Premier League Half Term Report (Part 1)
Half term has been and gone and for many students they get a first term report to show how they’ve performed so far in their new school year. We thought we’d use this incredibly tenuous link to give us an excuse to grade the clubs in the Premier League!
Arsenal – D
Arsenal sit in 5th place so grading them a D may seem a little harsh. However, Unai Emery is favourite to be the first Premier League manager to get the sack. There’s a feeling he still doesn’t know what his best team is and flirts between systems. The camp seem unhappy with club captain Granit Xhaka falling out with fans. His appointment was one of many strange decisions by Emery who had frozen out Mesut Ozil and appeared reluctant to start Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Lucas Torreria who many Arsenal fans consider to be certain starters. He hasn’t been helped by the fact that big money signing Nicolas Pepe has struggled to get going but overall the feeling is Emery should be doing a lot better than he is and that Arsenal have even gone backwards since Arsene Wenger. One telling stat is that Arsenal have conceded 20+ shots in all but 2 of their games and the opposition have had more shots than they have in all but 1. Continue this way and Emery will be gone before Christmas…
Aston Villa – B minus
Villa only sit 3 points above the relegation zone but only Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Chelsea and Spurs have scored more goals than they have. They were unlucky to lose against Liverpool and in the main have adapted to Premier League life well. John McGinn has confirmed his reputation as a player to watch – Manchester United had been linked with him in the summer – whilst captain Jack Grealish has impressed. Tyrone Mings received a deserved England cap and Dean Smith has done well moulding a side that had bought twelve players in the Summer. Pundits had feared they’d go the same way as Fulham with that many additions and that they’d struggle to gel but so far so good for the Villains. Dean Smith will be hoping he can get the points that performances deserve and if he does then Aston Villa can look up and not down.
Bournemouth – C
Bournemouth are 3 points off of where they were at this stage last season and had this report been done before the Manchester United game then things could have looked quite different. Before that game Bournemouth hadn’t scored in 3 and Eddie Howe seemed to be struggling to know what his best XI was, especially in midfield. New signings Philip Billings and Harry Wilson seemed to have given Howe a headache and for a while he was trying to squeeze Dominic Solanke into the side as well. If there’s one criticism of Howe it’s how well he spends money. £121m has been spent on Solanke, Ibe, Danjuma, Kelly, Mepham, Rico and Lerma with only Lerma really impressing thus far. For Bournemouth to get to the next level you feel Howe has got to buy as well he coaches and for now it looks like Bournemouth will be safe again but someway short of a Europa League spot.
Brighton – B Plus
Eyebrows were raised when football’s nice guy Chris Hughton was given the boot at the end of the season. Chairman Tony Bloom thanked Hughton for his service but he felt Brighton could do better than battling for survival season after season. He felt that they could be a top ten team. Almost everyone thought this was folly and that by removing Hughton Bloom was consigning Brighton to certain relegation. Bloom hired Graeme Potter who had done a good job at Swansea and who had made his name in Sweden as manager of Ostersunds. Potter has transformed the way Brighton play and has done it without spending a huge sum of money. He shrewdly got Aaron Mooy in on loan from Huddersfield and added three new faces in Trossard, Maupay and Webster and by and large all have delivered for him. He’s given youth a chance by playing the likes of Aaron Connolly who rewarded his managers faith in him by netting a brace against Spurs. Potter favours possession football and for his team to play on the front foot and Brighton today are almost unrecognisable from Brighton a year ago. Credit must go to Bloom and Potter and this revolution shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Burnley – C Plus
Burnley endured a tough start to the season last season and for a while it looked like they may have fallen through the trapdoor only for Dyche and his men to turn it around after Christmas. Quite the opposite has been true this time around. Burnley got off to a flier with Ashley Barnes impressing. However, since beating Everton in October, Burnley have lost their last 3 and conceded 9 goals – most worringly conceding 3 goals in one half to Sheffield United. One hopes this is just a blip but quiet in the market and not much in the way of attacking options Dyche must hope his current squad is strong enough not to get sucked into a dogfight. Four points clear of trouble Burnley should have enough to be ok but they must address this worrying slide and perhaps Dyche will have to venture into the market in January.
Chelsea – A
Chelsea were under a transfer embargo, had lost their best player in Eden Hazard, had lost Morata and Higuain and were now being managed by club legend Frank Lampard. Things looked ominous when they came back from Old Trafford after a 4-0 loss but truth be told they didn’t actually play that badly and at Half Time should arguably have been in the lead. Since that game, Chelsea and Lampard have not looked back. They’re arguably the most entertaining side in the league and Lampard’s youth policy is paying dividends with Mount, Abraham and Tomori in particular shining. The senior pro’s like Jorginho and Willian seem more free than what they were under Sarri and whisper it quietly but this could be the new class of 92 – Reece James is a real prospect at right back, Tomori could easily make a play for the Euro 2020 squad, Hudson Odoi looks frightening as ever and Mount and Abraham have both been a revelation. The biggest compliment you could pay Lampard is that even if he had money to spend there’s no obvious deficiency in the starting XI that would warrant him going out and spending big.
Crystal Palace – B Plus
Roy Hodgson may be the oldest manager in the league at 72 but with age comes experience and despite only spending £5m in the summer and having their star man upset at not being allowed to move, Palace seem better than ever. They’ve won away at Manchester United and at West Ham, and drew away at Arsenal. Hodgson has achieved all of this without a recognised out and out goalscorer. Eyebrows were raised when his major summer signing was that of Gary Cahill who arrived on a free from Chelsea but he’s been a stand out performer for The Eagles. Two points away from fifth and above Manchester United, Everton and Spurs in the league the job he has done is remarkable. Palace look almost assured of safety even at this early stage and whilst they may lose Zaha in January you feel that if properly backed Hodgson can turn this side into a consistent top ten Premier League side. It’s quite the transformation from when he first arrived at the club who had not got a point from their first four games and hadn’t even scored.
Everton – E
Everton have spent over £100m on new signings this summer alone. Marco Silva, on paper at least, had everything he needed to launch a bid for the top four. At his disposal was the England number 1, the [starting] French Left Back, a starter for England at centre half alongside a star of the last World Cup. In midfield he’d bought much needed experience in Title winning Fabian Delph and some Portuguese magic in Andre Gomes. He’d added some flair with Alex Iwobi and also purchased one of the hottest young talents around in Moise Kean. All of this should have meant Everton competing at the top end of the table but instead they’re one place outside of the relegation zone and only won three times all season. Marco Silva is surely in trouble and after the horrific injury of Andre Gomes is now also without his stand out performer. He’s not been able to get Moise Kean to play and he’s never settled on his starting XI. To put it bluntly things at Everton are a mess. The last three seasons have seen over £350m spent and if anything Everton have gone backwards. Rumours are that Jose Mourinho waits in the wings and if Silva loses at the weekend then surely that is him done?
Part two continues next week but we wanted to remind you that we can provide hospitality to any Premier League game this season so if you want to watch any of the above teams in a bit of style then just drop us an email!