Having splashed over £100 million on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne alone, last season's runner-up have taken a big stride towards a third EPL reward in five seasons, writes Dileep Premachandran
League titles aren't won in September. But given how money screams in football's highest echelons, it's not inaccurate to say that Manchester City have taken a big stride toward a third Premier League crown in five seasons.
Raheem Sterling. Pic/Getty Images
Their cross-town neighbours did some good business early before making a hash of David de Gea's transfer to Real Madrid, while Arsenal and Chelsea were relatively quiet. City, who splashed out more than £100 million on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne alone, have without a doubt upgraded the squad that finished second last season.
Their other big-name signing, Nicolas Otamendi, the Argentine who played for Valencia, is another with sufficient quality to go straight into the first team. Fabian Delph, who enjoyed a superb season in an average Aston Villa side, is an astute pick to replace James Milner.
But having got rid of both Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, the only question mark over City concerns Sergio Aguero's fitness. If he does pick up an injury, the reinforcements aren't in the same class. That said, de Bruyne scored 16 from midfield for Wolfsburg last season, when he was voted Germany's Player of the Year.
Chelsea's odd transfers
Chelsea, already eight points behind City after a poor start to the season, have had an odd transfer window. Pedro is a fantastic signing, having been part of an all-time-great Barcelona squad for years.
Radamel Falcao, even though only a loan signing, looks risky business. If he can somehow rediscover the speed spurts that made him so lethal while at Porto and Atletico Madrid, he will score lots of goals. But if he continues to be off the pace as he was at United, Chelsea will regret not adding better back-up for Diego Costa's troublesome hamstrings.
The other arrivals, Baba Rahman and Asmir Begovic, don't really represent an improvement on those they replaced — Felipe Luis, sold back to Atletico, and Petr Cech, Arsenal's lone signing. Cech was outstanding in keeping Liverpool at bay, and the bloopers on the opening weekend against West Ham are unlikely to be anything more than an aberration.
But with no world-class striker signed and the defence still looking fairly ponderous, Arsene Wenger will be all too aware of the scrutiny that awaits if his team flatter to deceive yet again.
United have a star on their hands in Memphis Depay, while Morgan Schneiderlin is an impressive midfield acquisition. Matteo Darmian looks the part at full-back, but Bastian Schweinsteiger could well turn out to be another Falcao.
In his pomp, there were few better central midfielders. But if his fitness had been up to scratch, there's no way Bayern Munich would have let go a man who was such an emblem of their glory years. Right now, he looks like a player whose feet aren't quite in sync with his thoughts.
Utd's 'keeping problems
Of course, the real problems are at the back, where the botched transfer gives Louis van Gaal a huge headache. Sergio Romero is the man in possession of the goalkeeping gloves, but he was guilty of letting in a very soft goal against Swansea last weekend.
David de Gea
The unhappy Victor Valdes hasn't been moved on, and de Gea's morale is said to be at rock bottom after his dream move being thwarted. The goalkeepers' union is generally a strong one, but it'll be interesting to watch the dynamics between that trio as the season progresses.
Liverpool did all their business early, using the end of the transfer window only to move on the likes of Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli (on loan to AC Milan). Milner, a free transfer from City, is an adequate replacement for Steven Gerrard, without having the X-factor, while Nathaniel Clyne, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke all look first XI players. The conundrum for Brendan Rodgers now is to settle on a style of play that suits Benteke's strengths.
Of the less fashionable teams, West Ham — who have already thumped Arsenal and Liverpool away — seem to have made the best investments. It was a big surprise that none of the 'bigger' clubs took a punt on the skills of Dimitri Payet, while Nikica Jelevic and Angelo Ogbonna both have a wealth of experience. Under the maverick Slavan Bilic, they could be a decent outside betfor top-seven finish.
Dileep Premachandran is Wisden India's editor-in-chief