What they need...
Adam Bate looks at where each of the Premier League teams may look to strengthen in the final days before the summer transfer window closes on Friday.
By Adam Bate - Follow me @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 29/08/12 7:12am
Arsene Wenger has plenty of options in the front three but - much to Mikel Arteta's frustration - none of them are RVP. While Wenger decided against replacing Alex Song with Nuri Sahin, Arteta admitted that Van Persie was simply "irreplaceable". Let's hope Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski took the attempt to relieve the pressure on them in the spirit it was intended, eh?
So with the Gunners content to dream of Jack Wilshere reacquainting himself with a football some time soon, it may be that the only arrival at the Emirates Stadium comes in the form of a defensive squad-man - with Ajax defender Nicolai Boilesen among those mentioned. Of course, that would be somewhat curious given that there have only been two goalless draws in the Premier League so far this season and Arsenal were involved in both of them.
The euphoria that greeted Alex McLeish's sacking at Villa Park lasted much of the summer but the steady realisation that not all of the club's problems have gone away with a mere contract termination is now sinking in. New boss Paul Lambert has the goodwill of the fans but he has work to do in the transfer market if the opening two defeats are any indication.
Darren Bent has cut an isolated figure in attack and Villa appear keen to address the issue by bringing in raw Belgium international forward Christian Benteke. The club's interest in Charlton's Dale Stephens also suggests Lambert is determined to stick to his policy of going with potential rather than big-name buys. That could make for a difficult season given that Villa look to be a side in need of experience all over the park.
The word 'need' hardly seems the right one after the summer spending spree Roman Abramovich has embarked upon. And yet, the Blues squad does appear imbalanced. While it seems unlikely that new boys Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and Victor Moses could ever be accommodated in the same team, Chelsea remain vulnerable if Fernando Torres were to be injured.
Both Edinson Cavani and Hulk continue to be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge and the European champions will need to consider the benefits of strengthening their squad against the risk of unsettling Torres just when he seems set to step out from Didier Drogba's formidable shadow.
Everton's Phils - Neville and Jagielka - have each spoken out in recent weeks to reveal the destabilising effect that transfer windows have had at Goodison Park in the past. David Moyes will be anxious to avoid anything so damaging as Mikel Arteta's deadline day exit in 2011 and looks likely to be focusing on bringing players into the club instead.
The Toffees have been linked with a bid to take Charlie Adam across Stanley Park, while young forward Johnny Russell is believed to be a target. Moyes is determined to ensure he has quality back-up on the bench this season... but the Scot draws the line at returning Michael Owen's calls.
The Cottagers have scored seven and conceded three in their opening two matches and look likely to entertain this season. But there is still a little uncertainty surrounding this squad with Moussa Dembele attracting interest from various clubs and the Clint Dempsey saga yet to reach a resolution.
With the impressive Mladen Petric likely to need support at the age of 31, Martin Jol appears keen to bring in another forward with West Brom's Peter Odemwingie a target, as well as Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis and Evian's Yannick Sagbo. With versatile Sunderland man Kieran Richardson also linked with a switch to Craven Cottage it could be a busy week in West London.
Brendan Rodgers has reshaped the Reds midfield as he seeks to introduce his much-vaunted passing style at a club that used to be rather good at it themselves. The defence was miserly last season but if Martin Skrtel's brainwave on Sunday was anything to go by then adapting to the new approach could take time. Howlers aside, scoring goals will still be Liverpool's biggest concern.
A tally of 47 Premier League goals last season - one more than Bolton but one fewer than Blackburn - was miserable. But Rodgers' only forward acquisition so far has been Fabio Borini, a player with a grand total of nine goals in top-flight league football. Raheem Sterling has vast potential as well but his career can still be spoken about in terms of minutes rather than goals.
Whether the Reds will be delving back into the transfer market remains to be seen. Clint Dempsey will certainly be hoping a Premier League investigation isn't all he has to show for his summer dalliance with the Anfield club.
What Manchester City truly need depends on which corridor at the Etihad Stadium you happen to be walking down. Messrs Marwood and Mancini see this one rather differently. What seems clear is that a striker will not be joining after the City boss conceded that signing Van Persie was "impossible" with four strikers (and some chap called Roque Santa Cruz) already at the club.
