Five more rising English talents

With the likes of young English Premier League stars such as Dele Alli securing much of the recent footballing limelight thanks to his impressive performances for both Spurs and England, we take a look at five more promising talents England has to offer that have perhaps been flying under the radar until this current season.

Reece Burke

Burke

To start off in a somewhat biased manner due to the fact I am a Bantams supporter of 15 plus years, we have 19 year old central defender Reece Burke first up on the list. The 6ft 2in West Ham centre half whom has been on loan at League One side Bradford City for most of the season is enjoying a fantastic loan period with the Bantams as an influential figure in their push for promotion to the Championship next season. Featuring in 30 league games so far this term, scoring twice in the process, Burke is enjoying his time with the West Yorkshire side as he looks to gain valuable playing experience for his future career. With him potentially taking the ‘Player of the season’ award at Valley Parade which has recently commenced it’s not difficult to see why the young defender is being touted as a future England star.

With a similar playing style to that of Everton star John Stones, Reece Burke has fantastic positioning and strength for a young lad and further possesses great footballing prowess for his age. An old head on young shoulders, Burke is comfortable in possession and regularly dribbles the ball calmly out of the back line to alleviate pressure on his team.

Adam Armstrong

Soccer - Sky Bet League One - Coventry City v Crewe Alexandra - Ricoh Arena

From defence to attack and next up on the list is 19 year old striker Adam Armstrong. Currently on loan at League One side Coventry City from parent club Newcastle United, Armstrong has enjoyed a successful season with the Sky Blues which has seen him net on 19 occasions since his loan spell began with the Midlands side back in August.

A fast and tricky forward, Adam Armstrong has already represented England at the U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels making a combined total of 39 appearances, netting 23 goals in them. Touted as a ‘natural born goalscorer’ by most of those who have seen him in action, Armstrong’s mixture of pace and agility is enough to cause any defence a problem.

His impressive displays have not gone unnoticed by his parent side Newcastle United who this season have reportedly come close to bringing him back to St James’ Park to help the club in their own battle against Premier League relegation. If the likely scenario is to play out and Newcastle are relegated to the Championship at the end of the season expect to see Adam Armstrong leading the line in a Newcastle shirt next year.

Ben Chilwell

Leicester City v Manchester City - FA Youth Cup Semi Final: Second Leg

Ben Chilwell is another England star in the making. Still only 19 years old, the left-back currently plies his trade with runaway Premier League leaders Leicester City and is a product of the Midlands side academy. Winning Leicester’s Academy Player of the Year award at the end of the 2014–15 season, Chilwell has gone on to make a handful of appearances for the side so far this term in both the League and FA Cup.

It was during his loan spell with Championship side Huddersfield Town however where the youngster shone this term. Making eight appearances in his short spell with the Yorkshire outfit, Chilwell put in some solid displays for the Terriers under manager David Wagner. Wagner was so impressed with the youngster during his stay at the John Smith’s stadium that the German himself put in a good word to fellow coach and former Dortmund friend Jürgen Klopp whom is now proposing a transfer to Liverpool for the young left-back.

Rico Henry

Rico Henry

Already short-listed for the Football League Young Player of the Year, Rico Henry has had a fantastic first full season for League One outfit Walsall. Making 37 appearances in all competitions for the Saddlers so far this season, Henry has been a key member for the Midlands side in their quest for promotion come the end of this term.

Likened to both former England internationals Ashley Cole and Kenny Sansom in regards to his playing style, left-back Rico Henry is small in height standing at 5ft 10in but is both extremely quick and agile. In defence the full back gets stuck in when necessary, is calm in possession of the ball and has the ability to both run and dribble out from the back. Going forward his pace gives him the possibility of taking on players when possible and his two goals from left-back this term for Walsall prove that Henry can finish when in the position to do so.

Already being watched by some of the top English teams including likely Premier League champions Leicester, Arsenal and Tottenham among others, Rico Henry has a very bright future ahead of him.

