Mesut Ozil

Top Signing Per Club: A-L

The transfer window slammed shut last night and the Premier League sides will have to make do with what they have until January. Here @0riginalfooty takes a look at the top signing made by each club whose name begins between A and L.

Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £30m). Similarly to the capture of Mesut Ozil last summer, this signing has caught the imagination of Arsenal fans and has generated belief that The Gunners can be genuine title contenders once more. He may not have made a flying start to life in the Premier League but the Chilean should prove to be an excellent piece of business.
Other notable signings: Calum Chambers (Southampton, £16m), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle, £12m), David Ospina (Nice, £3m), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal, £16m).

Aston Villa
Philippe Senderos (Valencia, free). The arrival of the Swiss centre-back was greeted with caution by Villa fans as Senderos had never really proved himself as a totally reliable defender. However, he has struck an instant understanding with Villa skipper Ron Vlaar and Villa’s defensive woes now seem a thing of the past. If he can keep up this form, he will prove to be a marvellous addition.
Other notable signings: Aly Cissokho (Valencia, undisclosed), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United, loan) Joe Cole (West Ham United, free), Kieran Richardson (Fulham, undisclosed), Carlos Sanchez (Elche, undisclosed).

Burnley
Matt Taylor (West Ham United, undisclosed). Burnley have had a tough set of opening fixtures and, despite performing valiantly, they will know how difficult it will be to stay in this league. They were a side who needed to add Premier League experience to their ranks and Taylor certainly fits the bill. His know-how at this level could prove vital to The Clarets survival hopes.
Other notable signings: George Boyd (Hull, £3m), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, loan), Matt Gilks (Blackpool, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough £1.5m), Michael Keane (Manchester United, loan), Michael Kightly (Stoke City, undisclosed), Steven Reid (West Bromwich Albion, free), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers, undisclosed), Stephen Ward (Wolves, undisclosed).

Chelsea
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid, £32m). Costa has been a revelation since signing from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and has scored four goals in his opening three matches. What has been more impressive, however, is his work-rate off the ball and willingness to battle and make defenders lives a misery. Jose Mourinho will be delighted with his contribution so far and he could easily prove to be the best signing of the season.
Other notable signings: Didier Drogba (Galatasary, free), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona,£30m), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid £20m).

Crystal Palace
Brede Hangeland (Fulham, free). Hangeland has been a quality performer in the Premier League for many years now and will be an excellent addition to Neil Warnock’s defence. He is a natural born leader on the pitch who is dominant in the air and will happily battle with opposition attackers.
Other notable signings: Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City, £900k), Kevin Doyle (Wolves, loan), Martin Kelly (Liverpool, undisclosed), Chris Kettings (Blackpool, free), Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United, loan).

Everton
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m). Roberto Martinez smashed Everton’s record transfer record by bringing in burly Belgian frontman Romelu Lukaku. He was the top scorer for The Toffees last season and is a constant menace going forward. Everton have put a lot of faith in him with such a big outlay and will hope he can fire them to Champions League football this season.
Other notable signings: Christian Atsu (Chelsea, loan), Gareth Barry (Manchester City, free), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros, undisclosed), Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea, free).

Hull
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United, loan). Hull were very busy on deadline day and surprised many fans with their capture of Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa. Ben Arfa fell out with his parent club when he was fined for being overweight but has been given a lifeline by The Tigers. There is no doubting Ben Arfa’s quality if he can stay fit and Hull fans will be eagerly anticipating his debut.
Other notable signings: Michael Dawson (Spurs, undisclosed), Mohammed Diame (West Ham, undisclosed), Tom Ince (Blackpool, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Spurs, undisclosed), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United, £2.5m), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United, £2.9m), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City, undisclosed).

Leicester
Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton, £7m). Ulloa, Leicester’s record signing, has made an excellent start to life in the Premier League and scored the equaliser in their most recent draw against Arsenal. He’s a powerful striker who is deadly in the air and The Foxes will be hopeful that his goals can keep them in the Premier League.
Other notable signings: Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa, free), Jack Barmby (Manchester United, free), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan, free), Ben Hamer (Charlton Athletic, free), Matthew Upson (Brighton, free).

Liverpool
Mario Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m). Balotelli has returned to English football, much to the delight of the media, and Liverpool fans will be hopeful that he can produce the world-class form that we know he is capable of on a regular basis. If he can put his troublesome ways behind him and focus on his football then he will be a steal at £16m.
Other notable signings: Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen, £8m), Adam Lallana (Southampton, £25m), Rickie Lambert (Southampton, £4m), Dejan Lovren (Southampton, £20m), Javi Manquillo (Atletico Madrid, loan), Lazar Markovic (Benfica, £20m), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla, undisclosed).

 

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Majestic Arsenal Batter Below-Par City

The Community Shield saw FA cup holders Arsenal run out 3-0 winners over Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Santi Cazorla fired Arsenal in front with an expertly executed finish whilst Aaron Ramsey smashed home a second just before half time.