Scott Sinclair looks set to take up the seat Adam Johnson was good enough to keep warm for him on the City substitutes' bench and if stories of interest in Javi Garcia are accurate then he could be joined on the sidelines by another talented Englishman in Jack Rodwell.
Aside from collecting midfielders, the priority for the Premier League champions would appear to be a strengthening of the defence. It's an issue that has gathered greater significance following Mancini's surprise switch to a back-three this summer - one that has seen the Italian press the hapless Kolo Toure into action and doubtless seen Marwood press the panic button. Don't rule out a top-class centre-back arriving before the end of the month.
Rebuilding the United midfield has been a familiar refrain from the Old Trafford faithful since the days when Paul Scholes was a retired footballer. The arrival of Shinji Kagawa has at least shifted the debate back a few yards - it's no longer Wesley Sneijder who is required but a ball-winning midfielder, apparently.
The Roy Keane fixation could be assuaged by a late move for Newcastle's Cheick Tiote but whether Sir Alex Ferguson has identified this as quite the problem position fans believe it to be is unclear. The Red Devils boss was quick to rubbish strong rumours linking the club with a move for Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera and it will be interesting to see whether United are tempted into some late activity.
The Magpies have been flirting with Mathieu Debuchy for much of 2012 without being willing to consummate the thing. Right-back still looks to be the position most in need of strengthening with Danny Simpson's contract remaining an issue. With Debuchy adamant he wants to leave Lille the romance may have at least another week to run.
Another former flame still being linked with the Toon is that man Andy Carroll. It's a different world at St James' Park from the one the 23-year-old left when the team was built around the likes of him, Joey Barton and buddy Kevin Nolan. But Alan Pardew may be tempted by the notion that Carroll may save his best work for a Newcastle shirt and he would certainly provide a different attacking option.
There have been plenty of new additions at Carrow Road this summer and some of them have never even played for Leeds. That's not stopping Chris Hughton's drive to add more signings before Friday's deadline. The former Birmingham boss wants a striker.
Hughton has ruled out a move for Michael Owen and distanced himself from reports linking the Canaries with a deal to bring in Manchester City's John Guidetti. But the loan exit of James Vaughan has depleted the club's forward options and a pacey alternative to the twin battering ram that is Grant Holt and Steve Morison could prove useful.
Mark Hughes' ambitious attempt to forge a group of ageing mercenaries into something resembling a team simply by using the word 'project' on a regular basis has had an inauspicious start. Still, the whirlwind of excitement at Loftus Road continues and - perhaps stirred by their opening day mauling - it would be a major shock if the Hoops don't make significant moves in the market.
One of those could be goalkeeper Julio Cesar who is apparently being lined up to replace Robert Green - the previous well-remunerated keeper purchased in the dim and distant past that was June. If that is indicative of the forward planning at QPR then the abortive attempt to take Michael Dawson off Tottenham suggests they have the funds to press on regardless.
Expect defensive arrivals before the window closes as Hughes seeks to provide reassurance to supporters who may already feel they are five points - and one Joey Barton - worse off than where they thought they'd be at this stage of the season.
As impressive as the Royals' ultimately futile efforts against Chelsea were, there remains the nagging suspicion that Brian McDermott may need to do more business in the transfer market. The Reading boss laughed off reports linking the club with Marseille man Jordan Ayew but quality is needed from somewhere. Perhaps Osasuna midfielder Raoul Loe could help stiffen up the midfield.
But goals could be an issue too. The Championship winners of last season achieved that feat despite scoring just 69 times - fewer than any of the top five and the same number as Ipswich who finished in a lowly 15th. Much will depend on Pavel Pogrebnyak staying fit if McDermott does not go looking for some more creativity before the week is out.
It's been an exciting summer to be a Saints fan even if the club appear to have spent much of the past few weeks trying to find out who exactly does own Bologna winger Gaston Ramirez. If nothing else it suggests Nigel Adkins has money to spend and a fair bit of it too.
With that in mind, agents from all over Europe will be troubling the switchboard at St Mary's and part of the challenge for Adkins will be not getting too giddy at the volume of exotic players offered in their general direction. Nicolai Boilesen and Maya Yoshida are the latest to be linked.
If the opening defeat by Manchester City offered hope, the home reverse to Wigan was an eye-opening reality check. Southampton need pace and quality in the centre of defence and in attack. The challenge for Adkins is sifting through the agents' phone numbers on his desk and picking the right option.
