Kieran Davies on a week of crumbling fortresses and inflated wage packets.
Transfer deadline day, the day of non-stop activity every football loving fan craves. Or so it used to be. The fact is now that transfer deadline day is about as interesting as watching QVC non-stop for a week. The day that used to be known as ‘Jim White Day’ might as well be known as the day you sit watching Sky reporters stood outside the training grounds of clubs up and down the country with the only interesting developments being the cars driving passed them in the background. As ever with the Sky Sports News schedule you then get involved in a loop of the same news being recycled hour after hour. It would be more entertaining if they just sent all their camera crews to Melwood to watch a training schedule of Liverpool’s defensive unit. At least that way you would see something entertaining. The whole idea of a transfer window was partly to allow smaller clubs to have their prized assets protected throughout the season so that the big clubs couldn’t affect the course of the league season with the wealth at their disposal. With the introduction of the financial might of the Chinese League now, this is pretty defunct. In fact, today was a first as we started seeing Chinese clubs start bidding for lower league players as Scunthorpe got what they at first must have thought was a hoax phonecall from Bart Simpson or the Fonejacker.
Generally, there has been less movement in this transfer window than the world mannequin championships. As a fan of whatever club you show your allegiance to, this can be a frustrating time. It makes you wonder how you can see the areas that need addressing yet the manager can’t. Or is it the owner that is keeping the purse strings tighter than a submarine door? In the case of Liverpool, it has been more frustrating than most. In October they talked about titles, In November they talked about titles, In December they REALLY talked about titles and now almost in February they talk about winning their first game of 2017. Where has it gone wrong? Anfield before the turn of the year was a fortress, now its dishing out more points to visitors than the DVLA Swansea office. Does Klopp not want to spend? Have the owners given him no money to spend? The only thing that is sure is that someone will feel the fan’s wrath as the club went out of two competitions in four days. Tonight could spell the end of any distant dream of chasing Chelsea. For the realists however, they already know that they have more chance of seeing Wile E Coyote catch Roadrunner. Another performance like recent ones could see Chelsea wipe the floor with Klopp’s men and see Anfield empty out quicker than the last fire drill test they ran.
With both Manchester clubs facing very winnable games this week, holding onto a top four place could be difficult for Liverpool unless they start sorting their act out rather sharpish. Currently, the form team appear to be Tottenham as they travel to Sunderland to face the side rooted to the bottom of the table. They will be hoping Klopp’s side can do the unthinkable and replicate their win against Chelsea to really give them a glimmer of hope of being in a title race this season. Only a point behind bitter rivals Arsenal, the main aim for Pochettino’s side will be to secure Champions League football again for next season after their rather drab showing in the competition this term. With their new stadium waiting in the wings for their next season, it is important that they are in Europe’s biggest competition to bring in those gate receipts. Rivals Arsenal face Watford in what should be a very routine win for Wenger’s men. With a trip to Chelsea on the cards for the weekend, The Gunners will want to go into this game brimming with confidence. Watford have struggled to get results of late and don’t really have a striker in form to get them those elusive goals. They are in danger themselves of getting dragged into a relegation fight unless they turn things around sooner rather than later.
So far Sam Allardyce’s tenure at Crystal Palace has been as successful as his hidden camera shows as England manager. Yet to register a single win under the dodgiest manager in football since Harry Redknapp hung up his coat, Palace find themselves in the bottom three and are in desperate need of a win at Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth this evening. With Swansea having home advantage facing Southampton, on the back of a morale boosting win at Anfield last time out, Clement will be hoping his side can put back to back wins together for the first time in a while. In all fairness they thoroughly deserved their win at Liverpool and with Van Dijk injured, Llorente will fancy his chances of continuing his rich vein of form. With Sigurdsson supplying the ammunition it could be a positive evening in South Wales. Burnley with their impressive home form this season, could heap the misery on defending champions Leicester. Only a few points outside of the relegation places and a good five points off Sean Dyche’s men, Ranieri really needs his players to stop polishing their trophies and to try and start earning those wage packets that were greatly inflated by last season’s exploits.
Middlesbrough targeted some very high profile targets in the January window. With the majority of these not coming off, they could pay the price of having a misfiring strike force. Nobody, not even the player himself, envisages Rudi Gestede to fire the North East side to safety and could well be switching places with rivals Newcastle come the end of the season. Considering the situation they find themselves in, Jordan Rhodes must be wondering what he has to do to get some game time. With Dimitri Payet being removed from all history within the West Ham records, they have the perfect opportunity to show the fans how they are a stronger club without his negative influence as they face Manchester City at home. After a humiliating result in the FA Cup in an identical fixture only weeks ago, Bilic would love nothing more than take all three points in this one. Stoke entertain Everton with both teams eager for a win to close the gap between themselves and the European football finishing spots. A trip to the bet365 Stadium is never an easy task as Manchester United found last time out. Koeman’s side have the chance to close the gap between themselves and the sides above them with a win, depending on other results. While many will spend the rest of the evening listening to Sky Sports News presenters telling you they have ‘breaking news’ let me burst that bubble for you right now…………….the breaking news is that there is no news to bring you!