Kieran Davies looks back on a week of world-class teens, heavy defeats, and a rising in the east.

So after a January transfer window about as exciting as spending time with a sober, clucking Gazza what have we learnt about our and other clubs. Nothing. Well maybe one thing, China has entered the fray. While the MLS continues to attract big names looking for a nice swansong to their career, the Chinese teams have raised the bar and started targeting BIG name signings in the peak of their playing career. The clubs there currently play some of their players the biggest wages in world football but as a true lover of the beautiful game, you’ve got to question their motivation other than being of the mindset of financial renegades. Europe is where the best quality leagues are with the Premier League being the strongest in particular, surely the best players should be looking to pit their wits there. It would be a shame if players like Messi and Neymar never grace our beloved league and in some respects you have to say the likes of Suarez and Ronaldo who have been there, done it and bought ALL the t-shirts have achieved more than their counterparts. Stoke broke their club transfer record on a defensive midfielder only FC Porto fans and people in his home country would know. The biggest story on the final day of the window was Manchester City’s announcement that Pep Guardiola would be their new manager in the summer with Pellegrini agreeing not to activate the option of an additional year on his existing contract. He could still end the season with potentially four trophies which would not only put a lot of pressure on his successor from day one, would also leave egg on the face of his ex-employers.

City fans are delighted with the appointment and believe this guarantees success and with the money at his disposal who could argue. Be nice to see their home ground full again rather it looking like the development squad are playing a cup final with only 1/3 of the stands full. Pep is respected as one of THE best managers in the game and looking at his trophy haul it’s hard to argue. The one thing you could say is that he has only managed the sort of teams you could take control of on Football Manager and get your six year old niece to just hitting the ‘continue’ button and still win the league. Then again this is not a new test he will face at City. They have world class players in their squad and he will no doubt be backed heavily in the transfer market. As a non-City fan, I still kind of think that’s good for the league as he will no doubt entice some real world class talent. After a sketchy 1-0 win at Sunderland they face a stern test against Leicester this weekend. This really is a must win game for them if they want to win the league for their departing manager as although there are plenty of games left, a win would really dent the confidence of Leicester also. Although after a 2-0 over Liverpool last week until that happens they will be full of confidence. Everyone claims Jamie Vardy scored the goal of the season in this game, not for me no. Mignolet’s positioning was poor and it was more a hit and hope based on his noticing how far the keeper was out throughout the game. Don’t get me wrong a good goal, not a great goal. I can name one goal off the top of my head that was far better and involved tons more skill, quick thinking and a likeminded powerful long range finish and that was Delli Ali against Crystal Palace. World class from an 18 year old. If Tottenham can keep hold of him and nurture his talent they have something very special on their hands there.


After a comfortable 3-0 win at Norwich taking them above their local rivals Arsenal, Spurs will want to keep the momentum going when they face Watford at White Hart Lane. The Hornets were held at home by Chelsea last time out and know they will have to play out of their skins to get anything out of this one. With Wenger’s side facing a tricky trip to in-form Bournemouth, he will be worried considering their lack of goals of late. Manchester United must feel like the not so noisy neighbours of late in Manchester and it seems the board are looking to respond to the appointment of Guardiola by securing the services of Jose Mourinho. Whether they can drum something out with his agent Jorge Mendes will remain to be seen, one thing is for sure it will be costly. They travel to his old club Chelsea this weekend in a game which will give interim manager Hiddink the chance to really show his capabilities. They added Alexander Pate to their ranks on a loan during the window so will be hoping he gives them additional firepower up front. Meanwhile in the North East, Mike Ashley has not only given all the fans a new warm jacket for the coming months but also backed the manager in the window. Adding Jonjo Shelvey could be an inspired move if the player produces his best form and gets the Magpies out of the danger zone in search maybe for a summer in France. What more motivation do you need? After a heavy defeat against Everton, they will be looking to bounce back at home against West Brom. Ten points from safety, Villa need a miracle to be wearing that Premier League badge on their sleeves next season. Remi Garde announced he would consider his position at the end of the season after no money was spent and their rivals in the relegation zone invested heavily. They need three points against Norwich at home this week, that’s for sure.

Fellow strugglers Sunderland will know they face a tough ask in getting anything from their trip to Anfield where they face a wounded lion in Liverpool who really haven’t hit the levels expected of Herr Klopp. It means nothing creating chances if you don’t take them. Everton travel to Stoke to face a very inconsistent Mark Hughes team. With the unpredictable nature of the league this season, this one could go either way but I fancy Everton to capitalise on Stoke’s crashing out of two cup competitions in a week. Despite playing well in a large majority of their games, fans believe Martinez’ side haven’t taken as many points as they should have and are calling for the manager’s head. Be careful what you wish for, you could end up with Brendan Rodgers! Swansea have found a bit of form of late and managed to pull away from danger and will feel they should secure a win at home against Pardew’s Palace side who just seem to be firing blanks this year. Having added a few unheard of players in the window, hoping there is another Michu amongst them, Pardew will be hoping Adebayor can start repaying the club for no doubt an extortionate wage. Southampton will be hoping to utilise the in-form Fraser Forster to help them close the gap on their visitors West Ham this weekend. Victory could put them within two points of The Hammers with a busy fixture list for the East London outfit, they could really put pressure on the chase for European qualification. If current form continues we could see the top four pulling away from the chasing pack and maybe if Leicester win in Manchester, could they? Could it really happen?