What a wild season it has already been and we are only approaching the mid-way stage of the campaign. Liverpool and Manchester United conceded seven goals and six goals respectively in a single game week, before scoring seven goals and six goals in the same game week not so long afterward.
With that, it’s time to look at the Premier League mid-season review.
Premier League Mid-Season Review: How Has Your Team’s Season Been?
What a wild Premier League season it has already been and we are only approaching the mid-way stage of the campaign. Liverpool and Manchester United conceded seven goals and six goals respectively in a single game week, before scoring seven goals and six goals in the same game week not so long afterward.
This is a season like no other, with COVID-19 promising to disrupt schedules at any given minute. We have had fans briefly allowed back into stadiums before that plan was curtailed and additional substitutes have been allowed to be on each team’s bench. The gap between second and ninth is seemingly non-existent and several sides have already had brief moments of glory, courtesy of temporarily being top of the table.
Never before has it been more of a fool’s game to attempt to predict the outcome of the Premier League, but, in addition to reviewing what has happened so far, that is exactly what this article will attempt to do.
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Arsenal: Points: 17; Position: 15th
Mark out of 10: 2/10
Optimism seemed to be spreading among Arsenal fans for the first time in years, before the beginning of the current campaign. Their summer transfer spending may not have been as flamboyant as other teams’ in the league, but it appeared as if they had been pragmatic in plugging holes in their squad.
Gabriel Magalhães promised to sure up their leaky defence, along with the returning William Saliba and Thomas Partey was the blockbuster signing that fans of the Gunners had craved, to add much-needed physicality to their midfield. Finally, Arsenal fans could trust in the process once more.
Then the season began.
What has not gone wrong for Arsenal would be a question that has a much shorter answer. Their impressive Europa League form has long been overshadowed by consistently poor performances in the league. Arsenal went on a 7-game winless run which only wielded two points, which has only recently been ended with a victory against Chelsea.
Whilst that win may have preserved Mikel Arteta’s role as manager for the time being, the Gunners’ boss will have to find a solution to his misfiring attack if he is to see an upturn in fortunes. 15 goals in as many games is simply not enough for a club of Arsenal’s stature.
Their form has been so bad that the newly appointed West Brom manager, Sam Allardyce, recently stated that he considers Arsenal to be a relegation rival this season. Ouch.
Projected finish: 9th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Aston Villa: Points: 26; Position: 5th
Mark out of 10: 8/10
Aston Villa 7, Liverpool 2. Need I say any more?
Having watched their performances this season, few would argue that Villa won the summer transfer window, as near enough every summer signing that they made has shown their worth and contributed to some historic wins for the men in claret and blue. Having scraped the barrel when barely avoiding relegation at the end of last season, I feared for Dean Smith if his side did not get off to a flyer at the start of this campaign, but boy did they!
Goals have been flying in for the Villains and their defence is statistically among the best in the league too. While European ambitions may be a little too far
Projected finish: 8th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Brighton & Hove Albion: Points: 13; Position: 16th
Mark out of 10: 3/10
‘I can’t work out if Brighton are the best bad team in the Premier League or the worst good one’. This Tweet by The Athletic’s Liam Twomey did the rounds on social media before the start of the 2020/2021 Premier League season and, for the most part, people seemed to agree with him.
However, unfortunately for fans of the Seagulls, the answer to that dilemma appears to be neither. Brighton thus far have very much been style without substance, leaving them dangling precariously above the relegation zone at this stage in the season. With head coach Graham Potter under contract until 2025, Brighton’s board does seem committed to their man for the long haul, but do not be surprised if that stance drastically changes should their fortunes fail to be reversed in the near future.
Projected finish: 17th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Burnley: Points: 13; Position: 17th
Mark out of 10: 5/10
Whilst they were able to retain key assets like James Tarkowski in the summer, Burnley’s transfer business once again left much to be desired. With a shorter off-season than the players are used to, Burnley’s threadbare squad will be tested as the season progresses, with manager Sean Dyche already having to field youth prospects on a regular basis in the opening stages of the campaign.
Their early season form led many to tip them for relegation, but lately they have begun to look like the Burnley of old again, grinding out results in a typically gritty fashion. Dyche’s loyalty to the club means that he will probably be there for years to come, but there is a case to be made that he should be on the lookout for pastures new. Surely he has taken this team as far as he can with the resources that he has available to him, with an eventual demise, similar to Eddie Howe’s at Bournemouth, seeming likely.