Olivier Giroud completed the rout with a stunning long-range strike over Willy Caballero.

It was a very impressive team display from the North London side who looked solid at the back, dangerous going forward and were rarely troubled by their Premier League rivals.

City, however, offered an extremely flat performance and Manuel Pellegrini made no effort to hide his frustration on the touchline.

Calum Chambers, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy all made their competitive debuts for Arsenal whilst Fernando and Caballero made their first starts for City.

City were missing some key players such as Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta so Pellegrini won’t be too concerned by how easily his side were dismantled.

Arsenal were also without World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil and will be delighted to have performed so ably without them.

The result should give them a big boost for their match against Crystal palace next weekend but City will need to recover confidence before their opener against Newcastle.

Arsenal started the brighter and Mathieu Debuchy was particularly impressive down the right hand side in the opening exchanges.

Samir Nasri, the former Arsenal player, was verbally abused every time he touched the ball by Arsenal fans.

He almost silenced their jeers in the 13th minute but Calum Chambers was quick to block his goal-bound effort.

It was Arsenal, however, who deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute through Santi Cazorla.

The Spaniard evaded Gael Clichy on the edge of the City area before firing a low left footed strike into the corner of Caballero’s goal.

Yaya Sanogo, who scored four goals in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, had a chance to score his first competitive goal for Arsenal but dragged his shot wide.

It was Arsenal who continued to impress and Clichy deflected a long-range Cazorla shot for a corner.

Sanogo had another chance from the resulting corner but his header landed comfortably in Caballero’s arms.

City almost equalised five minutes before half time after Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic combined well during a quick break, but a swarm of Arsenal defenders managed to block.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey scored moments later, however, to double their advantage. Sanogo held up the ball well in the box and fed Ramsey who smashed the ball past Caballero.

Alexis Sanchez had an opportunity to make it three at the end of the first half but Caballero was quickly out of his area to slide at Alexis’ feet and deny him.

David Silva, Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud were introduced at half time for Nasri, Alexis, Laurent Koscielny and Sanogo.

Fernando was booked early in the second half for pulling Jack Wilshire to the ground.

Jovetic came agonisingly close moments later after rising over Debuchy to thump a header against the post.

City had begun the second half much brighter than the first and Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action to deny Jovetic, who fired a stinging shot towards the keeper’s right hand post.

James Milner and Bruno Zuculini were then introduced by Pellegrini to replace Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure.

Giroud scored an absolute screamer with his left foot from outside the area and bent it over Caballero to give Arsenal a three-goal advantage.

Jovetic, who was City’s most creative attacking force, attempted an elaborate overhead kick but it flew comfortably over the bar.

Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were then called upon by Wenger to replace Wilshire and Cazorla.

Micah Richards came on for Aleksandar Kolarov as substitutions began to disrupt the flow of the game.

Jesus Navas was also withdrawn for Scott Sinclair and Aaron Ramsey replaced by Joel Campbell; Arsene Wenger’s final substitution.

Dedryck Boyata had a great opportunity to grab a consolation for City but his header from a corner went wide.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal

Devastatingly, the World Cup is over. But fear not. There is only a month to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. We will move alphabetically and begin with Arsenal.

Arsenal enjoyed their best season in 9 years last term, finishing fourth and achieving glory in the FA cup. They appear adamant to build upon their success and are making some decent inroads in adding to their already capable squad. Arsenal fans will be eager for the new season to start as soon as possible and will be confident of pushing the likes of Man City and Chelsea all the way.

The Manager
Arsene Wenger is an experienced Premier League customer and the longest serving boss in the league. His every move has been scrutinized over the past 9 years as they failed to deliver any silverware and he appeared to be too ponderous in the transfer market. However, after delivering big-money signing Mesut Ozil and victory in the FA cup, every Arsenal fan is behind him and they’re beginning to believe that he can challenge once more for Premier league glory.

Wenger is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League

Wenger is the longest serving manager in the Premier League

Biggest Signing
Arsenal have already pulled off a major coup in the transfer market and one that is unlikely to be topped. Alexis Sanchez has arrived from Barcelona and is a proven world-class performer. The signing has given the fans a similar buzz to when Mesut Özil arrived last summer and will give fresh belief to those fans who dream of Arsenal being the best side in England once more. Sanchez is not only a top player but he is also versatile. He can play anywhere across the front three, offering competition for the likes of Walcott and Podolski, and even an alternative option to Olivier Giroud.

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Who is tipped to join them?
As with every transfer window, Arsenal are linked with a host of top-quality footballers that will have every supporter drooling with excitement. Mario Balotelli has been mooted as a new striking option, which would be particularly pleasing for Arsenal supporters as there are question marks over Olivier Giroud’s abilities to be a title-defining centre forward. Juan Cuadrado is also being linked with a move after an impressive World Cup and again could be a fresh and exciting option to Arsenal’s attack. Mathieu Debuchy has been selected to replace the departing Bacary Sagna at right-back and should sign within the next few days.

