Arsenal are predictably in the losers after dropping valuable points at home to Hull as Chelsea and Man City continue to make it a two-horse race at the top of the table...
Jose Mourinho 'must look at the Arsenal squad and think how easy it would be to turn them into genuine title challengers'. As it is, the big winners are once again Chelsea...
"I have to say my club did a fantastic job, and not just because of what we bought, but because we did it in almost record time. The transfer market closes August 31 and we close our market on July 19. We finished the market today."
So said Jose Mourinho two weeks ago, but since then the Chelsea manager has enjoyed an emotional reunion with Didier Drogba and allowed Romelu Lukaku to leave owing to the striker's perceived lack of desire to fight for his place. With another £28m now in the bank and Chelsea very much on the way to complying with FFP regulations, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them return to the market for at least one more new signing.
While Mourinho's words should often be taken with a pinch of salt (the transfer window closes at 11pm on September 1, for example), it's true that Chelsea have completed some fantastic business this summer. The manager earmarked several key positions for recruitment and acted swiftly to sign proven quality in Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis. And all for a total similar to that raised from the sales of David Luiz, Lukaku and Demba Ba.
There have been doubts raised in some quarters about Costa's ability to hit the ground running, but these should be founded more in the necessity of the situation rather than any fears that the striker lacks the right attributes.
As Atletico Madrid's No.9 last year, the 25-year-old hit 36 goals to lead the Rojiblancos to La Liga glory and a place in the Champions League final. A nagging hamstring injury saw him struggle for Spain at the World Cup, but that issue appears to be behind him following impressive performances against Olimpija and Vitesse in pre-season.
"He's a great addition for us. Technically he is very, very good," said Mourinho. "That's why, lots of the players, they are so happy and so surprised, because his quality is even higher than what they expect. He is so strong physically and he gives so much effort during matches."
For a fee of £32m, Costa represents a sound investment in today's market, especially in contrast to the £20m Chelsea shelled out on his Atletico teammate Filipe Luis. Mourinho likes to talk about transition and his 'little horse', but the acquisition of the 28-year-old full-back - along with his decision not to give Lukaku a chance - suggests a strong amount of pragmatism in his rebuilding plans. Witnessing the talent and commitment of Costa and Luis first-hand in last season's Champions League semi-final defeat has focused his vision.
Diego Simeone's Atletico side are certainly built in an image of which Mourinho would approve, while Fabregas' arrival can be seen as the manager acknowledging his remit to entertain. While Costa is considered the missing piece of the jigsaw at Stamford Bridge, Fabregas is the glitzy wall-mounted frame in which to present the finished picture. After signing Willian, Nemanja Matic and Cesc in successive transfer windows, Mourinho has assembled a midfield as strong as they come.
It's a significant step up from the team that relied too often on Frank Lampard's ageing legs last year and lacked a clinical finisher to profit from the numerous chances created by Eden Hazard and Oscar. With Andre Schurrle also ready to play a bigger role for the Blues, having scored three goals en route to Germany's World Cup victory, the squad's evolution is developing at an encouraging rate. Chelsea are the team to beat at the moment and should be in a strong position by the time they travel to Manchester City on September 21.
Hot on the heels of Chelsea are the London rivals whom they thrashed 6-0 in March, as Arsenal's title challenge petered out in familiar fashion. That isn't to say it wasn't a season of progress at the Emirates, however, as Arsenal displayed some of their best football for several years at the start of the campaign before ending their trophy 'drought' with victory in the FA Cup.
After that hard-fought win over Hull in May, Sarah Winterburn wrote that Arsene Wenger needed to build on the good vibes around the club by strengthening quickly in the transfer market, and obviously he listened to her advice. There were a few concerned voices when the manager was seen playing foot-volleyball on Ipanema beach as Chelsea and Manchester United concluded early deals, but Wenger responded with the signing of the summer so far in Arsenal's £35m capture of Alexis Sanchez.
