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Soccer

Chris Smalling makes Man Utd prediction as he sends farewell message

Chris Smalling has made a prediction on Manchester United after penning an emotional goodbye.

The England international has joined Roma on a permanent basis after enjoying a brilliant season there on loan last year.

The fans had fallen in love with the defender, even affectionately referring to him as 'Smaldini' in reference to Italy legend Paolo Maldini.

Smalling has always been keen on reuniting with his Roma pals.

But a permanent deal looked off for much of the season with the Stadio Olimpico outfit unable to meet United's £25m price-tag.

Eventually, a compromise was made and the ex-Fulham star joined on deadline day for £18m.

It puts an end to 10 years at Old Trafford, full of ups and downs.

And it also comes at a time when United's defence has been questioned, though Smalling insists that his former club will be battling for titles soon.

He tweeted: "An incredible club, that I am proud to have been a part of.

"10 years ago I could have only dreamt of everything we have achieved.

"I wish you all my very best, whilst I am saddened to leave I know you will continue to achieve great things!"

Fans have been broken up by the news, with one replying: "Thank you for everything,@ChrisSmalling."

"Actually gutted to see you go," another said.

While this fan said: "Thank you for everything you have given to the club over the past decade, Chris!"

Jamie Redknapp was left stunned by the news, insisting Smalling is better than United's current options.

He told Sky Sports: "If you looked at Manchester United on Sunday, you could be getting a player in for every position.

"Not one of those players did anything or showed anything that they want to be a Manchester United player.

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"The players he has have got to do so much better.

"The interesting thing for me, they’re letting Chris Smalling go to Roma.

"I’ve watched Bailly and Lindelof, he’s gone to Italy and been successful there – I’m thinking he’s better than what they’ve got."

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Soccer

Five players who could still move to Premier League after deadline day

There are several players who could still end up in the Premier League despite the transfer window closing.

That is because the EFL market is still open for another two weeks.

A whirlwind day on Monday saw some huge transfers in the top-tier, such as Thomas Partey, Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles all arriving from Europe.

But a domestic-only window is still in effect – but no deals between other Premier League clubs.

It means some Championship clubs may be quaking in their boots with several players still linked with transfers.

Mirror Sport takes a close look at those most likely to make the move to the peak of the footballing pyramid.

Ismaila Sarr

Liverpool and Manchester United have come knocking but Watford have stuck to their guns.

They have demanded £40m upfront, no chance of a loan, after he was signed last year by the Hornets for a club-record fee.

They have plans on bouncing straight back into the Premier League after relegation last year.

Said Benrahma

The Brentford ace has dazzled the Championship with his skills over the past year or so and has attracted attention from the Premier League.

Crystal Palace appeared ready to snap the Algerian up for £20m but the deal has gone quiet.

But they are not alone with West Ham another interested party, while even some Prem big boys such as Chelsea and Arsenal have eyed him too.

Joe Rodon

Tottenham emerged as late contenders for the Swansea star but were looking for a bargain deal.

Jose Mourinho is desperate for a centre-back after missing out on Milan Skriniar and Antonio Rudiger.

However, the Swans have asked for more than double Spurs' initial offer – so it remains to be seen whether both parties can find an agreement.

Josh King

The Bournemouth striker is still at the club despite links with United and Spurs.

But with interest in him cooling, Aston Villa and West Brom have taken up a transfer tug-of-war.

The Baggies are desperate for a striker, whereas Villa might be okay in that department after splashing £33m on Ollie Watkins – who scored a hat-trick against Liverpool.

Bryan Mbeumo

One-third of the deadly attack Brentford had last season, along with Watkins and Benrahma.

The Bees would be stricken to lose all three in one transfer window but with Leicester sniffing around the Frenchman, it is quite possible.

Mbeumo scored 16 times in the Championship last year and has already got one this campaign as he looks to be the main man.

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Sports News

Peter Moody was forced to scratch Glenfiddich from Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas

Stutt Stakes winner Glenfiddich is out of Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).