Kemar Roofe

Oxford United v Swansea City - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round

Even though Kemar Roofe turned 23 back in January, the Oxford striker is still considered a fine young English talent whom has largely been ignored since his early days at West Bromwich Albion. With his Oxford United side vying for promotion from League Two and his recent fantastic performance at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Barnsley, Roofe is now being courted by some of the biggest clubs in English football thanks to another impressive season from the forward.

Over the past couple of seasons with Oxford, the young striker has lit up League Two with some stunning strikes and some top drawer performances. This season alone Roofe has managed to bag himself 25 goals in all competitions and is now reportedly firmly on the radar of teams such as Arsenal, Manchester United and Sunderland to name but a few.

With the ability to play both as an out-and-out striker and as an attacking midfielder, Roofe has made 62 appearances for the U’s over his two spells with the League Two club. In those 63 appearances for Oxford United, the pacey forward has bagged himself 31 goals in all competitions, a fantastic return from Kemar Roofe.

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Tim Howard to join Colorado Rapids in May

Everton and American goalkeeper Tim Howard could be heading back to Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids as the likely destination if the rumours are to be believed.

Rumours had been put on the back burner for a few days but have recently one again got very interesting as a source close to Howard has said that the shot stopper has held “serious talks” with Colorado and after over 10 years at Goodison Park it looks highly likely that Howard will sign with the Rapids in May as he supposedly wants a return to the U.S.

If all goes to plan in the transfer negotiations between Everton and MLS then Tim Howard could sign this month but would only move to Colorado in May following the conclusion of the 2015-16 Premier League season.

Despite having a solid career with the Merseyside club and having several good games this season, some Everton fans have voiced there concerns about Howard and certain performances this term, most notably for dropping howlers and making key mistakes in the matches against  Arsenal, Chelsea and Swansea.

Tim Howard would be considered one of the star players in the MLS.
Tim Howard would be considered one of the star players in the MLS.

Further reinforcing the notion that goalkeeper Tim Howard could be on the verge of making a surprising potential move back to MLS, last Monday the Colorado Rapids announced they had traded starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC for targeted allocation money, their highest natural third round selection in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and a conditional first round selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Plus Colorado currently holds the number one allocation ranking in MLS after making a trade with the Chicago Fire for that position less than two weeks ago.

That means any current U.S. national team player looking to sign with the MLS will be offered to them first and Colorado’s Vice President of Soccer Operations, Paul Bravo, has been quoted as saying that the move up to No. 1 in the allocation order is “the most significant deal we’ve done in this club’s history.”

Howard’s boss at Everton, Roberto Martinez, was asked by the media following Sunday’s defeat to Swansea if the Rapids had been in contact with Everton regarding the transfer of Tim Howard to which he answered; “At the moment there is nothing.”

Talk strikers later, Newcastle United need a new defence.

At third place in terms of most goals conceded this year behind rivals Sunderland and Norwich, it is evident that Newcastle United should be looking to improve their defence in the last five days of the January transfer window. Instead with stories flying around at various online newspapers and the NUFC hashtag on Twitter becoming inundated with transfer rumours bringing Lacazette and Remy to the club, we ask is it really a new striker that Newcastle United need before the end of the January transfer window?

In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” For Newcastle then maybe it is a case of winning games right now to avoid relegation come the end of the season but what about in five seasons time? Will they be in a similar position again because the Newcastle board have failed to make the right signings over and over again. You only have to look down the road to Sunderland to see a similar example. For years now Sunderland have struggled and if you look at the transfers the club has made it’s clear to see why. Big money spent on the forward line and not enough quality brought in defensively. Unfortunately for football fans in the north-east it’s becoming a normal sight to see the two sides towards the wrong end of the Premier League table.