Projected finish: 16th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Chelsea: Points 26; Position: 6th
Mark out of 10: 6/10
Having spent a whopping £222 million in the summer, bigger things are expected of Chelsea boss Frank Lampard this time around. His free hit of a season to experiment with youngsters and imbed them into the first team is over and the time for instant, paid for success is now.
Their season began very positively, with many beginning to tag them as title contenders, especially considering Liverpool’s injury woes. However, since then, inconsistency has once again reared its ugly head. Three goals in an unconvincing performance against West Ham. Next, Chelsea followed up by conceding another trio to a youthful Arsenal side, who were bang out of form and missing several of their key players.
Lampard may have assembled an impressive assortment of Europe’s top talent, but he will quickly have to transform them into a team that can regularly shell out performances of the highest level if he is to become a Blues legend as both a manager and a player.
Expect Roman Abramovich to be slightly more patient with Lampard than he has been with previous managers due to his elite status at the club, but Champions League qualification should be the minimum requirement for the Chelsea boss this season. Still, an improvement on their fourth-place finish last time out may prove challenging to achieve.
Projected finish: 4th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Crystal Palace: Points: 19; Position: 13th
Mark out of 10: 5/10
An aging squad has received some welcome refreshment, in the form of Eberechi Eze and Tyrick Mitchell, but the looming question of how they replace Wilfried Zaha, should he ever secure his move away from Selhurst Park, still remains.
The Eagles have soared at various stages this season, recording an unlikely victory at Old Trafford, as well as delivering a thrashing to a very impressive Leeds side. However, they have also been on the receiving end of drubbings at the hands of Chelsea, Liverpool and, most recently, a 10-man Aston Villa.
On their day, Roy Hodgson’s men can challenge just about anyone. However, with their day only coming around roughly once a month, a bottom half finish looks their most likely destination.
Projected finish: 14th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Everton: Points: 29; Position: 3rd
Mark out of 10: 9/10
Ever since Carlo Ancelotti arrived at Goodison Park, there has been some much-needed impetus injected into Everton’s players and fans alike. They once more feel like a big club, able to attract high calibre players, not least of which was Colombian superstar James Rodríguez. On top of this, they appear to no longer be a selling club, having the audacity to reportedly reject an £85 million bid from Barcelona for star man Richarlison.
One of the league’s early pace-setters, the blue side of Merseyside looks set for a promising season, provided that the hot goalscoring streak of Dominic Calvert-Lewin can continue. They may not be able to challenge their local arch-rivals just yet, but they can certainly be looking higher up the table than usual.
Projected finish: 7th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Fulham: Points: 11; Position: 18th
Mark out of 10: 6/10
A more sensible summer of spending took place at Craven Cottage, with the club keen to avoid repeating their past mistakes. Loans galore, indeed!
They began the campaign in a dreadful fashion, with their woeful defending on display far too often and their, at times, predictable attack offering up few solutions to the many problems that their defence was causing.
Since then though, Scott Parker has altered his personnel with great success. Fulham’s starting defence is now comprised almost entirely of summer signings and by removing target man, Aleksandar Mitrović from the team’s frontline, Fulham now also possess a more varied attack, with the pace to hurt opposition on the counter-attack.
Parker abandoning his early season loyalty to players, who frankly looked only of Championship quality, may well have saved his job and Fulham’s season too.
Projected finish: 18th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Leeds United: Points: 20; Position: 12th
Mark out of 10: 6/10
Marcelo Bielsa’s men have undoubtedly been the league’s greatest entertainers this season, exciting neutrals and generating a great deal of intrigue around each of the team’s matches, simply because viewers have absolutely no idea what to expect. Sure, they have suffered heavy defeats against the likes of Manchester United and Crystal Palace, but they dealt one out themselves to Newcastle along the way. Thrilling seven-goal nail-biters against Liverpool and Fulham have been great to watch, with Leeds very much living and dying by the sword that they wield.
It is a sword that many big teams will fear, for although Leeds’ system of man-marking has been regularly exposed during set pieces, their fluid attacking play is a dangerous threat to whoever they face. They should have enough to avoid relegation without threatening those in the European places at the top too much
Projected finish: 12th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Leicester City: Points: 29; Position: 2nd
Mark out of 10: 8/10
A switch to three at the back has paid dividends for Brendan Rodgers’ side. The move, made largely out of necessity due to injury, has facilitated Leicester’s gung-ho approach to games, with the team regularly committing several attacking players forward, if they are not winning a game in its dying embers. This attitude of a side unwilling to settle for a draw will make opposition managers wary when they travel to the King Power Stadium.
