By Andrew Leci
Cheque books have been put away; 25-man squads have been submitted; we're ready to get back down to business in the Barclays Premier League.
The final days of this recent transfer window have been extremely entertaining, with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands, and oodles of players preparing to change the colour of the shirts they'll be wearing to work.
It presents a good opportunity to assess who did what and why.
For the sake of brevity, and some healthy subjectivity, I'm going to limit myself to one key signing per club.
Per Mertesacker. The giant German could be just the plug the Gunners need for their leaky defence - would Arsenal have conceded 8 at Old Trafford had Per been there?
It's moot, and arguably Arsene Wenger has more significant problems in replacing, or compensating for the loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. However, if Arsenal's new look defence can provide a reasonably solid platform, at least there is something to build on in what already looks like being a difficult campaign.
Shay Given. At £3.5 million, the Republic of Ireland international has to be the bargain of the window, and how he will relish getting back into first team action, having sat on the bench for most of last season at Manchester City.
Having said that, even his heroics are unlikely to soften the blow of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing's departures to ‘bigger clubs'.
Scott Dann. With Rovers linked with every slightly-past-their-sell-by-date superstar, the more pragmatic decision to bolster the back line could prove to be season-saving. One still wonders where the goals are going to come from though.
Juan Mata. The final piece in the Chelsea jigsaw? I doubt it. While prodigiously talented, Andre Villas-Boas may struggle to find a way of deploying Mata to optimum effect in a system that may not suit him. I think everyone wants Chelsea to be more fun to watch as this season evolves.
Bryan Ruiz. With Martin Jol already under pressure, all eyes will be on the Costa Rican striker to provide a bit of poke up front. While he has a proven track record in the Dutch Eredivisie, the BPL is likely to test his mettle to the full.
Craig Bellamy. Not the biggest signing Liverpool made in the summer, but certainly the most interesting. No one saw it coming, but not only is it clear that Bellamy feels that he still has a point to prove, it seems that Kenny Dalglish believes he's capable of doing it. Even at 32 years of age, Bellamy is still a potential game changer, although one can't help thinking that his tracksuit top may suffer more wear and tear this season than his number 39 shirt.
Samir Nasri. I know everyone will be expecting me to say Sergio Aguero, but Manchester City aren't going to have any problems scoring goals this season - at least not with Nasri to help create the opportunities. Nasri is a good enough footballer to step into any team and adapt to almost any pattern of play. Manchester City's newly discovered fluidity suits him perfectly.
Phil Jones. While Ashley Young and David De Gea may have been the bigger name glamour summer signings. Phil Jones slipped relatively quietly into Old Trafford and has already proved himself to be worth the transfer fee. Young, dynamic and eminently versatile, Jones is set to become a prized asset.
Demba Ba. The man who became West Ham United's top scorer last season despite playing less than a third of their games, deserves another shot in the BPL. Whether or not the supply line can function adequately could determine the Toon's level of success this campaign, after a very bright start.
Steve Morison. Not even a regular starter yet, Morison is unproven at the top level, but has what it takes to succeed. His stuttering rise from non-league football only 5 years ago is a good story, and Norwich will certainly hope that he is able to take some of the goalscoring responsibilities off the shoulders of Grant Holt.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Joey Barton. Love him, hate him, he's impossible to ignore and whether we like it or not, he's still around. QPR are pinning their hopes on his ability to marshal a midfield that has already found it tough going in the BPL.
Peter Crouch. Quite apart from the fact that Stoke's striped shirts will make him even taller (a fashion tip for you), it's been a fit that has almost begged to be put together. Long throws from Rory Delap/Ryan Shotton; Crouch's 6'7" frame rising majestically on the 6 yard line to glance in the header...Who wouldn't pay good money to see that?
Ji Dong-Won. Sunderland have struggled to replace Darren Bent, and Steve Bruce will earnestly be hoping that the South Korean international is the man for the job. If his goalscoring record with Sunderland is as good as his current rate with his national team, he could be on to something. Bruce will certainly he hoping so, having spent plenty of the Board's money, with little effect to date.
Michael Vorm. At £1.5 million Vorm has already proved to be excellent value for money, and should he find himself on a productivity deal this season, may be able to retire come May 2012. If Swansea continue to insist on playing open and attractive football, the 26 year-old Dutchman is going to be busier than a chameleon on a tartan rug.
Emmanuel Adebayor. Spurs' strikers failed to strike last season, and it cost the club dearly. Adebayor, so often the scourge of Tottenham in the past (particularly during his time with Arsenal) has more than a public relations challenge on his plate. 20 goals or more will be required of him this campaign, if Tottenham are to be even in contention for a top 4 finish.
I must lose my discipline at this juncture to include a significant piece of transfer news that turned out to be not a transfer at all, and that's Luka Modric staying at Tottenham. This story was about strength of will versus ‘filthy lucre' (no pun intended...perhaps). Tottenham's Chairman Daniel Levy took a stance, and against seemingly overwhelming odds and offers, stuck to it. If it turns out to be anything other than a pyric victory, I for one will be surprised.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Shane Long. He is just the kind of player WBA needs to hold the ball up, and distract the attention of opposing defences. Once again, the supply line will be key, but Roy Hodgson has secured the services of one of the league's hardest working players, who is desperate to prove his worth. This is not a bad combination.
Shaun Maloney. After an inconsistent and largely indifferent spell with Aston Villa, the Scotland international has another (and probably last) chance to prove himself in the BPL. Superb, at best; anonymous, at worst, Maloney could be key to Wigan's aspirations, which will probably amount to not having to go into the last game of the season staring down the barrel of relegation. Roberto Martinez may beg to differ.
Roger Johnson. Wolves have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, but even the arch realist who goes by the name of Mick McCarthy will accept that a mid-table position come May is the sum of their expectations. Johnson will add a much needed solidity and discipline to a defensive line last season that conceded more than its fair share of comedy goals.
There you have it; hardly comprehensive and somewhat personal, but hopefully stimulating and debate-inviting.
It's always fun to see players in different coloured shirts, looking not quite right and a little confused, initially, when exhorting their team-mates.
The summer sales are over, as is the international break, and it's back to the weekly grind in the world's best football league.