Prior to the signing of Jonjo Shelvey whom on a side note will create more chances as seen on his debut which will inevitably bring goals for the team, Newcastle had spent £41,000,000 from the summer transfer window onwards on attackers. Granted it takes time for players to settle in, especially in a league as demanding and challenging as the Premier League, but when you compare the £12,000,000 spent on so far flop Florent Thauvin and the £8,400,000 spent on strong centre back Chancel Mbemba, every Geordie will be in agreement over who the better purchase has been so far. With news breaking that Spurs winger Andros Townsend is joining the club for around £11 million, fans will once again be excited with the proposition but in my mind, that’s another huge sum of money that can’t be used to strengthen the team in more urgent areas. With a very young core of Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Perez, Sissohko, Shelvey, Thauvin, Saivat and 18 year old Adam Armstrong out on loan at Coventry City who has 16 goals so far this season, I fail to see the real problem upfront for Newcastle. There’s no patience at Newcastle United any more, granted we all know the story of Mike Ashley and how he has sometimes run the club in a manner that the majority of the fans don’t like but compared to Norwich, Bournemouth, Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom, Swansea and the list can go, Newcastle have a developing squad that in a few years will be very strong going forward.

Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.
Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.

On the other hand however in defence it is clear to see the teams’ quite serious weaknesses. The backline is reliant on 33 year old Fabricio Coloccini who yes has had a fantastic career on Tyneside but this season in particular has shown his unreliable side and has at times come under heavy scrutiny from Newcastle fans. Aside from Mbemba who has proved a fantastic purchase so far and will only improve during his stay in the Premier League, the main form of back up in the central defensive position comes in the form of 31 year old Mike Williamson, a player who went on loan to a Championship club this season and has always been a target for the Newcastle boo boys. Jamaal Lascelles is one for the future, Steven Taylor has unfortunately become a bit more injury prone in the later stages of his career and other than that, Newcastle are struggling at centre back. Daryl Janmaat is solid at the right back spot but has no cover if he gets injured while Paul Dummett can be a bit up and down in terms of form, similar to Massadio Haïdara.

Without a doubt, a new striker would be an exciting proposition for the fans of Newcastle United especially if a star striker such as Loic Remy or Alexander Lacazette is signed however the defensively frailties will still be present going into the second half of the season and personally I think to leave the defence in the same state that it’s already in is too big of a gamble to take in the position that Newcastle United are currently in.

Preview – Liverpool vs Arsenal.

Tonight’s stand out match comes from Anfield with the showdown between Liverpool and Arsenal, kick off at 8:00pm. Arsenal will be trying to extend their lead at the top of the table whilst Liverpool with be looking for an invaluable home win to kick start a run of form. Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival Liverpool have been up-and-down as even though the German orchestrated a fantastic 4-1 away win at Manchester City, he has also seen his side lose against Watford and Newcastle among others. Last time out in the Premier League Arsenal staggered to an unconvincing 1-0 home win against Sunderland whilst Liverpool went down 2-0 at Upton Park against West Ham.

Going into tonight’s game, Liverpool will be buoyed with the returns of defensive pair Mamadou Sahko and Kolo Toure whilst loan signing Steven Caulker could make an appearance for the Reds having signed from QPR on loan on Tuesday. Jordan Henderson, Jordon Ibe and James Milner could also all be back for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Steven Caulker
Steven Caulker has recently moved on loan to Liverpool from QPR until the end of the season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look to recall stand out performer of the season Mesut Ozil after resting him for the clubs FA Cup clash with Sunderland at the weekend, this is the same scenario for Per Mertesacker who too miss the match due to being rested. However Alexis Sanchez is not yet fit enough to return for the Gunners, while Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Arsenal and Arsene have their own style; it’s possession football, so it’s clear that if we want to play the same way we will be without a chance because they’ve been doing it for longer. Arsenal are not only a good possession team, that’s the problem, they have good counter-attacks too and that’s what you have to be aware of. It’s a job – but it’s a really nice job – to think about solutions and how to stop them coming through with their plan. I like things like this.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before (Brendan Rodgers), they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there.”

A draw is on the cards tonight at Anfield in my opinion which will suit both Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp to be perfectly honest. A draw would see Arsenal maintain top spot regardless of if Leicester can get a result away at in form Tottenham whilst for Liverpool it would move them joint seventh with Crystal Palace and within striking distance of 4th placed Spurs.