Timothy Castagne appears to be a ready-made replacement for Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana has added yet more pace to the Foxes’ defence. Whether or not Leicester can keep this form going, particularly considering their reliance on the pace and goalscoring ability of an ageing Jamie Vardy, remains to be seen, but so far, so good, for Rodgers’ men.
Projected finish: 6th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Liverpool: Points: 32; Position: 1st
Mark out of 10: 10/10
As soon as Liverpool secured the services of Thiago Alcântara, fresh from his Champions League triumph with Bayern Munich, they once again became the early season title favourites for many. However, who could have predicted what has happened since?
A plethora of injuries have diminished their backline, not least to arguably the best center-half on the planet in Virgil Van Dijk, who is expected to be out for the remainder of the campaign with an ACL injury. The media coverage following this? Liverpool must buy in January to salvage their season, for they are a team very much in crisis.
Yet here, at the mid-stage of the season, where do they sit? Top of the league. Crisis, what crisis?
Projected finish: 1st
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Manchester City: Points: 26; Position: 8th
Mark out of 10: 5/10
All of the pre-season talk about Manchester City was regarding whether or not Rúben Dias and Nathan Aké were the expensive solutions that Pep Guardiola needed to finally shore up his side’s defence sufficiently enough for them to be able to mount a serious title challenge against Liverpool. However, despite having statistically the best defence in the league and collecting clean sheets like there’s no tomorrow, City find themselves off the pace of the league’s early leaders.
The unbelievable has actually happened, with the goals drying up for one of the most potent attacking forces that the Premier League has ever seen. Expect this to be a short-lived issue, especially if Sergio Agüero can find his way back to full fitness, but whether or not City can find the right balance, between having a strong backline and banging in goals for fun, in time to keep pace with Liverpool remains to be seen.
Projected finish: 2nd
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Manchester United: Points: 27; Position: 4th
Mark out of 10: 7/10
When they were drawn in a group with Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, everyone expected Manchester United to struggle in Europe. When they failed to secure their top summer transfer target, Jadon Sancho, everyone expected Manchester United to struggle domestically. However, a respectable return of nine points from their Champions League campaign, in addition to their lofty position in the Premier League has not been enough to ward off calls for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s head.
On multiple occasions has Solskjær been the bookies’ favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked, but once more he has defied the odds. Now, will inconsistent performances and an overreliance on Bruno Fernandes catch up with the men on the red side of Manchester eventually? Probably, in this most congested of seasons. However, for now at least, Solskjær has supporters daring to dream that they can see their side compete with the Premier League’s elite once again.
Projected finish: 5th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Newcastle United: Points: 18; Position: 14th
Mark out of 10: 5/10
Not bad, not great. Words that Newcastle fans have become far too accustomed to in recent times. After a surprising summer of investment in which Mike Ashley funded moves for players that are tried-and-tested in England, veering away from his usual policy of purchasing solely young players with re-sell value, Steve Bruce’s side have largely lived up to expectations. It is just unfortunate that, nowadays, expectations on Tyneside are not that high.
Providing that they can steer clear of having too many injuries, this squad looks capable of avoiding being in a relegation battle this season, which will come as a relief to Newcastle supporters. However, they do not look capable of doing much else.
Talk of a takeover from Saudi Arabia had the rumour mill churning up stories, such as Kylian Mbappé becoming a Magpie. Alas, it was not to be, with mediocrity looking the most likely outcome for Newcastle at the end of this campaign.
Projected finish: 15th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Sheffield United: Points: 2; Position: 20th
Mark out of 10: 1/10
Young, promising British talent arrived in swathes to Bramall Lane in the summer, seemingly strengthening the depth of a side that could justifiably have been disappointed to only finish in 9th place last season. Few would have foreseen, therefore, that the Blades would go on to endure the worst start to a campaign in Premier League history.
Let us not get carried away though. This Sheffield United side are nowhere near as bad as Derby County’s dismal team of 2007/08 and it would be a surprise to see them finish with a lower points tally than Derby’s 11 and even more jaw-dropping if they ended the season with a goal difference worse than -69. It is not impossible, but it is highly implausible, if you have actually watched Sheffield United’s games this season.
