Premier League

Which of the Premier League’s top six had the better transfer window?

Liverpool made several high-profile additions over the summer.

With the Premier League’s transfer window closing on Thursday, the top title contenders have completed their squad building until January. Here’s how they shape up before the start of the season.

Manchester City

After sweeping to the title with a record 100 points and more wins and goals than any previous team in the Premier League era, it was tough for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to improve his stylish side. Guardiola opted for only one significant new recruit, landing Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez from Leicester in a £60 million swoop.

Mahrez bolsters City’s already impressive array of attacking talent and, while Guardiola missed out on Italy midfielder Jorginho, who instead joined Chelsea, the champions’ combination of youthful swagger and world-class talent still makes them favourites to reign supreme again at the end of the season.

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho made an early splash as he spent £52 million on Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazil midfielder Fred and a further £19 million on Porto defender Diogo Dalot, but the Manchester United manager was still underwhelmed by his club’s business.

Mourinho spent much of United’s pre-season tour of the United States grumbling about the lack of depth in his squad and reportedly feuding with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over failed approaches for defenders Harry Maguire, Yerry Mina and Toby Alderweireld. After finishing second last season – 19 points behind City – United look no closer to bridging the gap to their hated rivals.

Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino had challenged his club to be “brave and take risks” when asked what Tottenham needed to do to improve their squad following their third-place finish last season. Fast forward three months and the north Londoners are under-fire from their fans after failing to make a single signing.

Pochettino is adamant Tottenham’s lack of transfer activity isn’t a problem because it was just as important to hold onto the club’s key players. Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min and Kieran Trippier have all signed new contracts since May. “I am not worried, I am not sad, I am so happy. To keep our best players was our objective and we have achieved that,” Pochettino said.

Liverpool

Determined to build on a fine season that saw his team finish as Champions League runners-up and take fourth place in the Premier League, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp embarked on a £160 million spending spree. Klopp landed Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker for £66 million and paid £52 million for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita.

Not content with those eye-catching deals, Klopp added midfielder Fabinho from Monaco for £39 million and landed Stoke playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri in an £18 million move. Having knocked City out of the Champions League last season, while also beating them in domestic action, Liverpool are expected to mount a strong challenge for the title as they look to end their 29-year wait to be crowned kings of English football.

Chelsea

Hired to replace the sacked Antonio Conte, Blues manager Maurizio Sarri insists he is happy to leave the wheeling and dealing to Chelsea’s hierarchy – a stark contrast to his predecessor’s constant complaints about transfers. Jorginho was Chelsea’s first close-season signing as the Italy midfielder followed Sarri from Napoli in a £57-million deal.

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was allowed to join Real Madrid to be closer to his children, with Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic moving to Chelsea on a season-long loan as part of the deal. The £31 million fee for Courtois was immediately reinvested in Spain international Kepa Arrizabalaga, who arrived from Athletic Bilbao for £72.1 million – a world record for a keeper. Crucially, Chelsea have so far staved off interest from Real and Barcelona in Eden Hazard and Willian.

Arsenal

Heralding the start of a new era at Arsenal following Arsene Wenger’s departure last season, Gunners manager Unai Emery has been given a host of new faces in a bid to end his club’s decline. Wenger’s 22-year reign ended with a wretched sixth-place finish and a second successive season without Champions League action has had a profound effect on Arsenal’s recruitment, with star names now hard to come by.

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery appears willing to let chief scout Sven Mislintat, director of football Raul Sanllehi and chief executive Ivan Gazidis call the transfer shots and that trio have made a series of cut-price deals for Matteo Guendouzi, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.