Christmas has come and gone, and we are approaching the New Year.
This also means that the English Barclays Premier League season is at its halfway point. Which of the teams have impressed so far this season, and which ones have flopped tremendously?Here is my report card of a few teams that have caught my attention.
Current League Position: 1st
The Gunners have successfully ended the 2015 calendar year on top of the Barclays Premier League table. Can the New Year leaders continue their form and finish top of the league table come May?
Basically Arsenal’s season this far has been pretty consistent, with the Gunners continuing to win games despite their threatening injury woes. Mesut Oezil has been performing exceptionally well but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not lived up to his potential this season.
Arsenal lose a few points though, for their poor Champions League performance, in which they lost their first three games, but they gained some back though, as they had performed well to salvage their European campaign and qualify for the knockout stages – albeit by the skins of their teeth.
Current League Position: 2nd
What can I say about Leicester City? The Foxes are clearly the surprise package of this season. Nobody expected them to be up there, fighting for the title. Yet they are – sitting comfortably in second place in the League Table and finding themselves in a good position to lift the elusive trophy come May. The Foxes players and fans must think that they have been dreaming.
During the season, Leicester have had numerous high points, such as when they came back from the dead, to beat Aston Villa and West Brom as well as comfortably beating Newcastle and Swansea. And Leicester’s Jamie Vardy certainly deserved praise for his fine performances, which has made him the Premier League’s current top scorer. But one thing may go against the Foxes – if they lose Vardy to another top club, this could seriously derail the Leicester Express.
But as it stands, the Foxes should do well this season by their standards, and I think that they are in with a very good shout to qualify for Europe.
Current League Position: 3rd
The Manchester City Express has been derailed since the beginning of the League season when they had showed great form and it had looked as though the competition would turn into a one-man show.These days, it seems that City are looking beatable and they need to get their act together and start winning more games if they are looking to make a serious bid for the Premier League title this season.
However the Champions League has been kind to them, with their qualification into the Round of 16 and a beatable tie against Dynamo Kiev.
Current League Position: 4th
This season, Spurs have performed well enough, winning against Manchester City 5-1 and West Ham by a 4-1 scoreline at home. Young and emerging players such as Eric Dier and Dele Alli have both done well in midfield.
However for an established Premier League club who has been trying to break into the Champions League for the past few seasons, Spurs are not consistent enough and I think that this is where they are lacking.
Current league Position: 5th
With a good shout in qualifying for Europe come May, Crystal Palace have exceeded expectations of them this season. They are sitting pretty in 5th position thanks to Yohan Cabaye’s fine performances – his goals and defensive displays have proved to be important for Crystal Palace this season.
However, the second half will surely test the depth of Crystal Palace’s squad and whether they truly have it in them to make a successful push for Europe. So far though, so good.
Current League Position: 6th
The current Manchester United are a mere shadow of the Red Devils team that had dominated the 1990s and early 2000s. The appointment of “Messiah” Louis Van Gaal has done nothing to lift the fortunes of these fallen giants.The Red Devils have performed terribly in the League, languishing in sixth position. For a club of their supposed might and stature, this is a far cry from what has been expected of them. Furthermore, United’s exit from the Champions League has further proved how far this team has fallen.
Wayne Rooney has also been showing alarming signs of decline – could this mean the end of an era for a once-great player? I guess that we shall only see what happens next, as the second half of this unpredictable and entertaining season unfolds.
Current League Position: 7th
Liverpool have been playing some very inconsistent football of late. Sure they beat Chelsea and Manchester City and those were big wins this season, but those were only two games. So it shows that Liverpool have the ability to lift themselves up for important games. But other than that, Liverpool are basically struggling, no thanks to Simon Mignolet, who is unable to deal with set pieces and balls inside the box.
However Liverpool, despite their struggles, should still be able to meet their targets – of getting into the Champions League next season and may also end up with a favourable Cup run to salvage their season, if the odds are in their favour.
League Position: 8th
The Hammers appear to have become completely inspired by their new manager, Slaven Bilic, this season. They are cohesive in defence and at the same time, have also improved on their attacking power compared to last season.
Dimitri Payet is also looking dangerous whenever he has possession of the ball and reminds us of Paolo Di Canio at his prime.
The Hammers are certainly on course for a top-ten finish this season and may also end the season on a high, with a good Cup run – as long as injuries do not pile up for the club.
League Position: 9th
Currently sitting in a comfortable 9th position, Watford have already outperformed themselves last season, having already chalked up more victories than they had done in the whole of the 2014/2015 League season.
This is indeed remarkable and thanks to the new and effective 4-4-2 formation that the team has been playing. Their manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, definitely deserves the credit for changing his approach to match the temperaments and strengths of his players, to the nature of the Premier League.
League Position: 10th
Currently sitting in 10th spot, Stoke are on course to at least match their performances from last season, despite losing their first six games of this season. If they can continue their good defensive form in the second half of the season, they may even see themselves in Europe, considering that they have not actually hit top gear yet.
League Position: 14th
Chelsea were the English Premier League champions last season, but they are now a mere three points above the relegation zone. And the club may even have a relegation dogfight on their hands. What on earth can I say about this Chelsea team?Sure they have done better in the Champions League and they beat Arsenal 2-0 this season, but those high points for Chelsea supporters are too few and far between, to prove that this club is a threat to their rivals. Chelsea are indeed a mere shadow of the team that had dominated the Premier League in recent seasons.
Cesc Fabregas’ alarming drop in form must also be highlighted. What on earth happened to that player who did so well during his Arsenal days? He is incapable of being an attacking midfielder and furthermore, is unable to defend even if his life depends on it. What on earth is he doing?
It is not surprising that this year has ended with the sacking of “The Special One” Jose Mourinho, as the Club Manager.
Chelsea can forget about Champions League football next season. That is, unless they literally do the impossible and actually win that trophy. But otherwise, a spot in the Europa League will already be great in salvaging their season, considering where they are right now.