Koscielny, Miquel, Djourou, Squillaci, Frimpong, Diaby, Ramsey, Rosicky, Benayoun, Arshavin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Park, Chamakh 

    Quality of transfers:  8/10

    Timing of transfers:  6/10

    Squad strength:  8/10

    Average score: 7.33

2. Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson, Smooth Operator

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    Players in:  David De Gea, Ashley Young, Phil Jones

    Players out: John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Bebe (loan), Gabriel Obertan

    Before we go further, let me add some key names to those listed above.  Also going out, though not on transfers, were Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Saar.  Three retiring legends of the last two decades, and although I don't personally care for two out of those three, I would have loved them in my team.  How Sir Alex Ferguson replaces them will decide much of Manchester United's fate this season.

    Coming into the squad after loan spells last season are midfielder Tom Cleverley and striker Danny Welbeck.  Both have started the season really well, deservedly forcing their way into Fabio Capello's England squad.

    Sir Alex made all his signings in June, and they are all looking really good so far.  De Gea has had some awkward moments, but he is an outstanding shot-stopper as he showed against Arsenal, making some fantastic saves.  The rest of the big six must have heaved a sigh of relief when United didn't sign Wesley Sneijder, a player who would have put them way ahead of the competition.

    United still look the team to beat, but for the first time in years, they will face their sternest test at the hands of their noisy neighbors.

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  De Gea; Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Anderson, Carrick, Young; Rooney, Hernandez. 

    Subs (from): Lindegaard, Kuszczak, Rafael, Fabio, Evans, Jones, Cleverley, Giggs, Gibson, Fletcher, Park, Valencia, Welbeck, Berbatov, Owen, Macheda 

    Quality of transfers:  7/10

    Timing of transfers:  9/10

    Squad strength:  8/10

    Average score: 8

1. Manchester City: Money Talks

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    Players in:  Gael Clichy, Stefan Savic, Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Owen Hargreaves

    Players out: Shay Given, Jerome Boateng, Jo, Emmanuel Adebayor (loan), Dedryck Boyata (loan), Roque Santa Cruz (Loan), Shaun Wright-Philips, Craig Bellamy

    In spite of having released many more players than they brought in, Manchester City finally look the real deal.  They have eschewed quantity for quality, and their squad looks dangerous.  They have brought in proven class in Clichy, Aguero and Nasri.  and if Hargreaves can play even 20 games, he will be a massive bonus.  What is even more scary for the opposition is the fact that two lesser performers from last season, Edin Dzeko and David Silva, have both made a flying start to the season, and players like Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany look better than before.

    The only threat to City's rampaging march to glory can come from UEFA's financial fair play police.  City's wage and transfer bills are astronomical, and it was recently reported that Sheikh Mansoor's financial outlay had passed the £1 billion mark.  How long can Etihad keep city flying high?  That's the billion pound question.

    Likely match-day squad for 2011-12

    Starting XI:  Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Silva, Y Toure, Barry, Nasri; Aguero, Dzeko. 

    Subs (from): Taylor, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, K Toure, Savic, Onuoha, Kolarov, Bridge, De Jong, Hargreaves, Johnson, Milner, Balotelli, Tevez 

    Quality of transfers:  9/10

    Timing of transfers:  8/10

    Squad strength:  9/10

    Average score: 8.67