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal in the coming days

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal

Who should they sign?
I have always doubted Mikel Arteta’s ability to be a title-winning centre midfielder and they should look to replace him this transfer window. Sami Khedira has stalled on a new contract in Madrid and is reportedly keen on a move to the Premier League. Linking up with German compatriots Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski could be an intriguing proposition. Arsenal would be signing a proven centre-midfielder who has just won the Champions League and the World Cup so Wenger should make his signing a priority.

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Key Player
Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez and Özil may be the global superstars of this Arsenal side but it is the Welshman who makes them tick. He was in scintillating form at the beginning of the season until unfortunately succumbing to injury and they really missed him. He offers intelligent deep runs from midfield that no other Arsenal player has in their locker and is a deadly finisher. If he remains fit, he could help Arsenal go all the way.

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Prediction
Arsenal performed capably last season and I expect them to improve on their performance this time around. They look like they will keep hold of all their top performers and are adding genuine quality to the squad so should keep improving. They will offer a title challenge but are just short of usurping Man City and Chelsea at the top of the pile. If they have a title challenge and can bring home more silverware in one of the cup competitions then that would be viewed as a good season for them. Expect Arsenal to finish 3rd.

World Cup Final Preview

Germany vs Argentina: Sunday 8pm

This is a clash between two of the World Cup’s most decorated teams. It will be Germany’s record-breaking eighth final in the competition, but they have been victorious on only three occasions. The Argentines will equal the Germans’ World Cup titles by defeating them on Sunday. This is a battle between the best team and the team with the best player, which should make for an intriguing encounter.

Can Messi guide Argentina to World Cup glory?

Can Messi guide Argentina to World Cup glory?

Germany have waltzed into the final with relative comfort and never really looked likely to exit the tournament at any point. This was particularly the case in their semi-final match where they were at their rampant best, spanking the hosts Brazil 7-1. Conversely, Argentina have not performed particularly well in any match during the tournament and have been largely reliant on moments of magic from their talisman Lionel Messi to drag them through. They were taken to penalties in their semi-final match in which Sergio Romero, the often-maligned goalkeeper, proved an unlikely hero by saving 2 penalties to secure Argentina’s passage to the final. Having not performed to the best of their ability at any point thus far, many people believe that this is Lionel Messi’s time to engrave his place permanently alongside the greatest players of all time. The Germans, however, will be no pushovers and enter the match as favourites.

Sergio Romero proved an unlikely hero for Argentina against the Netherlands

Sergio Romero was an unlikely hero for Argentina against the Netherlands

It is unlikely that there will be too many changes for either side coming into the match. The Germans were in scintillating form in the last match and will probably keep faith in the XI that performed so ably. That said, Andre Schurrle has made some impressive cameos throughout the tournament and could possibly replace Miroslav Klose if Joachim Low does decide to implement a change. Argentina will be praying that Angel Di Maria can return to full fitness in time for the match but there is at least positive news regarding Sergio Aguero. The Man City man came through his brief involvement against the Netherlands unscathed and should replace Enzo Perez in the starting line-up should Di Maria be declared unfit.

Argentina face a nervy wait on Angel Di Maria's fitness

Argentina face a nervy wait on Angel Di Maria’s fitness

Tactically, I think both sides will keep it pretty much the same. The Germans will believe they can outplay and break down any opposition whilst also being able to pick off any opposition attacks with consummate ease; a deadly combination. Argentina won’t be fazed, though. They boast a wealth of attacking options such as Messi, Aguero and Higuain who have the ability to turn a match on its head in a matter of moments. On top of this, in Javier Mascherano they have an excellent defensive midfielder who has had a wonderful World Cup and has the ability to upset the German midfield’s rhythm and break down their attacks continuously for 120 minutes if necessary. It should be an enthralling contest that both sides will be confident of winning.

Javier Mascherano has been one of the players of the tournament

Javier Mascherano has been one of the players of the tournament

There are also a large number of sub-plots within the match. Firstly, both Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller could win the golden boot. Messi needs a hattrick, which is always possible with a player of his quality, whereas Muller only requires one goal to become the first man to win the golden boot in consecutive tournaments. In addition to this, the world’s best attacker Lionel Messi will be testing the world’s best goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer and arguably the world’s best player at breaking up play, Javier Mascherano, comes up against some of the most incisive passers of the ball in the game today: Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil.

Manuel Neuer has established himself as the world's best goalkeeper

Manuel Neuer has established himself as the world’s best goalkeeper

All in all, this should be a fabulous contest and one that is extremely tough to call. My heart says that Lionel Messi will guide Argentina to victory and declare himself to be the greatest player of all time once and for all. However, my head knows that the Germans have no room for sentiment, have more quality than their opponents and should have enough to win. Whilst it would be a fairy tale ending for the Argentinians to emerge victorious in South America, I can’t look past the rampant Germans raising the trophy aloft after a fabulous contest this Sunday evening.
Prediction: Germany 3-1 Argentina