LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: Eden Hazard of Chelsea breaks with the ball to run through and set up Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea for the fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Reading at Stamford Bridge on August 22, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
We take you through the needs, wants, and likely fates of all 20 Premier League teams as the transfer deadline approaches on Friday.
The transfer deadline is rapidly approaching, and there's still plenty of business to be done. With the season underway, it's more than apparent that reinforcements are needed basically everywhere -- so what at the teams going to do about it? Embark on a merry journey thought the needs, wants, and likely fates of the 20 Premier League teams this Friday.
They need: The departure of Alex Song means Arsenal could use a midfielder. A striker would be nice too, as they've looked unlikely to score in either of their first two games. They could also use defensive cover, particularly at full-back, particularly at left-back. Whether Arsene Wenger will admit any of this is a different story.
They'll get: They've been heavily linked to Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, and Yann M'Vila in the window, and indeed deadline day, but each looks less and less likely as time passes. Wenger probably has money from the song deal, so expect a wild lash out on a midfielder or two as deadline day approaches, much the same as last year. I see a pattern emerging....
They need: Pretty much everything. Despite Paul Lambert's best efforts, Villa look like a team of disinterested strangers at the moment, and they need good players of any description who can come in and improve the team immediately. If you had to pick one, you might opt for the fact that it would be unwise to have an entire team relying on one player for goals: a foil for Darren Bent must be found.
They'll get: Christian Benteke looks very likely to be that foil for Bent, while Middlesbrough defender Joe Bennett is also likely to make a move. Unfortunately for Villa fans that seems like all they'll be doing.
They need: After taking a machine-gun approach to the transfer window this summer, Chelsea have somehow managed to build a squad that lacks a proper midfield. Frank Lampard continues to decline, John Obi Mikel continues to divide opinion, Michael Essien appears to have vanished off the face of the earth, and Ramires is too ill-disciplined to operate without a foil. All of Chelsea's other midfielders have to play further forward, which leaves them with the untested Oscar. They shouldn't struggle for goals, but they may struggle to control games against better teams.
They'll get: It's unlikely Chelsea will get anyone after the money they've spent in this window. No midfielders have been linked, which suggests that the club are either happy to go into battle with what they have, or Roberto di Matteo has a masterplan up his sleeve.
They need: With Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith, and Nikica Jelavic, Everton's longstanding weakness in the striking department is finally over, but they must look elsewhere: their midfield has been weakened over the past window or two, and Sylvain Distin can't go on forever.
They'll get: Oddly, it seems David Moyes has decided to disregard the above and go for another striker anyway. M'Baye Niang was suggested, but they appear to have missed the boat on that one, while a move for Kevin Doyle has no chance of happening due to the fact that Wolves will likely charge a ridiculous amount of money for him. An offer to Michael Owen is probably more likely.
They need: Players that aren't forwards. Fulham have an utterly ludicrous lineup in that department, and should probably start focusing on matters elsewhere. Their transfer activity, however, is likely to depend on if anyone leaves the club: Moussa Dembele looks certain to head to Tottenham, so some sort of replacement will be desperately needed. Clint Dempsey, strangely, now looks likely to stay, although Fulham could easily afford to lose the USA international, despite his recent imperious form.
They'll get: Difficult to say. Kieran Richardson has been linked, but that would only be spending a fraction of the Dembele money -- accordingly, as they'll get only a fraction of the player in return. Nobody else has been heavily linked: Fulham are probably either keeping their powder dry for January or recouping some of their outlay.
They need: Their midfield's sorted, Fabio Borini gives them enough forward options, so we're probably looking at defenders, or at least someone who will make sure the likelihood that Martin Skrtel will have to play left-back is kept to a minimum. Another goalkeeper to give Pepe Reina a bit of a hint might not be unwelcome, either.
They'll get: Maybe a defender, if they're lucky. Brendan Rodgers spoke of wanting to get his transfer business done early, and the loan move for Nuri Sahin could be the last they make. They really do need defensive cover, though -- even if it's just a loan.