Three more recruits have followed for a combined total in excess of £30m as Wenger continues to lay the foundations for a convincing title challenge. "I'm very happy because I did what I wanted, and I am still open to do more," said Wenger recently. "We are a bit ahead of what we usually do, because the availability on the market was bigger and earlier than before."
A defensive midfielder - possibly Sami Khedira or William Carvalho - remains on Wenger's shortlist, while there are also calls for the manager to find a replacement or alternative to Olivier Giroud. However, with the acquisition of Sanchez, and Theo Walcott's return from injury, the Gunners still possess a range of options in attack and crucially players with pace and intelligence to run in behind, maximising the use of Mesut Ozil's talent to spot a pass.
As with the German's arrival last year, Sanchez could prove to be a genuine game-changer. Simply signing a player of the Chilean's quality is enough to arouse optimism, but when you also factor in his ability it's clear that Arsenal could be devastating in the final third. Especially if Yaya Sanogo maintains the four-goal form he displayed against Benfica.
'P45DUE' was the brilliant headline on the front page of the Newcastle Chronicle in April after the Magpies lost six matches in succession, scoring once and conceding 17.
At that stage it seemed Alan Pardew's position was untenable, but somehow he survived intense pressure to resign before being handed a sizeable pot of funds from the sale of Yohan Cabaye in January.
Newcastle have acted shrewdly to strengthen a squad in desperate need of renewal, with Siem de Jong becoming the club's first permanent signing in over a year at the start of July.
The Ajax captain has been followed by Ligue 1 sensation Remy Cabella, who notched 14 goals for Montpellier last season, as well as Emmanuel Rivière, Ayoze Pérez, Jack Colback and Dutch World Cup full-back Daryl Janmaat, who replaces Mathieu Debuchy.
Along with the arrivals of promising Nottingham Forest duo Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow (who will return to The Kuwait City Ground on loan), the Magpies' business represents sensible planning for the future. But the question remains whether Pardew is still the man to take them there.
Seeing Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell on Stoke's list of signings might not excite many fans, but the duo were the best of bad bunches at Sunderland and Fulham and are worthy of another shot in the top flight as Mark Hughes hopes to build on the Potters' first top-ten finish.
A little more intriguing are the acquisitions of Bojan from Barcelona and former Manchester United forward Mame Biram Diouf. The former displayed such immense talent when he made the breakthrough at Barca that he threatened to displace Thierry Henry, with then manager Frank Rijkaard saying: "He is a special player who always makes the right decision on the pitch."
Unsuccessful moves to Roma, AC Milan and Ajax have followed, but Bojan could still explode into life in the right team with the right manager. That could potentially be Hughes, who coached Craig Bellamy to his highest total in the Premier League at Blackburn in 2005/06, and got 19 goals out of Roque Santa Cruz at Ewood Park, which looks like black magic considering the numbers the striker recorded before and since.
Hughes will also hope that Diouf maintains his impressive Bundesliga form as the forward returns to England two years and 26 goals wiser. The 26-year-old, who can also play on the wing, may not immediately prove to be a better choice than Peter Odemwingie in attack, but he provides a different option as Stoke shuffle the pack.
Hughes will no doubt want one or two more, but his series of calculated gambles marks a good start to Stoke consolidating their place in the top half.
It has been a quietly impressive summer for the champions, recruiting long-term targets Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala (just as soon as those third-party issues are resolved), as well as proven quality and experience in Bacary Sagna, Frank Lampard (for six months) and Willy Caballero, who removes any room for complacency for Joe Hart.
Such was City's strengthening last year that the squad has only required fine tuning. Following Alvaro Negredo's injury, it was suggested that another striker might be needed, but the returning Stevan Jovetic, who missed almost all last season, has since stepped up with three goals in two pre-season matches to make a case for his inclusion.
"One year ago, we knew the positions we wanted to reinforce in the team and we did it," said chief executive Ferran Soriano last week. "We have a new right-back, we have a holding midfielder, we'll have a new central defender and that's it. We don't need to sign new players for the sake of it.
