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Friday, September 04, 2015

Reflections on Transfer Deadline Day

In no particular order:

1.  I wonder what the analytics guys say.  There is all sorts of game theory that can go on here, such as it's probably a better idea to negotiate and buy early when no one focuses on whether you have a pronounced need than late, where people will try to gouge you if a) you have a pronounced need and b) what they have is in short supply.  Take the case of strikers.  Arsenal and United both were looking, the former because Olivier Giroud cannot handle the load alone and is not viewed as elite and Theo Walcott looked exposed in the Gunners' last game and the latter because Memphis is not an elite player and Wayne Rooney hasn't played the position in a few years.  So, Arsenal knocked on many doors and came up empty, if only because they found PSG's not-so-very-clutch Edson Cavani to be over-priced and somehow they couldn't get it done for, among others, Icardi or Zaza or Pato and whomever else they discussed.  On the other hand, United overpaid and paid for a future dividend in breaking the bank for 19 year-old Anthony Martial, in whom Gunner great Thierry Henry sees a lot of himself.  But the question is whether Martial can contribute mightily this year.  And the answer here is no.  The broader question is whether he projects to be another Henry, and the odds are against that.  Henrys don't come around all that often.

2.  Why didn't Arsenal do anything more than sign Petr Cech?  Perhaps they think they can win with who they have (unlikely that they will win the Premiership without more oomph).  Perhaps they kept on getting outbid by teams that are more desperate.  Or perhaps they were just too slow on the trigger.  Two years ago they landed Mesuz Ozil on deadline day; last year they landed Alexis Sanchez rather early.  This year, they landed Petr Cech very early.  Fans in North London expected more than a very good thirty-three year-old keeper.

3.  What the -- DeGea didn't go to Real Madrid after all?  What a strange set of circumstances.  Will van Gaal now play him more at Old Trafford?  And will Sergio Romero be content if that happens?  And what does that say to the keepers in Madrid?  That their manager continuously will be looking for someone better?

4.  Teams that make too many changes don't gel all that quickly.  A few years ago it was Spurs when they signed five players after selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.  They had trouble finding good chemistry.  Could that be a) Liverpool or b) United this year?  Lots of new faces in new positions, and if a bad early game is any indication, Liverpool looked lost after a 3-0 defeat at Anfield to West Ham.  This is not your father's West Ham.  These Hammers are on the rise and perhaps could draw a new buyer when they move into the Olympic Stadium.  More oil or oligarch money could pour into London, and then the Hammers too could become a super team.  Stranger things could happen.

5.  Does Kevin DeBruyne's arrival at City make them the favorites to win the Premier League?  Yes.  They're miffed that they regressed last year, and they look much sharper getting out of the starting gate.  Wins in September count as much as wins in April, and City looks to continue its great start and put pressure on the others to keep up.  Sergio Aguero might be the best player in the Premiership.

6.  Whither Chelsea?  Their defense is a year older, and it is not deep.  Their midfield play will crisp up, as will their play at striker, but they are a older.  They suffer a bit from too much of a good thing -- they loan more players than the next two or three teams in the Premier League combined.  It's hard to figure how they determine whom to play and whom to loan, and they have an embarrassment of riches.  Still, it's hard to count them out, although Jose Mourinho usually doesn't stay in one place for more than three years, which means he could be on the move after this season.  Love the rivalry between him and Arsene Wenger, too.


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