They need: More defensive cover would still be nice. Jack Rodwell is more of a midfielder than a center-back, and Roberto Mancini will be keen to avoid having to rely on Stefan Savic at any point in the season. The lack of defensive cover is the most obvious advantage their rivals have over them.
They'll get: Scott Sinclair and Theo Walcott have both been linked, with the former seeming by far the most likely to sign on deadline day. A move for Matija Nastasic of Fiorentina has also been suggested, with Savic moving to the Viola as part of the deal. There have also been suggestions of a move for Inter's Maicon, but we'd take that with a pinch of salt.
They need: A midfielder would still be nice. The club was linked to Moussa Dembele before it allowed Spurs to make their move, and were also linked to Mexican star Hector Herrera. Either would seem to fit United's system
They'll get: Likely no one, and they still have players to leave. Dimitar Berbatov will almost certainly be off, mostly likely to Fiorentina, which may be one of the most fitting marriages of player and club since El Hadji-Diouf and Leeds United. There are strong rumours that Nani could be leaving too, perhaps to Russia. Nonetheless, incoming transfer activity cannot be ruled out, particularly with Ferguson's odd penchant for wild stabs in the dark in recent summers.
They need: Nothing in particular, but they still need players. Newcastle have a very well-balanced squad with a strong spine, but could still go for some additional wide options or defensive cover to reinforce their ambitions as top-four hopefuls.
They'll get: Probably nobody, unless it's a move totally out of the blue to ask a player from a mid-table club to exchange one bench for another. They've gone about their modest business pretty quietly so far, and they doesn't look likely to change today or tomorrow.
They need: Norwich look at high risk of suffering second-season syndrome. Last year their squad was fresh and exciting, but the same group of players could easily look hopelessly out of their depth. There aren't any areas of the pitch they couldn't do with strengthening.
They'll get: Worryingly, there's very little to go on. Lucas Biglia has been rumoured on loan, and the Argentine would surely be an improvement over Norwich's present set of midfielders. Otherwise, they need to strengthen desperately, otherwise they could be in trouble.
They need: Good footballers who aren't over the hill. QPR look in terrible danger at present, and Mark Hughes has been forced to go against his nature and sign players with whom he hasn't worked at three previous clubs. Another striker, more defenders, more midfielders ... well, there's not really any position QPR can look at as being entirely ready right now.
They'll get: Julio Cesar is a huge coup for the West Londoners, but they need outfield players. They haven't been linked to many players, but expect a last-gasp flurry of the unwanted and the overpriced from all sorts of clubs as deadline day looms. The ace up their sleeve could end up being the return of Argentina playmaker Alejandro Faurlin, still possibly their best player. So good, in fact, that the club have been linked with a move for another Argentine in his mould just in case -- Rubin Kazan's Cristian Ansaldi.
They need: Nothing desperately. The Royals have a well-balanced squad, which, if carefully managed, should be enough to keep them safe. You can never have too many options or backup, but Reading have already spent this summer, and are unlikely to have any more departures to fund further activity.
They'll get: Probably nothing. Brian McDermott has already stated that his business is done and further moves are unlikely, and it's not for us to question the big man.
They need: Defenders, mostly. There's a risk their current ones could be found out in the Premier League, while their midfield looks relatively secure, and Emmanuel Mayuka should lessen their need to boost their forward-line.
They'll get: The biggest suggestion for the Saints is that the much-hyped move for Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez could be back on. A hugely exciting signing, it's likely he'll have a price to match, with the cost estimated to be near £15m. That seems like a big gamble for Southampton to make -- their squad doesn't look that strong -- but it would certainly be a big statement of intent from the South-coast club.
They need: In transfer previews of yore, the usual suggestion was that Tony Pulis required more technical players to facilitate the transition from long-ball outfit into a proper football team. Now, it's apparent that this transition was never going to happen. Stoke are Stoke, so they may as well go for better versions of what they already have. They could use a better striker and some other options on the wing. Everything else is solid enough for now.
