By James Lawton, Chief Sports Writer
Emmanuel Adebayor's impact at Manchester City has probably caught most attention – for both solid and spectacular reasons. However, the irony is that the seller Arsène Wenger can make an unimpeachable case for his own move into the market.
Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal's £10m signing from Ajax, made a largely unheralded arrival. Indeed, the word from the Netherlands was that he was an unlikely candidate to fill the hole left by Kolo Touré's move to Eastlands with Adebayor.
Wenger, it was suggested, had made a flimsy move to stiffen an area of obvious weakness in the centre of defence. Vermaelen was more a utility defender than a rock in the middle of the backline. The Belgian wasn't big, wasn't a guy who could take hold of a critical situation. A useful player, perhaps, but not some instant cure for the defensive frailty that has bedevilled Arsenal in recent years – and betrayed some of the best pure football being played across Europe.
It was then a case of cue one of the most impressive ever arrivals in the Premier League.
Vermaelen was masterful in Arsenal's superb start to the season at Everton. He scored the second of his team's six goals in a plundering raid into the box to get on to the end of a trademarked Robin van Persie free-kick. In defence, he didn't put a foot wrong.
Against Celtic's mostly ineffectual forwards he was similarly confident, snuffing out rare points of danger with fine anticipation, most notably a potentially significant threat from Scott Brown.
The acid test came at Old Trafford at the weekend when he was again quite outstanding. Arsenal lost but no responsibility rested with Vermaelen, United coming to life because of critical mistakes by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and midfielder Abou Diaby. Vermaelen was impeccable, quick to read the opposition, quick to make sure-footed tackles.
Wenger says that, despite his faith in Vermaelen, he has been a little surprised by the speed of his smooth grasp of the requirements of the Premier League. "Normally it takes a little time for a player from abroad to settle down here but remarkably this has not been the case with Vermaelen."
Indeed not, in just a handful of games – literally five, three Premier League and two Champions League – he has imparted a stunning sense of a man utterly at ease with his challenge.
That it is one of the key ones of the new season only underlines the extent of his achievement.
By Sam Wallace, Football Correspondent
Peter Crouch has always scored goals at each of his seven clubs. That's a lot of clubs but then, wherever Crouch has been, so misfortune has followed him in the shape of managerial sackings, financial crises or – in the case of Liverpool – the best centre-forward in the world arriving to take his place in the team.
But the big man always bounces back. He moved for £9m to Tottenham this summer and demonstrated against Birmingham City on Saturday that he can rough up a defence with the best of them. Yet despite his height he is primarily a goalscorer, just one who happens to be in a targetman's body.
After QPR, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Norwich (loan), Southampton, Liverpool and Portsmouth (again), it would seem that Crouch has at last found a club on an even keel where he can play out his career. Graham Taylor, who signed him at Villa, always said that Crouch's best years would be in his late twenties and early thirties and now, at 28, is the time that he should flourish.
The best of the rest? With Thomas Vermaelen, Arsène Wenger seems to have struck gold. At £10m from Ajax he looks great value: a tough centre-half who also scores goals. He is uncompromising, aggressive and about £14m cheaper than Joleon Lescott. What's not to like?
There are a few honourable mentions. Tuncay Sanli's transfer to Stoke (£5.5m from Middlesbrough) means this accomplished footballer stays in the Premier League although it is hard to see how his style of play complements that of his new club.
There has always been a lot of interest in 18-year-old Irish prodigy James McCarthy, who cost Wigan £2m from Hamilton Academical. He was the young player of the year in Scotland last season so it will be revealing to learn whether the likes of Manchester United made a mistake in not buying him.
The winger Lee Martin was not quite good enough for Manchester United but this exciting player obviously made an impression on Roy Keane when he was there. The Ipswich manager bought him for £1.6m. Paul Gallagher cost Leicester £1m from Blackburn – he is a classy striker who could easily make the step up again to the Premier League.
By Glenn Moore, Football Editor
Not as high-profile as many of City's signings, despite the controversy surrounding his move from Villa Park, but the £12m midfielder is arguably the most effective of Mark Hughes' many signings.
The manager has already privately confided that Barry is "an even better player than I thought" and, having watched him operate from close quarters at Selhurst Park last week, it is easy to see why.
