Premier League clubs' transfer window To Do list - Part II
Read Part I on Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton and Hull City here: Premier League clubs' transfer window To Do list - Part I
We return for part two of our look at each Premier League club and where they may be best served to search for new recruits to bolster their current ranks, covering alphabetically from bottom club Leicester to surprise package Southampton.
Any team that sits bottom of the league at the turn of the year could always do with a little help from the board at such a time and Leicester certainly have players within their ranks yet to convince that they are of the requisite quality to keep the Foxes afloat. Nigel Pearson's men have proven capable of playing some nice stuff, most recently to earn a point at Anfield, but have shot themselves in the foot on more than the odd occasion this season.
One player guilty of such slip-ups has been Paul Konchesky, sent off twice this season as well as picking up an unintentional assist for West Ham's Andy Carroll last month. The veteran full-back is Leicester's lowest rated outfielder this season (6.47) and with team weaknesses from WhoScored including the likes of defending against both counter and through ball attacks they may be best served to look at strengthening the backline, with Konchesky's place in the side currently unthreatened due to a lack of competition at left-back.
After a bitterly disappointing start to the campaign Liverpool have been brought back down to earth with a bang having so nearly secured an unlikely league title last season. There are problems to solve all over the pitch for Brendan Rodgers, not least the fact that they have scored 18 goals fewer than they'd managed at this stage last season, and the Reds carry nowhere near the threat they did with Suarez and Sturridge available. However, it may be a case of starting from the back in terms of the necessary additions. The very back.
Simon Mignolet's form has plummeted this season and was arguably on the decline some time before the start of the current campaign, with a rating of just 6.58 from WhoScored.com. The Belgian lost his place in the side in turn and had Liverpool had a replacement of higher quality than Brad Jones he may have done so considerably earlier. With team weaknesses including 'avoiding individual errors' - of which Mignolet has been responsible for his fair share - and 'protecting the lead' a new number one, let alone reserve keeper, may well be at the top of Rodgers' wish list.
To suggest that there are weak links in a side that are well and truly on the charge to retain their Premier League crown may seem odd but City have certainly not been without fault this season, despite their stellar squad. Pellegrini's side have dropped points to the likes of Stoke, West Ham, QPR and, most recently, Burnley and continue to be posed real problems at the back, even when the sidelined Vincent Kompany has been available.
Like a number of sides, however, the effective protection of the back four has proven to be a problem at times and despite splashing the cash on the Brazilian in the summer Fernando hasn't got off to the sort of start that compatriot Fernandinho did last season. Indeed, the former Porto man has the lowest rating of all outfielders to start more than 10 times for City this season (6.77) and one wouldn't expect the reigning champions to possess team weaknesses such as 'protecting the lead' and 'stopping opponents from creating chances'.
It's been a funny old season for Manchester United with many claiming that they are performing above expectations despite the fact that there have been clear deficiencies in the side in the majority of their matches. A third placed standing is certainly not to be sniffed at after last season's exploits but Louis van Gaal is still not entirely happy with how his team is playing, and for good reason.
The Red Devils have looked suspect at the back all season long, admittedly blighted by injuries that have forced the Dutchman's hand into fielding the likes of Tyler Blackett and Patrick McNair, but even with more senior personnel available they have looked eminently penetrable. Among those struggling most recently has been Jonny Evans and with team weaknesses of 'protecting the lead' and 'stopping opponents from creating chances' it's little surprise that a new centre-back seems to be the top priority in the transfer window.
Managerless following the decision to allow Alan Pardew to jump ship to Palace, Newcastle have had an up and down campaign which has seen them somewhat middle out into tenth place. The Magpies have fared well enough in front of goal thanks to the efforts of Papiss Demba Cisse and Ayoze Perez but have conceded 31 at the other end, with only four other sides shipping more up to now.
Few would call captain and one time favourite for the vacant managerial post Fabricio Coloccini's place in the side into doubt but Newcastle are struggling to settle on a partner for the Argentine. Mike Williamson was that man last season but despite starting 12 matches this time around his performances have dropped to earn a meagre rating of just 6.52 from WhoScored.com. The team's weaknesses all point towards a need to bolster at the back and that should be first port of call for whomever takes the helm at St. James' Park.
Queens Park Rangers
With significant investment made to ensure QPR's top-flight survival this time around the fact that the Royals remain in the bottom three suggests that there is certainly still work to be done. Injury to summer signing Sandro, who has now had fitness problems for some time, has raised some eyebrows and left a central midfield pairing of Joey Barton and Karl Henry, who helped the club secure promotion last time around.
While the former has proven his capabilities in the top-flight once again, however, Henry has secured a rating of just 6.64 from WhoScored having made 16 appearances. With a large number of weaknesses including 'keeping possession of the ball', 'stopping opponents from creating chances' and 'defending counter attacks' the midfield is clearly not Rangers' strong point and further investment may be advisable.
The Saints are arguably the one side that have proven to be least in need of reinforcements as far as their pre-season and indeed current expectations are concerned. Ronald Koeman's side have put to bed any concerns that they would be dicing with death by allowing a number of the key players of last season to leave with effective recruitment in the previous window, and they have already secured their first signing of this, bringing in Dutch winger Eljero Elia.
While there is faith in the youth set-up at St. Mary's, and for good reason, a lack of cover in full back positions may be on the manager's mind, while if there has been one disappointment in the current campaign it is perhaps the lack of return on the hefty investment in Shane Long. The Irishman has only scored in one of his 19 league appearances for the club, earning a rating of just 6.58 from WhoScored.com, and if top scorer Graziano Pelle were to get injured there may be a lot of pressure to score goals on a player that has never been prolific in the top-flight.