Premier League clubs' Transfer Window to-do list - Part III
In the final part of this mini series we look at the Premier League's last 6 teams alphabetically to discuss where each may need to bolster their ranks in the January transfer window.
It's been an inconsistent first half to the season for Stoke but most would also consider their continued progress encouraging, despite sitting 11th having finished the 2013/14 campaign in ninth. Mark Hughes has effectively changed the playing style whilst not neglecting the side's obvious strengths prior to his tenure, but the Potters have found it hard to string results together, with the final two results of last year representing their first back-to-back wins of the campaign.
The likes of Bojan and, prior to injury, Victor Moses have added a new dimension to Stoke's attack but their defensive solidity has perhaps been compromised a little. Hughes' side have conceded the most goals from set pieces this season and have a weakness from WhoScored.com in turn. Suggesting that they may need to add height to their backline may seem laughable but a higher quality partner for captain Shawcross may be advisable.
Recent reports linking them with securing a move for Bayer Leverkusen's 6'4" centre-back Philipp Wollscheid make sense, with the club seemingly moving quickly to rectify the problems they have encountered thus far.
The Black Cats' underlying problem is as clear as day. Although they fell to an utterly humiliating 8-0 defeat to Southampton earlier in the season in the main Gus Poyet's side have been hard to beat. With just 18 goals scored, however, only Burnley and Villa have found the back of the net on fewer occasions despite the fact that six Sunderland players have scored more than once in the league.
While most fans of the Wearside outfit and indeed neutrals will attest to the fact that Steven Fletcher is a decent top-flight striker there is no avoiding the fact that the Scot has scored in just 2 of his 16 Premier League appearances this season.
With Connor Wickham having failed to continue the sort of goalscoring form that ensured the Black Cats' survival at the end of last season and Jozy Altidore being Jozy Altidore they need reinforcements up front, with 'finishing scoring chances' key among their weaknesses according to WhoScored.
Garry Monk continues to pick up results with Swansea having settled into life at the helm of the club, making the transition from player to manager in a steady and impressive manner. The Welsh outfit find themselves in a strong position in the top half of the table but the young boss will want to add to his side if Swansea are to push for another European campaign next season.
Top scorer Wilfried Bony's immediate future is clear for now in that he has travelled to play at the African Cup of Nations but the striker may need replacing before too long if rumours are to be believed. Nevertheless, for the time being if there is one weakness within the Swansea side it may come in midfield, with Ki Sung-Yeung the only man to have cemented a place behind Gylfi Sigurdsson.
A more effective defensive midfielder may be on Monk's wish list, with Leon Britton (6.60) and Jonjo Shelvey's (6.61) ratings from WhoScored suggesting that more quality is needed.
One of the in-form sides in the Premier League right now, fresh off the back of a convincing win over league leaders and London rivals Chelsea, it's fair to say that Tottenham are at their highest point thus far under Mauricio Pochettino. Indeed, it's been far from plain sailing for Spurs, who have turned to a number of their youngsters in the absence of form from players brought to the club for considerable fees.
Harry Kane has no doubt stolen the headlines but the input of the likes of Mason and Bentaleb in recent weeks shouldn't be underestimated. That said, with realistic aspirations of a Champions League finish and the likes of Paulinho, Capoue and Dembele now looking short of confidence, fielding the aforementioned young pairing against Europe's finest would certainly be deemed a risk.
It seems ludicrous to suggest that Spurs should sign ANOTHER midfielder but ridding themselves of the deadwood building at White Hart Lane could free up space for more quality in that department. Given that Spurs are deemed 'very weak' at 'stopping opponents from creating chances' a higher quality of defensive protection is perhaps still a necessity.
West Bromwich Albion
Sitting one place and one point above the relegation zone, it is the job of new West Brom manager Tony Pulis to ensure that he beats the drop for the second season and in turn protects his own record of having never been relegated as a manager. It's not quite the great escape that was ahead of him when Pulis took charge at Palace but the Baggies are in a precarious position to say the least and the new boss has already confirmed that he will be looking to both buy and sell in this transfer window.
One man that is likely to be in the gossip columns all month is Saido Berahino but, despite the fact that he is the side's top scorer by some distance, with 8 in the league, cashing in on the youngster may be the best option available.
Berahino has scored three of his goals from the spot this season and with a team weakness of 'finishing scoring chances' the money generated from any sale would not only allow West Brom to upgrade on the likes of Brown Ideye but add more attacking threat throughout a side that have won just 4 times all season.
Despite the fact that they have dropped to seventh after a tough Christmas period there is no denying that West Ham have had an outstanding campaign to date, with relatively few reinforcements required as a result. Nevertheless the Hammers will be weakened by the absence of the likes of Sakho and Kouyate this month due to the African Cup of Nations, while Alex Song could yet be called up to the Cameroon squad.
Adding numbers just to cover for temporary absences, however, is ill-advised so Allardyce will likely keep the faith in what he has at his disposal, though there is one position they may need addressing in his side. To say that Carl Jenkinson has been a weak link would be an overstatement but the right-back has the lowest rating (6.68) of any teammate to start more than 10 games this season and hasn't made quite the impact that Aaron Cresswell has on the opposite flank.
With Jenkinson's contract, for the time being, a temporary one - on loan from Arsenal - a new first choice right-back may still be in the manager's thinking this month.