The transfer window has been packed full of action; all but Tottenham have already brought in at least one new signing, and with well over six weeks of activity still to come, it surely won't be long before they join their rivals in dipping into the market. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool have all been extremely busy this summer and the title race yet again looks set to be a closely fought affair. How, though, have they stacked up against each other in terms of the biggest strides made this summer?
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates was a real statement of intent from manager Arsène Wenger, who looks to have disregarded his philosophy of developing young players in favour of the odd marquee signing. He has now made two incredibly opportunistic transfers in the last 12 months; last year it was Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid after Gareth Bale's arrival from Tottenham, and this year it was Sanchez from Barcelona, with the Luis Suarez deal imminent. If the Chilean's quality wasn't already abundantly clear, his performances in Brazil will have convinced any doubters.
Goals against Australia and Brazil came either side of a solitary assist at the World Cup as he proved himself accomplished as a lone striker. Fans in England may have previously questioned whether the 1.68m attacker could do so for the Gunners, but he has shown that he will be the genuine alternative to Olivier Giroud up front that Arsenal have been crying out for. Averaging 5.5 dribbles per game at the World Cup - second only to Lionel Messi (6.6) - Sanchez is a different option but still provides serious quality in attack that could give the Emirates club the boost they need to put in a stronger title challenge.
While the incoming Chilean star addresses one longstanding problem at Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have looked to sort out their issues, too. A replacement for Paul Scholes has been a necessity at Old Trafford for years now, and Ander Herrera has come in to be that man. Five goals and five assists as he played a key role in Athletic Bilbao's 4th-placed finish shows his contribution going forwards, while he also averaged 3.1 tackles per game. Perhaps his 80.6 per cent pass success rate isn't quite up to Scholes' standards, but the hope for United will be that Herrera plays more laterally than horizontally and his passes will thus be more risky. He attempted 41 through balls last season; a full 27 more than any United player (14), and his creativity could be of great help to a United side that were incredibly uninspiring last season.
Chelsea did unbelievably well to recoup nearly £50m on David Luiz, and have spent that wisely so far, with Filipe Luis filling in the Ashley Cole-shaped void at left-back, Diego Costa signing up front and Cesc Fabregas joining the creative ranks in midfield. The latter returns to the Premier League, where he enjoyed the best years of his career, perfectly suited to England's top tier. In fact, despite having been absent for the last three seasons, he has completed more through balls (64 in 52 appearances) than any other player over the last five Premier League campaigns. To put that into context, David Silva is second in this regard with 62 accurate through balls in 130 games.
Goals have been Chelsea's real problem in recent years, though, with their three strikers last season combining to net just 19 Premier League goals between them. With Costa having scored 27 league goals alone last season, it is hoped that he will be the man to finish off the many chances Fábregas, Eden Hazard and co. will undoubtedly create.
At Liverpool, circumstances are rather different, star man Suarez having recently departed for Spain, so it is difficult to know quite how next season will pan out for them. As Spurs showed last summer, replacing one expensive player with multiple potential stars has its risks, and the Reds will be hoping young Serbian winger Lazar Markovic can go some way to easing the pain of Suarez's departure. Markovic was the second youngest goalscorer in the Europa League knockout stages last season, and there is certainly potential for success there, but relative to the dealings of Liverpool's title rivals, Markovic's signing pales in comparison.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.
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- Manchester United
- Alexis Sanchez
- Luis Suarez