Review of Premiership

Posted on: 15/12/2008

Written by Will Turner

Christmas time stereotypically is a time for loving, giving, spending time with the family and remembering the birth of one Jesus Christ; with one big turkey dinner stuffed in for good measure. Isn’t it? 

Although most will partake in the above it must also be remembered that not all have this luxury; some will have this special day interrupted. Whatever the weather on Christmas Day these men must brave it in preparation for the Boxing Day fixtures. They are of course the professional footballers we know, love, hate and envy beyond all belief with their number crunching salaries. 

For them there will be no Christmas dinner. Now is the era when even a player’s diet must be monitored, set and enforced; gone are the days of the 18 stone striker. Monotonous training drills will fill their day as they bid for three points the following day. Still feel no sympathy for these men? No me neither. 

This Premier League season looks set to be the closest yet at both ends with any money, on any team, for anything, still probably being deemed a reasonable bet. As we enter the Christmas ‘break’ Chelsea and Liverpool head the table. Chelsea have settled well under new boss Scolari and it would seem he has done what no one else has managed for a decent number of years in settling one Nicolas Anelka. Never the easiest bull to tame; just ask Arsene Wenger. After strengthening over the summer Liverpool have kept pace with Chelsea which has not been possible in the last couple of campaigns. The purchase of Albert Riera has given the balance in midfield that Liverpool have longed for after the disappointments of Harry Kewell, Jermaine Pennant and Boudewijn Zenden. If the likes of Jamie Carragher, Stephen Gerrard and Fernando Torres can remain fit then there is no reason for the title race to go right to the wire. 

If the door to the Premier league title is open then its counterpart for the drop is off its hinges. The gulf of quality between the majority of teams has been condensed incredibly shown by the huge jumps and drops over just one weekend. As we enter December a gap of just 10 points separates Aston Villa in 5th and Sunderland in 18th, the constant chopping and changing of places has made the bottom half just as interesting if not more so than the top. 

At this point it really is anyone’s guess who will lift the title and who will have to brace themselves for the drop. One thing is for sure, this Christmas break will be pivotal in setting the tone for the second half of the season. I for one cannot wait. 

The Christmas Report Card.

How is your team performing? 

Arsenal – B- 

A brilliant home win against Manchester United appeared to show they had kick started their season however defeats to Stoke and Aston Villa placed a huge cloud of doubt over their title ambitions. A spirited performance at Stamford Bridge has proved their worth once again and has dragged them back into the title race; for now.  

Aston Villa – A 

After holding onto Gareth Barry, Villa have continued to impress. Victory over Arsenal and a thumping away win at Wigan makes their league position no surprise. With progression in the UEFA cup also, this season looks set to be their best in years.  

Blackburn Rovers – D 

The long absence of Roque Santa Cruz has dented Rover’s attacking edge which sees them struggling to conjure anything like their form last season. By not scoring goals their defensive frailties are being exposed and Boss Paul Ince must address both ends of the pitch if they are to survive this season; and if Ince is to keep his job. 

Bolton Wanderers – B- 

After a poor early run Bolton appear to have turned the corner. With wins against Hull and impressively against Manchester City as well as a remarkable 4-1 away win against Sunderland its anyone’s guess how high they can climb. 

Chelsea – A 

Whatever changes Scolari has made at Chelsea they are working. Their typically tight defence continues to hold and with goals from midfield from the likes of Frank Lampard to add to the prolific Nicolas Anelka, despite a recent wobble, they still remain the team to beat.  

Everton – C+ 

Everton so far this season can be described as purely mediocre. They have yet to reach their best and continue to produce simply the bare minimum. However this has not hampered their overall season; yet. £15 million signing Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jagielka continue to impress however injuries have hit hard with Yakubu set to miss the rest of the campaign. 

Fulham – B 

Andy Johnson will always score goals. He continues to prove this now at Craven Cottage and after early season injury he has returned with a bang. A decent season should be theirs if they continue to win at home and can tighten up away from the Cottage as they have appeared to do lately. 
Hull City – A+ 

Surely the surprise package of the year? Phil Brown’s men could never have contemplated their current success. However they have defied all predictions and have lived comfortably in the top half from match day one. The flair of Brazilian play maker Geovanni and old consistent favourites such as Michael Turner and Ian Ashbee are ensuring Hull’s Premier League status is no one year wonder. 

