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Feb 1, 2012

Transfer window verdict

After a transfer window that struggled to spark, we provide a club-by-club guide to the January business in the Premier League.

Arsenal

A month that began in jubilation ended in frustration. For the fans, anyway, if not Arsene Wenger, who, as is his wont, opted not to spend his sizeable budget. Thierry Henry's emotional homecoming initially deflected attention but the inability to add a world-class player near the peak of his powers may prove costly. So, too, was Wenger's reluctance to add a specialist full-back, even on loan, which may have contributed to a hat-trick of league defeats. The promising German Thomas Eisfeld is a typical Wenger buy, an emerging midfielder. In the long term, he may prove an excellent addition. In the short term, he was not what Arsenal needed.

Aston Villa

For the second successive January, Alex McLeish tried to sign Robbie Keane. This time he succeeded and reaped an immediate dividend with the striker's double at Wolves. Albeit temporarily, it adds to Villa's attacking threat. That apart, it was an underwhelming January. The young Irish left-back Enda Stevens was the only other arrival.

Blackburn

The striking signing Anthony Modeste's surname, give or take a vowel, may double up as a verdict on the newcomers. Adding Marcus Olsson to twin brother Martin should confuse commentators, if not opponents, while signing Bradley Orr addresses the lack of right-backs but it should be worrying that Blackburn are taking QPR's cast-offs. There should be relief that neither Junior Hoilett nor Christopher Samba headed through the Ewood Park exit but Ryan Nelsen will be missed if he can regain fitness while Keith Andrews was underrated by Steve Kean.

Bolton

A typical transfer window for Owen Coyle? Perhaps. There is another loan signing from an elite club - Arsenal's Ryo Miyaichi, who surely can't be as ineffective as Chelsea's Gael Kakuta proved - and a promising attacking talent, in Watford striker Marvin Sordell. Coyle has raided America profitably in the past, with Stuart Holden still his best buy, so if Tim Ream proves anything like as successful then Bolton should stay up. On paper, however, the defence is weaker without the sold Gary Cahill. It is January's results, as much as the trading, that should mean Bolton approach the run-in with more optimism.

Chelsea

The second-highest net spenders, after West London neighbours QPR, show a strange unwillingness to enjoy their new purchases. Winger Kevin de Bruyne has been loaned back to Genk while Gary Cahill is yet to debut in the Premier League. Neither may be Andre Villas-Boas' choices but, together with teenager Patrick Bamford, they are signs Chelsea are belatedly looking to the future. At least the manager knows he no longer needs to see Nicolas Anelka and Alex: the men he ostracised have gone.

Everton

It's not often this can be said, but Everton are the undisputed winners of the window. Or they will be, anyhow, if Nikica Jelavic, the first striker they have signed in three-and-a-half years who is not on loan nor a free transfer nor a Greek teenager, starts to score. David Moyes has done excellent business, selling the frustrating Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, bringing in Darron Gibson, who delivered the winner against Manchester City, and securing the return on loan of Landon Donovan and Steven Pienaar. The American has been excellent while the South African could add the invention that has been lacking since Mikel Arteta moved to Arsenal.

Fulham

It never seemed likely Martin Jol and Bobby Zamora were going to live happily ever after and a swift parting of the ways was arranged. Perhaps Pavel Pogrebnyak will suit the Dutchman's style of football better. If not, Fulham may miss Zamora's ability to hold the ball up.

Liverpool

Last January was about Andy Carroll and, in a way, so was this. The £35 million man's failings first prompted rumours of other striking signings and then the leftfield idea of swapping the target man for Carlos Tevez. Manchester City rejected it, so Kenny Dalglish's only business involved young goalkeepers. Another addition may have helped, though.

Manchester City

Not the month Roberto Mancini had hoped for, it is to be presumed. Even the arrival of David Pizarro - which should mean it doesn't matter whether Owen Hargreaves is injured - and the departures of Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge, who has taken a rare decision to play football, do not outweigh the disappointment of Carlos Tevez remaining at the club. The money the Argentine's sale would have produced might have produced a player to make a difference in the title race. Instead, Mancini has had to make do with a loan signing.

Manchester United

Exit the new Paul Scholes, enter the old version. Ravel Morrison was supposed to have been the most talented youngster at Old Trafford since Scholes, but United lost patience with the teenager and offloaded him to West Ham. Scholes' return from retirement has bolstered an injury-hit midfield, but the 37-year-old is only a short-term solution. Sir Alex Ferguson's reluctance to buy in January was apparent again but it puts a greater onus on the manager to sign in the summer.

