Ok so as we hit the mid-way stage of the Premier League season, the first half has failed to disappoint. With Man City seemingly running away with the title a few weeks ago, we have now seen a slight dip in form and resurgence from Man United. After Arsenal’s worst start under Wenger, they have now started to slowly creep up the league table. Tottenham have been magnificent thus far, the question with them is whether they can maintain their form for the second part of the season. Down at the bottom, things are as tight as ever with only 11 points separating 9th place to 20th place. The relegation scrap is looking just as interesting as the title race.
After such a poor start, Arsenal have finally started to pick up some form. Their season really kick-started after the Transfer Window ended. With possibly the best striker in the world right now, the return of Vermaelen and players like Wilshere still to return, Arsenal will feel that the second half of the season can be very successful. Who knows maybe a return for Thierry Henry could be on the cards?
Transfer Targets – FB (Bridge), CM (Biglia) Winger (Goetze, Hazard & Reus) and CF (Henry & Podolski)
Prediction – 4th
Villa has been largely inconsistent this season, but whilst currently struggling only 6 points above the relegation zone, I feel Villa have too much to be dragged down in to the scrap. So far Villa have struggled to score goals, with only 19 goals in 18 games, Villa have relied on their water tight defence to muster the most amount of draws for any team in the League(8). Keeping Darren Bent fit and one or two key signings in January could see Villa push on at the end of the season.
Transfer Targets – CM (McEachran, Davis), Winger (Barnetta) and CF (Maynard)
Prediction – 11th
Blackburn has been the worst team so far in Premier League. If not for Yakubu, Blackburn could well have seen them even further behind the rest of the pack. The pressure of Steve Kean and constant booing cannot help the team. Scoring goals has not been a problem for Rovers (25) but keeping them out has been their issue (39). The fans need to get behind Steve Kean and most importantly Steve Kean to get themselves out of this almighty mess. The return of Ryan Nelsen and the emerging talent of Junior Hoilett, will surely give Blackburn great confidence.
Transfer Targets – FB (Lowry, Onuoha), CM (Fotakis) and CF (Boyd, Sordell, A.Johnson)
Prediction – 15th
Bolton have struggled a lot so far, with no real outstanding players in the team, Owen Coyle is going to have is work cut out to try and keep this weak Bolton team in the Premier League. With 14 defeats so far this season, Bolton’s inability to win games has been worrying. Also with the worst defensive record in the Premier League, adjustments will have to be made in January to keep this team up. On top of all that, Bolton must be resigned to losing Cahill in January, so replacements will have to be made.
Transfer Targets – CB (Ream, Boumsong), FB (Onuoha) & Winger (Humphrey)
Prediction – 16th
Under Villas-Boas Chelsea has struggled with a formation and tactic that has consistently suited their play. This Chelsea has a touch of stiffness about it, a lack of creativity and with a few players getting to the end of their careers; it could be time for Chelsea to strengthen in January with some fresh new blood. A big winter for Chelsea could be key; I fully expect them to finish in the top 4.
Transfer Targets – FB, (Pereira), CB (Cahill), CM (Rodwell), Winger (Hamsik, Hazard, Goetze, Krasic)
Prediction – 3rd
Everton have been very mechanical so far this season. With a lack of attacking options, Everton have relied heavily upon their ability to not concede goals. Everton have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League with only 20 goals conceded from 18 games. The lack of goals will surely worry David Moyes, but with Landon Donovan coming on loan for a few months that will certainly give them a boost. The January window could be very frustrating for Everton, with a shortage of funds available, Everton could be forced to sell Rodwell to bring in new recruits.
Transfer Targets – CB (Manolas), CF (Henry, Maynard, De Jong, Pavlyuchenko & Boyd)
Prediction – 12th
Fulham have really impressed me this season, playing some great football but have struggled to find the net. Players like Dempsey, Ruiz, Dembele and Zamora have added such great attacking flair to Fulham. If Martin Jol is able to get Fulham to find the net then they will rapidly move up the table. Despite Fulham’s relatively good displays, they have only won 4 matches so far this season.
Transfer Targets – FB (Hanlon), CF (Gignac, Bony)
Prediction – 10th
Liverpool has been largely uninspiring this season and the Kenny Dalgish revival has seemed to have stalled at the moment. Liverpool has been falling even further behind the Champions League places in recent weeks and has really struggled for goals. Liverpool has only been able to muster up 21 goals so far, with expensive flops such as Andy Carroll unable to make an impact. With Suarez facing down the barrel of an 8 match ban, I struggle to see where Liverpool’s goals are going to come from. Their defence on the other hand has been the joint best in the league, but with 6 draws from 9 home games, Anfield is no longer the fortress it once was. If Kenny is going to get Liverpool challenging radical changes must be made to this uninspired team in January.
Transfer Targets – CM (Khedira), Winger (Hazard), CF (Torres)
Prediction – 6th
So far Man City has been the team to watch, the team to beat and surely the favourites to lift the Premier League trophy. Their outstanding attacking options along with a solid watertight defence and seen them muster up 45 points in 18 games, scoring a huge 53 goals. This Man City team has broken numerous records already this season and will be looking to be only the 5th team to have won the trophy. With seemingly unlimited funds, the only thing that could surely stop Man City now is an almighty disaster. We have seen already that a few bust ups within the camp are highly publicised, but as of yet have failed to disrupt the team. If all goes well for Man City for the 2nd part of the season, I think we will see a new winner of the Premier League title.