Pep Guardiola & his fantastic dilemma

In the world of football it’s unusual to see a manager so sought after by so many different major clubs however this is the case with Spaniard Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona manager and soon to be former Bayern Munich boss in the summer. A figure that has won 19 major trophies so far in his short but action packed managerial career, Guardiola has already stated his desire to leave the German champions in the summer and pursuit a new career path telling reporters that he next wants to manage in the English Premier League. With five league titles, three domestic cups and two Champions League wins under his belt already, Guardiola is fast becoming one of the greatest football managers in history. For those who enjoy their stats, Guardiola has an overall win percentage of 74% at Barcelona and Bayern Munich so far and is yet to go a single season without winning a major trophy, which isn’t surprising bearing in mind he only holds a loss ratio of just 11% as a manager.

But which Premier League teams are in the market for a new manager? Famed for his three year tenures, Pep Guardiola could provide a short term solution for some of the English giants who have being struggling so far this season but in the long term so far he has proved that maybe his employment is not the best case scenario in terms of future security for teams.

As for his relations at his current club, Bayern Munich, well they’re starting to sour with accusations from German and Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus claiming that the Spaniards head has been turned by speculation on his future. The former German international has also accused Guardiola of already planning his signings for Manchester City should he join them in the summer. Could Pep Guardiola’s attitude in terms of swapping clubs quite often be a problem for teams interested in employing him as manager?

Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.
Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.

Manchester City

Despite being third in the Premier League and only three points behind leaders Arsenal, many think that Manchester City have struggled to maintain form this season. Although progressing in the Champions League, where they play Zenit St Petersburg in the first knockout round, Manchester City have struggled for form this season in the league due mostly to frustrating injuries for star players, in particular Vincent Kompany who has been a huge loss for Manuel Pellegrini in defence. Despite this, many feel that Pellegrini’s tenure as manager at the Etihad Stadium is shortly to be up even if he manages to bring home Manchester City’s third Premier League title among other silverware this term. A little harsh maybe?

Granted, the decision to relieve a manager of his duties after a winning season would be harsh but when the chance to hire a manager of Pep Guardiola’s stature comes about, you simply can’t pass up on the opportunity. In my opinion a move to the Etihad would suit all parties involved. Firstly the fans will have the opportunity to watch their team play in a similar style to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, secondly it suits the owners of a team like Manchester City who have in the past sacked a fair amount of managers and due to the fact that Guardiola will be on a shorter contract means a smaller pay out if things backfire and thirdly it suits Pep Guardiola perfectly. In Manchester City the Spanish manager would take charge of a team, arguably with the best squad in the Premier League already, capable of challenging for major trophies even before he puts his own brand on the team. Guardiola further would be gifted with basically unlimited money to spend at City and will have the lure of the world’s best players as the Citizens now enjoy a growing reputation across Europe.

The only negative is a possible further slump in form this season for Manchester City as if Manuel Pellegrini knows that directors are making decisions behind his back, maybe his enthusiasm will wain slightly towards the end of the 2015-2016 season.

Manchester United

Judging by the performances Manchester United have been putting in this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that Louis Van Gaal won’t be in charge at Old Trafford next season. The Red Devils have lacked goals and good all round attacking play massively this season leading to a call from fans for the sacking of their Dutch head coach. The team this season has been a far cry from the team fielded by Alex Ferguson several years ago, a team full of star forwards who bagged goals by the hat full and never lacked a cutting edge.

For me, it’s time for a complete overhaul at Old Trafford, the squad is full of ‘dead wood’ that shouldn’t have a place in the Manchester United squad. It’s the blunt truth that players like Fellani, Januzaj, Valencia, Powell to name but a few are not real Manchester United quality and should be moved on this coming summer. Money isn’t a problem for United, the club is a global brand and moving these players on will bring in revenue so in that case Guardiola would be happy. The need for an overhaul at Old Trafford could be both appealing and off putting for an incoming manager.

Maybe a task to great for Pep Guardiola? As previously mentioned he likes to keep his managerial stints short at clubs and maybe the task in hand at Old Trafford would be better suited for a more experienced manager, a man with previous Premier League experience. A certain Jose Mourinho maybe..

Jose Mourinho could prove to be a better managerial target for the Manchester United hierarchy.