Whether they can stay up though is another question altogether, with there no guarantee that manager Chris Wilder – who heroically led them to the top division from the depths of League One – will even get the chance to attempt this great escape, with his role at the helm under increasing scrutiny.
Projected finish: 19th
Premier League Mid-Season Review: Southampton: Points: 25; Position: 9th
Mark out of 10: 7/10
A joy to watch, Southampton have played some really free-flowing football this season under boss Ralph Hasenhüttl. True to their song, the Saints have gone marching in confidently to stadiums up and down the country this campaign, not looking back despite losing captain Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in the summer for a fairly modest fee in the region of £15 million.
Oriol Romeu has provided that defensive rock in midfield, allowing new captain James Ward-Prowse to venture further forward. Ward-Prowse has shown once again this season as to why he is one of the best free-kick takers, if not the best, in England and even Theo Walcott has been able to wind back the clock to put in some top perfomances.
Danny Ings’ injury woes may prove Southampton’s undoing as they chase a position in the top half of the table, for if the pacey striker who is so key to the Saints’ attacking link-up play could remain fit, they could realistically aim for a Europa League position.
Projected finish: 10th
Mid-Season Review: Tottenham Hotspur: Points: 26; Position: 7th
Mark out of 10: 6/10
In a summer where the return of a certain Gareth Bale captured the imagination of Spurs fans across the globe, it has actually been fellow signings Sergio Reguilón and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg that have been the most impressive for Tottenham this season. Reguilón has provided pace and tenacity down the left flank, while Højbjerg has shown himself to be a true José Mourinho player; disciplined, strong and competitive, he promises to be a stalwart at the base of Tottenham’s midfield for the remainder of the campaign and beyond.
The sensational duo of Heung-min Son and Harry Kane set the league alight in the early stages, playing a key role in Spurs’ 6-1 dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford. Returning to the summit of the table for the first time in six years led to a brief flirtation among fans with the idea of a title race. However, this form has since tapered off, with recent consecutive losses threatening to jeopardise the Lilywhites’ chances of success this season. Mourinho must turn this around fast if he does not want his much-maligned style of play to be called into question once more.
Projected finish: 3rd
Mid-Season Review: West Bromwich Albion: Points: 8; Position: 19th
Mark out of 10: 3/10
A draw with Manchester City was not enough to save Slaven Bilić from becoming the first victim of the Premier League’s sacking season, which has come around once again. Rumours of disagreements with the club’s board may have proved Bilić’s undoing more than results on the pitch, specifically concerning the sanctioning of the sale of defender Ahmed Hegazi, after the Baggies’ manager had explicitly stated that he did not want the player to leave.
Enter, Sam Allardyce.
‘Big Sam’ has already begun to work his magic, with his West Brom side the first Premier League team to prevent Liverpool from claiming all three points at Anfield this season. Whilst the specialist in avoiding relegation may not excite fans with his preferred style of play, he will encourage many supporters to believe that West Brom may just live to fight another day.
Projected finish: 20th
Mid-Season Review: West Ham United: Points: 22; Position: 10th
Mark out of 10: 5/10
Discontent was spreading around the club before their Premier League campaign even commenced, with the sale of Grady Diangana leading to accusations of a lack of ambition from the club’s board. However, their pair of signings from the Czech Republic have settled well into West Ham’s starting XI, with Tomáš Souček proving a towering force in the air from set pieces.
Wildly inconsistent in both performances and results, West Ham’s best form this season bizarrely came when manager David Moyes was forced to self-isolate at home, having developed coronavirus symptoms. A late three-goal comeback to draw with Tottenham will have been the highlight so far for many fans of the Hammers, however, mid-table obscurity seems likely once more.
Projected finish: 13th
Mid-Season Review: Wolverhampton Wanderers: Points: 21; Position: 11th
Mark out of 10: 4/10
Wolves’ Portuguese contingent grew even stronger this past summer, despite the loss of Diogo Jota to Liverpool. However, one of the Premier League’s most reliable teams last season have lacked their usual consistency in this campaign, causing Nuno Espírito Santo to turn away from his trusted three at the back system on occasion.
A fractured skull injury to main striker, Raúl Jiménez, will test Wolves’ squad depth, with young summer signing Fábio Silva expected to deputise in his place. How they cope without the Mexican’s aerial presence up top remains to be seen, but repeating their 7th place finish of last term should prove much more difficult this time around.
Projected finish: 11th
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