"We need to sign players that the team needs because the team has a balance. To win you need to keep the balance. Our squad is very strong and it's the second year that they play with Manuel Pellegrini, so they'll do much better."
That final point is crucial. City progressed in both style and results last season and, with the experience of his first year in England, Pellegrini will be better equipped to continue the cycle over the next 12 months.
A number of good signings, but nothing spectacular to announce their return to the Champions League. To the outsider it looks like Liverpool have replaced Luis Suarez with Rickie Lambert, with Brendan Rodgers hoping to rectify that situation as soon as possible.
Loic Remy would have been a decent if unremarkable acquisition, but recruiting an £8m forward from QPR hardly speaks to the ambition Rodgers has previously declared.
"We had the experience last summer when players respected what we were developing at the club but wanted to play at the top level," said Rodgers in May. "I suspect this summer will be a totally different proposition."
But Liverpool are yet to really test that theory, with Lazar Markovic possibly the only player to arrive who wouldn't have joined the Reds last season, regardless of their absence from the Champions League.
As I argued here, Rodgers has been careful to pick players that suit his system, and Adam Lallana and Markovic bring bags of talent in the final third. The versatile Emre Can - who only has one full season of top-flight football to his name - can play in midfield or at left-back, but Liverpool still require specialists in those roles, with Alberto Moreno expected to arrive soon and, as I wrote here, another defensive midfielder surely featuring on Rodgers' shortlist.
Dejan Lovren's £20m move from Southampton means Liverpool now possess one of the most expensive defences in Europe, but whether he can solve the leaks of last season remains to be seen. In total, the Reds have shelled out more than £80m on Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Tiago Ilori, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates, but there is still a sense that Rodgers is unhappy with his options as he looks to harden his team's resolve.
The biggest issue for the manager to address, however, is finding a name to lift the mood at Anfield in the way Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have made an impact at Arsenal. Daniel Sturridge, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury, clearly won't be able to carry the goalscoring burden all season, while Lambert is primarily a plan B. With the number of chances Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Markovic and Lallana will create, Liverpool could get goals out of most run-of-the-mill strikers. But they need someone with a high profile to convince supporters - and more importantly their rivals - that they will be back at the top this year.
A solid start at the right end of the pitch that has caused us to consider revising our opinion of Harry Redknapp. The manager has shown sense in his dealings thus far, but QPR still require plenty of strengthening in midfield and attack. Patience shown in June and July can soon give way to rushed desperation as August progresses.
Two encouraging signings amid a number of departures and a summer of upheaval. I addressed the requirements of the Manchester United squad last week, but since then Louis van Gaal has suggested: "Maybe we don't need other players."
That's a worrying thought for the club's fans. Results and performances in pre-season have been impressive, but that shouldn't disguise pressing concerns over the midfield and doubts about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling's ability to play in a 3-5-2 formation. It is clear United need a top-level centre-back to compete for the title, with that demand possibly doubling as Van Gaal learns how his players cope under pressure.
In summary, there is still plenty to do. The US tour has brought a period of calm with regards to transfers, but now we await Van Gaal's decision on who stays, who goes and who should come in. At least with the absence of European football, United can work right up to deadline day without worrying about the extent to which it may impact on their season.
Romelu Lukaku's arrival for £28m is certainly a statement, although the worry is that that statement says Everton have no more funds to strengthen elsewhere.
The long and the short of it is that the first-team squad is the same size it was last year, with Lukaku and Gareth Barry making their loan moves permanent, and Muhamed Besic also arriving after Gerard Deulofeu returned to Barcelona.
With Europa League participation to contend with, it looks like the Tofffees are still short on numbers with less than two weeks to go until the start.
It all depends on keeping Wilfried Bony. So far, he's still there.
Sean Dyche has worked well with the meagre funds available to bring in plenty of Premier League experience, but it's doubtful it will be enough to help Burnley survive. We'd be amazed if Marvin Sordell and Lukas Jutkiewicz score more than eight goals between them.
