I've attached Ashley Young's picture to a story about transfer rumours as part of an elaborate scheme to trap Stuart James of The Guardian. Don't tell anyone. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Since we've seen every football media outlet light up with transfer rumours over the first week of the winter transfer window, I thought I would examine what every team in the Premier League needs to either add or subtract in order to finish the season strong (or in the case of Birmingham City, be relegated in shame and ignominy.)
Arsenal: On 40 points, the turned-up-nose side of North London is only four points off of the top of the table. Even more impressive, they've managed to do that with no discernible defence and a cardboard stand-up of David Seaman in goal.
To Add: Arsene Wenger would be well served to purchase a bus before Arsenal's clash with Barcelona in the Champions League. As Inter Milan proved last year, there is some valuable parking space in that back third of the pitch.
To Subtract: Whatever it is that the players choke on in winnable games.
Aston Villa: When Martin O'Neill left five days before the start of the season, I think we all knew we'd be in for a rough season. I don't think any of us expected this. Underwhelming performances, petulant players, and a relegation battle that we're all desperate to see the back of.
To Add: As far as I can tell, we need to switch our reserve squad with the first team. We'll be blowing out the top teams in no time!
To Subtract: The petulant players I mentioned earlier. So...the first team, basically. Carew: probably gone (to West Brom?) Sidwell: already gone to Fulham (still working on a joke about a ginger in a cottage. Isn't there a nursery rhyme for this?) Collins and Reo-Coker: maybe going, maybe not. Wish I cared, but I really don't. Also: Stuart James.
Birmingham City: Stubbornly refusing to get relegated.
To Add: I don't know, a fire? That seems harsh.
To Subtract: Anyone who knows how to play football.
Blackburn Rovers: Fired Sam Allardyce, the dullest manager ever to guarantee a midtable finish. Missed out on Ronaldinho, because nobody wants to live in Blackburn. Certainly not someone who could live in Rio de Janeiro.
To Add: A conscience for El-Hadji Diouf.
To Subtract: A whole bunch of half-baked (sorry!) chicken jokes. It's funnier that their owners don't know anything about football, regardless of how they made their money.
Blackpool: The world's second team. Ian Holloway, also known as The Most Interesting Man In The World, will get a Premiership job if and when Blackpool gets relegated. And yes, I think they will eventually be relegated, just like Hull City did. Sometimes that's not all bad (parachute payments!)
To Add: A cameraman that follows Ian Holloway around everywhere he goes.
To Subtract: Charlie Adam, because I want him to replace Stephen Ireland. Sorry, Kirsten.
Bolton Wanderers: The Barcelona of the Northwest, Owen Coyle has his team playing fantastic football. They've scored some brilliant goals and Kevin Davies has become a bit of a cult figure. Probably not good enough to snag a Champions League spot, but they should be in Europe next season.
To Add: A new toaster for their captain.
To Subtract: Have I mentioned my "Bring Gary Cahill Back to Villa" campaign recently? No? Okay, now I have.
Chelsea: They started the season absolutely rampant, but they've fallen into a slump recently. Hopefully they don't fire Carlo Ancelotti, because that would be outrageously dumb. On second thought, what do I care? FIRE CARLO.
To Add: A lot of people think that Ancelotti's past with AC Milan can help Chelsea land Brazilian midfield wizard/injury risk Kaka. So yeah, adding a FIFA World Player of the Year would probably be helpful.
To Subtract: Believe it or not, Chelsea can't really afford to lose anyone right now. That's the problem with teams like Manchester City stacking their roster with so much depth, it weakens cash-strapped teams like Chelsea. Wait, what?
Everton: Have they started winning yet? Oh, good. Good for them.
To Add: Tim Cahill is not a striker. They could really use an actual, real-life striker. Or they could add Landon Donovan again and go completely strikerless like Roma did.
To Subtract: Three or four inches off the top of Marouane Fellaini's hairdo.
Fulham: Mark Hughes has continued to be the silver-haired Draw Master, with a Premiership-leading ten draws in twenty-one games. They probably could be relegated, because they're not really that good, but they won't.
To Add: Nobody! You already got Steve Sidwell! What more do you want?
To Subtract: Clint Dempsey. I hate that guy.
Liverpool: DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH! DALGLISH!
