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Premiership: The Men They Should Have Bought II(a)

By London_Duncan Last edited 114 months ago
Premiership: The Men They Should Have Bought II(a)
GJohnson01.jpg

This time last year, in the final few days before the closure of the international football transfer window, we took a look at where London's Premiership clubs needed strengthening and offered some friendly advice about a player we thought might fill a key squad gap for each of them. One year on we review what actually happened to both clubs and players and make our suggestions for this year's late purchases, once again taking the teams in the order that they finished last season. Later in the week we'll cover Tottenham, West Ham and Fulham, but today we feature Chelsea and Arsenal.

CHELSEA

What was the problem position?

Right back.

What did the club do about it?

We noted José Mourinho's "pathological distrust of Glen Johnson" (pictured - the player, not the distrust) and the England international duly stayed on loan at Portsmouth all season, the Portuguese maestro opting instead to spend £7m on Dutch bruiser Khalid Boulahrouz who duly clumped his way through a Baker's dozen assorted Premiership games at various backline berths as Chelsea defenders dropped like nine-pins. Boulahrouz has now suffered Johnson's fate and been shipped off on loan, this time to Sevilla who had the temerity not to hand over direct replacement and firm Chelsea target Daniel Alves in return, though we are glad to see that the Blues have listened to us closely and now pay more attention to the playing staff of clubs they're already doing business with. Johnson has now returned from purdah, but apparently only so that he can be sent packing once and for all. Midfielder Michael Essien was used in the position against Johnson's old mates on Saturday and Barcelona's Juliano Belletti has been drafted in to offer Paulo Ferreira competition at that spot.

What happened to the guy we suggested?

Luis Miguel was a stalwart member of Valencia's defence as they battled to fourth in La Liga and went out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, conceding a desperately late winner to, err, Chelsea...

Who are we suggesting this year?

José announced the other day that he's only in the market to lose a player now before the start of the season (he's glaring at you, Glen). Given some shrewd summer acquisitions it's almost ludicrous to suggest that Chelsea have a gap anywhere in their squad, but if they lack anything it's someone to reliably replicate the quiet, protective job that Claude Makelele does for a defence, especially as the doors of the Chelsea back four look set to revolve for a while to come at least. 24 year-old Etienne Didot of Rennes played a key role in keeping his club's goals conceded column to less than one a game last season. Even though he's just signed a new contract we reckon Roman would have the money to persuade the Rennais to part with their club captain and he'd come a good deal cheaper than many of Chelsea's regular bench warmers.

ARSENAL

What was the problem position?

Goalkeeper

What did the club do about it?

Very little. They've persisted with the recently hapless Jens Lehmann who every Premiership player now knows you only have to gently barge into to get his dander up and Manuel Almunia, who we've been impressed by when we've seen him, has remained as the clear back up. Arsene Wenger has signed 22 year-old Polish international Lukasz Fabianski, but has already indentified him as 'one for the future'.

What happened to the guy we suggested?

Relegated to the Nice bench behind French Under-21 keeper Hugo Lloris, Damien Gregorini moved on to Nantes in January where he took a while to settle in as replacement for Oliver Sorin who had departed for Auxerre, though Gregorini did manage a clutch of crucial clean sheets in the run-in as Nantes gradually made their Championnat Ligue 1 status safe.

Who are we suggesting this year?

With five games gone this season Nancy are top of the French league and they have yet to concede a goal. Unfortunately, Gregorini is once more riding the pine and it's 27 year old Gennaro Bracigliano who's starring between the sticks. Arsene could do worse than look his way, but may find the need for a reliable goalscorer even more pressing. John Utaka, currently enjoying his start at Portsmouth, bagged 11 for Rennes last season, while a dynamic duo scored one more each for lowly Le Mans. Guinean international Ismael Bangoura has moved on over the summer to Dynamo Kiev, but his strike partner Grafite, who specialises in late goals as an impact substitute, is still with the club and has already nabbed two in five games in this campaign. The stumbling block might be that he is a Brazilian with only one cap for his country. If he somehow qualifies for an EU passport he sounds like just the backup that Adebayor and Van Persie could do with.

Picture of Glen Johnson via Joe Gazman's Flickr stream.

Last Updated 28 August 2007