Glenfiddich was one of the main fancies for the $2 million Caulfield Guineas but a throat problem has forced the valuable colt’s scratching.

Glenfiddich’s trainer Peter Moody said the son of Fastnet Rock has developed an entrapped epiglottis, which would require minor surgery.

The problem would also rule the colt out of tackling the Cox Plate.

Moody did not rule out running Glenfiddich in the Group 1 Coolmore Stakes on Victoria Derby day but said spelling the three-year-old before an autumn campaign was a more realistic option.

TAB tightened Ole Kirk’s quote into $4 after Glenfiddich’s scratching on Tuesday afternoon.

The unbeaten Mo’unga is the $4.80 second pick ahead of the Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa at $5.

Originally published asGlenfiddich out of Guineas

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Soccer

Atletico Madrid sever ties with Arsenal over 'incredible' Partey deal

Atletico Madrid have no plans on dealing with Arsenal again in the near future after the Gunners failed to give the La Liga giants notice over their intention to activate Thomas Partey’s release clause.

The 27-year-old completed a move to Emirates on deadline day, with Arsenal confirming the £45m deal after the transfer window had closed.

Partey’s release clause means Arsenal needed only to activate the clause and it didn’t require negotiations with Atletico.

However, it’s courteous to give the club notice so that they have time to prepare to sign a replacement or to even make a last-ditch attempt to convince the player to stay.

But the Athletic claim Atletico are ‘furious’ with Arsenal as they failed to give notice and a source says the partnership between the clubs is ‘irreparable’.

Reports in Spain claim Arsenal activated the clause just 32 minutes before the deadline closed.

Partey has more than quadrupled his wages by signing for Arsenal as he’s set to earn £250,000-a-week at the club.

The Gunners have also paid around £2m to the Ghanian’s representatives and had to pay the £45m fee for Partey in a lump sum.

Lucas Torreira joined Atletico on deadline day but the club do not have an option of signing the midfielder in his contract and it’s likely now that they will not bother given the damage that the Partey deal has done.

Once salary and agent fees are accounted for, Partey’s four-year deal at the club is set to cost the Gunners around £91m.

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Sports News

The most dominant team in Australian sport

In the 18 months it took Meg Lanning’ Australian team to rack up 20 straight ODI wins, one short of the world record, they also won two T20 World Cups and have 33 wins in the shortest form of the game.

They’ve beaten every opponent along the way, except South Africa in the 50-over game, in a display of utter domination.

The wins started in India in March 2018 and have come in Malaysia, England, New Zealand and Australia, home and away.

And as an exclamation point on just how good this team is, the Aussies won two T20 World Cups, in the West Indies and Australia, and 53 out of 60 matches across the two formats in the same time.

A series-closing one-day win over New Zealand in Brisbane on Wednesday will equal the world record mark of 21 wins set by Ricky Ponting’s 2003 side, a feat they achieved in an astonishing five months that also included a World Cup win.

Aussie strike bowler Megan Schutt, the go-to for Lanning from first ball to last, was only 10 when Ponting’s men were running amok.

She said it was a run of wins driven by a loss, in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup, which promoted the ruthless streak which meant taking no game, and no opponent, for granted.

“Before we started to win we had that loss in the World Cup and we kind of sat down and realised we were pretty beatable,” Schutt said on Tuesday.

“So every game now there’s no chance to take our foot off the pedal against any team.

“Losing sucks and we are pretty hard on ourselves when we do that. It makes us dive deep and pick little things out. But we do that even when we are successful. Winning is great but we know we can get better.”

Megan Schutt is Meg Lanning’s go-to bowler. Picture; Patrick Hamilton / AFPSource:AFP

There’s been player turnover through the streak too. Nicole Bolton made an unbeaten century in win number one but is no longer part of the squad.

Annabel Sutherland made her ODI debut in win number 19 just last Saturday.

Schutt, who took a hat-trick in win number 15 of the streak against the West Indies in Antigua, said that kept all players striving to be better.

“These girls are going to take our spots one day, so we might as well be playing our best as long as we can,” she said.