To Add: Between injuries, red cards and punching dudes in nightclubs, it seems like Liverpool is going to need someone to fill Steven Gerrard's boots.
To Subtract: Ten or fifteen years, so Kenny Dalglish can remember what managing a football team is like.
Manchester City: What can you get a team that has everything? How about offensive intent? A desire to score? More strikers that seem just a bit mental?
To Add: Got him! Edin Dzeko, who complained when Wolfsburg played him out of position and sent Manchester City a come-and-pay-me letter, is joining Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, and Emmanuel Adebayohmygodthisisanexplosionwaitingtohappen.
To Subtract: According to the incoming UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, it will have to be a lot. A. Lot.
Manchester United: Did you know they're still undefeated? Does that surprise you? Could it be because they're not really playing as well as you imagined an undefeated team would play? That's bad news for everyone else, because they're going to get better soon.
To Add: Wayne Rooney. He was immense last season, and ever since he forced his way out of Manchester earlier this season, United just hasn't been the same.
To Subtract: If Gerard Houllier is to be believed, Michael Owen is still a valuable asset. Also, Houllier suggests you invest all your money in dot-com startups and the real estate boom.
Newcastle United: Remember when I wrote about how Newcastle United was so much better off than Aston Villa? And then they fired their manager and got knocked out of the F.A. Cup by a team that has just been promoted into the Football League? Yeah, well, I'm still not sure I was wrong.
To Add: Someone who can fix Hatem Ben Arfa. One of the best young wingers in football, and so mental that he's a perfect fit for Newcastle United.
To Subtract: Their insane chairman, who seems to be determined to destroy Newcastle from within.
Stoke City: I was shocked to check the table and find out that Stoke is tenth in the league table. Stoke is two points or more above Everton, Liverpool, Blackpool, and our very own Aston Villa (among others.) No, I don't know why either.
To Add: Lee Cattermole. Can you think of anyone who fits the Stoke City mindset than "Red Card" Cattermole?
To Subtract: Tuncay and Eidur Gudjohnsen. They play football too well for Stoke. Hoof it in the air, Fancy Dan!
Sunderland: Speaking of surprising, Sunderland are in fifth! God, it's like I haven't even been watching.
To Add: If they can trick Alex Ferguson into giving them Danny Welbeck on a permanent transfer, they'd be set. Unfortunately, Alex Ferguson gets possessive with his loans.
To Subtract: Boudewijn Zenden's happy dance.
Tottenham Hotspur: They have been really, really good. Between them and Manchester City, I wouldn't be surprised (indeed, I'd be happy) to see the Premier League title go to someone who hasn't won it since the league began in 1992.
To Add: A reliable, injury-free defence. Want Richard Dunne? You can have him. (Note: Richard Dunne is neither reliable nor injury-free.)
To Subtract: David Beckham. The man has kids to raise! Also, NOT Robbie Keane. No one wants Robbie Keane.
West Bromwich Albion: One of the most entertaining average teams in the whole league, they're always good for a stunning goal, but they're going down to the Championship again.
To Add: A goalkeeper without a bad case of the drops.
To Subtract: John Carew. I know they haven't gotten him yet, but I don't need to see John Carew anymore.
West Ham United: This year's Portsmouth, an even safer bet for relegation than we thought Blackpool was. Avram Grant still might work his magic and get them into a cup final, though.
To Add: What was that I said about goalkeepers without a bad case of the drops? Yeah, that.
To Subtract: Scott Parker. He's really good, and this club is killing his prime. FREE PARKER.
Wigan Athletic: Blackpool without a defence or any sense of organization. Level on points with us and Wolves, but they've got to go down this year. They've spent enough time punching above their weight.
To Add: A player I've heard of. Their captain is, according to Wikipedia, Antolin Alcaraz. Wikipedia's unreliable, though, so that might be a made-up person.
To Subtract: Charles N'Zogbia and Victor Moses. In keeping with my "get talented players away from relegation fodder" philosophy. And no, that philosophy doesn't apply to Ashley Young. Shut up.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Somewhere, whenever you're reading this, Mick McCarthy is cranky about something.
To Add: Someone who isn't a flash in the pan. Between Matt Jarvis, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, and David Jones, Wolves have had more flavours-of-the-month than Baskin Robbins.
To Subtract: Stephen Hunt. We don't need him breaking anyone's head again.