They'll get: Steven N'Zonzi has been linked, and while not a position Stoke need to strengthen urgently, he should be an interesting player because, whilst his hulking, brutish frame ensures he'll probably not get the same treatment Wilson Palacios has, he can also play a bit. Likely to be expensive, but the youngster undoubtedly has potential and could be more than worth it. The other big rumor is Michael Owen, a deal that would make obvious but limited sense.
They need: Sunderland are no longer in any dire need for anything following their signing of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson. A creative midfielder or some more defensive cover would be nice, but you wouldn't expect them to go too far out of their way for it.
They'll get: Probably nothing. Fletcher and Johnson were costly, and with no gaping holes in their squad, they have a strong team which should do well. That's probably that for the Black Cats.
They need: Some excellent buys so far this summer have left Swansea, in contrast to fellow promoted over-achievers Norwich, looking like a genuine top-half outfit. They could still use some defensive cover both at the back and in midfield, however, as well as an alternative to Danny Graham up front.
They'll get: That depends on Scott Sinclair. The Swans have rejected one bid for him, but it's still likely that he'll leave, so they'll be in a hurry to find a replacement for him. Other than that, there's very little to go on -- some proven and cheap backup would be ideal, but where they'll find it is anyone's guess.
They need: A lot. Luka Modric has been sold, transfer targets have been rumored to no avail, and the club could be one of the biggest buyers between now and the end of the window. A goalkeeper and another midfielder will be near-certainties, while they could also do with more defensive and forward options.
They'll get: Hugo Lloris and Maarten Stekelenburg have both been heavily linked, and the former is looking most likely at the time of writing. Leandro Damiao has been a tedious and long-running saga, and it remains to be seen whether Spurs will make the plunge. Other mooted transfers are exciting indeed: Shakhtar's Douglas Costa, Porto's Joao Moutinho, and CSKA Moscow's Alan Dzagoev will all give Spurs fans happy dreams. Andre Villas-Boas has to get this one right: Spurs haven't settled well into his new style of playing so far, so he needs to bring in players who can make a difference immediately.
They need: West Brom have a sensible and balanced squad that screams mid-table, which will probably suit them down to the ground. Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long are two good strikers, and they are options-rich elsewhere. Their midfield could probably do with an upgrade, but it's hard to see an obvious upgrade to be made.
They'll get: Not much. Steve Clarke's business is probably done, and he's inherited a better squad than people seem to be giving him credit for, deploying it wisely to achieve two excellent results to kick off his reign at The Hawthorns. Cristian Ansaldi has been linked, who looks like he could be ideal, but they could have to fight QPR for the Rubin Kazan player.
They need: Not anything urgently, but some fullback cover and a bit of guile to their midfield or forward-line wouldn't go amiss. Matt Jarvis is one move to address the latter, but in their last game West Ham showed that their backline could use an upgrade.
They'll get: Ajax's Miralem Sulejmani has been linked, and the Serbian winger could be an excellent buy for the East London club. Able to play in a variety of positions and possessing pace and skill, he would give West Ham a tremendous threat out wide with Matt Jarvis. It seems Sam Allardyce is focusing on forward players in the window, with no defenders seriously linked to the club.
They need: Like fellow traditional slow starters Everton, Wigan have decided to start this season by not being mind-blowingly awful, and their squad looks like it's just about good enough to stay up once again. Hugo Rodallega was their big departure, and Arouna Kone looks to be a capable replacement. Money is increasingly tight at the club, but another striker couldn't hurt, particularly after the departure of Victor Moses.
They'll get: Almost certainly nothing. Roberto Martinez has commented on Wigan's "strength in depth," and looks pleased to go into battle with what he has. After Moses' sale, that could be a risky plan, and it's likely that Martinez will probably bring in at least one player. Honduras international Roger Espinoza is the most likely, but there are also suggestions they could splash out on Lee Chung-Yong, who was mysteriously allowed to stay at Bolton this summer.