The Football Notebook
Grading each PL Team So Far
With the Premier League season already starting up again, we at The Football Notebook have decided to grade each teams’ season so far.
Arsenal - D
Even after splashing out the cash to sign Nicolas Pepe and attempting to bolster the depth of their squad, they failed to bring in real strength in defence once again. Currently 9th in the table, Arsenal’s season being called disappointing would be an understatement. Having the joint-most number of draws in the league does not reflect what should be a top-six team year in year out.
Aston Villa - C+
After being promoted through the Championship Playoffs, Villa knew they would have to work hard to survive the drop. Failing to gain any real momentum this season, poor results may have been masked by their entertaining football and stellar performances from Jack Grealish. Only 3 points from safety, this team will need to band together to stay in the Premier League
Bournemouth - C-
With a season full of injuries, Bournemouth are clinging on to survival. Failing to produce the results and performances that fans have come to expect of Eddie Howe’s side have landed them in 18th place. Probably boosted by the long break as their players have had the chance to recuperate, this young side can push themselves out of the bottom three, just as they did 11 years ago to then make a remarkable rise from almost out of League 2 to Premier League mid-table.
Brighton - C+
Graham Potter has given Brighton a purpose. Usually very defensive in recent years, The Seagulls have played a much more attacking and entertaining brand of football. However, it should be a worry for fans that they entered the break with a 9-game winless run and if they don’t pick up their form they may be susceptible to a late drop to the relegation zone.
Burnley - B
So far, it has been regular business for Burnley. Making Turf Moor a fortress, The Clarets have been a team that everyone hates to play. Sean Dyche has solidified them as a Premier League club for years to come, and their seven-game unbeaten run fully encapsulates what this side is fully capable of. Only 7 points away from 5th place, who knows what can happen?
Chelsea - B+
With their transfer ban and an almost entirely new squad and manager, Chelsea have dealt extremely well. Lampard has managed to get his young core to perform well above what was expected of them. Despite some inconsistent stints, the future's looking bright for this young Chelsea side - especially with a major overhaul this summer to look forward to.
Crystal Palace - B+
Another solid season for Palace once again, despite being very poor offensively this season, only scoring 26 goals so far, they have managed to get to 9th in the current standings. If looking at Expected Points, this team should be in 15th, but they are well-drilled and grind results in the worst of times.
Everton - B
Due to a poor start to the season, Everton seemed to be barreling to another disappointing season. However, Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment in December has given fans some hope. The Italian has completely changed the feel about this side, already showing signs of his intelligent tactics. If they keep the momentum going, we could see a late push for European football.
Leicester City - A-
Brendan Rodgers has become another manager that has also completely changed his team’s feel and style of play. Taking over from Claude Puel, this exciting Leicester side has given fans flashbacks to the glory season of 2015/16. With Jamie Vardy looking as sharp as ever and young talents in defence like Soyuncu and Chilwell, the Foxes have given the so-called ‘big six’ a run for their money - despite a recent drop in form.
Liverpool - A+
Excellent. Simply excellent. With only one loss and two draws, Liverpool have been running away with the league for quite some time now. With talented players, an intelligent and charismatic coach, and a brilliant backroom staff, everything about this club screams world-class. Still on track to beat many Premier League records, the sky's the limit for this very talented squad.
Manchester United - B
Another team that has improved as the season progressed, things looked pretty grim for Manchester United at the start of the season. However, partly due to the excellent signing of Bruno Fernandes, United fans are finally starting to see their squad show performances people know they’re capable of. With the Portuguese signing, the Red Devils are in touching distance of the coveted Champions League spots.
Manchester City - A-
Despite having a season worthy of an ‘A-minus’, City fans would still be disappointed with how their team has performed. Going into the season, fans were absolutely buzzing with the possibility of winning the Premier League for the third time in a row, however, failure to keep up with the rampant Liverpool has seen the Citizens 20 points behind. City have still been excellent, however with a Champions League ban looming, there is a big question mark if we will see this side dominate again in the near future.
Newcastle - C-
Ownership issues have left a bitter taste in most Newcastle fans’ mouths, which has been translated onto the pitch. It is certainly hard to produce results when your position at the club is uncertain every day and the Magpies are no exception. However, despite this, they have managed to almost be assured of a place in the top flight next season even when they sit rock bottom on Expected Points.
Norwich - D+
Coming into the league with high expectations, especially for a newly promoted team, fans were excited to see Norwich replicate the entertaining football they displayed in the Championship. So far, they have failed to duplicate the kind of success they had last season, facing an upward battle to avoid relegation. They have looked like a team that cannot cope with the demands of football in the top flight and if they don’t turn it around soon, they will be heading straight down.
Sheffield United - A+
Posed to be relegation favourites at the start of the year, Sheffield United has surprised people everywhere. Chris Wilder’s team’s workmanship on both sides of the ball has the Blades in contention for a spot in Europe. The thought of the Champions League anthem blasting out at Bramall Lane gives us chills and it could soon be a reality.
Southampton - C+
In past seasons, Southampton have been a very solid team, constantly finishing in the top half of the table. This year, however, hasn’t been as good as fans would have expected. An over-reliance on Danny Ings and a fragile defence has left the Saints in 14th place. However, this is a fairly young team and with Southampton’s ability to develop young players, there is no doubt that they can perform better next season.
Tottenham - C+
Tottenham are currently wobbling. Jose Mourinho has a job to do to try and salvage a Europa League spot. Bolstered by the fact that Harry Kane has had 3 months to rest a hamstring injury he picked up before the break, Spurs could yet make 19/20 an ‘ok’ year.
Watford - C
With two managerial changes in this season alone, it has been a very disappointing year for the Hornets. With players like Deeney, Sarr and Pererya, this side has the tools to be an effective team, however, they lack the right manager with the right style of play. A 3-0 win over leaders Liverpool showed the world what this team is capable of, but consistency is key and also a skill this side must master if they are to stay up.
West Ham United- D
Spending a lot of money in the past few years, West Ham are failing to see any returns in their investments. They are only out of the relegation zone by goal difference alone, and with their quality of players, they should be doing much better than they have - a drop to the Championship would see many of their prized assets leave, and possibly leave the club on the path that Sunderland travelled not too long ago.
Wolves - B+
After managing to earn a spot in this year’s Europa League last season, there were many doubts as to whether their relatively thin squad could cope. They have done extremely well, not only managing to get to R16 of the Europa League but also, once again, staying in the fight for Europe. With Traoré and Jimenez firing on all cylinders they are also in the conversation for making the top four.