Arsenal

As well as the two Manchester clubs, reports are linking Pep Guardiola with a move to the Emirates over the summer but to be honest, I can’t see this happening. Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for a staggering 20 years now yet I can’t see him retiring in the summer regardless of how his team perform for the rest of the season and if he delivers another trophy this season, I can’t see him been ousted by the board any time soon. In Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have a true club legend, a type of manager that is extremely rare these days in terms of his duration at the club and even though the fans persist on having a pop at his tactics every now and again, Wenger continues to impress at the London club.

For Pep Guardiola a move to the Emirates would be ideal, it would represent the same challenges of his first two managerial jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Like Manchester City, Arsenal possess a fantastic squad that is already challenging at the top of the Premier League and is use to featuring in the later stages of the major cup competitions. With a few new recruits, especially a 20 goals a season striker and a top anchorman in midfield, Arsenal would become the favourites to win the title in my opinion. However I just can’t see the Spanish maestro taking over at the Emirates any time soon.

Chelsea

Chelsea could be another very realistic proposition for Pep Guardiola. After Jose Mourinho’s sacking recently and the club announcing that Gus Hiddink will only be staying until the end of the season, the vacancy to manage the London club is there for Guardiola to take. Would this opportunity suit the former Spanish international though?

Chelsea have been extremely poor this season by their own standards. The team languishes near the foot of the table still and has only recently started to show better form in the league, the 3-0 win away at Crystal Palace has been a massive confidence booster. Chelsea are also through in the Champions League but have a tough match up against Paris St Germain in the first knockout round. After the sacking of Jose Mourinho the Chelsea board announced that former manager Gus Hiddink would be stepping in until summer leaving a place for Guardiola to take over after his departure. The challenge in hand at Chelsea represents a situation half way between the jobs in hand at Arsenal and Manchester United, the need for new personnel at the club is there for all to see but the current squad at Stamford Bridge is still easily one of the best in the Premier League, if not Europe on the whole.

This job opportunity is a fantastic one for Pep Guardiola and would suit his policy of keeping his managerial stints at clubs short as Chelsea are famed for changing their first team coach frequently. However taking over as manager of Chelsea offers zero job security after we’ve seen the departure of Jose Mourinho. Despite his team’s very poor results and performances the decision from the Chelsea board to sack their Portuguese legend still came as a shock to most football fans and now shows that taking over the managerial reins at Chelsea is a very difficult task. Take Roberto Di Matteo for an example, as caretaker manager of Chelsea he steered the club to double title success, winning both the FA Cup and the club’s first UEFA Champions League in 2012 but was then sacked the summer after their incredible success’. In my opinion the brutal nature of Chelsea football club in terms of sacking managers will work against them if they try to bring in Pep Guardiola in the summer.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho's success at Stamford Bridge?
Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho’s success at Stamford Bridge?

Whichever way you look at the situation, one thing is definitely clear and that is that Pep Guardiola will be managing a side in the Premier League next season. His tactical genius is there for all to see thanks to his previous exploits as both Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss and with a points per match average as a manager of 2.38 you can expect that whichever team he manages from next season, they will be a force to be reckoned with in all competitions.

January transfer window improvements: Liverpool and Manchester City.

Liverpool

Liverpool look like a completely different and rejuvenated side since the clubs hierarchy took the decision to swap in Jurgen Klopp for Brendan Rodgers in late October. The German manager has breathed fresh confidence into his players since his arrival on Merseyside and has reaped the rewards, watching his Liverpool side progressing in the Europa League whilst also reaching the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup thanks to the 6-1 dismantling of Southampton at St Mary’s in early December.

Where to improve?