“But we have had the same core group for so long, we know each other’s games, we know how to win games from really any position. We don’t panic, we have a good calm about us.

“We’ve been in so many games where we have pulled it back from nowhere. We’ve played enough cricket to know it’s not over until it’s over.”

Schutt says the Aussies can win games from any position. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Meg Lanning knows that winning feeling. Picture: AAP Image/Michael DodgeSource:AAP

Every player when asked about the streak has said it’s not a motivating factor. But Schutt, who didn’t know what was happening when the record was set, is able to appreciate what it would mean.

“I was interested in cricket (in 2003), but I didn’t know anything about it. I wouldn’t have known what was going on and the actual success they were having at the time,” she said.

“What’s special for me at the moment is to be kind a part of that, and it makes me appreciate what they were able to achieve.”

IN SIGHT OF THE WORLD RECORD

Australian has recorded 20 straight ODI wins

1st win – v India, 12 March 2018, Vadadora

Australia has beaten India (3 times), Pakistan (3), England (6), New Zealand (5) and Sri Lanka (3).

THE RECORD

In 2003, from January 11 to May 24, Australia won 21 straight ODIs.

The streak ended with a loss to the West Indies in Port of Spain

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MLB

Falcons safety Kazee carted off with Achilles injury

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Atlanta Falcons starting free safety Damontae Kazee was carted off the field in the second quarter of Monday night’s game at the Green Bay Packers with an Achilles tendon injury.

Kazee fell to the ground and grabbed the back of his left foot/leg. He remained on the ground in obvious pain while being checked by the training staff before he was carted off, and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Sharrod Neasman replaced Kazee at free safety.

The Falcons entered the game already down two safeties with Keanu Neal sidelined by a hamstring injury and Ricardo Allen out with a hyperextended elbow. The Falcons started Kazee and rookie Jaylinn Hawkins at the safety spots.

Atlanta also entered the night missing starting cornerback A.J. Terrell, who remains on reserve/COVID-19 list, and veteran corner Darqueze Dennard, who is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

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Racing

Star shares horrifying broken leg X-ray

F2 driver Juan Manuel Correa’s road to recovery continues after he was involved in a fatal crash during the Belgian Grand Prix last year.

The horrifying incident took place at the famous Eau Rogue turn at the Spa track and claimed the life of Frenchman Anthoine Hubert.

Hubert’s car crashed heavily into the barriers and sprung back on to the track and was struck by Correa, who was travelling behind and had no chance of swerving out of the way.

Correa’s car ripped through Hubert’s car, splitting it into two pieces.

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The 21-year-old Correa was taken to hospital in Belgium where he remained in intensive care for a little over two weeks.

Correa has provided his followers on Instagram with regular updates of his road to recovery as he attempts to get back behind the wheel.

Over the weekend however he provided a never before seen shot of the true damage his legs suffered from the terrifying crash.

Having suffered fractures in both of his legs, Correa showed off the eye-opening damage his right leg had taken.

RELATED: Correa’s family release statement on recovery

Juan Manuel Correa shows off nasty X-raysSource:Supplied

In an interview earlier in the year, Correa spoke about the crash that saw Hubert lose his life and said he thought his legs were gone.

“I remember everything, I never lost consciousness. It all happened very fast, something went under my car because my front tyres went up in the air,” Correa recalled.
“From then on I was kind of a passenger and I didn’t realise I was going to hit the other car until the last moment when I saw just a pink thing in front of me.

“I was kind of in a state of shock. There was smoke coming out of the car, I had to pull myself out of the car.

“At that point I thought I had lost the legs because I couldn’t really move them. It seemed like they were connected by the suit pretty much, they were like gelatine.”

Correa and the Formula paddock returned to Belgium and the famous Spa track in late August with the young star sharing an emotional post on Instagram.

“A lot of emotions today coming back to Spa … not sure what to say apart from that we miss you mate, the paddock is not the same without you. I hope you’re looking down and seeing how much you meant to so many people,” Correa wrote.