Transfer Targets – Winger (Hazard, Goetze), CF (Van Persie)
Prediction – 1st
Definitely not the strongest united team we have come across under Ferguson, however the team has shown in recent weeks that they are extremely efficient and have done remarkably well to draw level with City at the top. When you look at United’s squad it could do with a lot of strengthening, especially with injuries to key players such as Vidic. After the 6-1 crushing to City earlier on in the season, United have gone from strength to strength, defensively they have been outstanding and are scoring goals for fun at the moment, surely if United were to win the title, this would be Fergie’s greatest ever achievement.
Transfer Targets – CB (Cahill), CM (Khedira, Sneijder, Modric, Rodwell, Eriksen), Winger (Hazard), CF (Gaitan)
Prediction – 2nd
After Newcastle’s fantastic start to the season, the last 6 weeks or so has seen them hit a bad patch. Newcastle prides themselves on a watertight defence and with Demba Ba upfront everything is possible. However with Demba Ba going to the African Nations cup, it will hard to see where Newcastle will get their goals from. Newcastle’s last 6 games has seen them collect only 5 points and this has seen them slump to 7th in the League. Alan Pardew will have his work cut out if he is to recapture the Newcastle form from the early parts of the season. However I just can’t see it, I see Newcastle falling further down the league.
Transfer Targets – FB (Taiwo, Clyne), CF (Maiga, De Jong)
Prediction – 8th
Norwich have been the best of the promoted teams so far, sitting handsomely in 11th place, needing only another 19 points to hit that magical 40 point marker. Norwich has shown under Paul Lambert that they are a force to be reckoned with and are certainly no push over. If Norwich is to stay up, they are going to have to sure up their defence. So far they have shipped 33 goals in 18 games, this statistic will have to improve to keep their Premier League status. Norwich are only 7 points above the drop zone, so Norwich are far from being safe.
Transfer Targets – FB (Naughton)
Prediction – 17th
Queens Park Rangers
QPR have been largely disappointing this season and have really struggled to get wins under their belt. A few promising performances gives QPR fans hope, as well as almost certain transfer activity in January. QPR must sort out their home form if they are to push on this season, with only 1 win from 9 games. I fully expect QPR to invest heavily in January and to push on for the second half of the season.
Transfer Targets – CB (Boumsong), FB (Onuoha), CF (Pavlyuchenko, Jelavik)
Prediction – 14th
Stoke are sitting in a relatively comfortable 8th place at the moment, quite a few points ahead of the relegation pack but also quite a few points behind the European places. Tony Pulis has done magical things at Stoke; the big question for them is what effect their Europa Cup exploits will have on their League form. I fully expect Stoke to maintain their good form and cement a Europa Cup place at the end of the season.
Transfer Targets – None
Prediction – 7th
After a disappointing start to the season under Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neil is now in charge and who better to get Sunderland up and running then him. Martin O’Neil is one of the most underrated managers and Sunderland couldn’t have picked anyone better for the job. I fully expect heavy investment in January from Sunderland, as well as a late season surge up the table for Sunderland. So if I was a Sunderland fan I’d expect exciting times ahead.
Transfer Targets – FB (Onuoha), CF (Zamora)
Prediction – 9th
Swansea City Swansea’s football has been a joy to behold in the Premier League this season, one of the best passing teams in Europe at the moment. It is an approach promoted teams have rarely tried, last season we saw it with Blackpool who started off well but were relegated on the last day. Swansea has created a fortress at home, losing only 1 of their 9 home games, conceding only 3 goals. Their away form is slightly worrying, having not won an away game all season. It is going to be a tough ride until the end of the season, but as much as my heart wants Swansea to survive I just don’t think they have enough, I hope I am wrong.
Transfer Targets – CB (Situ), CM (McEachran), CF (Donnelly)
Prediction – 18th
Behind Man City, Tottenham has been the most exciting team to watch this season. This has been Spurs best start to a Premier League season ever. Spurs are only 7 points behind the top 2 with a game in hand, and with players like Bale, Adebayor, Van Der Vaart and Modric they are a major force to be reckoned with. However despite their impressive start, I personally don’t feel Spurs can keep up this momentum for the rest of the season. One thing of course that works in their favour is the fact they have no European football to contend with, but that could just add to the pressure to succeed. I think it will be close, but Spurs will just miss out on Champions League football.
Transfer Targets – CB (Samba), CM (Rodwell), CF ( Amauri)
Prediction – 5th
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom is starting to be taken seriously as a strong premier league team. Despite being largely inconsistent so far this season, their away form has seen them rise to 9th in the League. West Brom will be safe come the end of the season and are fully capable of taking points from any team in the league, as we saw from their draw with Man City. If West Brom are to push on, they must improve their home form, 2 wins from 9 games is something Roy Hodgson will be desperate to improve.
Transfer Targets – FB (Onuoha), CM (Allan)
Prediction – 13th
Wigan has shown in recent weeks that a revival could be on the cards; however I just can’t see it. This Wigan team has relegation stamped all over it, with 35 goals conceded so far and only the 15 scored, a dramatic improvement will be needed to get Wigan out of this almighty mess. Wigan has been unable to make their home games count, which is what they will need to change if they are to stay up. Heavy investment is needed in January but with limited funds available, surely it will be not be enough.
Transfer Targets – CB (Chambers), CF (Macheda)
Prediction – 19th
Wolves have shown so far that they can be resilient at home, as well as away, drawing with Arsenal recently. However Mick McCarthy doesn’t have a fantastic record of keeping teams in the division and I’m afraid this season is going to be no different. Wolves lack the quality needed for Premier League survival and unless that quality can be shipped in during the Transfer Window, I foresee a very poor finish to the campaign for Wolves.
Transfer Targets – None
Prediction – 20th