Neil Humphreys: Liverpool and Chelsea need serious signings
With transfer deadline looming, NEIL HUMPHREYS looks at the top six and feels Chelsea and Liverpool need serious signings.
1) THE CRISIS CLUBS - LIVERPOOL AND CHELSEA
Crisis is a relative term. Brexit is a crisis. Piers Morgan interviewing Donald Trump is a crisis. Those yellow bikes being dumped along every park connector is a crisis.
In comparison, the third and fourth-placed clubs in the EPL may not be similarly categorised, but their transfer dealings certainly fall somewhere between crisis and calamity.
In Chelsea's League Cup defeat, a ring-rusty Ross Barkley did not look like a long-term replacement for either Nemanja Matic or Cesc Fabregas.
The Blues have little cover in their fullback positions and almost no cover up front. Alvaro Morata is injured and hasn't fully adapted.
Aside from Edin Dzeko, Antonio Conte's rumoured targets, Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch, reek of desperation. He needs a striker whom he fully trusts to keep the season afloat.
Juergen Klopp, on the other hand, needs the boo-boys off his back. The FA Cup humiliation demonstrated that a goalkeeper, a left back and a dependable defensive midfielder remain priorities - just as they have all season.
Only now, Klopp has £142 million (S$262m) in Philippe Coutinho cash burning a hole in his pocket. And he hasn't replaced the Brazilian either.
Klopp's an endearing figure, but the cheerleader routine will get old very quickly if the squad stagnates.
Chances of success? Dzeko loves life in Roma and needs to be made an offer he can't refuse to join Chelsea. But Liverpool are more likely to lose another household name in Daniel Sturridge.
2) THE IRRELEVANT CLUBS - TOTTENHAM AND ARSENAL
That's gotta hurt. In pre-season, they were trophy contenders. In this transfer window, they are largely irrelevant.
Unlike the Gunners, Spurs have at least kept their best player - for now. Harry Kane hasn't fallen for Real Madrid's charms, although Mauricio Pochettino might at the end of the season.
Spurs' indifferent form has seen them fall off the radar. Kane and Toby Alderweireld are prized assets, but there's no sense of urgency to sign them. Pochettino reportedly wants winger Lucas Moura, so the Brazilian is Spurs' best chance of a dramatic signing.
At Arsenal, the damage is already done. Arsene Wenger lost a player he didn't want to sell (Alexis Sanchez) and replaced the striker with a player Manchester United didn't want (Henrikh Mkhitaryan).
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who according to reports is close to signing for them, can save Wenger's season.
He once played with Mkhitaryan at Borussia Dortmund and promises an upgrade on both Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazette.
More importantly, Aubameyang would make Arsenal credible again, both on the pitch and in the transfer market.
Chances of success? Levy sniffs out unsettled players like a hyena circling a wounded animal. But he's unlikely to match Moura's inflated PSG wages so he'll be preying on Moura's restlessness.
It's a long shot. At the Emirates, the impending arrival of Aubameyang should pacify the Arsenal faithful - for now.
3) THE SMUG CLUBS - MAN CITY AND MAN UNITED
What do you give the man who's got everything? Well, a new centre back, obviously.
Aymeric Laporte is young, gifted and expensive, essentially ticking every box for Pep Guardiola. Considering Manchester City are chasing a quadruple, the Athletic Bilbao defender is a "want" rather than a "need".
For all of Pep Guardiola's attacking swagger, it's often overlooked how much emphasis he places on defence. After buying Kyle Walker (£50m), Benjamin Mendy (£49m) and John Stones (£47.5m), City are preparing to spend £57m on Laporte because, well, they can.
Manchester United's cheeky pickpocketing of Sanchez left all their rivals in the shade. Jose Mourinho's swoop for the Chilean was a masterstroke.
United's work is just about done. Matic still needs a midfield partner, but that can wait until the summer. The most significant United deal could see Zlatan Ibrahimovic head for the exit.
Chances of success? He'd never admit it publicly, but Guardiola fancies four trophies. Laporte's addition keeps the distant dream alive. He'll join.
As for United, the comic-book frolics of Ibrahimovic are about to be adapted for Hollywood as he heads off to Los Angeles.