There’s no doubt about it, the Premier League is now properly up and running.
Ten games in the early season cobwebs have been blown off, new managers have settled in and the cream has risen to the top.
So now we are over a quarter of the way through the season, who has impressed and who has disappointed? Plenty of new managers have stepped into the fray; are they taking to it like a duck to water or sinking without a trace?
GMF runs the rule over how those at the sharp end of the table have got on so far.
Position: 7th/ 15pts
Star Man: Santi Cazorla – the Spaniard has settled into life wonderfully at the Emirates Stadium. Cultured and creative in midfield.
Best Result: Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal
Worst Result: Norwich 1-0 Arsenal
Grade - C+: A slow start followed by title talk which was swiftly followed by criticism of Arsene Wenger’s team, it’s fair to say their has been an uneven pace to proceedings in north London so far.
Despite having the best defensive record in the league there are questions over personel at the back, while a striker buy in January is a must.
Star Man: Juan Mata – Despite some big-money arrivals in the summer, Mata has risen above the rest after recovering from his summer efforts to stake a claim as the league’s most in form player.
Best Result: Tottenham 2-4 Chelsea
Worst Result: Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
Grade - A:With so many wonderfully creative players arriving in the summer the big question was how they would adapt and blend together – know we know that isn’t a problem.
Both Eden Hazard and Oscar have been revelations, if a little inconsistent, while Juan Mata and Ramires have carried their form over from last term. A few results have gone against them recently but their attacking prowess has been mightily impressive so far. Must avoid the winter blues like last year.
Star Man: Joe Hart – has moved to a new level this term, especially in Europe. Wayne Rooney said it, he’s now one of the best.
Best Result: Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland
Worst Result: West Ham 0-0 Manchester City
Grade - B: Unbeaten, 2nd in the league with a +9 goal difference and just two points off the pace, things are looking good for City right? Well not quite.
Some of their performances in the league have been particularly underwhelming while their Champions League campaign has bordered on disastrous at times. Roberto Mancini is under pressure and needs to respond quickly to answer a few questions about his tactical approach. A win against Tottenham this weekend would do the trick.
Star Man: Robin van Persie – Those Arsenal fans who said Van Persie was only good for one season have been proved wrong. The Dutchman is probably the most clinical finisher in the Premier League.
Best Result: Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
Worst Result: Everton 1-0 Manchester United
Grade - A: Four league wins on the bounce, including a dramatic win against Chelsea, have taken United to the top of the league and things are looking rosy for Sir Alex Ferguson, especially in attack.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have gelled together superbly with the Englishman dropping deeper, while the former Arsenal man has scored goals for fun.
Shinji Kagawa hasn’t quite taken off in the Premier League like most thought he would, and injuries have robbed them of key performers at the back. They must improve there or risk being seriously hurt later on in the campaign.
Star Man: Jermain Defoe – say what you like about Jermain Defoe and his all-round play, the striker has plenty of goals in him and has bought wonderfully into the Andre Villas-Boas philosophy. Works extremely hard off the ball.
Best Result: Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham
Worst Result: Tottenham 1-0 Wigan
Grade - C: The Andre Villas-Boas revolution has had teething problems and is yet to take its full shape but there is promise there. Unable to field his favoured 4-3-3 formation Villas-Boas has toyed with a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2, with the latter seeming to fit his players best despite his inclination otherwise.
Despite the absence of key men, including Mousa Dembele, Scott Parker and Younes Kaboul, the proof is there to show his system works – against Chelsea without Bale on top of the three mentioned above Spurs gave a free-flowing Chelsea a real fight, while at almost full strength they picked up a historic win at Old Trafford. However they have seriously underwhelmed at times and need some consistency. A few key buys in creative positions and in the middle of the pitch in January will likely work wonders.
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