Liverpool – A 

It would appear that the wait is finally over for Liverpool fans as they look certain to mount a serious title challenge. Evergreen Jamie Carragher has led from the front as ever but the injuries to Fernando Torres will have Liverpool fans biting their nails as his goals will be vital. 

Manchester City – C 

Now the richest club in the world since Sheikh Mansour’s exceptional takeover City’s fortunes have taken a drastic turn. Many rubbished the news as it was reported that Brazilian star Robinho had transferred from Real Madrid to Eastlands however seeing him side by side with Mark Hughes confirmed this incredible story. Despite the new found money these riches have yet to give real influence to on the pitch results. Their attacking threat is there for all to see but defensive problems are hampering a real climb with captain Richard Dunne’s future in doubt. The January transfer window should see more big names make the move to City. 

Manchester United – B 

The signing of Dimitar Berbatov has given another dimension to the illustrious attacking force of the Reds, however they are paying for early slip ups as the gap between them and the front runners remains. Owen Hargreaves is set to miss the entire campaign and United must remain consistent to ensure the gap is closed. 

Middlesbrough – B 

Gareth Southgate’s third season in charge and Middlesbrough’s investment in him continues to look worthwhile. A formidable attacking side combined with their sturdy defence has made them difficult to beat. Striker Tuncay Sanli has given the Boro fans much Turkish delight! 

Newcastle United – C+ 

Things looked incredibly bleak at St. James Park after Kevin Keegan’s departure. The Toon sat comfortably in the bottom three with little sign of life. The shock appointment of Joe Kinnear has brought a real response from the squad who now see themselves moving in the right direction. 

Portsmouth – C+ 

When Harry Redknapp swapped Fratton Park for White Hart Lane nothing short of turmoil took hold of the club. However the swift appointment of Tony Adams has settled most yet huge doubt still covers the owners and the futures of their prized assets. If Adams can impose himself quickly Portsmouth should see his side challenging for Europe once again. 

Stoke City – B 

Very few were expecting Stoke to amount to anything after their promotion, but a certain Rory Delap has thrown up a unique ploy to trouble all defences in the league. Although dubbed as ludicrous and ugly Stoke have used his exceptional throw to battle their way to three points on a number of occasions most noticeably at home to Arsenal. Sitting outside of the bottom three there is every chance this will still be the case come the end of the season. 

Sunderland – C 

In his 27 months in charge Roy Keane took Sunderland from Championship gloom to Premiership safety. His summer signings appeared to have settled well but after a poor run seeing the Black Cats slip into the drop zone Keane decided he’d had enough. Sam Allardyce is being strongly tipped to succeed at the Stadium Light, amidst all the uncertainty one thing is for sure, Sunderland have some serious problems.  

Tottenham Hotspur – C- 

Spurs’ season so far really has been a tale of two very different men. Starting the season under Juande Ramos, despite a young talented squad, they found themselves adrift at the foot of the table. Prompt action from the Tottenham board saw the extraordinary arrival of Harry Redknapp. Nobody has looked back since as Spurs have begun to fulfil their potential. 

West Bromwich Albion – D 

Labelled the ‘yo-yo’ club for their constant switching between Premiership and championship the trend looks set to continue. A lack of goals has allowed teams to play freely against them and money must be spent in January if they are to stop another throw down. 

West Ham United – C 

Many will be happy to see the return of Gianfranco Zola not least of all the Hammers hoping his managerial career can be as successful as his playing one.  The continued injury to Dean Ashton has left a huge hole in attack but Carlton Cole has so far impressed. With only a handful of clean sheets Zola’s main aim will be to tighten up and lessen the burden on his strikers. Safety looks uncertain. 

Wigan Athletic – B 

Egyptian Amir Zaki set the Premiership on fire with his no nonsense approach but this fire has been quickly put out by injury. He and the inform Emile Heskey have linked well and have consistently found the net for the Latics. They find themselves in amongst the long list who will contest for survival, Zaki and Heskey must keep scoring to ensure Wigan do not find themselves in the drop zone.  


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