Now this is a very tricky question. Let’s start with wingers. Ever since I was a young boy Liverpool have been a very attacking outfit but recently they’ve lost their way a bit going forward. Don’t get me wrong Liverpool still possess the players capable of playing the opposition off the park and yes, we’ve seen that this year with the 4-1 win away at Manchester City among other results but at the same time, the Merseysiders have also become a team that have become prone to lower the odd game to ‘lesser’ Premier League sides. For me Jurgen Klopp needs to bring a couple of quality flying wingers to excite the Anfield crowd again. Players like Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are fantastic but when deployed in a wide position, as Rodgers often did, they are not effective enough. The main problem for me with Brendan Rodgers tactics last season and the start of this were that he flooded the centre of the park with Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Allen and Lucas Leiva to name a few in a defensive manner, the sort of play Liverpool fans don’t want, they prefer the old days of ‘we’ll score one more than you’, of free-flowing attacking football. Maybe Marco Reus is an unrealistic transfer target at this early stage of Klopp’s tenure but I’d personally love to see someone like Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli or Andriy Yarmolenko of Dynamo Kiev bossing the wings at

Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko would be an exciting addition for Klopp to invest in.

Anfield. A new goalkeeper could be a good option for Jurgen Klopp to take as well as Simon Mingolet has little competition over the starting spot at Anfield this year as rumours circulate linking German shot stoppers Timo Horn and Bernd Leno with a move to Merseyside in January.

Manchester City

Manchester City have had a very indifferent start to the season. With the demise of Chelsea, the Premier League trophy should be heading back to the Etihad Stadium according to most pundits and football fans alike but the blues, despite been top of the league, have somewhat stuttered recently in the league. It would be unfair however to not state that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have not had their fair share of injuries up until this point of the season. Star players like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva have very rarely started matches together this term but despite this Manchester City have put in some impressive performances both as a team and on an individual level. The capture of Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg in the summer has been key as he’s proving a lot of people wrong who claimed his transfer sum to the Citizens was far too large with the attacker banging in the goals and creating plenty at the same time. Other players have further shone this season so far with the likes of Raheem Sterling impressing out wide. We also have to make the point that City have already progressed through to the next round of the Champions League, a feat that should be applauded as the team overcame a difficult group which included Italian giants Juventus, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Capital One cup where they next face Everton.

Where to improve?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that Manchester City have to make any signings in the January transfer window. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have plenty of strength in depth which is fundamentally the main reason as to why City already top the Premier League table heading into the Christmas period. The return of key players from injury will only strengthen the clubs title ambitions and I don’t see any reason as to why Manchester City won’t be Premier League champions come May despite shaking performances in the league thus far. If the newspapers are to be believed Spanish playmaker Isco could be heading to Manchester from Real Madrid but is this what City need? The blues already have David Silva, who on his day has the ability to be the best players in the Premier League, the Manchester side also have new signing Kevin De Bruyne who has adapted well on his Premier League return and

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne has really impressed so far this season.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has really impressed so far this season.

Raheem Sterling who has been deployed through the middle this season on numerous occasions to great effect. Manuel Pellegrini should instead be looking at his back four as both full backs in Clichy and Zabaleta are ageing and will soon need to be replaced as the full-back rule in modern day football is very demanding in turns of getting up and down the wing at pace. A new centre back could also be a good addition for Manchester City as Vincent Kompany has really struggled with his fitness this campaign meaning the side has been weaker at the back as Mangala has again struggled with his form so far this term.

January transfer window improvements: Aston Villa and Chelsea.

The January transfer window is arguably the most important time of the Premier League season as teams are both strengthened and in some cases weakened for the rest of the season with make-or-break transfers being negotiated and completed before the 31st. As we roll into December it’s now time to look in-depth as to what crucial signings each Premier League side needs to complete over the transfer window period to improve in the second half of the season. Today we look at two struggling Premier League sides; Aston Villa and Chelsea.

Aston Villa

It’s no secret by now that Aston Villa are having another shocking season in the Premier League. The Birmingham based side are rock-bottom of the Premier League going into the Christmas period and have so far shown no real urgency to escape from the relegation places. Too many of their players this term aren’t giving 110% in every match and due to backroom changes and the sacking of Tim Sherwood, the team are really lacking key consistency in team selections among other aspects promising youngster and only bright spark so far this season Jack Grealish is easily distracted by off-field events and the team haven’t won a match since the opening day away at Bournemouth.

Jack Grealish could be a star for Villa if he sorts out his off-field antics.
Jack Grealish could be a star for Villa if he sorts out his off-field antics.

