Here’s the lowdown on the Premier League’s latest recruits, on transfer deadline day:
Andre Santos – A left back was always going to be on the cards when Armand Traore left for Queens Park Rangers. The Brazilian left back can’t be a bad choice. Not that Brazil are renowned for good defenders. This one is very attack-minded, as are most full back these days. Should replace Gael Clichy, although like the former Arsenal left back, there are question marks over his defensive ability. Lost his place in the Brazil squad for the upcoming international break for a defensive howler in Brazil’s 3-2 defeat by Germany recent; giving the ball away to Bastian Schweinsteiger inside his own penalty area leading to the 3rd goal.
Per Mertesacker – Coming off a disappointing season with Werder Bremen, Mertesacker has 75 caps for Germany at the tender age of 26. His height in the box should automatically improve Arsenal’s set pieces both defensively and in attack. Defending set pieces has been a problem for Arsenal in recent seasons. Not the fastest player in the world, so he’ll need to be perfect in the tackles. Should automatically be a first teamer given Arsenal’s abysmal defence.
Yossi Benayoun (loan) – A proven Premier League player for both West Ham and Liverpool, injuries hampered his time at Chelsea. Provided he can get back to full fitness (probably joined the wrong club for that) he’ll be a very good player for Arsenal. Capable of creating tap ins for Robin van Persie and co, Benayoun is also a goalscorer from midfield.
Mikel Arteta – Arsenal didn’t replace Cesc Fabregas, but in Mikel Arteta they have a creative Spaniard in their arsenal. A gifted technical player who delivers a good set piece and doesn’t miss penalties. Was a driving force in the Everton midfield prior to a quiet season last year. At least Arsene Wenger has attempted to replace one Spaniard and Arteta certainly has the potential to be the driving force in this Arsenal team.
Overall: Including the signing of Park-Chu Young, Arsenal on paper have greatly improved on the team that lost 8-2 on Sunday. And all for the price of Fernando Torres. Loaning out Nicklas Bendtner will have pleased the fans too. They’re going to be in a tough battle for a top 4 finish this season but they’re well within contention.
Jemaine Jenas (loan) – Not a big fan of his myself but he does get up and down the pitch. And Alex McLeish likes his defensive players. Unfortunately for him, Jenas is one who gets caught out of position and gives the ball away. Still, he has 21 caps for England so must have done something right in his career. I see him being a welcomed addition to this Aston Villa side who have a lot of inexperience in midfield.
Alan Hutton – Should be an improvement on Luke Young at right back. Hutton does get up and down the right flank with plenty of promise. I’m not keen on his ability to cross a ball on the run; often ending attacks. Losing his place to Younes Kaboul at right back must have knocked some confidence out of him, but provided McLeish lets his full backs go forward at Villa he’ll be a fine signing.
Overall: Nothing special, but with Darren Bent and Charles N’Zogbia on board already in 2012, things aren’t as bad as they could have been after losing both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing over the summer.
Scott Dann – A solid centre back who was notably missed by Birmingham City when he suffered a hamstring injury in January, missing the rest of last season. I wouldn’t fany him, Chris Samba or Ryan Nelson against the quicker-footed players in the Premier League, but between them they won’t be beat by a single long ball all season. A potentially good acquisition by Steve Kean.
Yakubu – Insert Venky’s pun here. Blackburn Rovers fans can fear for relegation this season. Yakubu looks far from the player who scored a dozen plus in five consecutive Premier League seasons. There are a few players in this Blackburn team who can supply him with the ball, but I don’t believe they have enough quality to put the ball on a plate to him each game and he’ll struggle for goals whether he plays regularly or not.
Overall: Relegation is a real threat. An inexperienced manager making a number of young signings over the summer. Defence isn’t great and attack looks weak unless the relatively unknown talents of David Goodwillie and Ruben Rochina can come up with the goods.
David Ngog – Some poor and non-existent performances at Liverpool has given David Ngog a bad reputation in England. However, he’s still young and Owen Coyle has done wonders for the likes of Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge (and not bad with Vladimir Weiss either). I can’t see Ngog reaching double figures myself, and I can only see him being a backup/different option to an already decent attack in Kevin Davies and Ivan Klasnic.
Gael Kakuta (loan) – Showed glimpes of talent at Chelsea before missing the crucial penalty in a Carling Cup tie with Blackburn. This is the kind of player Bolton fans will hope to be another Wilshere or Sturridge. Kakuta has until the new year at Bolton to show that.
