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Top five bargain transfers in the Premier League this season

Ruari Macneil

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With the end of the season approaching rapidly, fans and pundits are now able to honestly review how each individual team and player has performed having seen them over the course of the entire campaign.

Each season, the best and worst transfer from the previous summer and January transfer windows are heavily scrutinised, but which players this season have turned out to be the best bargain buys?
Sead Kolasinac

Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac was picked up by Arsenal on a free transfer last summer after his contract expired with German Bundesliga club Schalke. During his six-year stint with Schalke, the 24-year-old played in a variety of different positions including left-back, centre-back and defensive midfield.
His versatility has been well utilised by Arsene Wenger this season and signing such a complete player on a free was excellent business by the Gunners. Despite a disappointing season for the club all round, Kolasinac has done himself justice through his performances and picked up the Arsenal Player of the Month award in October.
Richarlison

Brazil under-20 international Richarlison joined Watford from Fluminense last summer in a deal worth £11million (Globo Esporte). Although this may appear a hefty fee for a 20-year-old, the winger has more than proved his worth in a Hornets shirt, netting five goals so far, all of which came in his first 12 appearances.
His quality has definitely shone through, and rumours have emerged at various points in the season of interest from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton; testament to how highly rated he is as a young prospect.
Jack Cork

Jack Cork made the switch from Swansea to Burnley for £10million (BBC) after two and a half successful seasons in Wales. The former Chelsea youngster had previously played for Burnley on two occasions, having spent loans there between 2009 and 2011.
Cork seamlessly slotted back into life at Turf Moor and has enjoyed an excellent season under Sean Dyche, playing in every Premier League game so far. Helping Burnley to a probable sixth-placed finish, the midfielder also gained his first call up to the England senior team, earning his debut in November 2017 at the age of 28. For £10million, and given Burnley’s season, Cork’s form definitely includes him in the bargain category.
 
Wayne Rooney

Everton’s season as a whole has been mightily disappointing, especially considering the money spent last summer and expectations at the beginning of the campaign. However, one piece of great business was the re-signing of England’s record goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney.
Rooney left the club at the young age of 18, and spent the last 13 seasons at Old Trafford, writing his name into Premier League folklore. The ex-England captain spent the first stages of the season playing as a centre-forward, however, has since retreated further back and is now usually partnered with Toffees starlet Tom Davies in the centre of midfield.
Rooney has bagged 11 goals for Everton at his first season in Goodison Park since 2004, and adding his experience and quality to the dressing room for nothing in return is most surely a bargain.
Alexis Sanchez

After enduring a tough start to his Manchester United career, Alexis Sanchez has appeared to come into his own in recent matches, inspiring his new side to the FA Cup final and the chance to add more silverware to the club’s rich history. Sanchez cost United nothing in terms of monetary value, however, instead they were able to offload a frustrated star who was simply not fitting into Jose Mourinho’s plans.
The Chilean may be a controversial figure in England after his extended transfer saga when leaving Arsenal, turning down Manchester City to join United, and shocking the nation in the process. One fact remains a constant, however, and that is that Sanchez is by far one of the league’s best players when on form, and Mourinho will be looking to make full use of that next season.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

Arsenal

Three key takeaways from Emery’s Arsenal press conference

Emery is searching for his first win as Arsenal boss.

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Photo: Getty Images

Unai Emery’s Arsenal side travel to face Chelsea this weekend, as they seek to bounce back from defeat to Manchester City last week.

Pep Guardiola’s defending champions secured a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, leaving Arsenal seeking to avoid back-to-back defeats at the start of Emery’s tenure – a tough challenge as the Gunners have not won at Stamford Bridge in the league since 2011.

Ahead of the fierce London derby, we have identified three key takeaways from Emery’s pre-match press conference.

Cech starts again

One of the big talking points, when the team was selected ahead of the game against Manchester City, was the fact that Petr Cech got the nod ahead of summer signing Bernd Leno – and it seems there will be no changes in that aspect for the trip to Chelsea.

Emery’s comments suggest that Cech’s Premier League experience gives the veteran stopper the edge of Leno and the Germany international will have to continue to wait for his competitive debut for the Gunners.

“I am happy with Petr Cech’s performance and he has lots of quality and experience. For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. If [in the future] Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”

Away tactics

While Arsenal suffered defeat against Manchester City, there were aspects of the Gunners performance that caught the eye and Unai Emery wants that momentum to continue in the trip across London to face Chelsea.