Correa is keeping his dream alive of returning to the grid in 2021 and says his recovery has him on track.

“It’s going quite well,” he said on F2’s Instagram channel.

“I’ve been recovering quite quickly, pushing a lot with that racer mindset, always doing more than necessary, but it’s worked out well.

“I’m actually looking for a comeback next year, so earlier than we thought initially, but it’s looking good.

“I have still quite a few surgeries left to go but the whole metal thing around my leg should be gone by the end of this year, which means I can jump in a car maybe as early as December.”

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MLB

Packers vs. Falcons live score, updates, highlights from NFL’s ‘Monday Night Football’ game

The Week 4 “Monday Night Football” matchup features two teams on opposite ends of the win-column spectrum this season.

The Packers (3-0) — who have won their games by an average of 12.3 points — will host a Falcons team (0-3) that has struggled to finish each of its last two games. Atlanta has squandered second-half leads of 19 and 16 points to the Cowboys and Bears, respectively.

Monday’s meeting should feature heavy passing by Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, as both teams’ defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in defending against the pass: The Packers rank 18th, giving up 247 yards per game; the Falcons rank 31st with 350 yards allowed per game.

To that end, Atlanta will likely look to receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (ankle), both of whom are expected to play Monday. But Packers receiver Davante Adams (ankle) tweeted that he is being withheld from Monday’s game. Will the return of Jones alongside Ridley be enough to spur the Falcons to their first win of the season? Or will they suffer yet another heartbreak as Green Bay takes sole command of the NFC North with a 4-0 record?

Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from Packers vs. Falcons on “Monday Night Football.” Follow below for complete results from the NFL Week 4 game.

Packers vs. Falcons score

Packers vs. Falcons live updates, highlights from ‘Monday Night Football’

Second quarter: Packers 7, Falcons 0

9:38 p.m.: And the Falcons get aggressive early in the second; facing fourth-and-3 at the Green Bay 38, Ryan buys time and finds Julio Jones for a 19-yard gain to get inside the Packers red zone.

9:35 p.m.: Ryan finds Russell Gage in between the zones for a 13-yard gain on third down — the team’s first third-down conversion of the game.

First quarter: Packers 7, Falcons 0

9:32 p.m.: And that’ll do it for the first quarter. Falcons use a strong defensive stand to limit the damage to just a touchdown and currently face third-and-5 from its 29.

9:27 p.m.: Falcons get their first first down of the game off a 4-yard run by Todd Gurley. Atlanta is now driving at its 13-yard line.

9:24 p.m.: TURNOVER PACKERS. Atlanta’s defense holds strong and forces a turnover on downs at its own 1-yard line. The Packers had four shots at the end zone from at least the Atlanta 6 and couldn’t punch it in.

9:20 p.m.: Finally, a positive play for Atlanta: Deion Jones hits Aaron Jones in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. That makes it third-and-7 from the Atlanta 25.

9:18 p.m.: Rodgers again wasting no time, this time hitting running back Jamaal Williams down the sideline for a 29-yard gain. The Packers are now driving at the Atlanta 28.

9:14 p.m.: That’s another three-and-out by the Falcons; Matt Ryan is currently 0 for 3 on the night, with all three attempts going to Ridley. Packers to take over at their 34-yard line.

9:10 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN PACKERS. Rodgers finds a wide-open Jones in the flats for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. That was too easy.

9:08 p.m.: Aaron Jones is involved in the next three plays for Green Bay: a reception of 8 yards and two runs of 9 and 23 yards to get the Packers to the Atlanta 6-yard line.

9:07 p.m.: Aaron Rodgers wastes no time in moving Green Bay up the field, hitting Robert Tonyan up the middle for a 27-yard gain out to the Atlanta 46.

9:03 p.m.: Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley drops the ball on what would have been a long gain, forcing Atlanta to punt on third-and-6. Green Bay takes over at its 27.

9 p.m.: And we’re off. Falcons get the ball to start the game.

