English football

Premier League half-term report Who’s punched above their weight who’s not lived up to expectations? – ENGLISH FOOTBALL

by: Adam Smith

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Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 1
Gab Marcotti doubles down on his stance that Liverpool could still be caught in the Premier League title race.

With the 2019-20 Premier League season having just passed its halfway point, our Ian Darke assesses the first halves of all 20 clubs’ campaigns. Who’s punched above their weight and who’s failed to live up to expectations?

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Mikel Arteta has called for a new culture, pride and passion as he seeks to rescue the Gunners from their worst start in 37 seasons. It’s doubtful he can make the top four now with this suspect group; a big defensive signing is a priority.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

A vital win against rivals Norwich keeps their survival hopes alive, but their style is a little adventurous too much and a long-term injury to key man John McGuinn is a huge blow.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Eddie Howe is battling the biggest injury crisis of his reign. The Cherries had 10 players missing against Arsenal, so it was a good point. Callum Wilson hasn’t scored since September and goals are a problem. They have a relegation fight on their hands.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Graham Potter has made them easy on the eye, but a four-game run without a win leaves them only two points above the drop zone.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Burnley have scored only three goals in six games, but they’re usually resilient enough to stay clear of trouble.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Chelsea have been beaten in three of their past four home games, yet superb in winning at Tottenham. Perhaps the season is catching up a little with Frank Lampard’s young guns. Hanging on to a top-four place will not be easy.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Three wins and only one defeat in their past six games, Palace are well drilled and carrying extra threat now that Jordan Ayew has hit form alongside the ever-menacing Wilfried Zaha.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Everton have not lost in four games since Marco Silva went. Carlo Ancelotti is a stellar appointment and the Toffees should climb from a modest 13th under his guidance.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Leicester were given sharp reality checks by Manchester City and Liverpool, but are still 10 points clear of fifth place, so a spot in next season’s Champions League is a very realistic aim. They have gone off the boil a little, however.

Liverpool players celebrate during their Premier League match against Brighton.
Liverpool’s incredible first half of the season have them on course to finally win the Premier League.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

The world and European champions look just about invincible. A 13-point lead is put in perspective when you consider Liverpool have so far dropped just two points. They might have the title won by late March.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Despite some unscripted slips, City are still a very fine team, and with the player of the season so far in Kevin De Bruyne. The Champions League and a clash with Real Madrid are surely their main focus now.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Will the real United please stand up? Is it the one that beat City and Spurs or the one that surrendered at Watford? Greater consistency is needed to be a top-four team but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves credit for the tune he is getting from Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay. The defence has improved, too.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Steve Bruce loves the club to bits and is making the critics eat their words. Newcastle are unbeaten at home since the opening day.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Norwich have taken two points from the past 15 available and slipped to the bottom of the table. Often good to watch, but they have a nasty habit of conceding two goals in a match. They need Teemu Pukki to take more of his chances.

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Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

The 9-0 hammering at home to Leicester suggested huge problems, but Saints have won four of their past six games and Danny Ings has seven goals in his past seven starts. Sticking with Ralph Hasenhuttl looks a good decision.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

The story of the season. Tipped by every pundit for relegation, the Blades are three points off the top four and are yet to lose away from home — and they’re playing enterprising football, too.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Without looking especially convincing, Spurs have cut the gap to the top four from 11 points to three since Jose Mourinho took over. The form may be flattering them, judged by a lifeless effort against Chelsea.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

Definite signs of a pulse since Nigel Pearson took over, Watford have enough decent players to get out of trouble.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

West Ham have lost six of their past eight and have too many who don’t turn up too often. Unless Manuel Pellegrini can wake them up, they could go down. Only one point above the drop zone and their game in hand is against Liverpool.

Premier League half-term report Who's punched above their weight who's not lived up to expectations? - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 2

A good team and club who are well managed and have bought well — especially Raul Jimenez — only a heavy schedule might stop Wolves from improving on last season’s seventh place.