A lot of money spent on not very much quality. Robert Snodgrass will almost certainly fail to prove his worth as a £7m player, while the £6m shelled out on defenders Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson could perhaps have been better spent as a combined total on one new centre-back.
Jake Livermore is a good addition on a permanent basis (although, for £8m, that's still debatable), but he was obviously there last year and so cannot be considered an improvement to the squad.
The worry for Hull is that their form in the second half of last season continues. They lost 13 of 19 Premier League matches in 2014 and, with the added distraction of the Europa League, Steve Bruce will be wary of a difficult start.
Six members of the first-team squad have left with only two replacements arriving - both from relegated clubs. Unless Palace get the chequebook out soon, it will be very difficult for Tony Pulis to repeat the miracle of last season.
A summer spent trying to keep out of the limelight following the high-profile blunders of last summer (which didn't all look like blunders at the time). A lack of activity leaves Spurs short on quality, however, with the new arrivals not promising much by way of bridging the gap to fourth.
It looks like Mauricio Pochettino may have to work with what he has, unless Southampton eventually budge on Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, with the manager already hinting that he can get the best out of compatriot Erik Lamela in pre-season.
Spurs should look to give it their all in the Europa League this year, as winning that competition may be their best chance of finally returning to the Champions League.
The ludicrous £12m gamble on Enner Valencia after watching him play only four games for Ecuador means there was no other place to put the Hammers.
With the pressure on Sam Allardyce, injury to Andy Carroll and controversy surrounding Ravel Morrison, it has been a nightmare summer at Upton Park.
That's a lot of money to spend on a 28-year-old Championship striker. We're just hoping we remember to mention them more than once this season.
Saints may have ensured they received excellent fees for their departing stars, but it speaks of a lack of ambition to sell so many first-team players in a single summer. Football fans should care about football, not whether balance sheets make sense.
If they now spend to replace the lost quality, then there is hope of appeasing disgruntled supporters and continuing to progress under Ronald Koeman. But if the income is invested elsewhere, what use is it that the club gained impressive fees for their players?
Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle represent a good start, but Southampton have to get busy .
No real improvement to a squad that relied on a miraculous escape last season. Even if Fabio Borini eventually surrenders, we still expect Sunderland to be down there again.
Appointing Roy Keane doesn't convince us that anything will change at Villa Park, especially when funds are so tight as Randy Lerner looks for a buyer. The arrivals of Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson suggest another season of misery.
After years of keeping a tight grip of the purse strings, the Baggies have splurged £10m on a new striker. The only problem is that the manager - an odd appointment himself - has never seen Ideye Brown play. Apart from that, top work.
Matthew Stanger - he's on Twitter
I know Bojan didnt set the world on fire after his impressive esrlier displays but he won the double with Ajax last season. So not totally unsuccessful. He has been outstanding pre-season scoring 3 in 3 from only beng on for half games. If he carries anything like his pre-season form forward then this could turn out to be a massive coup for our Club. Hughes and Cartwright were instrumental in securing the permanent move over a loan and we can see why. Hughes has been fantastic since coming to Stoke. We have brought in players of the standard of Pieters, Muniesa, Arnautovic, Bardsley, Sidwell, Diouff, Bojan(gles), Odemwingie (a swap for Kenwyne Lazy Bones - unreal), all for frees or snippets (a couple of mill tops). Stoke have done this whilst changing the style of play to something a lot more palatable and sustainable. We beat Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal and drew with Citeh last season. Thrashed Villa away. And this was all in a season where we reduced the previous season's deficit of £31m under Pulis, to just under £5m. It's massively exciting times to be a Potter and I pray the new players gel but we keep the team spirit. I have my tickets for the first games, but will be moving to Oz in October so I will be missing the Brit for most of this season. So iI'm over the moon but at the same time gutted. It's going to be a great season.- magicfuller