Overall: Keeping hold of Gary Cahill this summer means he’s likely to leave on a free at the end of the season. Bad business from Bolton from a financial point of view. Good business for Cahill in terms of improving his reputation for one more season at Bolton and then gaining a bigger contract on a free at the end of the season/European Championships.
Raul Meireles – Another central midfielder to add to the Chelsea team. A player Andre Villas-Boas trusts from their time at FC Porto. With Michael Essien struggling with injuries over the past few months and John Obi Mikel lacking in quality, Meireles should get plenty of time in the first team at Chelsea. A good signing but nothing compared to what Manchester City have done this summer.
Overall: Lacking the creativity in midfield that Manchester United have in Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia and even Wayne Rooney dropping from deep. On paper they are falling behind Manchester City too now, but they’re not out of the title race if they get Fernando Torres scoring.
Royston Drenthe (loan) – A highly-rated left sided player not so long ago, if David Moyes can keep him happy at Goodison Park, and do what he failed to do with Andy van der Meyde and get the best out of him, then that’s a good bit of business by Everton. Remains a big if at this stage though.
Denis Stracqualursi (loan) – I have no idea who this is. Although coming from a small Argentinian side to the Premier League does make you wonder if he can make the step up. Especially now they don’t have Mikel Arteta creating chances.
Overall: A nightmare summer for Everton. At least they’ve made some good money from selling players, but the squad has got weaker since last season. David Moyes will need to find a couple of good youths to help the first team out. Ross Barkley has shown one or two signs but it’s very early days for him. I don’t see Everton qualifying for Europe this season but they’re not relegation contenders either.
Bryan Ruiz – Choosing Fulham over Newcastle appeared to be a case of choosing Martin Jol over Alan Pardew for Bryan Ruiz. Fulham are looking for a goalscoring striker and in Bryan Ruiz they hope to have found one. He’s a goalscorer, lively and doesn’t give up so I can see him being a success in the Premier League as long as his hefty (for Fulham) transfer fee doesn’t overwhelm him. Moussa Dembele from the Eredivise wasn’t a success in his first season. Arsenal and Liverpool were previously interested which makes me wonder why they didn’t follow up. I think for Jol’s sake, he needs Ruiz to be.
Zdenek Grygera – Like John Arne Riise, I do wonder what Martin Jol was thinking with the signing of Zdenek Grygera. Whilst he’s made a century of appearances for Juventus, he’s in his early 30s now with no Premier League experience. The English game is a lot quicker than the Italian game and I question whether the Czech defender will be able to handle it. We’ll see.
Orlando Sa – Who?
Overall: Difficult to predict how these new signings are going to fit in. Martin Jol has kept hold of Brede Hangeland and Clint Dempsey but Fulham are a bottom half side, if not a bottom 6 side for me this season whilst Jol is in charge.
Craig Bellamy – Another decent attacking option for Liverpool, but also another player who prefers playing down the left side of the pitch too. Kenny Dalglish is spoilt for choice with attacking players now, but will he have the balls to drop Andy Carroll if he doesn’t perform?
Overall: Getting rid of dead wood like Joe Cole, David Ngog and Christian Poulsen are good moves. I think Raul Meireles is a loss to Liverpool in that midfield though, even if Lucas is making all the tackles these days. Still could do with dropping Jamie Carragher, but otherwise Kenny Dalglish has the side to finish in the top 4, the question is, is he good enough to do lead them to Champions League qualification?
Owen Hargreaves – Interesting signing. If Owen Hargreaves can stay fit, he’ll at least get some action in January when Yaya Toure is at the African Nations. Roberto Mancini likes his holding midfielders so it only takes an injury or suspension for Hargreaves to be given a chance. Or was this just another dig at Manchester United in signing one of their former players?
Overall: Fantastic summer for Roberto Mancini. The side is looking strong since winning the FA Cup. Edin Dzeko appears to be settling in and Sergio Aguero looks like a player of the season candidate. Today was mostly spent getting rid of fringe players Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Overall: No late transfer activity from Sir Alex Ferguson. He knew who he wanted over the summer and he signed them. The squad looks settled and remain favourites to win this season’s Premier League.
Overall: Quiet day for Newcastle as they failed to sign Papiss Cisse or Bryan Ruiz. Jose Enrique has been replaced by David Santon; bad news for Ryan Taylor. Otherwise Newcastle has weakened over the summer and are seemingly relying on Leon Best for goals. Should be around the relegation zone despite a good start.