Barry is the understated hub of City's Harlem Globetrotters team, the man who knits it all together. He links defence and attack, left flank and right, and enables the many offensive players to push forward with freedom. He is also capable of producing goals of his own, some through his set pieces.
Barry has been earmarked as a player to watch since his teenage years, when Villa ruffled feathers themselves in poaching him from Brighton. His development has taken time, in part through losing his way a little. There is also a lack of pace that particularly put off Sven Goran Eriksson, and he played in too many positions.
All these experiences have, though, now combined to his benefit and he is peaking at the right time, for his own World Cup ambitions, and the Manchester City "project".
A final reference: Rafael Benitez, as he tries to repair the damage wreaked by Xabi Alonso's departure, can only look eastwards to Eastlands with envy.
By Ian Herbert, Deputy Football Correspondent
The lightning move by Sir Alex Ferguson for Owen was done and dusted inside three days and caught the football world more by surprise than any other transaction this summer. But the deal – which began with a telephone call from Ferguson on an afternoon in early July and saw him on United's books by the Friday – looks like a priceless piece of business on the basis that there was no price, save for Owen's salary, and that the striker is a good bet to deliver.
The view inside the game is that Owen will start no more than 20 games but the more significant statistic is how many times he will net as an impact player. The detractors – and they are curiously abundant, looking for a player who dares continually to express confidence in himself to demonstrate the perils of pride before a fall – point to his fluffed chance against Birmingham City on the opening Sunday. But the quite exquisite finish against Wigan Athletic six days later – Owen displaying that propensity for finding space that he has and angling his shot in off the post – revealed qualities that were not there in Old Trafford's departed Carlos Tevez. Owen might not have the pace which allowed him to see off all of those Ian Rush goalscoring records in Deeside football well over a decade back but the understanding he evidently has with Wayne Rooney is already in evidence. Dimitar Berbatov, on whose shoulders so much rests, would not have hared after the through-ball from Rooney which Owen reached and wasted against Birmingham City. The odds about him scoring 20 times this season were 18-1, a worthwhile flutter.
Owen's lack of conviction before goal in significant games to date might suggest fluttering nerves where those of steel once were, but the 29-year-old has an incentive to overcome any. Suggestions by managers and chairmen in the game that he lacks the appetite have hurt him more than he admits. The England flight to South Africa is not beyond his reach and to be aboard it and to disprove the doubters offers far more incentive than the bonuses for playing and scoring which Owen has signed up to, having taken a huge pay cut from his £110,000-a-week salary at Newcastle. The re-emergence, in a World Cup season, of the man who chose France, three tournaments ago, to signal his arrival, just might be one of the stories of the campaign.
By James Corrigan, Football Writer
No doubt Arsenal supporters would roll their eyes and advise their friends up north to judge him in March not September and to check how high his head remains when their form enters one of those inevitable dips. But on the evidence of these opening weeks Emmanuel Adebayor does look to be the canniest piece of summer business on behalf of that Imelda Marcos of the Premier League, Manchester City. Even at £25m.
Mark Hughes, in particular, would agree. In terms of the Welshman's continuing employment, much was made of the necessity for City to hit the ground running this season; and with three wins from three league games they have given Sparky his flyer. Yet take out Adebayor's third-minute strike in the season opener at Blackburn, then his low drive against Wolves two weeks ago – for the 1-0 win – and then his bullet header against Portsmouth on Sunday – for the 1-0 win – and the table would not make such pleasing reading.
True, City were deserving victors on all three occasions, and another striker presented with the same chances – and yes, others too – might well have applied the necessaries equally as well. But with Adebayor there is always far more than meets the scoreboard. Swiftly and surely, the Togo man has alerted the Eastlands faithful to the argument that he should be the fans' favourite and not Carlos Tevez. No matter who he left to join them.
Surely nobody, not even the bitterest Gooner, could argue with the talents at the 25-year-old's disposal. Adebayor is one of the few lanky forwards who knows how to maximise his advantage in the air – as he showed at Fratton Park – while on the ground his pace and skill levels are not at all compromised by his physique. He is a stunningly athletic specimen who proved at the Emirates two years ago that he has the wherewithal to last a full campaign.
Back then, everyone believed his qualities included the attitude. After last season's personal implosion, the jury understandably remains out and will not be returning until the games stack up and his performances follow suit. However, a change of scenery – and he as he puts it "the loves of the fans" – has clearly reinvigorated Adebayor and in these early days he has, at the very least, helped make it possible to regard that top-four placing as not such an outlandish reach. In the sheikh's £200m revolution he may just come to represent the snip.