Other than that win on the opening day and impressive draws against Manchester City and Southampton, Aston Villa have shown no real reason as to why they will be a Premier League side next season as they seem completely resigned to relegation this season already at this early stage.

Where to improve?

Where do we even start in terms of improvement with Aston Villa? Quite literally every position at Villa this season could be improved so it’s a case of what positions need the more urgent investment if Villa are going to stay up this season. Flash back to a few years ago and Aston Villa were the surprise package of the 2009-2010 season as the side finished 6th in the league as well as getting to the League cup final and the semi-finals of the FA cup. This was down to one key reason in my opinion; Villa had a very strong midfield. In the middle of the park Aston Villa possessed depth with Stiliyan Petrov, James Milner, Fabian Delph and Steven Sidwell as well as having rapid, flying wingers that included in-form Ashley Young and Stewart Downing at the time. Fast forward five years and it’s clear to see that Villa have no real star quality in midfield, yes they have made signings like that of Adama Traore, Jordan Veretout and Carlos Gil but these players are 19, 22 and 23 and have no Premier League experience between them. There’s no leader in the centre of the park for Villa anymore and in a league like the Premier League, games are won in the midfield battle. For me, this is a major concern for the Midlands side that needs to be addressed in the January transfer window.

A lack of depth upfront is further very worrying. The captures of Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede were at first somewhat exciting but both have failed to adapt to Premier League life and unfortunately when you’re in a position like Villa who can’t afford for your forwards to not take chances on a regular basis. Again like I said about Bournemouth in my blog earlier in the week, Aston Villa need a clinical finisher with Premier League experience, a player who won’t give up on a loose pass and who will get the crowd behind the side because at the moment I just can’t see where Aston Villa’s next three points are coming from.

Chelsea

What has happened at Stamford Bridge? Chelsea are in absolute turmoil this season as players look uninterested to give it 100% week in week out for the club as the London sides fans become more and more frustrated at the events unfolding in south-west London. Did the Chelsea players come back as Champions and not expect to have to fight for the right to become Champions this following season? Or was it the foolish behaviour of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in regards to his comments made towards ex-club doctor Eva Carneiro which set the club off on the wrong path? A lack of transfer activity in the summer could also be pointed at in regards to why Chelsea have struggled so far as their big names keep failing to produce the magic of last season including Eden Hazard who has lacked confidence this term. Last weekend, the London clubs worst performance and result of the season came in the form of a 1-0 home loss to recently promoted side Bournemouth as things could soon escalate if they lose to Porto on Wednesday night which could see the club lose their place in this terms Champions League competition.

Where to improve?

I can’t see it taking a lot of signings to turn Chelsea’s season around. Regardless of recent results Chelsea still possess a world class squad, a squad that will come together eventually and turn a corner in their season. At most Chelsea should look to bring in two top quality signings to revitalise the scenario at Stamford Bridge. In my opinion the most important signing the Blues could make this January is that of a world class striker. It is being widely reported that Chelsea are ready to offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a staggering £215k-a-week contract to bring him to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea look to replace Diego Costa whose attitude this season is becoming a worry for Jose Mourinho and fans alike.

Could Zlatan Ibrahimovich move to Stamford Bridge and salvage Chelsea's failing season?
Could Zlatan Ibrahimovich move to Stamford Bridge and salvage Chelsea’s failing season?

Other signings Chelsea could make this January include Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Tottenham’s Harry Kane or surprise package Jamie Vardy of Leicester who is the Premier League top scorer thus far. In my opinion any of these options would be fantastic for Chelsea due to the fact that the team are making enough chances in matches this season but are failing to put vital opportunities away. Jamie Vardy would perhaps still be a risk though compared to the other names being touted to join Chelsea in January.

The transfer of a new centre back could further be crucial in helping to turn around Mourinho’s and Chelsea’s faltering season. For me, it is time for Jose to start considering bringing in a big footballing name at the back as with captain John Terry getting older, Chelsea need a leader at the back. A marquee signing in this department could help Chelsea massively as the team’s defence looks very shaky at the moment and is a worry going forward for Chelsea fans at the minute.