As we’ve all waited so long for fresh transfers and with January appearing to be a pivotal month, I thought it warranted it’s own blog. Various players have departed for the Afcon which also plays a part – including Salah. It’s all a strange kind of month as we start with a round of FA Cup fixtures, which are always a rotation nightmare and then it’s a fairly short month despite some fixtures being rearranged.
Either way, I’ll be looking to attack the month and do what I can to make up lost ground.
First things first, we must consider the fixtures for month. Check out the usual spreadsheet to see these mapped out for the top clubs
It clearly shows us that Man City are light on fixtures with only two in the Premier League and an FA Cup fixture where rotation is usually heavy. This instantly puts them a fixture behind Man Utd and West Ham and two fixtures behind Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester and Spurs.
So that’s fixture frequency covered. However, we must also consider fixture difficulty. Man Utd and West Ham have the best fixtures but I certainly don’t trust Man Utd to do much against anyone at the moment. I do like the look of West Ham’s fixture against Norwich though. Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea and Spurs all have the most games but Spurs and Chelsea in particular have some tough games. Liverpool and Leicester have some nice fixtures but it remains to be seen how Liverpool will perform without Mane and Salah and Leicester have been fairly inconsistent.
So where does this leave us in terms of transfers?
One thing is certain, Salah needs to come out, so let’s address this first. The obvious replacement for me is Jota, the points he has on the board to date speak for themselves and Liverpool do have a decent number of fixtures. Other strikers in contention for me can only be Kane, Son, Lukaku or Antonio. I may well look to bring one of these in as well but I think Jota is my first choice as a replacement for Salah. There are question marks against how Spurs will perform in some tough fixtures – they were poor against Chelsea and despite having good fixtures Antonio can have lengthy spells without a goal. Lukaku could be considered but with everything that’s been going on with him, I’m not sure about putting him in at the moment.
From here, I think the next biggest factor is who is starting in the FA Cup fixtures. Ideally we are going to be looking for the big points scorers during the season so far who are key players for their clubs, that we weren’t expecting to start. Man City and Man Utd are the only teams with only 1 fixture this weekend, I’ll almost certainly be looking at Sancho even if he does start in the FA Cup as he’s done very little for me. I may even look at De Bruyne if he’s not starting. Walker is another one I’ll be considering removing. What’s most concerning is that this would be 4 transfers off the bat but I may need to ride my luck this month. The players I’ll be looking to bring in will depend on those starting line ups, however, Bowen is a high priority for me with West Ham facing Norwich midweek. Sterling might also be worth considering, but Man City’s lack of fixtures puts me off slightly. Maddison appears great value at 3.4m, as does Tielemans. Moura has been hard to overlook in recent weeks but I have a feeling if I put him back in that he will start to blank with difficult fixtures on the horizon. I could also look to bring in a third striker – Son is the player I’m most tempted by but again those fixtures for Spurs do put me off and they are out of Europe if we are thinking longer term. Kane might use up too many funds but he has to be considered as well. I could also consider keeping a back 4, and even Cancelo would be within budget if I took out Salah and Sancho for Jota and Bowen. However, if he doesn’t start in the FA, he will only have two fixtures for the month. Alexander-Arnold is another option to consider but he’s got a big price tag and would probably need to come back out again for Salah when he returns.
That’s my thinking so far, it’s a bit of a ramble so if you’ve lost track of where I’m thinking about taking the team, in summary:
Salah is likely to come out for Jota. Sancho is likely to come out for Bowen. Walker out for any defender or striker worth 6.2m or less. It will all come down to who is starting in the FA Cup for me. I’d be interested in hearing what other people have planned in the comments.