Premier League goals scored by Emmanuel Adebayor, between 2006 and 2009.
Top summer signings: Premier League
C Tevez (unattached to Manchester City) £25.8m
E Adebayor (Arsenal to Manchester City) £25m
J Lescott (Everton to Manchester City) £24.4m
Y Zhirkov (CSKA to Chelsea) £19m
R Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers to Manchester City) £18.8m
G Johnson (Portsmouth to Liverpool) £18m
A Aquilani (Roma to Liverpool) £18m
A Valencia (Wigan to Man Utd) £17m
K Toure (Arsenal to Manchester City) £16.6m
G Barry (Aston Villa to Manchester City) £12m
S Downing (Middlesbrough to A Villa) £12m
M Turner (Hull to Sunderland) £12m
D Bent (Spurs to Sunderland) £10m
K Naughton & K Walker (Sheffield United to Spurs) £10m
T Vermaelen (Ajax to Arsenal) £10m
D Bilyaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow to Everton) £9m
P Crouch (Portsmouth to Spurs) £9m
F Delph (Leeds United to Aston Villa) £8.5m
S Bassong (Newcastle to Spurs) £8m
C Benitez (Santos Laguna to Birmingham City) £8m
K Doyle (Reading to Wolves) £6.7m
L Cattermole (Wigan to Sunderland) £6m
A Diamanti (Livorno to West Ham) £6m
J Heitinga (Atletico Madrid to Everton) £6m
N Kalinic (H Split to Blackburn) £6m
L Cana (Marseilles to Sunderland) £5m
J Collins (West Ham to Aston Villa) £5m
S Distin (Portsmouth to Everton) £5m
R Huth (Middlesbrough to Stoke) £5m
R Johnson (Cardiff City to Birmingham City) £5m
Tuncay (Middlesbrough to Stoke) £5m
Deadline day moves: Who went where
R Abu Bakr (unattached to Swansea)
O Anoruo (Wrexham to Newtown) Loan
A Barton (Preston to Crawley) Loan
Tal Ben Haim (Manchester City to Portsmouth) Undisclosed
H Bouazza (unattached to Blackpool)
L Bromby (Sheff United to Leeds) Undis
L Butcher (Spurs to Grays) Loan
D Carney (Sheff United to Twente) Undis
Danny Collins (Sunderland to Stoke) £2.75m
Dominic Collins (Preston to Crawley) Loan
J Collins (West Ham to Aston Villa) £5m
S Cox (Spurs to Cheltenham) Loan
A Davies (Nottm F to Brighton) Loan
C Davis (unattached to C Palace)
C Edwards (Sunderland to Ipswich Town) Undisclosed
D Elm (Kalmar FF to Fulham) Undis
L Haldane (Bristol Rovers to Port Vale) Loan
J Heitinga (A Madrid to Everton) £6m
L Holden (Rhyl to Charlton) Loan
O Jansson (Spurs to Exeter) Loan
I Klasnic (Nantes to Bolton) Loan
N Kranjcar (Portsmouth to Spurs) £2.5m
G Leadbitter (Sunderland to Ipswich) Undisclosed
T Lees (Leeds to Accrington) Loan
P Lovenkrands (unattached to Newcastle United)
C McDonald (Man City to Walsall) Loan
S Mackle (unattached to Portadown)
J Martin (Linfield to Crusaders) Free
Y Moutaouakil (Charlton to Motherwell) Loan
D Nugent (Portsmouth to Burnley) Loan
D O'Dea (Celtic to Reading) Loan
K Renton (Norwich to Brechin) Loan
J Rothen (PSG to Rangers) Loan
A Saborio (Sion to Bristol City) Loan
D Schofield (Yeovil to Millwall) Loan
E Sno (Ajax to Bristol City) Loan
I Sonko (Stoke to Hull City) Loan
B Sturrock (unattached to Mansfield)
T Tainio (Sunderland to Birmingham City) Loan
B Valero (West Bromwich Albion to Real Mallorca) Loan
B Watson (Wigan to QPR) Loan
M Williamson (Watford to Portsmouth) £3m
H Yebda (Benfica to Portsmouth) Loan