While every team in the Barclays Premier League was involved in some way in the winter transfer window, not all of the dealings are making headlines. That said, there were some resounding victories and shocking disappointments that took place over the past month.
Let's start at the bottom and get the bad news out of the way first, shall we? I suppose whether the news is bad or good depends on which team you support, though, so let's just say we'll start with the teams who made the biggest mistakes and work our way to those who stand to benefit the most.
Note: The teams below are listed in alphabetical order and do not represent any sort of ranking order.
With a difficult upcoming schedule through February and March that includes matches in the Champions League and FA Cup, it seemed obvious that the Gunners needed support for Olivier Giroud, as he's been heavily relied on to lead the line nearly every match this season. Rumors of a loan move for Juventus' Mirko Vucinic surfaced briefly, but disappeared just as quickly.
Arsene Wenger did manage to bring in one signing on deadline day in 31-year-old Kim Kallstrom. While the move made plenty of sense in theory with Arsenal entering a hectic February with Mikel Arteta as their only fit/not suspended midfielder capable of playing holding midfielder, but questions over the veteran midfielder were ignored and he exacerbated a back injury on his first day of training with his new club.
As a Liverpool fan, January was an extremely depressing month. Lucas Leiva, the Reds' only true holding midfielder for the past couple seasons, aggravated the knee injury that kept him out for months a few seasons back. Liverpool's defensive issues were also further compounded by news that Glen Johnson had been playing with knee and groin injuries through December, which would explain his sharp decline in form.
So, the obvious solution with nearly every defensive position in need of further cover would be to pursue a holding midfielder and a fullback and/or center back, right? Apparently not, as the transfer committee instead focused their attentions on Mohamed Salah and Yevhen Konoplyanka. While both promising players with loads of potential, neither represented necessary purchases with so many other more pressing needs.
While Luuk De Jong arrived on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach to support Loic Remy in the Geordies attack, losing star player Yohan Cabaye to PSG will likely go down as one of the most detrimental transfers of the past few seasons in the Premier League.
Looking at Newcastle's record with Cabaye starting versus when they line up without the French midfielder, it becomes obvious just how big an impact he had in the team's success, especially this season. A 3-0 loss at home to the team's biggest rivals for a second season running only served to pile more pressure on Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear.
While the Baggies didn't have quite as terrible a window as the teams above, they did sell their most consistent striker Shane Long to fellow relegation strugglers Hull. With controversy clouding the future of Nicolas Anelka, new manager Pepe Mel may find himself relying on youngsters Saido Berahino, Matej Vydra and new loanee Thievy Bifouma to help them beat the drop. The lack of Premier League experience could spell trouble for the West Midlands club in the run in.
New Bluebirds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was afforded a fairly substantial boost to his squad by owner Vincent Tan, with six new arrivals in Wales. Kenwyne Jones has already made an impact with a goal on his debut, and you can expect Wilfried Zaha and Fabio to provide some assistance as the promoted club attempts to avoid dropping straight back down to the Championship. Solskjaer also brought in three recruits he has previous experience managing, which may help him settle into a rhythm in the difficult new environment he finds himself in as the season winds down.
The big story is obviously the sale of Juan Mata to Man United for £37.1 million. I'll talk more about the Spanish midfielder below, but that amount of money for a player who didn't fit in with the plans of Jose Mourinho represents a brilliant piece of business for the London club, especially as it helped to pay for some incoming players that better match the playing style the manager is looking to implement. Other players who left the club to raise significant funds were Kevin De Bruyne and Michael Essien, whose departure from Chelsea was sadly overshadowed by the Mata deal.
While bringing Mohamed Salah into the squad will certainly provide another option to Mourinho, the best deal the Blues made was to bring back a player they sold to Benfica a few years back to help bring David Luiz the other way. While it cost significantly more to bring Nemanja Matic back to Stamford Bridge, the move is already paying dividends with the powerful midfielder putting in an imperious display in the win over Manchester City. Any player who can keep Yaya Toure at bay is well worth the £21 million price tag.
What a difference Tony Pulis has made since being drafted in as Ian Holloway's replacement for the Eagles. While Palace have already turned the corner and looked like a Premier League quality team recently, the opportunity for Pulis to add some players who match his style of play to the squad massively increases the team's chances of survival for another season at the top level.
In addition to making the loan move for the much-improved Jason Puncheon permanent, Palace also recruited a few players with previous Premier League experience in Scott Dann and Wayne Hennessey, as well as promising young midfielder Tom Ince and Celtic veteran Joe Ledley.
Normally it would spell disaster for a relegation struggler to lose three of their best attackers, but given that in this case the departures of Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz and Adel Taarabt are an opportunity for boss Rene Meulensteen to get three of the most inconsistent and seemingly unmotivated players out of his team represents a gain in my book.
Add to this the arrivals of Kostas Mitroglou, Johnny Heitinga and William Kvist on permanent deals, as well as loan moves for Lewis Holtby and fan-favorite Clint Dempsey, and Fulham have actually restructured their squad to be full of hard workers who will fight for the club to stave off relegation.
Despite impressing on a regular basis defensively, Steve Bruce's side found goals hard to come by in the first half of this season. The arrival of a new striker partnership in Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long gives both players a chance to reestablish themselves as regular starters for a Premier League club, and the big/little partnership could prove an astute piece of business by the Tigers.
While I've voiced my opinion about the amount of money spent bringing Juan Mata to Old Trafford, there's no denying this was the biggest and arguably the best transfer that took place in the league this window. The diminutive Spanish midfielder adds creativity and guile to a United side in desperate need of some new ideas. With Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie returning to full fitness, Mata's inclusion in the team makes for a formidable attacking force as the defending champions fight for a Top 4 place by season's end.
The Red Devils were also able to send a lot of bit part players and youth in need of playing time out on loan, which should help with the exorbitant wages being spent on Rooney, RVP, etc., and get some more experience for the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Will Keane.
With the London side struggling to put points on the board and hovering dangerously close to the relegation places, Big Sam and the Hammers' owners made great use of the loan market in January, bringing in three talented Italians and a former Premier League defender to solidify their squad and bolster their hopes of survival.
Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino will supply a different approach to the attack, while Pablo Armero will bomb forward from the left back position on a side which has surprisingly kept the most clean sheets in the league this season. Roger Johnson's arrival will also improve the depth at center back should Winston Reid's recovery not be complete or James Collins pick up another injury.
So there you have my opinions on who won and who lost this January. Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Did I leave anyone out? Finally, let's hear your thoughts about what these moves will mean to our fantasy teams going forward, which of course depends on Yahoo adding all the new players into their system before the season ends.