Packers vs. Falcons start time

The Packers-Falcons start time was pushed back from its original 8:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. because the Patriots-Chiefs game was moved from Sunday afternoon to 7:05 p.m. ET Monday.

This is the second of five prime-time games on the Packers’ 2020 schedule. They’ll be back in the national spotlight in Week 9 for a Thursday night game at San Francisco for a rematch of last season’s NFC championship.

This is the first of two prime-time games for the Falcons on their 2020 schedule. Atlanta next appears in a prime-time slot in Week 8 for “Thursday Night Football” at Carolina.

‘Monday Night Football’ schedule

A total of 17 games are on the “Monday Night Football” schedule in 2020. That includes the two games in the Week 1 doubleheader and no Monday night game in Week 17.

Below is the complete schedule of Monday night games this year.

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MLB

Carlos Correa, Astros overpower Athletics to win Game 1 of the ALDS

The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics traded home runs in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, with Houston emerging as the 10-5 victors.

The two clubs combined to slug six homers — three for Houston, three for Oakland — which accounted for eight of the 15 total runs. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa tied the game with a two-run blast in the fourth inning and slugged a second one in the seventh inning, giving the Houston a three-run cushion. 

"I feel great," said Correa, who has four homers in his last four games. "Everything is starting to click."

The ball was flying nicely at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where it was 91 degrees at first pitch. 

Carlos Correa celebrates his two-run home run in the fourth inning. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)

Even Astros manager Dusty Baker commented on the home run fest while he was on the microphone in the bottom of the third inning for an in-game interview. Oakland's Sean Murphy had just smashed a deep drive over the center-field wall, when Baker quipped: "Oh lord! … That ball is flying out of here."

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series with Game 2 scheduled for Tuesday. 

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Soccer

Transfer window winners and losers: Everton and Aston Villa transformed but Manchester United frustrated

Deadline Day has passed and it is time for supporters of Premier League clubs to reflect on their transfer business.  Many will be excited, some unsure, and others frustrated.

Everton and Aston Villa are first and second respectively in the Premier League table with new signings playing a key part in their strong starts to the season.

Meanwhile, Manchester United’s poor results at the beginning of the campaign have highlighted the weaknesses in their squad that have still not been addressed.

As for Burnley, what must Sean Dyche make of it all?

Here, we pick out some of the winners and losers of the 2020 summer transfer window…

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THE WINNERS

Everton business transforms Toffees

Everton made it four wins out of four with their 4-2 victory over Brighton and it has escaped nobody’s attention that their summer signings have played a vital role in their bright start to the season.

The midfield, previously a problem area under Carlo Ancelotti, has been transformed by the arrivals of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Allan from Napoli and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford.

The trio did not come cheaply but the early evidence suggests the investment was well worth it. James has brought guile and creativity, scoring three goals and providing two assists already, Doucoure has brought an injection of box-to-box energy, while Allan has offered defensive steel and ball-playing composure in equal measure.

Suddenly, Everton look like a balanced side, and their new recruits are also helping to bring the best out of the players already in place at Goodison Park. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s free-scoring start to the season has earned him an England call-up, while Richarlison has been similarly impressive. The hope will be that the late arrival of Robin Olsen on loan from Roma will see Jordan Pickford up his game too.

There is even reason for optimism at the back. The £20m Ben Godfrey endured a difficult season with Norwich last year, but it gave him invaluable Premier League experience and, at just 22 years old, there is plenty of scope for him to fulfil his considerable potential on Merseyside.

Godfrey is a ball-playing centre-back in the mould of Mason Holgate, and, like his new Everton team-mate, he is viewed as a future England international. He may not go straight into the team, but Ancelotti will certainly hope to build around him in the future. He’ll also hope his other defenders benefit from the increased competition for places.

Added firepower as Spurs strengthen

Jose Mourinho can have few complaints about the club’s summer dealings.

Gareth Bale was the headline addition, of course, sealing a sensational return to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid. And with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son starting the season in such explosive form, Spurs fans are entitled to feel optimistic about what will be possible when Bale is fit to start too.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has brought leadership and combativeness to Tottenham’s midfield, but it’s the signings of Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon which are perhaps the most significant. The pair are attacking wing-backs who will allow Mourinho to switch between a back four and a back three.

