MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: New signing Javi Garcia of Manchester City is introduced to the crowd prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers at Etihad Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
As the Premier League resumes, some new signings are yet to make their debut in the Premier League. Here are five which could have a decisive impact.
Most of the players who signed for Premier League clubs on deadline day did so after the 12pm cutoff point, meaning they were unable to play in the last round of fixtures. Here are five players that signed in the transfer window that should make their first appearances this weekend, and could be game-changers in the Premier League season.
1. Pablo Hernandez
Of all the signings made in the whole transfer window, Pablo Hernandez was probably the biggest coup that will be able to come in and make an immediate difference. By mid-table standards, he could be a game-breaker, a class above the vast majority of attackers at that level. Swansea City will have to do some tinkering, since they now effectively have two right-wingers and no obvious replacement for Scott Sinclair, but for all their possession play at times last season, they too often lacked a definitive source of creatvity. The wing pairing of Sinclair and Lloyd Dyer provided pace but lacked a reliable end-product, while their midfield excelled at keeping the ball and controlling play, but not always finding the killer pass. Hernandez could give them the creativity they need to move to the next level.
At first, Maicon seems like a superfluous signing for Manchester City, with Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards two good options at right-back, but the Brazilian offers one big advantage over City's current options. Much has been made of Mancini's experimentation with three centre-backs, but it's likely to be needless tinkering, playing around with a winning side for no good reason, let alone the suitability of such a style to the Premier League, with it's abundance of wingers and width. The real advantage is that he provides a hell-for-leather option at fullback, which could prove vital in breaking down a packed opposition in situations where the attacking threat posed is minimal. The Brazilian may be getting on in years, but as a creator and scorer of goals from defence, he remains a huge threat which could help City simply overrun any teams that try to park the bus.
3. Javi Garcia
In jettisoning Nigel De Jong and replacing him with Javi Garcia, Roberto Mancini has given the biggest indication of the direction in which he wants to take Manchester City's evolution. Although both perform the same role, and Javi Garcia is no lightweight, he's undoubtedly a more composed, cerebral defensive midfielder than De Jong's brute force. As well as a sign that Yaya Toure will continue in his box-to-box role, Garcia shows that Manchester City are ready to move from their direct, powerful style of last season into a more disciplined, controlled outfit. He can be somewhat ponderous, and may take time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, but he could prove invaluable in City's European campaign.
4. Alexander Buttner
Patrice Evra's jig is up, if it was not before. His decline is now widely-documented, as his trick of a resurgence in attacking form concealing a shocking weakness in defending has been exposed. In order to provide an alternative, Manchester United have plumped for Buttner, a man of small reputation and in truth, likely too little ability or potential to stake a claim to be United's first-choice left-back for too long. Nonetheless, for this season, he doesn't need to be a world-beater. He merely needs to be competent, and one of United's biggest problems with leaking goals is temporarily plugged. For all the talk of midfield weakness and a cumbersome attack, United lost the title last season in games they should've comfortably won on balance of play, weak goals conceded proving their downfall. Evra's incompetence was one of the prime factors, exacerbated by the lack of solid defensive cover ahead of him as Valencia provides on the opposite flank. If Buttner proves to be merely able, then United have probably saved a few goals and thus a few points for the upcoming season. For a title-chasing team, that miniscule level of improvement usually takes both heavy spending and a heavy risk, but more importantly, it can often be decisive at the end of the season.
5. Hugo Lloris
There has been speculation over whether Hugo Lloris will even be able to dislodge Brad Friedel as Tottenham Hotspur's number one, with Andre Villas-Boas praising the American after Spurs' last fixture. Friedel has been in good form, no doubt about it, and, always a confident keeper, has defied his advancing years with added composure to offset his lagging reflexes. Contrast him with another seemingly ever-present Premier League goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen - Friedel has aged with far more grace, closer to someone like Van der Sar. However, this school of thought neglects one thing - Hugo Lloris is, simply, world-class and should by any measure be a clearly superior option to Friedel in goal. As with all foreign goalkeepers heading to England, there may be some overhyped doubts about his ability to dominate his area and compete in the air, but in shot-stopping and distribution he is undoubtedly a huge upgrade for Tottenham. For France and Lyon, he has gained the vital ability for all top clubs to maintain his concentration for the full 90 minutes even if he only needs to make a handful of saves all game - that could be vital to stop Spurs' bitter defeats against lesser teams.