Overall: The Premier League new boys didn’t get sucked into any desperate signings at the end. Despite 2 points from their opening 3 games including an impressive performance at Stamford Bridge, I still don’t see this side having the quality to stay up.
Queens Park Rangers
Shaun Wright-Phillips – Looking to revive his career, Shaun Wright-Phillips adds pace to this Queen Park Rangers side that missed out on Wayne Routledge over the summer. Not sure the Loftus Road pitch is big enough for him to put in consistent performances there, but catching out opposition on counter attacks away from home is where I see Wright-Phillips being a great weapon for Neil Warnock’s side. Still lacks crossing ability, but a good acquisition none-the-less from last season’s Championship winners.
Anton Ferdinand – Not the greatest of defenders, but an improvement on Danny Gabbidon and Fitz Hall who have been starting for Queens Park Rangers this season.
Overall: Luke Young joined the team a few days ago to improve Neil Warnock’s defence options, as well as Joey Barton adding a protection in front. DJ Campbell’s illness has got Queens Park Rangers off to a slow start in terms of goals, but with Adel Taarabt and Wright-Phillips supplying the front line, the Rs have a chance of staying up.
Cameron Jerome – Never been a fan of Cameron Jerome. I can’t see him being a regular in the Stoke City side but looks like he can play a role as backup to Jon Walters. Not a goalscorer, but a physical player which made him a good fit for Tony Pulis’ side.
Peter Crouch – A 6’7” striker. Perfect fit for Tony Pulis’ side then. An improvement on Kenwyne Jones as Crouch can actually use his feet.
Wilson Palacios – Lost his form and eventually his starting role at Tottenham in the past 12 months. If Tony Pulis can get Palacios back to playing in his early days at Tottenham or his days at Wigan then he’s pulled off a great capture. If not, there’s £6 million wasted. It’s a gamble, but there’s certainly potential in the Honduran to make his move worthwhile.
Overall: Stoke City improving their squad in terms of size and experience to cope with both the Premier League and Europa League this season and they’ve built well over the summer.
Nicklas Bendtner (loan) – A quiet day for Steve Bruce who only produced one capture – Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal. A big gamble on a player who’s been more wasteful than useful at Arsenal. Steve Bruce had the Dane on loan at Birmingham 5 years ago so will know what his capable of. But can he get the best out of Bendtner?
Overall: Sunderland appear to have taken a backwards step over the past season or two. They look somewhat short of pushing for European football these days under Steve Bruce who is going a bit stale in his tenure at the Stadium of Light. Asamoah Gyan hasn’t come back in the best shape since the summer and so Sunderland lack firepower up front.
Federico Bessone – Resigning of a former player. Another Championship calibre player but who will quickly readapt to the Swansea style of football.
Darnel Situ – Who? Presumably a replacement for the injured Alan Tate.
Overall: Swansea City can maintain possession of the ball but have so far failed to find the back of the net in the Premier League. They’re relying heavily on Danny Graham at this stage and until they find a goalscorer they’ll remain favourites to go down. I still believe in them though.
Scott Parker – A bargain signing at a reported £5 million. Scott Parker is another centre midfielder to join the likes of Sandro and Tom Huddlestone, whilst Wilson Palacios and Jermaine Jenas have left. The current FWA Footballer of the Year joins the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Gareth Bale at Tottenham.
Overall: Harry Redknapp spent the day getting rid of some fringe players in Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Jenas, Peter Crouch and Alan Hutton. That should benefit them in the long run, but the failure to sign Gary Cahill is a big blow for this Tottenham side who have a weak defence. I think they’ve done poor this summer as they genuinely had a shot at the top 4 with the large back step Arsenal have taken. They still have a shot, but selling Luka Modric for £40m and improving the overall squad would have been my choice.
West Bromwich Albion
Overall: No panic buys from Roy Hodgson and West Brom. Instead, they spent the day selling off a few of their fringe players. Despite 3 defeats to open the season, West Brom will be safe from relegation this season.
Shaun Maloney – A lot cheaper than what Martin O’Neill and Aston Villa once paid for him. However, he was a failure at Villa Park. Roberto Martinez’s side play a different style of football which may help him. Maloney also delivers a good set piece.
Overall: No late panic buys from Mick McCarthy. 7 points from their opening 3 games shows Wolves have the ability to avoid relegation again. Perhaps this season they won’t leave the fight so late. Only 33 points to go now…