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English Premier League Transfer Window Preview: Evaluating The Top Teams' Needs

...what is Alex even doing here?
...what is Alex even doing here?

The January transfer window opens in just a couple of days and, while we've been discussing the players that Tottenham Hotspur need ad nauseum, I thought we should take some time to look at what are rivals for the top four are in need of. For the purposes of this post we'll look at each of the Sky Six (excluding Spurs) and Newcastle United.

The January transfer period is always tricky. Usually there are a couple of of big names that change teams. Last season we saw Andy Carrol and Fernando Torres move. These moves are usually for ridiculously high amounts of money. It's for that reason why many, including myself believe it's best to not do much if any business in January. However, it never hurts to strengthen your squad.

Manchester City: See the title of this post? It says NEEDS. Manchester City don't really need anything. They have a deep squad that is packed with talent. Their only worry may be the departure of a couple of players for the African Cup of Nations, but even that should cause only a small hiccup. Regardless, City will spend money. It seems increasingly likely that Eden Hazard will land there. I have no idea where Roberto Mancini will play him or who will be dropped for him, but it's going to happen. I'm surprised they're not looking for an improvement over the likes of Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry. Perhaps Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi.

More Teams After The Jump

Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson has had a lot to deal with this fall. Not only has his side not been on top of the table for much of the campaign, but he's had a host of injuries to key players keep United from looking their best. I think we can all agree that Ferguson made a mistake by not signing a midfielder during the summer transfer period. His team have also been without a true right back for much of the season. Luka Modric would be the ideal Paul Scholes replacement, but there's no Daniel Levy is selling the little Croation. Manchester United may have more luck securing Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo. A solid right back may be a bit more hard to come by. I always suggest that teams by Darijo Srna and United certainly have the resources to tempt the Croatian away from Shakhtar Donetsk, but I doubt he's a realistic target, especially now that Rafael da Silva is healthy again.

Chelsea: The Blues need something. It's hard to say that a team in fourth place has struggled this season, but if you've watched some Chelsea games you can tell that they look out of sorts. Their midfield is sorely missing Michael Essien, the entire defense has struggled at times, and Fernando Torres has continued to be worthless. Having said all that, this team is still playing exceptionally well. The likes of Juan Mata, Didier Drogba, and Daniel Sturridge have played very well this term. In my mind manager Andre Villas-Boas needs two things: a central defender and a striker. It seems like Chelsea have locked up a move for Gary Cahill (LOL) so that checks one thing off the list. Lately, the Blues have been linked with Porto's Hulk. I think that would be a pretty good signing, though an expensive one. Chelsea may also need to look at a right back as the play of Jose Bosingwa and others has been pretty bad. Perhaps Darijo Srna would be tempted by Roman Abramovich's money.

Arsenal: This transfer window Arsenal should buy stock in whatever it is that is keeping Robin Van Persie's hamstring from exploding. Seriously though, Arsenal need more steel in their squad. A new central defender couldn't hurt. Per Mertesacker was supposed to be a big help to this team, but he's looked slow and really poor for most of the season. Additionally, Arsenal sold Cesc Fabregas and replaced him with Mikel Arteta. Just say that out loud and tell me how stupid it sounds. Cruzeiro's Walter Montillo or Marseille's Lucho Gonzalez might not be a bad shout as a Cesc replacement and, after missing out on Gary Cahill, I think Arsenal will pursue Christopher Samba. Sao Paulo's Casemiro could add some of the needed steel in midfield. Those signings and the continued health of Van Persie could make Arsenal very dangerous.

Liverpool: I'm not really sure what to make of Kenny Daglish's team. The Reds have put together a pretty good season so far, but with Luis Saurez set to miss, potentially, 9 games for his racism ban and for flipping off the Fulham fans the going is only going to get tougher. The thing that would benefit Liverpool the most is the return to fitness of Steven Gerrard and the return to form of Andy Carroll. The injury to Lucas Leiva left Liverpool thin, at best, in the defensive midfield slot and I think that is where Daglish and Damien Comolli will focus. Newcastle's Cheik Tiote could be a target as could Porto's Fernando.

Newcastle United: Things had been going so well for the Magpies early in the season. Then disaster struck. In the same game they lost both Steven Taylor and Fabriccio Colocini. Since then Newcastle's form has sputtered and if they don't improve soon they may be in a fierce fight with Stoke City and Everton for a Europa League place. Reinforcements in the center of defense are a must for Alan Pardew's men. I still don't like their fullbacks, so I would strengthen there as well. Additionally, the club will be losing Demba Ba to the African Cup of Nations soon and I don't have much faith in their other strikers carrying the load during his absence (despite what Pardew says). Perhaps a couple of loan signings are all Newcastle will manage in the window. Perhaps a central defender like Sebastien Bassong?