Doherty and Reguilon will aim to provide ammunition for Carlos Vinicius as well as Kane, Son, Bale and the rest. The Brazilian has joined Spurs on loan with a £36m option to buy having averaged a goal every 101 minutes for Benfica last season and should ease Mourinho’s reliance on Kane in the central striking position.

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With Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso also at his disposal, and with Dele Alli staying at the club despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain, it is little wonder Mourinho has been heard purring over Tottenham’s “absolutely incredible” attacking options.

If there was one area that Tottenham still wanted to strengthen going into Deadline Day it was the centre of defence, having failed in an effort to bring in Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan.

Joe Rodon remains a target and while a deal for the Swansea defender could not be done on Monday, the window for signings from the EFL does not close until October 16. There is still time for Spurs to make an impressive summer of business even better.

Chelsea’s big push shows title-winning intent

With their transfer ban finally lifted, Chelsea went all out this summer.

Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech arrived in attack, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell were added in defence, and there was even a deal for a goalkeeper, with Edouard Mendy arriving from Rennes to provide a much-needed alternative to Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Suddenly, Frank Lampard’s squad looks well-equipped to aim higher than just a top-four finish.

It has not been a straightforward start to the season, of course, with defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham as well as a crazy 3-3 draw against West Brom. But the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday was the first sign of Frank Lampard’s new-look side coming together.

It helps, of course, that he still has a stellar collection of young players at his disposal too. He will need to find a way to continue giving them opportunities to grow and improve, but recent evidence suggests the influx of new additions has served as a motivation for them.

It was, after all, only thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham’s that Chelsea salvaged a draw against West Brom, and two of that trio then kept their places in the side for the 4-0 win over Palace.

Chelsea’s strength in depth could prove invaluable in a gruelling season.

Villa address flaws and boost prospects

Aston Villa signed no fewer than 12 new players last summer, but they have taken a ‘less is more’ approach this time around and their brilliant start to the season suggests they were right to do so.

There has been no hint of panic buying, instead their recruitment has simply targeted the flaws in their squad. Emiliano Martinez has provided an instant upgrade in goal following his arrival from Arsenal, while it has been a similar story with Matty Cash at right-back.

It is further forward, though, that their summer dealings look most inspired. Villa were well short up front last season – Jack Grealish was their top scorer in the Premier League with eight goals – but Ollie Watkins already looks like the right man to lead the line having adapted to the division seamlessly and hit a perfect hat-trick in the 7-2 demolition of Liverpool.

Bertrand Traore offers added depth in the position and showed his class with his brilliant strike against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup, while Ross Barkley has provided an injection of physical power and technical quality in midfield. The 26-year-old, signed on loan from Chelsea, was outstanding on his debut on Sunday.

Villa only survived by a point last season, but they look more like top-half finishers this time around and that’s thanks to an excellent summer in the transfer market. Having beaten the reigning champions in such exhilarating fashion, some supporters might in fact be aiming even higher.

Arsenal’s Partey raid caps strong summer

Arsenal’s deal to sign Thomas Partey – the biggest of Deadline Day at £45m – capped an extremely encouraging summer for the Gunners.

There was no Houssem Aouar, who stayed put after Arsenal’s negotiations with Lyon came to nothing, but Partey joins Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes at the Emirates Stadium while the Gunners also struck deals to ensure Dani Ceballos, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares extended their stays in north London.

Mesut Ozil remains at the club, meaning Arsenal will likely have to continue paying his huge wages until his contract ends next summer, but they did succeed in moving some others on, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira. They also raised £20m from the sale of Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa.

The result is that Mikel Arteta is now equipped with a squad which looks far more like his own, and what’s most important of all, of course, is that he was able to tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract. There is a long way to go before they will be considered genuine title contenders again, but their summer business should at least set them up for a top-four push.