It seems Arsenal will not change their set-up for the match away from home but Emery is keen to ensure his side continue to play with the right pace, personality and mentality at Stamford Bridge – where they have the chance to make a statement of intent.

“When we are going to play away I want us to keep our personality and mentality because I think against Man City on Sunday, when we were losing, we kept our speed in the game. I want us to continue that and be competitive in 90 minutes and produce a better performance that Sunday.”

Big game improvements

It’s no secret that Arsenal have struggled in recent years against their ‘big six’ rivals and history at Stamford Bridge is not on their favour. Therefore, it’s clear that the Gunners need to improve in this area – and Unai Emery is aware of that.

The Spaniard’s comments do not necessarily address the latter years under Arsene Wenger but they might as well have. Emery has shown he can play the game in the press conferences but he now needs his side to improve their form on the field.

“We wanted to start well against a great team like Manchester City in front of our fans, but we lost. The result is very big, but it’s also important the way we achieve that. The difficulty is clear but I believe in our players and we need to improve in the biggest games. We lost the first game but I do not want to change our mentality.”

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Arsenal fans want Emery to sell Granit Xhaka after Man City loss

Fans are demanding Arsenal sell Xhaka in the next two weeks.

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Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal fans have made it clear throughout the history of the internet they need someone to be angry at and Granit Xhaka has inherited the crown.

With Arsene Wenger finally out, the Switzerland international has followed the likes of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott as Arsenal’s weekly scapegoat, a title that is tough to shake, and his performance against Manchester City did not help matters.

Poor on the ball and struggling to cope with the Citizens’ quota of stars, fans on social media quickly flocked to criticism the midfielder and demand that Unai Emery sells the former Borussia Monchengladbach man ASAP.

With Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira amongst Emery’s summer acquisitions, Xhaka has plenty of competition for his role in midfield and many fans have made it clear they don’t want to see Xhaka wear the Arsenal shirt once again.

Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and, a few months down the line, another scapegoat may have been identified. For now, it’s best Xhaka avoids logging onto Twitter…

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Emery’s Arsenal conference: Left-back options, Ramsey & further exits

A new era under Emery dawns for Arsenal.

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Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal enter a Premier League season with a new manager for the first time in over two decades, with Unai Emery now at the helm in north London.

The new boss starts life in English football with a baptism of fire as Arsenal host defending champions Manchester City on Sunday, where Emery has five new signings to potentially include in his starting line-up.

Ahead of his Premier League debut, Emery spoke to the press and we picked up three key takeaways from his comments.

Maitland-Niles in defence

Arsenal begin the season with a major issue in defence, as Sead Kolasinac will miss around ten weeks through injury and Nacho Monreal is not back to full fitness after returning from the World Cup with a knee problem.

(Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

That means that young Ainsley Maitland-Niles may be thrown into the deep end due to his versatility, featuring on the left-side of a defence against the Premier League champions. Fortunately, he has experience in this position and Emery is confident he can impress.

“We want to give him confidence and the possibility to play. I’m not sure because I am going to decide tomorrow or on Sunday on the first 11, but Ainsley is the player who started the last match against Lazio.”

Ramsey update

Arsenal fans will have breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the transfer window closed yesterday, as it brought an end to speculation that Aaron Ramsey would be sold. However, it is far from the end of the saga concerning the Wales international.

(Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images for ICC)

With less than 12 months remaining on his contract, Arsenal are fearful that Ramsey could walk for nothing next summer and are working hard behind the scenes to secure the 27-year-old favourite to fresh terms. Unfortunately, Emery did not have a positive update to share.

“That’s not my work. For me it’s very important he stays with us. His experience here in Arsenal and the Premier League is very important and will give us all the information and performances in his quality. Then, the contract is for speaking with the club and the players.”

Three could still leave

The transfer window has come to a close in the Premier League but the European window remains open until the end of the month, while Football League sides also have until the end of August to negotiate loan deals.

(Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Emery named three players that could leave by the end of the month in David Ospina, Carl Jenkinson and Joel Campbell – with goalkeeper Ospina currently the closest to an exit as Besiktas try to complete a deal for the stopper.

Interestingly, Danny Welbeck was omitted from the list despite speculation that a number of sides were keen on his services and that suggests he could still have a part to play this season.

“Today, we had a meeting with the players to close all the possibilities to leave or come with more players. We only have three players: Carl Jenkinson, David Ospina and Joel Campbell, with the possibility to leave.”

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