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Chinese riches affect PL & more: three EPL talking points

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

02-05-2016 14:52 BJT

Welcome to EPL3TP, where we take a look at three of the Premier League’s biggest talking points. Happy Chinese New Year! This week: the Chinese Super League’s riches start to affect the PL; Leicester is stepping into gear as it battles to be the PL champion; and Stoke has come a long way since it arrived in the PL in 2008.

By Colin Robinson, CNTV Sports Commentator 

Chinese Super League riches start to affect PL

In the past few years, Chinese Super League clubs, flush with cash from super wealthy entrepreneur owners, have lured well-known European-based stars to play in China, starting with Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in 2012. The players who moved to the CSL were typically in their mid-thirties, past their prime and looking for one last big pay day. 

But this season, CSL clubs are bringing in players in or around their prime, with 29-year-old Jackson Martinez joining Guangzhou Evergrande from Atletico Madrid, Gervinho (28) transferring from A.S. Roma to Hebei China Fortune and Ramires (also 28) leaving Chelsea for Jiangsu Suning. 

As regulars for some of Europe’s top teams, these players would have been welcome at most Premier League clubs. In fact, we’re starting to see CSL clubs beat PL sides to signings. 

Back in August, Watford tried to buy Paulinho from Tottenham, but Evergrande came in with a better offer, and the midfielder joined his former national team coach Luis Felipe Scolari in Guangzhou. It was one thing for newly-promoted Watford to be pipped to a signing, but this week Jiangsu managed to acquire the top target of Premier League giant Liverpool. 

Liverpool spent the whole January transfer window chasing Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian star forward Alex Teixeira, but couldn’t agree on a fee, with the Anfield club deciding that Shakhtar’s asking price was too high. Now Jiangsu is set to step in with a U.S.$56 million offer. Meanwhile, Liverpool has ended up with only a loan signing from Queens Park Rangers and a young prospect from the Serbian league.

‘Leicester-lona’ steps it up

Leicester has exceeded all expectations in its 24 matches this season, but last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool was one of its best. At times, the Foxes calmly and efficiently knocked the ball around like the great Barcelona team of 2011. 

And then there was the opening goal, the highlight of an impressive victory. With about an an hour played, semi-pro-grafter-turned-PL-superstar Jamie Vardy let the ball bounce over his shoulder and hit a perfectly executed half-volley into the net from 20 yards, giving his team a 1-0 lead. The goal gave Vardy a decent shot at the goal of the season award and was vital in a win that affirmed his team’s title credentials.

As fellow title challenger Arsenal slumped to a 0-0 draw with Southampton, Leicester moved five points clear of the Gunners and remains three ahead of second-placed Manchester City.

With 14 games to go, Leicester coach Claudio Ranieri is playing down his side’s hopes of winning the championship. Ranieri has managed some of Europe’s top clubs, including Chelsea, Inter Milan, Monaco and Valencia, but he’s never won a top division title. And his chances of changing that record are set for another big test this weekend as the Foxes take on Man City in a key game at the top of the table. 

Stoke has come a long way

When Stoke City arrived in the Premier League as runner up of the division below in 2008, very little was expected of the club. Under its no-nonsense manager Tony Pulis, the football was rugged and direct. And going to a game at the Britannia Stadium was almost like watching another sport to the matches played elsewhere in the PL, as the Potters played for throw-ins and corners to exploit their strength from set pieces.

But gradually, Stoke’s style of play has become less rugged, more watchable. And that process has continued under Mark Hughes, who replaced Pulis as manager in 2013. 

And Stoke is keen to continue progressing: In the summer, the club raised eyebrows across Europe with the signing of highly-rated Bayern Munich winger Xhedran Shaqiri for U.S.$17.5 million. And the club went a step further on Monday, setting a new record for its most expensive purchase by recruiting Giannelli Imbula from F.C. Porto for U.S.$22.4 million.

But as the value of Stoke’s squad increases, the pressure on Hughes grows. If the PL’s second longest-serving manager doesn’t deliver a top half finish this season, his position could be under threat, such is the cut-throat nature of England’s top division. 

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


 


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