As we come on the halfway point in the season it gives us the chance to look back and assess the season while look into the future at what the next few months holds. It has been one of the most eventful seasons in Premier League history with the top teams looking like minnows and minnows looking like top teams.
High-Flying Leicester look to be the favorite if they can hold on through January. While the long standing giant of Aston Villa unfortunately is looking like a Championship side facing certain relegation. Then there is every team in between them scraping for points to stay alive or fighting for a Champions League place.
Going from 20th last Christmas to 1st this Christmas is an incredible achievement. It has been an absolute wonderful campaign so far for the Foxes. Supporters are still wondering if this is real but they have made huge statement wins so far. A win or draw vs. Manchester City will cement their place in the title race. They need to keep up their fantastic play and everyone needs to stay healthy. Do not be surprised if you hear the Champions League anthem being played at the King Power next season.
This season, so far has been quite Arsenally for the Gunners. Great results in the big matches but they find themselves struggling to teams in the bottom half. They have not quite met expectations and many supporters would expect to be in 1st with how the season has gone so far. They do still sit in 2nd and in good position to mount a title challenge. They need to buy reinforcements in January especially at the CDM and Striker positions. They cannot get too carried away in the FA Cup or Champions League because they need to focus on the league this year.
For the talent they have in the squad Manchester City are severely under-performing. They have not shown up in big matches and the results against Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham are worrying because title winners in the past never struggle like that. Kevin De Bruyne has been a solid signing and they are still very much in the title race. They need to keep beating the smaller clubs while improving the results against teams from the top half. For City to succeed Aguero needs to stay healthy find the back of the net consistently like what he did last season.
Tottenham have been quietly consistent this season and they sit in the precious Champions League spot. Toby Alderweireld has arguably been the signing of the season solidifying their defense. They have allowed the least amount of goals and are tied with Manchester City for best goal differential. The 15 match unbeaten run showed the improvements Pochettino has made at Spurs. Kane has proved he is not a one season wonder and Dele Alli has everyone drooling at his potential. They have the quality to mount a title challenge but that might be too much for the young side.Securing a spot in the Champions League next season is the clubs major goal and it is attainable.
Alan Pardew has done an incredible job at Crystal Palace since he took over in January. Leicester’s season is shadowing the fantastic season Palace are having. They are not getting enough credit for the position they are in, they are having one of their best season ever. Palace like to play a very open style and with Zaha, Bolasie, and Cabaye their attack can be lethal. Palace have a great opportunity to secure European football and I think the Europa League could be great for the Eagles and propel them to the next level. Also if they can get past Southampton they should try to make a deep run in the FA Cup.
The long-time giant of English Football is in a major rebuilding stage. The expectations set by the great Sir Alex Ferguson are not attainable for the club at the moment. Moyes was unsuccessful and Van Gaal has been a wreck for the team. The Champions League exit has shown that the squad is nowhere near where they should be at with the amount of money they have. They should bring in a few players in January to fight for the Champions League spot and some players might also leave. Memphis needs more time to prove himself and again expectations are too high on him. Chris Smalling has been a standout performer this year proving many doubters wrong. But the team needs more attacking flair and just a whole new spark and mentality if they want to finish in the top four this year. This has been their worst start ever to a Premier League season in United’s history and do not expect it to get much better. Mourinho is not the long-term answer.
At the beginning of the season Watford was hoping to avoid relegation possibly fight for a top half finish but they have absolutely destroyed expectations. Ighalo and Deeney were two Championship quality strikers but many feared they would not be quite the Premier League level but they have led Watford to 7th and the hope of becoming a constant in the Premier League. Watford have excelled against teams in the bottom half something many teams are unable to do. Do not expect Watford to finish in the top 4 but they will compete to stay in the top half by the end of the campaign.
Watford have now bettered their entire points tally (29) from their last Premier League season in 2006/07 (28). pic.twitter.com/u2vzhhPMgf
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2015
Brendan Rodgers could not quite deliver at Liverpool but Jurgen Klopp is a fantastic manager and the right move for the club. The club has high expectations and they will become a much better side in the next few seasons under Klopp. Do not expect them to achieve the top 4 this season. Klopp needs a year to get the players he wants at the club and they do not seem to have the quality in the squad needed to finish in the top 4. They have performed well in big matches but the consistency is not there for all of the matches. For how open the League is this season it is disappointing for Liverpool that they are in 8th after Boxing Day. A FA Cup or Capital One Cup win would be a major success for Klopp in his first season.
Romelu Lukaku has been a bright spot in an otherwise dull season for the Toffees. Everton have only won 6 of 18 matches so far which is a major worry for a club that has high aspirations. They have not been able to break into the top 4 race yet and they need something to change if they hope to be in the Champions league anytime soon. The team is strong but the results are not coming their way. They need Stones to stay in January to keep the defense strong. Roberto Martinez may need to change the style of play and work on the mentality because they do have a better team then some of the teams ahead of them. Once again they should try to win the Capital One Cup and this season will be somewhat successful.
With wins at Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Crystal Palace and home to Chelsea, while drawing against Everton and Manchester United you would think West Ham would be top of the league. Well think again. 5 straight draws and only getting 6 points out of the possible 24 in their last 8 matches has brought their season to an abrupt halt. The hiring of Slaven Bilic was the right move but the team is struggling to find goals and keep other teams from scoring. They desperately need star man Dmitri Payet back from injury but they should be safe from relegation. They have just about met expectations so far this season but when they were 3rd through 10 matches played it has been slightly disappointing season for the Hammers.
