Clubs in the English Premier League spent incredible amounts of money to improve their rosters in this summer’s transfer window. As a league, the 20 clubs spent a record 835 million pounds on new signings. Also, a lot of high-profile players left for other leagues around Europe. Of course, all the clubs in the League had a lot of players coming in and going out of their squads, but this will focus on the top 6 teams; Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Arsenal – For the second consecutive summer the Gunners spent big, which in the past was a little out of character for manager Arsene Wenger. This summer the big signings were Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle and Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. Along with the incoming transfers the North London side also lost some longtime fixtures in the side like Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen.
The side will definitely be attacking this season with the incoming attacking talent especially coming from Sanchez, who was the most expensive of the new signings. Welbeck was pried from Manchester United right before the deadline to compensate for the injury of Olivier Giroud, who may be out for a good deal of the season. The lack of defenders brought into Wenger’s side may be the downfall of this very talented side as they lost mainly defenders.
Arsenal was a dark horse candidate to win the league by many pundits coming into this season, but have stuttered out to a slow start in the Premier League. In their first match, they were able to grab a late victory, but struggled in their next two matches and only drew. Only three matches into the season, they now have 5 points and currently sit in seventh place.
Chelsea – Manager Jose Mourinho was not quiet last season about the fact that he needed to improve his squad, and this summer that is exactly what he did. Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa were the most high-profile signings and have contributed immediately early this season. Didier Drogba was brought back to the club from Galatasaray along with Loic Remy from QPR and Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid.
Two long-standing members of the club, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, left this summer, as their careers appear to be nearing the end. Along with spending big money in this summer’s window, Chelsea was able to profit big from the departures of David Luiz and Romelu Lukaku. The West London side has also been boosted by the return from loan of goalie Thibault Courtois, who has seemingly won the first team job over Petr Cech, who oddly did not leave the club before the deadline. This created a very awkward situation for a player that is deserving of regular first team appearances.
So far in the Premier League, Chelsea has been the team to beat, getting nine points from their first three matches and currently siting in first place in the league. Costa and Fabregas have taken the league by storm so far, looking like a tandem made to play together in England. Mourinho has molded this squad into his image and they will be extremely hard to beat this season.
Everton – Usually Everton does not spend much in the transfer window. That was true of all their signing this summer except for one. They were able to pry Romelu Lukaku, who was on loan there last season, from Chelsea on a permanent deal worth around 28 million pounds. Other than that signing, almost every other incoming player came on a free transfer or on loan. The Toffees got Gareth Barry on a permanent basis, along with Samuel Eto’o and Christian Atsu. What really helped them was not losing really anyone of note from a team last season that finished fifth in the Premier League.
Even with the new incoming signings and a lot of hope for Everton coming in, their season has gotten off to a very slow start. They were only able to draw their first two fixtures, including a match they should have won against Arsenal, and lost a thriller to Chelsea. This leaves them with only two points in their first three matches and a lot of room to improve throughout the long season.
Liverpool – Liverpool spent a lot this summer in an effort to build on their surprising second place finish from last season. They brought in big names like Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren from Southampton, Lazar Markovic from Benfica and Mario Balotelli from AC Milan. All these new additions were brought into the squad to try to replace a big void left by the departure of last season’s Premier League player of the season, Luis Suarez. Longtime defender Daniel Agger also left for his hometown team Brondby, leaving a lack of leadership in the side.
The loss of Suarez will loom large on this squad but the attacking quality will be there, even if it takes a while to develop team chemistry. Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge will be a great partnership for the polarizing striker Balotelli, who has had his problems fitting into different sides.
So far this season, they have gotten six points from a possible nine. They were convincing in the two wins but were thoroughly beaten by Manchester City in their one loss. Currently they sit at fifth in the Premier League with a lot of season left to play, and for the first time in a few years they will be competing in the Champions League.
Manchester City – Last year’s Champions were pretty uncharacteristically quiet in this summer’s transfer window. They brought in some signings, but only one of them, Eliaquim Mangala, was for a significant sum. They also brought in Fernando, Bacary Sagna and longtime Chelsea player Frank Lampard. Clearly, Manager Manuel Pellegrini was happy with his squad, as he did not add much and was fine to let some longtime squad members leave for free. Micah Richards, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Alvaro Negredo all left for free, as well as Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell, who left for far less than they were purchased for.
Early on, City got two nice wins over Newcastle and Liverpool, but fell to Stoke to leave them on six points. They will definitely be contenders to repeat as champions of the Premier League with the quality of the squad. Not many big clubs in this day and age stick with the squad that won them the league and do not add major parts. For Manchester City, they will have to see what that means for their season.
Manchester United – United may have had the most turnover of any club in the Premier League, not just with players but also with their second new manager in two seasons. New manager Louis Van Gaal has changed a lot within the club with players and the system he wants to run. Almost the entire back line left this summer, leaving United very thin at the back, especially for a team that wants to play a three center back system.
Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind were all brought in to try to fill the voids, but the problem is none of them are really center backs in the traditional sense. The other big money transfers came mostly in attack, other than midfielder Ander Herrera, who has not played much early in the Premier League campaign.
Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao were the two massive signings the struggling club made this summer. Di Maria came in for a record fee for the club, around 60 million pounds, and Falcao was brought in on loan from Monaco with the option to buy in the future. The signing of Di Maria was a long process that took up a lot of the club’s efforts, but they eventually were able to pry him from Real Madrid. Falcao, however, was not a rumored target until the transfer deadline. It will be interesting to see where the Colombian fits into the squad, with fellow strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie not likely to sit on the bench.
The early going this season has been tortuous for United, as they have only gotten two points from their first three Premier League matches, along with a shock Capital One Cup defeat to MK Dons. Van Gaal will have his hands full trying to return this club to its former glory, especially considering the amount of money they spent on players that do not fix an immediate need.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius