The English Premier League season has reached the half way point and what a season it has been. Leicester has shown that money and big name players do not always result in success, while Chelsea has proven that player power can end a coaches character.
Here is our mid-season report card for all 20 Premier League teams.
The Gunners are the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of the Premier League. Performances vary from week to week, evident with the outstanding victory against Manchester City and the humiliating 4-0 defeat toSouthampton. Gunner’s supporters and Arsene Wenger will happy to be sitting equal first heading into the New Year, but injuries and inconsistent performances are a worry.
After years of avoiding relegation, Aston Villa seem to have used all there luck and will succumb to relegation. With only one win and 5 draws, Villa are 11 points away from 17th place Swansea. For a season, which began with high hopes after reaching the FA Cup final last season, Villa’s have been an utter failure. The change of manager’s has not changed results and this could lead to another management change by the end of the season.
Bournemouth were always going to hover around relegation and when they lost Callum Wilson and Max Gradel to season ending knee injuries, relegation looked inevitable. Three wins in the last four games has improved Bournemouth’s standing on the table. Even if Bournemouth do succumb to relegation, the victories against Chelsea and Manchester United would deem the clubs season a success.
Has the Premier League ever seen a decline as rapid as Chelsea’s? In May, Chelsea won the Premier League title and seven months later they are without a permanent coach and three points away from relegation. Whether it was Jose Mourinho, the players or the lack of transfer activity the season has been a failure. Only Willian can hold his head high while the rest of the squad has to review their own performance’s and ambitions. A mid table position would be a good result for a season that can only be described as a disaster.
Usually a team in the bottom half of the table, Crystal Palace have been a revelation since the appointment of Alan Pardew. Wilfred Zaha and Yannick Bolasie provide the pace to the Palace squad, while Yohan Cabaye provides creativity and drive from the midfield. Palace will be hoping a few January purchases could propel the club into the top six.
Roberto Martinez has found it difficult to recapture the form from two season ago, which led to a top six finish. Everton have some of the best young talent in the EPL and could find it difficult to retain the services of Romaleu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, John Stones and Gerard Deulofeu if they cannot qualify for European competitions.
The fairy tale story of the season. Many people including myself thought Leicester would be relegated this season. Instead they now sit equal first in the league and have one of the most inform strikers in the country, Jamie Vardy. Riyad Mahrez was purchased with the equivalent of Wayne Rooney’s fortnightly wage and has doubled the output of Rooney this season. Most EPL fans will be hoping Leicester can remain in the title fight until seasons end.
Another team, which is stuck with mediorocrity, Liverpool are still reminiscing with the success of two years ago. Brendon Rodgers has been sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp but the mid table position remains. This year means little for Klopp as the list he has inherited is nowhere near competitive enough to win the league. Instead Liverpool supporters must wait until July to see the beginning of the Klopp rebuild. Qualifying for the Europa League will be enough for a pass mark and on current form this prediction seems in reach.
With a squad as talented as Manchester City’s, you would be inclined to think they would comfortably be sitting top of the table. City can play some exquisite football at times, but for some reason they lack enthusiasm in some games. Attack is not an issue for City, however it is their defence that is a major issue. Captain, Vincent Kompany is half the player he once was, while the rest of their defence struggles against strong, pacey players. City would be happy to be three point from first but will need to improve if they want to reclaim the title.
Behind the success of Leicester and the turmoil of Chelsea, Manchester United are the biggest talking point of the season. Fans are furoious with the lack of attacking ambition shown by the club and poor performances has heaped pressure on Louis Van Gaal. The depth of the squad is not good enough to challenge for the title and the lack of attacking options is remarkably perculiar, given Van Gaal sold Javier Hernandez, Robin Van Persie, Nani and Angel Di Maria, while also loaning out Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson. Van Gaal will be lucky to retain his job in the coming weeks and maybe then, United may improve.
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Newcastle supporters would have hoped for a much easier season. But the struggles have remained and Newcastle will fight to retain Premier League status. Impressive victories like the one against Liverpool have been a rarity, leading many to question if this will be the season Newcastle drop to League One.
Sitting just above the relegation zone, Norwich will need to add some key signings in the January window to stay in the top flight of English football. If they can continue to have wins like the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford, then they will avoid relegation.
After last years heroics, Southampton have struggled to cope with the lost of key players over the summer period. Last year, Southampton continued to impress, even after selling Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Ricky Lambert. This year though, they have found it difficult to perform without key midfielder, Morgan Schniederlin. It will be crucial for Southampton to hold onto their star players in the January transfer period. A mid table finish looks likely for the club.
Once described as the most boring team in English football, Stoke have become an exciting, unpredictable team with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic. Wins against Manchester City and Manchester United prove Stoke can match the powerhouses of the Premier League. On current form, Stoke will be eyeing a top six finish.
Like their Toonside rivals, Sunderland have been flirting with relegation in the last few years and could now succumb to the exit. Hiring the ever reliant Sam Allardyce paid early dividends, but still Sunderland remain second last. It will be a big task to keep Sunderland in the Premier League and survival seems unlikely.
After a third consecutive win over Manchester United in two years, Swansea’s season took a turn for the worse and saw upcoming manager Garry Monk sacked. Swansea fans and the club expected a mid table finish but now they are fighting to avoid relegation.
The quiet achievers of the season, Tottenham are contending for Premier League title, which no one saw likely. Only losing two games for the season, Tottenham have become one of the hardest teams to break down, conceding a league low 15 goals. Adding to their attacking options in January will improve the clubs chances of winning the title.
A mid table finish is an outstanding result for Watford considering they were odds on to be relegated. Led by Odion Ighalo goal scoring, Watford sit ninth on the table and look like a team capable of winning every game they play.
Little improvement from last year sees West Brom sit in 13th place. Don’t expect West Brom to be relegated but also don’t expect them finish any higher.
Wins against Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea would surely give West Ham and A+ grading if only it were not for the draws and defeats against the lower ranked sides. West Ham have been heavily hit by injures this season and their form has suffered. Contending for a Europa League spot will be a priority.