Which Premier League teams still need to spend in the transfer window?

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City celebrates after scoring his sidessecond goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Huddersfield Town at Bet365 Stadium on January 20, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City celebrates after scoring his sidessecond goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Huddersfield Town at Bet365 Stadium on January 20, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images) /

Which of the current Premier League teams need to consider spending in the transfer window, to improve the quality of their teams for the relegation battle?

With just a few days of the January transfer window left and the relegation battle heating up, who are the Premier League teams which still need to go into the transfer market? At the bottom of the table there are several clubs who look like they need help to survive.

There are two main strategies as to how to survive when battling relegation in the Premier League. One is to focus on defensive strength and organisation. This allows you to work for a draw and nick the odd win now and then, thus accumulating enough points for survival.

This might be called the ‘Big Sam’ approach. Sam Allardyce himself has of course been renowned for employing exactly this strategy to keep a succession of clubs up over the past few years. For example, Sunderland and Crystal Palace in the last two seasons respectively.

The other way is to focus more on scoring goals and being positive, even at the expense of conceding a few in the process. The theory being that even if you lose nearly as many as you win, those wins are worth more than just a succession of draws would be.

Of the teams in the bottom half, all of whom are still far from safe, it’s probably Palace who look the most able to maintain their decent recent form and stay up. They have both defensive solidity and also possess a real goal threat with players like Wilfried Zaha, who is capable of winning a game from nothing.

The majority of clubs in the lower reaches of the league don’t possess the attacking talent Palace has. There are a number of other struggling Premier League teams who are most likely to consider last-minute signings, as they battle to avoid the dreaded drop in May.

Let’s start with the team who have most recently changed managers in this group of sides, Stoke City. Stoke enjoyed the classic lift in form in their first match since Paul Lambert succeeded Mark Hughes, as they beat Huddersfield 2-0 to claim a much-needed three points.

Stoke’s lack of goals had been a feature of recent performances. But of course the biggest problem they have is the number of goals conceded; the most in the league. They’ve been unlucky and suffered from injuries to key defenders like Ryan Shawcross.

So that might be an area Lambert could consider if he goes into the market. But it’s difficult to find quality affordable centre backs these days, as the ever more inflated fees for them indicates.

And the kind of defender Stoke might be looking for is someone like Jonny Evans at fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion. However he’s much more likely to go to a team like Arsenal or Man City. So that probably leaves Stoke (like others in their predicament) shopping for a player from the lower leagues or abroad.

As for West Brom themselves, they appear to be in something of a quandary. Manager Alan Pardew obviously wants new players and in particular more firepower up front.

However, the board seem to be unwilling to give him any funds until he sells. So until the club’s best asset, Evans is sold, then it seems unlikely Pardew will be able to significantly strengthen the rest of the team.

Another side still in the relegation mix is West Ham United. The transfer strategy though employed by manager David Moyes has seemed a little odd at times. Very soon after the window opened there were unexpected rumours about Andy Carroll joining Chelsea, rumours that haven’t completely gone away.

Carroll’s chronic and persistent injury problems would seem to make him a risky signing for anyone, let alone a team like Chelsea. They surely need a regular and reliable deputy for Alvaro Morata as the games stack up, with the Champions League also resuming soon.

West Ham also seemed to be willing to let their main striker signed in the summer, Javier Hernandez, leave as well as several other forwards. This would leave the team badly short of attacking power if they couldn’t be replaced, which is quite a risky strategy.

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The Hammers had also enjoyed an initial bounce under Moyes, securing several impressive wins as they climbed out of the relegation zone. But that early momentum has subsided and they would also seem to be in need of the lift new signings can bring.

Having improved defensively under the Scot, surely goal-scoring reinforcements are more critical to the team? And it’s a surprise West Ham didn’t, for example, try to persuade Theo Walcott to stay in the capital when it became clear he was leaving Arsenal.

Of the other teams in the mix, Swansea’s problem has certainly been scoring goals since Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente left in the summer. The Swans are a solid and consistent team defensively and in the top half of the Premier League in terms of defensive stats.

The club’s rather surprising choice to succeed Paul Clement, Carlos Carvalhal, has proved to be a relatively successful one so far as the unlikely win over Liverpool showed. In that match Swansea were well organised at the back and despite some difficult moments, they snatched a goal and held on for the points. It was classic survival mode football.

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This approach though will probably not be enough for the team to accumulate enough points to stay up. And so Swansea are competing with their rivals around them to try to add attacking quality, as their rather unlikely and unsuccessful pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s forwards showed.