After frequently utilising central defenders at full-back in recent seasons, latest defensive signing Geoff Cameron featured as a midfielder against Arsenal. But one area of the pitch where Potters fans are hoping even Tony Pulis won't be tempted to convert a defender to play there is centre forward. Stoke need a goalscorer.
Pulis' men scored fewer goals than any Premier League team last season. Yes, even Alex McLeish's turgid Villa rabble and those woeful Wolves. What's more, the popular Ricardo Fuller has left since then too.
Although there has been vague talk of pairing Peter Crouch with old partner Jermain Defoe and rumours abound that Michael Owen will deign to hobble onto a football pitch again, the former looks unrealistic and the latter is more of an impact substitute than the Jonathan Walters upgrade that is required.
The most important thing for Martin O'Neill will surely be for expensive acquisitions Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson to make an instant impact. The new arrivals have reignited Sunderland fans' enthusiasm for the new campaign after a summer in which they could have been forgiven for worrying that their manager had bumped into Stuart Pearce and was now convinced he could build his attack around Fraizer Campbell.
The chief concern now will be the more mundane matter of ensuring they have adequate defensive cover with Kieran Richardson expected to follow Michael Turner out of the Stadium of Light and injury doubts over Wes Brown. More low-key additions could be imminent.
Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has been unimpressed with Manchester City's handling of the proposed transfer of Scott Sinclair but the feeling persists that Michael Laudrup is relaxed about the situation and could well be eyeing up the latest bargain replacement from Spain.
Although Sinclair has had to be content with a place on the bench for the aggregate 8-0 whippings of QPR and West Ham, the Welsh side are not so naïve as to believe that reinforcements will not be useful when the winger finally does walk away. Middlesbrough forward Marvin Emnes is one who has been linked with a move to the Liberty Stadium and expect arrivals before the Swans' next Premier League exhibition.
While Daniel Levy no doubt revels in the club's new 'partnership agreement' with Real Madrid - the one that sees their best player finally leave with just days to find a replacement - Tottenham fans may be more sceptical about the chairman's unique approach to the transfer window.
New boss Andre Villas-Boas has a tough job on his hands as it is with many already seemingly willing to cast him as a failure if he cannot deliver a top-four finish. As a result, who could blame him for being desperate for players? And who could blame the clubs in possession of those players for being fully aware of Spurs' desperation?
So expect the boot to be on the other foot for Levy as clubs demand a premium for the likes of Leandro Damiao, Hugo Lloris, Willian and Loic Remy. Even so, things will look an awful lot brighter next week if Spurs have a new attacking talent and a goalkeeper the right side of 40 in their ranks.
Such is the Baggies' management structure that chairman Jeremy Peace may be more concerned by the prospect of sporting director Dan Ashworth taking a job with the FA than he is by the ongoing rumours of star striker Peter Odemwingie leaving.
Ashworth's squad-building has constructed a playing staff that is one of the more stable in the Premier League - some would say too static. A bit of pace wouldn't go amiss but Peace does not do rash marquee signings so Albion fans may have to be content with some defensive cover at left-back and/or centre-back before the window shuts.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has already ruled out anything beyond a loan deal as he bemoans the budget restrictions at Upton Park. It's a hard-luck story that would garner a little more sympathy if Allardyce hadn't just blown north of £10million on winger Matt Jarvis.
Jarvis loitered on the flank for all 90 minutes of West Ham's chastening experience at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea on Saturday. Hammers fans may be wondering what the point is of signing a winger if the rest of the team are unable to shovel the ball his way let alone him provide service to the forwards.
The newly-promoted side look pedestrian and with the supposedly reliable acquisitions of Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins erring against the Swans, Allardyce may be tempted into a loan market gamble to inject some more urgency into this side.
The sale of Victor Moses to Chelsea has bolstered Roberto Martinez's transfer kitty and will presumably spark attempts to add to the squad before the end of the month. But the Latics boss has been making confident noises about strength in depth at the DW Stadium.
The loss of a versatile forward leaves a significant gap but nobody does faith in his players quite like the Spaniard and it would be little surprise if Wigan invest in a future prospect instead - with Martinez encouraging the likes of Albert Crusat to fill the significantly bigger boots of Moses in the short-term.