The balance of power in the Premier League’s top six could change significantly this January, and right now, Chelsea are looking to be the biggest losers of it.
That doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for our top four aspirations — the current group remains good enough, probably — but it does reinforce the need to do something smart in the remaining two weeks of the transfer window. And by smart I don’t mean signing Andy Carroll for £35m. (I could be convinced that a loan move may be decent business, even if the public reaction would undoubtedly be negative about it.)
While there is a chance that Chelsea’s signing of Ross Barkley proves a significant benefit, the squad’s main weaknesses at this point are at proper left wing-back depth and striker depth, and Barkley helps with neither of those.
Meanwhile, Liverpool already addressed one of their main weaknesses by spending a record amount on Virgil van Dijk and while they did lose Philippe Coutinho and were denied the chance to bring in Naby Keita six months early, their win over Manchester City this weekend shows that they can still pour in goals at will, just as before.
Jurgen Klopp summing up everyones feelings after Liverpool vs Man City yesterday...— FootballMargin (@FootballMargin) January 15, 2018
“What the f**k was that” pic.twitter.com/InCzf9GmxS
Manchester United look set to add Alexis Sanchez, gazumping Manchester City, who, in fairness, don’t actually have to do anything since they already have the title wrapped up. United are undoubtedly overspending on Alexis (£35m fee and £350k/week in wages is the upper end of the rumored figures involved), but are also adding still one of the best players in the entire league, even at 29. Not many are capable of winning games by themselves at the top level, but he remains one of them.
Manchester United are prepared to pay Alexis Sanchez more than £350,000 per week, as the club lead the chase to sign the Chilean: https://t.co/htfEkjv7Kh pic.twitter.com/CR2yrqcLP5— Sky Sports MNF (@SkySportsMNF) January 15, 2018
Arsenal’s response, if rumors are to be believed, is actually not laughable either, with a deal all but wrapped up for highly promising Bordeaux winger Malcom at around £45m, and apparent confidence about wrapping up a €60m deal for BVB’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal’s biggest weakness may be Wenger himself, but both of those players should be worth a few points in the second-half of the season.
Arsenal confident of signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Dortmund talks | By @domfifield https://t.co/flAE8RWCiX— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 15, 2018
The one team who look set for an even worse January than Chelsea are Spurs, so at least we can still laugh at them. Then again, they are only three points behind us at the moment in fifth...
So, what can Chelsea do at this point? Not sure there is too much we can at this point. We might just have to ‘take the L’, as the kids say.
But not spending £35m on Carroll seems like a good place to start. If Conte still wants another big man up top that desperately, perhaps a loan arrangement can be found with Palace for Benteke. Spending any significant amount on any washed-up player would be a ridiculous move. Most of all, depth at left wing-back needs to be addressed. We don’t have to panic, but we do have make smart moves ... and then follow that up with an even smarter summer transfer window.