It is very difficult to assess this Stoke team this season. With the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay expectation was high for what Stoke could achieve this season. They started off extremely poor but now the Britannia looks like the toughest place to play. With wins against Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United this Stoke team has turned their season around. Two key players to this success so far have been Butland and Arnautovic. Expect to see Stoke end up mid-table at the end of the season.
We still do not know who the real Southampton is this season. They have looked superb in wins over Chelsea and Arsenal but they also had a run of only picking up 1 point in 5 matches. They made a mistake not trying in the Europa League because it would have been a good fit for them and it brings more money into the club. Right now the squad is not quite at the level to compete for the top 4. They are a mid-table team but for being in League One in 2011 that is a fantastic achievement for the club. Only expect Southampton to improve in the next few years.
West Bromwich Albion
The signing of Soloman Rondon was a step in the right direction for the club in the Summer. The team needs to stay in Premier League and try to continue to make signings that improve the team to avoid becoming like Aston Villa in a few years. Tony Pulis is a great coach and the right man to lead the Baggies forward. Making sure they stay in the Premier League for the new TV deal will bring loads of money hopefully propelling the team forward in the future. They are on a bad run of form at the moment and losing to Bournemouth and Swansea is shocking but Pulis will turn things around quickly.
Well the tiny club has a fantastic story and has been a delight to have in the League this season. With wins over Chelsea and Manchester United the club has achieved great success in their first ever Premier League season. When star striker Callum Wilson torn his ACL in September Bournemouth was in serious relegation trouble but their season has been turned around. A striker is needed in January to replace Wilson. Not getting relegated would be a fine season for the Cherries. Eddie Howe has done a remarkable job leading the team from certain relegation in League Two in 2009 then taking over the club again in 2012 and leading them from League One all the way to the Premier League. Now they hope to fight to stay in the Premier League but they should be able to survive.
This season has been absolutely dreadful for Chelsea. The club is in a state of disaster right now sitting only 2 points out of the relegation zone. None of the players look to want to play for the badge they wear. They have had one of the worst starts to a season of defending champions in the history of the First Division in England. They look nothing like the team that only lost three times all of last season. Fabregas and Hazard have been dreadful. Costa needs to leave in January he brings to much of a negative aspect to the club. Chelsea need to start using more youth players, they have 34 players out on loan. They need to start giving these players with talent opportunities to shine and benefit the team. Hiddink was the right move for Chelsea but he needs to change the team as soon as he can. The transfer window will be very interesting to see what they do because something needs to change. They need to avoid relegation at all costs because that would just destroy the club.
It has been a disappointing season for the Welsh side. The signing of Andre Ayew in the summer brought much hope for a side who finished 8th last year. An already lethal attack added much more firepower but it has not proven to be so lethal this season. After starting off the season brightly Swansea went 13 matches with only 1 win. They reluctantly fired promising manager Gary Monk only one season after he led them to their highest finish ever in the First Division. After falling into the relegation zone the earned a massive 3 points on Boxing Day vs. West Brom and immediately climbed out. They need to improve their results against mid-table teams to ensure survival this season. They also need to make a few new signings in January to boost their midfield and defense.
The Canaries have a similar goal as Bournemouth, find a way to not get relegated. They now sit just 1 spot above relegation due to have a superior goal differential than Newcastle. They went 11 matches with only 1 win which shows that their squad is not yet at the Premier League level. They need to sign a striker in January to improve their attack while possibly adding a strong central midfielder. They would also be a team greatly improved if they can stay in the Premier League until the new TV deal. They are going to be in the relegation fight until the final weeks of the season and they need to take advantage of matches against other relegation-battlers if they want to survive. If Norwich can reach the 40 point mark they should remain in the Premier League next season.
Newcastle have a good squad this year but they just cannot seem to get results. Georginio Wijnaldum could play for almost any team in the League but he cannot carry the team every match. Too many big players are underperforming for the Magpies and they face a tough relegation battle this season. Since finishing 5th in 2012 it has been all downhill for the club. They cannot give up leads if they hope to survive. Their matches against Chelsea and Everton show that they need to fight until the final whistle to make sure they do not let points slip away. The next month will be vital the success of this team.
Sunderland need to have a major overhaul in January to find a way to get out of the relegation zone. This season Sunderland have looked dreadful way too often. They need to draw many more matches and win at least 5 matches in the second half of the season to have any chance at survival. Its not entirely impossible but it is a huge uphill battle for them. They mainly need to focus on their defensive record as they have allowed the most goals this season. If something is going to change for the team it needs to happen quickly or else they will fall into and inescapable hole that leads to the Championship. Unfortunately for Sam Allardyce this relegation battle looks too tough to surpass.
Now we come to the bottom dwellers and long-time giant, Aston Villa. The last 5 seasons have all been downhill for the club and they once again find themselves in a relegation battle but this looks too severe to overcome. Remi Garde is a solid manager but it takes a mighty effort to overcome relegation this season. The team has not won a match since opening day and it is hard to see when that next win will come. Aston Villa made a major mistake selling their two best players over the summer in Benteke and Delph. No matter how much money they made on selling them it does not make up for the amount they will lose on not playing in the Premier League next season. Another major worry is it does not look like they will immediately come back to the Premier League like they did last time they got relegated in 1987. On the bright side, Leicester were in the same position last season and look how it turned out for them.