The new year brings many resolutions, but in the Premier League the month signifies a time to resolve any holes in current squads with the addition of big money signings.
Have the early January additions already made an impact? And are the last-minute deals a sign of panic buys, or a shrewd piece of business as we head into the second half of the season?
From shocking score lines on the pitch to out-of-the-blue moves off it, here are our highlights from the past month.
The Ins and Outs
As always, the headline grabbers and the focus from the fans is whom each side have brought in. With more emphasis put on the summer window for recruitment, January can be a quieter, less eventful market – but not this time…
League leaders Arsenal have been blessed with a strong foundation to their side this season, with only Gabriel Jesus and Emile Smith Rowe notable absences. But the recent injury to defensive midfielder Thomas Partey created a gap they needed to fill, especially since backup Mohamed Elneny underwent knee surgery.
The Gunners chased after Brighton’s young gem in Moisés Caicedo, but rejections of £60-and-70M bids meant they turned their attention to Chelsea’s Jorginho for the bargain price of £12M. Pair that with the Seagulls’ Leandro Trossard in midfield, and it’s been a smart replacement window for Arsenal.
While Arsenal thought tactically about their signings, Chelsea have gone on a scattergun spending spree, adding even more players to their ever-growing squad at Stamford Bridge. Their early big money signing of Mykhailo Mudryk has shown early glimpses of why he came with an £88.5M price tag.
They’ve also acquired the attacking services of English starlet Noni Madueke from PSV, while Joao Felix has made the move from Spain on loan to run the midfield.
At the back, they’ve signed Frenchmen Benoît Badiashile from Monaco and Malo Gusto from Lyon (although Gusto has gone back on loan to Lyon for the rest of the season).
But they weren’t done there, though. Completing their mega transfer spends was World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a record £106.8M!
While one player moved to Munich from Manchester, Erik Ten Haag added depth to his midfield by signing Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern. The United boss also moved early in the window for Burnley and Netherlands forward Wout Werghorst, giving his side the option of height up top.
Over in Liverpool, Jürgen Klopp’s only piece of business was to bring in Cody Gakpo from PSV. His side have not been the same since Sadio Mané left, so he’ll be counting on the young Dutchman to bring the goods to Anfield.
Elsewhere in the league, Nottingham Forest brought in Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey and PSG’s Keylor Navas. Tottenham scooped up Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma and Sporting Lisbon’s Pedro Perro -both on loan.
Danny Ings made the switch in Claret and Blue from Villa to West Ham to boost the Irons’ goalscoring threat. While Leeds brought in the exciting Georginio Rutter for £35.5M from Hoffenheim as well as another USA international in Weston McKennie from Juventus.
So, what’s happened in the league? On New Year’s Day, Unai Emery saw his Villa side take home the spoils from Spurs, beating them 2-0 away. The next day, Liverpool’s form slumped as they were picked off by an energetic Brentford side, who have gone the month unbeaten in the league.
Manchester City kept their cool in the title hunt, crucially winning at Stamford Bridge 1-0. Chelsea and Liverpool then shared back-to-back defeats – the Blues losing out to London rivals Fulham and Liverpool dismantled on the south coast at Brighton.
On matchday 20, the red side of both Manchester and North London ruled: United coming from behind to beat City and Arsenal showing their title credentials in a 2-0 win away at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Guardiola’s worries nearly continued after going 0-2 down to Spurs just days later, but a galvanised City side came back to inflict another blow in Antonio Conte’s top four hunt, the score line ending 4-2.
After a last-minute wonder free kick from Michael Olise meant United could only come away with a draw at Selhurst Park, Ten Haag’s side couldn’t believe their luck when Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah snatched the win with the last kick of the game that weekend.
With just a win separating the bottom seven sides, February could be the month the drop becomes a reality for some sides. While at the top, can Arsenal stretch their lead further? Or will the chasing pack cause them to crumble.
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JD Football | November 21, 2023