The Premier League has seen some impressive new arrivals this summer around numerous clubs.
Two of the usual big-spenders, Chelsea and Manchester City, have kept up with their busy transfer reputations, bringing in big names such as Willian, Andre Schürrle, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo.
But there was one team between July and September that was busier than ever, spending £109million on new players. Spurs did manage to recoup £85million of that hefty sum through the sale of a certain left-footed Welsh winger, but the result of this substantial outlay so far has been a jumbled squad of un-adapted, expensive and ineffective foreigners.
Up in Liverpool, a much more balanced approach has been taken, with Brendan Rodgers quietly making some very shrewd signings.
Once Rodgers’ main transfer priority of retaining Liverpool’s Luis Suarez had effectively been accomplished after the continual rejection of Arsenal’s insultingly low bids, the Welsh manager began to dig into the transfer market himself, and came up with some valuable finds.
Rather than spending big on unproven, young or foreign players such as Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, Rodgers went for players with Premier League experience, which has allowed for a very swift gelling of the squad. This goes a long way to explaining the disparity between Liverpool and Tottenham with regards to their league starts this year, highlighted by the Reds’ 5-0 thrashing of Spurs yesterday.
First, Rodgers replaced the increasingly inconsistent Pepe Reina with Simon Mignolet, a 'keeper who had already spent three formative years in the Premier League with Sunderland and has thus made an excellent start to the season.
He then cleverly supplemented the squad with further top-division experience through the signings of Kolo Toure and Victor Moses, both of whom cost the club nothing in transfer fees and have been playing the Premier League for many years.
This reflects Rogers’ attitude last January, when he invested the relatively small sum of £12million in Daniel Sturridge, who had been playing in the Premier League for seven and a half years at three different clubs before joining the Reds.
Compare this with Spurs’ incoming players and it's easy to see why Liverpool’s squad has been able to excel from the off this season. Undoubtedly a wealth of talent arrived at Tottenham this summer in the form of Eriksen, Lamela, Paulinho, Capoue, Soldado, Chiriches and Chadli, but none of these players have any previous experience of competing in the top division of England.
As a result, Spurs have yet to click as team, with Soldado scoring just one goal from open-play in the league so far and record signing Erik Lamela has only manage to start just two domestic games.
It is certainly indicative of their flawed transfer tactics that their shining light this season has been Andros Townsend as he earned an England call-up- a player who has spent the last four years on loan at various English clubs, including a final year in the Premier League with QPR.
One might wonder why this hasn’t happened to the same extent at other clubs, such as Manchester City and Chelsea, who also made large investments before the season began.
The difference is purely in the number of players expected to seamlessly slot in as regular first-team players. Both of these teams have bought expensive foreign talent, but only one or two of these players have immediately been thrust into the first XI.
Recently signed foreigners such as De Bruyne, Schürrle and Willian are being made to wait in the wings at Chelsea behind the previously established trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar, whereas four new Spurs acquisitions started in their recent 5-0 loss to Liverpool.
Liverpool on the other hand have effectively kept their starting line-up from last season, with the exceptions of Mamadou Sakho, who has gradually settled in well alongside teammates who already know how to play alongside each other, and Mignolet, who has previous Premier League experience and requires less integration as a goalkeeper.
A similar effect can be observed at Arsenal, where the only major addition has been the world-class Mesut Özil, leaving a virtually untouched first eleven that has perhaps finally developed into a genuine title contending team.
Among many other factors, including the unstoppable Luis Suarez, Rogers’ shrewd signings have allowed Liverpool to make their best Premier League start since 2008/09, when the club went on to finish just four points behind champions Manchester United.
The team has been allowed to gel comfortably in comparison to a Spurs side that is noticeably fractured and unformed. This is down to the tactical nous of the Welsh manager, who has balanced his shopping list perfectly to bring in adaptable recruits. It's no wonder AVB's services were relinquished.
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