The January transfer window is coming to a close, with not many major moves to report.
As expected, many clubs opted to sell-off players during the mid-season period instead of spending loads of money to improve their respective squads.
Despite the lack of action on the transfer side of things, there were several major stories across the league over the past month.
Let’s take a look at some of the big ones.
Arsenal and Mesut Ozil Split, Ushering in a New Wave of Youth Talent
Arsenal looked dead in the water just a few weeks ago, but after a huge win against Chelsea, they have bounced back into the top half of the table. Their recent excellence has been spurred on by an infusion of youth talent, lead by Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. Some of these younger academy players have earned opportunities on the biggest stage because of Mikel Arteta’s pressure on the board to sell the club’s older players.
Three of the club’s longest-tenured players, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, were sold to make room for a new era of youth at Arsenal. Former Gunners’ superstar Mesut Ozil also asked for his contract to be terminated and got his wish after a long period of unhappiness with the club’s management. He promptly signed with Turkish giant, Fenerbahce. Ozil moving on signals a change in attitude for Arsenal.
He may not be near the top of the table this season, but their youth talent will gain experience and be ready to contend soon.
Lampard Out, Tuchel In
At the start of the season, if you told me Frank Lampard would be sacked before the end of January, I’d have called you crazy. Chelsea was coming off their biggest transfer window ever, signing more than 200 million worth of new players. Lampard was the man hand-picked by Roman Abramovich to lead a new crop of Chelsea youngsters to the top of the Premier League. He had the trust of the board and, more importantly, the players. No one could have predicted the utter collapse that occurred over the past six weeks. Chelsea endured a horrid stretch of matches, one that likely cost the Blues a chance at the title and Lampard his job.
Former PSG manager Thomas Tuchel will now take the club’s reins and have quite a hole to dig them out of. Chelsea currently sites in 8th place, tied with Arsenal, who was flirting with relegation earlier in the season. However, Tuchel may be the perfect man for the job. Unlike Lampard, he had loads of managerial experience and is known for emphasizing creativity rather than strict tactical play. In many ways, he is the “anti-Lampard.” Chelsea needs a bit of a boost, and it’s quite possible Tuchel will provide one.
Wolves Sign a New Striker but Continue to Slip Down the Table
Wolves have been one of the more exciting clubs to watch in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons. The small-town club finished in seventh last year, just missing out on a Europa League spot. This season has been a bit different, though. Wolves have struggled to score goals, likely due to the extended absence of star striker Raul Jimenez after he suffered a brutal head injury back in November.
After Jimenez went out, Wolves dropped in the table and currently sit in 13th. New striker Willian Jose was signed on loan, but he hasn’t been able to help solve the club’s offensive woes so far.
A Season of Shocking Results Continues
This season’s crazy results continued as the Premier League was filled with upsets in January. Just about every match week, one or two results were head-scratchers. Liverpool losing to Burnley at home may have been the most shocking. After all, the Reds hadn’t lost at Anfield in almost four years before that match.
Despite all of the stats favoring their opponent, Burnley could sneak out of Liverpool with three points, earning one of the biggest wins in the club’s long history. And then, on Wednesday, Sheffield United stunned Man United at Old Trafford for only their second win of the season.
The unpredictability of this Premier League season continues something that any neutral football fan should be thrilled by.
Featured Image: Sport24