Newcastle

It only took them 351 days. Almost a year since Andy Carroll's £35 million move to Liverpool, Newcastle finally reinvested some of the proceeds in a striker. Papiss Cisse was the window's biggest signing and, if he can replicate his form in the Bundesliga, he may prove one of the best. A potential partnership with Demba Ba should whet appetites. With Alan Pardew keeping his premier players, it amounts to a successful month on Tyneside, even if there is bemusement among supporters that an approach for James Perch was rebuffed.

Norwich

Paul Lambert stuck to his blueprint of pursuing the lower leagues' rising talents and Leeds' £2 million playmaker Jonny Howson may prove an excellent recruit, if not immediately: the midfielder is injured. Nor will Peterborough defender Ryan Bennett make an early impact, for he will be loaned back to London Road. Lambert also returned Ritchie de Laet to Manchester United, and the error-prone, borrowed Belgian is unlikely to be missed in Norfolk.

QPR

Hey, big spenders. Rather than the usual suspects, Manchester City and Chelsea, Rangers took the biggest hit to their balance sheet. The £11.5 million overhaul appears to give QPR a far greater chance of survival; in particular, a pedigree striking pair of Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora ought to address the club's struggles to score. Mark Hughes has strengthened most departments of the side. The challenge now is to get his new signings to gel.

Stoke

Tony Pulis tends to be among the busiest managers on deadline day. Not this time, however. While Ben Marshall and Danny Higginbotham were offloaded, the defender on loan, the window closed without a Stoke signing. It is an indication they have a stronger squad than in previous years, but it may irritate, too, and given their crowded fixture list, reinforcements may have been useful.

Sunderland

Martin O'Neill has brought optimism back to Wearside with results and performances. Signings, however, have prompted rather more mockery. Injuries had depleted the Sunderland defence and left-back had long been deemed a problem position at the Stadium of Light, but if Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos are the answers, what were the questions? The good news is that they were merely borrowed, not bought.

Swansea

They are plotting their own path to safety, which should be secured on a meagre budget. Brendan Rodgers has borrowed intelligently with Gylfi Sigurdsson providing Danny Graham's winner against Arsenal and Josh McEachran looking a natural fit for the Swans' purist passing game. On and off the pitch, it may prove a fine month.

Tottenham

Frantic trading and logic-defying deals: just another transfer window for Harry Redknapp, then. As the manager exchanged Southwark Crown Court for White Hart Lane, he missed out on the signature signing that may have propelled Tottenham to the title. Instead, the activity was quintessential Redknapp: signing two injury-prone veterans, in Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha, could be masterstrokes if they stay fit, or could backfire if they don't. Meanwhile, Roman Pavlyuchenko is returning to Moscow while loan deals mean Spurs have 20 - yes, 20 - players plying their trade for other clubs. It is something to remember next time Redknapp claims he is down to the bare bones.

West Brom

Under Roberto di Matteo, West Brom had a cosmopolitan recruitment policy. Under Roy Hodgson, there is rather less excitement. It is hard to imagine too many getting carried away by the arrivals of the long-term target Liam Ridgewell and Keith Andrews, but the former Birmingham man is the defender Hodgson wanted and Andrews provides depth in an injury-hit midfield so the manager may deem the window a successful one.

Wigan

The ever optimistic Roberto Martinez may be able to argue this was a successful window; after all, the gifted Jean Beausejour joined while none of Wigan's premier players departed. Yet the reality is that votes of no confidence in Wigan's ability to survive were frequent and demoralising. Andy Johnson, Nicky Maynard and Adrian Mariappa all rejected moves to the DW Stadium, presumably figuring they have a greater chance of Premier League football elsewhere next season. The decisions of the two attackers mean Martinez has still been unable to find the goalscorer his side desperately needs.

Wolves

Mick McCarthy did his business early and late, taking the Icelander Eggert Jonsson and the exuberant Emmanuel Frimpong at the start of the window and Sebastien Bassong at the end. The on-loan Arsenal man may be a terrific acquisition, adding power, while Bassong should bolster a struggling defence. The problems, though, have come not in the market, but on the pitch. Results are the reason Wolves end January looking likelier to depart the division.

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