Premier League Mid Season Review – Part 3

by Bob Smith

With the Premier League season more than well and truly underway, it is time to have a look at each club and how they’re doing and where they’re on (or off!) course to finish.

QPR

Well it is quite obvious that QPR’s season has been disastrous as they sit rock bottom of the Premier League with a mere 13 points and a -19 goal difference. Many tipped them for easy safety this season after they bought in many new faces and some relatively big names. Nearly all of them have been extremely disappointing to say the least. In my opinion, their best player is one who has been there a while now and that is Moroccan Adel Taraabt. He has the ability to carry the ball, beat 2 or 3 players and stick it in the back of the net. All good attacking play seem to come through him and I think he is a real talent. Sometimes he lacks the right attitude however he makes up for it in ability. I’m surprised no other clubs have come in for him personally.

It took them until the 15th of December to get their first win and this sums up how bad their season has been. I think a particular low point was their loss to Liverpool at home where they looked leagues behind the Merseysiders. Their high point so far has undoubtedly been the win at Stamford Bridge against European Champions Chelsea. Although it will definitely raise morale and confidence, I do get the feeling that the result was slightly more down to Chelsea’s faults rather than QPR’s strengths.In conclusion, I think QPR are destined for the drop, even ‘Arry can’t save them this time. A challenge too difficult. They lack discipline in their play and need to maintain quality of performance for longer periods in games in order to get results.

It is not a good time to be a QPR fan with the wages likely to be a huge problem if they go down. However, if there is anyone who can get them out of it then you’d put your money on it being Harry Redknapp.

Reading

Reading have also had a terrible season so far, however their situation doesn’t seem to be as bad as QPR in many people’s opinions. Although they are only above the London club on goal difference, I think they have more to be positive about. Recent results have reflected quite well on them. A decent 0-0 draw with Swansea, a solid result in my opinion, a much needed win against West Ham and a respectable and expected loss to Tottenham Hotspur.Reading have an important period coming up before the end of February.

In their next 6 games, they face, West Brom, Newcastle, Chelsea, Sunderland, Stoke and Wigan respectively. The latter of those are especially winnable and they should look to pick up as many point as possible in February. They need to get 4 out of a possible 9 in their remaining January fixtures at least in my opinion.

Reading may not have the most spectacular squad however I feel they have what QPR have a distinct lack of and that is team spirit. They all know how to work for each other and grind out a result. A perfect example of this was in their home win against West Ham recently and they also showed spirit in the thriller at home to Manchester United and a narrow loss at the Etihad against the champions earlier on in this season.In conclusion, I think Reading will struggle to beat the drop. They are by no means down yet though, if they can add intelligently in January and stick together I think escape is possible, just unlikely.

Southampton

Southampton currently sit in 17th place and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. They do however have a game in hand which could give them a nice little gap between them and the drop. So far this season they haven’t done too bad considering they’re a newly promoted team. If you look at Reading who are 5 points behind them and don’t have a game in hand then you would say they were in a much worse position than the saints. I’m sure that Adkins will be pleased to be keeping up so far as staying out the relegation zone for as long as possible helps, especially for team morale.

They had a 5-1 thumping by Chelsea in the FA Cup recently but I don’t think that will get them down as they can now focus on the league and the most important thing about it for them, staying up. In Gaston Ramirez I think they have a really good and under rated player, I’m surprised they didn’t face more competition as I thought he was really impressive at the Olympics and I think he will be very important as to whether they stay up or not.

If you look at their results then you will see that they have definitely improved over the season. There are no games where they have conceded more than 3 and failed to score after they were beaten 4-1 at West Ham. They got a good win against Newcastle,  a narrow loss to Sunderland and a good draw against Norwich. This is promising as if you can limit teams to not scoring many then you could always go and nick a goal to win it as that’s all it needs.

In conclusion, I think Southampton could very possibly go down. They will certainly be scrapping at the end of the season but so will other teams. I fancy them to just about stay up in the last few games of the season.

Stoke City

Stoke are sitting nicely in 10th position at the time of writing and have a healthy 3 point lead at least on the teams below them. I think this will be seen as positive for the potters as they are now a well consolidated Premier League team who are there every season now. What they will really want to do is make a small improvement on their league position each season. They tend to finish between 11th and 15th so obviously, being comfortably 10th at the moment is something to be happy about.

It is a well documented fact that going to the Britannia Stadium and bringing back 3 points is a very difficult job. Although they don’t lose many at home, they do seem to be drawing a few too many. If they could just convert 1 or 2 of those draws into wins then I think they could really rise up the table with their hard working away performances too. Their most impressive result to date this season has been their 3-1 win against Liverpool. In this game they really bullied Liverpool and this countered all the skill and guile of players like Suarez. In the end they were deserved winners on the day and looked a really good team, another indication of how hard to beat they are at home.

In conclusion, they are definitely safe from the drop and I think they will finish in 10th or 11th this season, however if they can pick up a few more home wins rather than draws then the sky’s the limit.

Sunderland

Sunderland have had a strange season so far with a lot of ups and downs. They were languishing down in the lower reaches of the table earlier on in the season and struggling to score goals unless they came from Steven Fletcher. They seemed to have picked up and had a mini revival after many called for O’neill’s head. The Tyneside club picked up wins against Southampton and most impressively Manchester City which really got people talking. Since then however they suffered a rather lowly 3-0 loss at Anfield where they never really looked like they were in the game and it was more of a question of how many for Liverpool.

Sunderland currently sit in 14th place at the time of writing and are only 4 points above the relegation zone. They have had some rather bad form at home after losing to Aston Villa, West Brom and Middlesbrough in the cup.

I don’t think the squad has enough quality in it and this is not helped by the form of Stephan Sessegnon who shone last season but has only shown glimpses of recreating that form which terrorised defenders when he ran at them. Their purchase of former Manchester City man was a good one and I think he will do well for them however he needs some support, he cannot do it on his own. Sunderland need to bring in some more attacking class and become a real threat to teams when they go forward.

In conclusion, I can’t see Sunderland going down however I can see them getting dragged into the relegation battle. I do however think that if anyone can steer them clear of the drop then it would be Martin O’neill as he has the experience and knows what it takes.

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