This article was written 24 hours to the end of this summer’s transfer. There could therefore be a few final day moves that can sway the pendulum. Nevertheless, it’s hard to see any of the ‘Top Six’ rivals topping Manchester United.
Smooth Man Utd
The league leaders have started this season like a bullet train, thanks in no small measure, to their expeditious, prudent transfer dealings. Romelu Lukaku’s arrival has quickened the Red Devils attack. Nemanja Matic’s move from rivals Chelsea has increased the team’s dynamism by freeing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba’s creative instincts. Meanwhile, Victor Linderof’s signing is bringing the best out of Phil Jones who is playing the kind of game Sir Alex Ferguson envisaged in his farewell speech. Rating: A+
Energetic Man City
Manchester City are not too far behind. Pep Guardiola has gone about his business with surgical precision. Willy Caballero’s place has gone to Ederson. Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando, Alexander Kolarov and Gael Clichy have been replaced by Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo whereas Bernardo Silva has come in for Jesus Navas. All six players who exited Etihad Stadium were over 30. The new signings may take some time to bed in but they will make City an energetic, more mobile juggernaut. Rating: A.
Liverpool’s instant hits
Liverpool suffered an early setback when Southampton threatened to report them for an illegal approach on Virgil van Dirk. He is the one player who would have hugely improved Jürgen Klopp’s Gengenpress machine. Clinching Alex Oxlade Chamberlain from under the noses of Chelsea was a major coup. However, Egyptian star Mo Salah is an instant hit whereas record signing, Guinean Naby Keita, is often described as a creative workhorse. Keeping Phillipe Coutinho and signing van Dirk would make it an A. Rating: B+.
Frustration at Chelsea
To suggest Chelsea’s business this summer is tumultuous would be an understatement. The tone was set by the inglorious text message informing striker Diego Costa he is surplus to requirements. Costa’s saga, the failure to land Romelu Lukaku and Matic’s move to title rivals Man Utd has overshadowed the arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata, the sense of frustration at Stamford Bridge augmented by Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s choice of Kop over Chelsea. Rating B-
Quietly effective Spurs
As is the norm, Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy is quietly effective. Funds realised from Kyle Walker’s sale have been re-invested in Ivorian powerhouse Sergio Aurier and Colombian upstart Davinson Sanchez. I am not sure though whether Argentine Juan Foyth is an improvement on Kevin Wimmer who has been hawked off to Stoke City. Mauricio Pochettino would do with back up for lead striker Harry Kane. Rating B
Arsenal woes continue
Unless something dramatic happens in the dying embers of this window, it would be proper to describe Arsenal’s business as disastrous. A team that failed to qualify for Champions League football for the first time in 21 years has only brought in Alexander Lacazatte and Saed Kolasinac. Meanwhile, Oxlade Chamberlain could be joined out of Emirates Stadium by contract rebel Alexis Sanchez. Gunners’ fans are understandably agitated by going ons. Manager Arsene Wenger is confronted by a lose-lose situation. A sulking star is certain to underperforming while simultaneously poisoning the dressing room atmosphere whereas selling him weakens the side. Rating: C