THE INBETWEENERS

Mixed window for Liverpool

Liverpool sit somewhere between the winners and the losers of this summer’s window.

On the one hand, they have signed Thiago Alcantara, a genuinely transformative midfield signing, for a paltry £25m from Bayern Munich. In Diogo Jota, they have also recruited a high-quality back-up option for their front three. Konstantinos Tsimikas, meanwhile, provides depth at left-back.

But on the other, there is concern that they remain short in key areas.

With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip injured and Dejan Lovren sold, they started the season with only one fit centre-back in Virgil van Dijk. Fabinho filled in ably in the win over Chelsea, but Gomez endured a calamitous afternoon in the 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa and a lack of depth in the position is a gamble with such a hectic schedule to come this season.

There are also question marks in goal.

Adrian struggled again when deputising for Alisson against Aston Villa – he has now made five errors leading to goals in his 21 appearances for Liverpool – but with the Brazilian facing four to six weeks out with a shoulder problem, Klopp is short on alternatives to the former West Ham goalkeeper.

Leicester lose Chilwell but still strengthen

When Leicester reached September having yet to make a major addition to the squad, despite selling England left-back Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, there was some unease. Throw in the poor finish to last season that saw Brendan Rodgers’ side miss out on Champions League on the final day and anxiety levels were rising in the East Midlands.

While it would be an exaggeration to say that Leicester’s business since then has wowed supporters, some of the concerns have since been addressed. Timothy Castagne can play in either of the full-back positions and has already won over fans after a strong start. Cengiz Under adds that little bit of creativity in the final third that is always welcome.

But it is the late acquisition of Wesley Fofana that Rodgers will hope solves the problem of a lack of depth in defence that saw Wilfred Ndidi pressed into action at centre-back on the opening weekend of the season. With three wins from four games to open their Premier League campaign too, the Leicester ship looks to have been steadied again.

Wolves shake things up in hope of progress

Wolves reshaped their squad during the transfer window and it will be intriguing to see whether the ins and outs see the team progress under Nuno Espirito Santo or compromise the cohesion so that has been such a factor in their success over the past two seasons.

Matt Doherty was sold to Tottenham with Nelson Semedo coming in from Barcelona, while Diogo Jota departed for Liverpool after Wolves invested £35m in teenager Fabio Silva.

The loan signing of Rayan Ait-Nouri looks to be a clearer case of the club strengthening, with Ruben Vinagre making way to join Olympiakos on what is initially a temporary deal. Whether the manoeuvrings are enough to take Wolves forward remains to be seen.

THE LOSERS

Man Utd leave it late, fail in Sancho pursuit

The frustration surrounding Manchester United’s transfer window hit new heights as they were thrashed 6-1 by Tottenham on the penultimate day of the window. At that point, their only new signing was midfielder Donny van de Beek, a £37m addition from Ajax who is yet to start a Premier League game.

More reinforcements arrived on Deadline Day, with Alex Telles sealing his move from Porto, Edinson Cavani joining, and youngsters Amad Diallo from Atalanta and Facundo Pellistri, but there was no deal for Jadon Sancho despite their summer-long pursuit and supporters are entitled to wonder why it took until the final hours of the window for Manchester United to get their business done.

The spotlight is firmly on executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward for his role in what has been another difficult transfer window for the club, with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville leading the criticism. “Not good enough,” was his blunt assessment of Woodward’s dealings during Sunday’s miserable thrashing by Spurs.

The club will hope the players they have signed can make a difference – the club’s recent record in the transfer market before this window has certainly not been bad – but performances will need to improve rapidly in order to change the mood.

Burnley up against it once again

Spare a thought for Sean Dyche.

The Burnley boss has been operating on a shoestring budget throughout his time in charge at Turf Moor, but this summer has surely been the most difficult yet.

His depleted squad saw him unable to name the full complement of substitutes at times after the lockdown last season, and despite an urgent need to bring in reinforcements, the club reached Deadline Day with back-up goalkeeper Will Norris and 31-year-old midfielder Dale Stephens as their only senior signings of the transfer window.

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