EPL: Halfway Point Grades
The English Premier League has been nothing short of a story-filled and intriguing season thus far. With Chelsea's dominance at the top of the table combined with a mix of teams struggling to stay in the league making managerial changes. At the halfway point in the season, where does each team stand and what should we expect going forward? We broke it all down:
1.) Chelsea - 49 Points
Chelsea has had their ideal season thus far. Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have had a stellar season thus far under Antonio Conte and Chelsea looks to be the class of the field going forward for the rest of the year.
2.) Liverpool - 44 Points
Liverpool is for real. Jurgen Klopp has his team playing at a level not many thought they could achieve at the beginning of the season. Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana lead the Liverpool attack who have the most goals in the premier league thus far. The return of Phillipe Coutinho, Joel Matip, and Jordan Henderson from injury look to keep Liverpool in the hunt late into the season.
3.) Tottenham Hotspur - 42 Points
Over the last month, Tottenham have been one of the hottest teams in the Premier League. Harry Kane and Dele Alli have lifted this team to new heights. Their latest victory over Chelsea proves that this team will be competing for a title this season should they stay healthy.
4.) Manchester City - 42 Points
Pep Guardiola's team has cooled off since their hot start to the season. The lack of a centre-back, and a defense in general for that matter, have cost Manchester City of late in games against Liverpool, Leicester, and Chelsea (teams they need to get points against). The big question for the club is can they get a defensive player in the transfer window? Should they be able to get someone who can contribute right away, Manchester City can get back into the title race and avoid losing crucial points.
5.) Arsenal - 41 Points
Manager Arsene Wenger may be nearing the end of his tenure at Arsenal. With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and Olivier Giroud, the talent for Arsenal to compete with the likes of Chelsea are there. The under-performing gunners have called on Giroud to save them from embarrassing draws and defeats over the past month and need to show more consistency on the pitch. Should they play to their maximum potential, Arsenal could be a threat to teams ahead of them in the table.
6.) Manchester United - 39 Points
Manchester United looks to be putting everything together at the right time. 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been nothing short of sensational, scoring goals at crucial times for the club. If any team can climb out of the hole they're in and make a run up the table, it's this team.
7.) Everton - 30 Points
Perhaps getting bounced from the FA Cup by Leicester City is a good thing for Everton? More time for them to focus on the Premier League could be a good thing for Ronald Koeman and his crew who have played much better following their loss to Liverpool just before Christmas. However, losses to Watford, Burnley, and Bournemouth and draws to Hull, Swansea City, and Crystal Palace have cost the team crucial points this season and have practically eliminated them from any possibility of competing for one of the top four spots this year.
8.) West Bromwich Albion - 29 Points
West Brom has had a much better season than many had expected. The brilliant play of Matt Phillips distributing the ball to his teammates and giving his club decent opportunities at goal has given West Brom a bit of hope for what could be an excellent season. Claudio Yacob has been very disruptive in breaking up opposing attacks of late and allowing his team to gain and keep possession more often. West Brom is on their way up, but can they continue their stellar play for the second half of the season?
9.) AFC Bournemouth - 25 Points
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season to this point, Bournemouth is showing they can compete with teams that are ahead of them in the table. Their stunning comeback win over Liverpool has given the team the jolt it needed. Having nearly upset Arsenal over a week ago, Bournemouth have solidified themselves as an up-and-coming team to watch under Eddie Howe.
10.) Southampton - 24 Points
Southampton has had a very up-and-down season to say the least. The rumors surrounding Virgil van Dijk's possible exit should be alarming to Southampton fans, considering his defensive prowess is the reason why they are as far up the table as they are. The transfer market could be a saving grace for Southampton.
11.) Stoke City - 24 Points
The re-signing of giant striker Peter Crouch may be the lone bright spot for the struggling Stoke City club. Still in search of their identity, Stoke beat Watford 2-0 in their last EPL outing and may be on the verge of turning the corner. Can Stoke find that level of consistency they so desperately need? We'll likely find out sooner rather than later, but don't be surprised if Stoke is active during the transfer period.
12.) Burnley - 23 Points
Sean Dyche's team has had a few impressive wins this season over Liverpool and Everton, to go along with their competitive play, however, a lack of consistency and ability to score goals have cost them all season long, but most recently against a 10-man Manchester City team surrounded by turmoil with their recent performances. Burnley will likely look to grab as many points as they can from the teams below them and add a bit of distance between them and the relegation zone.
13.) West Ham United - 22 Points
Coming off their worst defeat of the season to Manchester City 5-0 in the FA Cup, West Ham look to get back on track and focus on their rise up the table in the Premier League. In the midst of their best stretch of the season, West Ham have jumped up 5 spots since the seventh week of the season. Expect West Ham to make a move or two during the transfer window to maintain their steady play of late and avoid slipping down the table.
14.) Watford - 22 Points
If any team has suffered the most from the injury bug in the Premier League, it may be Watford. With 5 players currently out due to injury, and having others dinged up throughout the season, Watford has slipped a little bit in performance. Manager Walter Mazzarri may be on the hot seat if his club continues to slide down the table.
15.) Leicester City - 21 Points
The reigning EPL champions have had a season to forget thus far. Injuries combined with sub-par play have sunk Leicester's title defense very early in the season. Star, Jamie Vardy has had a lackluster season, which includes a 3-game ban after a late tackle against Stoke. Now in the middle of the pack, the Lynx look to avoid relegation (which they likely will) and perhaps steal a few wins from teams at the top of the table.
16.) Middlesbrough - 19 Points
Middlesbrough is in quite the odd predicament. With David Nugent on his way to Derby County, and Jordan Rhodes and Stewart Downing expected to be loaned out, Middlesbrough will likely need to make an addition in some form in order to avoid a possible relegation. A goal scorer would likely be where Middlesbrough look. With players leaving Middlesbrough left and right, expect their performance to dip dramatically.
17.) Crystal Palace - 16 Points
The loss of Wilfried Zaha to AFCON (African Cup of Nations) could be a major blow to Crystal Palace over the next month. Should they get through January without losing their place in the table, the club would likely take that result. Zaha has had a fabulous year for the struggling Crystal Palace club who is also on their second manager of the season in Sam Allardyce. Allardyce has a history of rescuing teams from relegation, but can he do it again?
18.) Sunderland - 15 Points
David Moyes' crew was able to steal a point against Liverpool to put more pressure on Crystal Palace just above them in the table, but the struggles Sunderland have experienced all season remain the same. They aren't able to create any consistency on offense and their backs have given up a number of late goals. Moyes will likely look to the transfer market for an additional scorer, and perhaps even a creator to distribute the ball to the forwards and get them in position to score on counters.
19.) Swansea City - 15 Points
Currently on their third manager of the season, Swansea City is an ongoing mess. With Chelsea rumored to be purging the club of lone bright spot Fernando Llorente, newly appointed manager Holger Badstuber may have even less to work with to get the team out of the bottom three. Should Swansea City get out of the relegation zone, they will need Llorente, who has scored a number of timely goals for the club already this season.
20.) Hull City - 13 Points
Hull City is in big trouble. The Tigers are once again on the verge of relegation. Newly appointed manager Marco Silva has an enormous task in front of him. The addition of Markus Henriksen from AZ Alkmaar could be a nice piece that Silva could use alongside Tom Huddlestone. Forward Robert Snodgrass, who is on the last year of his deal with Hull, has had a great showing for his club thus far, but may be leaned on even more as Hull will attempt to make a move up the table.
Where do you think your favorite team will finish the season?