You don’t have to look too far back to remember a time when the 2012/13 Premier League season was nothing more than a dream.
A disappointing European Championships (for England, at least) came to the usual conclusion, before a brief summer of discontent without football followed.
However, the summer transfer window arrived to lighten the mood, and all of the major clubs in the English top flight got down to some sort of business.
And, after two full month of football, GiveMeFootball decided it was time to assess the winners and losers for each club so far. As it’s only October, players still have time to turn their fortunes around, but it’s fair to say that some have started better than others in their new home.
Santi Cazorla (£16.5m from Malaga)
Arsene Wenger did it again with the signing of Cazorla, a relatively unknown quantity in La Liga compared to some of the bigger-name players at Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Whilst the Gunners didn’t sign the 27-year-old on the cheap, £16.5 million looks like a good price for Arsenal to play, if some of his performances are anything to go by at the Emirates Stadium this term.
Olivier Giroud (£13m from Montpellier)
The French international was top scorer in Ligue 1 last season, and arrived in north London with a big reputation this summer.
However, the 26-year-old has struggled to make a major impact thus far, and whilst some of the recent signs have been positive, Giroud hasn’t been as affective as the other summer signing at Arsenal – Lukas Podolski.
Eden Hazard (£32m from Lille)
There is no doubt that Chelsea were the biggest winners in the summer transfer market, and Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard is the jewel in the crown at Stamford Bridge.
Brazilian midfielder Oscar has also been superb under Roberto Di Matteo, but it’s the much-hyped Hazard who has lived up to the billing on the King’s Road.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£7m from Marseille)
The 23-year-old full-back was expected to make the position his own on arrival at Chelsea, but has only features twice in all competitions so far this season.
Branislav Ivanovic’s form has kept the Spaniard out of the side, and whilst the start hasn’t been great, Azpilicueta could easily grow into the role over time.
Joe Allen (£15m from Swansea)
Once Brendan Rodgers arrived at Anfield in the summer, there was always a chance that Allen would follow his manager to Merseyside.
Sure enough, Liverpool splashed out £15 million on the player. It’s proved to be good business, with Allen one of the top performers in a difficult start to the campaign.
Fabio Borini (£10m from Roma)
Where Allen has thrived in a 4-3-3 formation, Italian forward Borini has struggled to make his mark in a wide position for the Reds.
A lack of goals hasn’t helped the former Chelsea youngster become a hit with the fans, and a broken ankle will now put the player on the Liverpool sidelines for months.
Javi Garcia (£16m from Benfica)
Given the amount of money at the disposal of Roberto Mancini, business was particularly light at the City of Manchester Stadium, with Javi Garcia a late coup from Portugal.
Whilst the 25-year-old hasn’t set the world on fire for Manchester City, he’s been solid when called upon, and even scored a vital equaliser in the draw at Stoke.
Jack Rodwell (£12m from Everton)
Signed from Everton, the young Englishman has featured six times in all competitions this season – more than Garcia. However, his struggles on the pitch have been well-documented, and the Manchester City manager will not give the 21-year-old much time to settle.
Robin van Persie (£24m from Arsenal)
Signed from rivals Arsenal, the Dutch international has instantly scored goals at Old Trafford, including a hat-trick in the 3-2 win against Southampton.
More importantly, the Manchester United attacking quartet of Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez is starting to take shape, giving manager Sir Alex Ferguson plenty of options up-front.
Alex Buttner (£4m from Vitesse Arnhem)
Whilst Van Persie is the bigger name, Ferguson will be hoping that Buttner could be a potential replacement for Patrice Evra in the future.
However, his start has been relatively up-and-down, scoring in the win against Wigan but failing to impress in the 3-2 win over Braga in the Champions League.
Jan Vertonghen (£10m from Ajax)
Spurs won the race to sign the Belgian defender in the summer, and Vertonghen hasn’t let manager Andre Villas-Boas since his arrival at White Hart Lane.
A goal against Manchester United helped endear him to the supporters even more, although it’s his versatility at the back which has been particularly impressive.
Hugo Lloris (£13m from Lyon)
There is little doubt that Lloris will be the No.1 over time for Tottenham Hotspur, but he's been unable to force his way past Brad Friedel so far this season.
Performances in the Europa League have been good, but the French international will need to play more to prove himself to the fans.