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Monday, September 02, 2013

Following Twitter on International Soccer's "Transfer Deadline Day" Was Fun

It's like watching the returns of a close election, with various precincts reporting.  Lots of movement, and you're watching your favorite team land one of the biggest prizes of the whole transfer period  You're also watching to see if they could get anyone else (they tried) and how the rivals fared (some better than others).  Overall, it should be a very good race for the top 4 spots in the Premiership, with Everton perhaps making enough moves to make a claim that there should be a "top 7."

Manchester United will remain the favorite in Las Vegas and in London, and right at the deadline they signed the Belgian national Maroune Fellaini, he with the huge hair that resembles that of one-time New York Yankee and Cleveland Indian Oscar Gamble.  Fellaini will provide great muscle in the mid-field, although the key, to me, for United will be to motivate Wayne Rooney.  Put simply, United looked listless without him against Liverpool on Saturday.  Speaking of Liverpool, owner John Henry refused to sit tight, and by making some last-minute nifty adds and not selling the contract of striker Luis Suarez, Liverpool has one of its toughest squads in years.   Staying on the west side of England, Man City was quiet, and they have abundant talent.  They'll remain a contender, but they have to remember that while their roster will sell tickets and jerseys, that doesn't mean they can mesh and win a title or two.

Going east to London, there were three teams to watch.  Chelsea made its moves earlier, although they did ship potential future megastar striker Romelu Lukaku, who excelled at West Brom last season, to Everton, giving them another threat.  They did sign the Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o, who, at 32, still has some tread left on the tires.  But they failed to solve for thin depth at striker and didn't create clarity for midfielder Juan Mata.  Still, Chelsea is a team to beat.  Their bench could give many of the lower tier teams a run for their money and perhaps could finish mid-table.

And now we go to North London, where Tottenham, still having failed to score a goal other than through penalty shots, loaded up on pieces in anticipation of selling Gareth Bale's contract to Real Madrid.  They have some real talent, but it seems like it might take a season for it to mesh.  And then there was Arsenal, war chest at the ready, but failing to make any signings.  They pared some excess players early in transfer season, releasing certain young players and some veterans.  They did agree to a loan of Italian goaltender Viviano last season and almost lined up Chelsea backup striker Demba Ba, but the folks at Stamford Bridge balked at providing the Gunners with another striker after they learned that Arsenal had purchased the contract of German center attacking midfield Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.  Real Madrid agreed to terms for Ozil with PSG and Arsenal, letting Ozil pick.  So valued was Ozil in Madrid that fans at the press conference announcing Bale's arrival chanted for their club to keep Ozil, only to have a member of management shush them.  While Arsenal (according to Ian Darke and others) probably would have fared better to add a center back (given the injury to Thomas Vermaelen and some suspect play) or a center defensive midfielder, Ozil will give them tremendous depth from midfield up  With Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, the Gunners have some of the best midfielders in the Premiershop.  In manager Arsene Wenger, they have someone who can help harness all that talent.  It was a great day for the Gunners.

So who won?  Who lost?  It's hard to tell, and we'll only figure it all out in May, when it all will be over.  That said, now that Transfer Deadline Day has passed, here are my predictions for the top end of the league table:

1.  Chelsea
2.  Manchester United
3.  Arsenal
4.  Manchester City
5.  Liverpool
6.  Tottenham Hotspur
7.  Everton.



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