Premier League mid-term review: All 20 clubs rated

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Once again, it has been a thrilling start to another Premier League season that is promising so much. Chelsea lead the way coming into the new year, closely followed by Manchester City, who will be desperate to retain their Premier League crown.

Things aren't so bright for Leicester, Burnley and Crystal Palace however, who occupy the relegation zones as the busy festive period takes its toll. 

But predicting the outcome at the end of the season will be a huge task considering the ups and downs that the Premier League consistently has to offer.

Yet what we can do is analyse how clubs have fared during their first 19 games so far this campaign ahead of crunch time in 2015.


Position - 6th

A very mixed season so far has seen anger from many Arsenal fans, most notably towards manager Arsene Wenger. Recent back-to-back victories against QPR and West Ham have provided a positive ending to 2014 for the club, although doubts still remain over their ability to hold their own against the big clubs, as defeats against Chelsea and Manchester United have shown. Defensive lapses still cost the Gunners but their attacking prowess makes them favourites for another top four finish.

Star Player: Alexis Sanchez - The Chilean has lit up the Premier League with his work-rate, pace, skill and goals which have proven to be imperative to several positive Arsenal displays so far. The Gunners will need to keep him fit if they are to have a successful run in the Champions League and push Chelsea and Manchester City.

What is needed in January? - Defensive reinforcements. The Gunners have dropped too many points from winning positions this campaign and will be looking at centre-back cover as well as a holding midfielder. Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has been tipped as a long-term target.

Aston Villa

Position - 12th

After a superb start to the season with wins at Stoke and Liverpool, Villa's season seems to have tailed off significantly. No.2 Roy Keane has left and with a severe struggle for goals, one would feel that another relegation scrap beckons for Villa. However, manager Paul Lambert, who earned a new contract after the impressive start, will feel that the club will have enough quality to avoid the drop once more.

Star Player: Ron Vlaar - The Villa captain has provided the much needed quality and experience at the back, which proved to be the catalyst to their fast start. His performances have led to Villa conceding only 22 goals - the least out of the bottom 11 sides so far. Lambert will hope that the Dutch international can keep up his solid form to make up for the lack of goals at the other end.

What is needed in January? - A proven striker. Villa have scored a sorry total of 11 goals this season - the worst in the league by 3 goals. Christian Benteke has failed to live up to the showings from his debut season and one will feel that Paul Lambert will dip into the market for some extra attacking quality to ignite Villa's form in front of goal.


Position - 19th

After a very slow start, in which it took 11 games to register their first win, Burnley are beginning to show the fighting qualities that coach Sean Dyche instilled in his players during their successful Championship campaign. Their remarkable comeback at the home of champions Manchester City proved that, even though they may be short on quality, team spirit is likely to be the key in The Clarets' fight for survival.

Star Player: Kieran Tripper - The 24 year-old came into the Premier League with a reputation as one of the brightest full-backs in the country and he is yet to disappoint. His energy up and down the right side, along with his excellent delivery from crosses have been key to Burnley's recent resurgence.

What is needed in January? - Quality. Burnley may be hight on team spirit and determination but they are ultimately short on quality. A small budget will make it difficult for Dyche to find proven quality but if the Clarets are to stay up, January shopping will be necessary.


Position - 1st

Ominous. That would be the perfect adjective to describe Chelsea's form so far. Packed with power and pace, the Blues have lost only twice and have a 100% record at home. Jose Mourinho's summer signings have proven to be the difference and have added world-class ability to an already strong squad. They will take some catching.

Star Player: Nemanja Matic - Even though summer signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have been outstanding for the club so far, it has been midfield enforcer Matic who has been the lynchpin between success and failure this season. His power and composure at the heart of Chelsea's midfield, while breaking up play and keeping the play ticking, have been crucial in letting other stars like Costa, Fabregas and Eden Hazard shine. A wonderful player.

What is needed in January? - Not much in all honesty. Mourinho is a big believer in having two players in every position and that is what his squad possesses. Perhaps another defender is needed in case one of John Terry or Gary Cahill suffer injuries.

Crystal Palace

Position - 18th

Palace's season so far has been a bit of a mess. Starting off with the controversy of the departure of Tony Pulis - last season's hero - has led Palace to even further strife under replacement Neil Warnock. Poor form both home and away has resulted in Warnock becoming the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season. Palace are in real difficulty. 

Star Player: Mile Jedinak - Amid the gloom of the season so far, Australian Jedinak is one of few who can hold his head high. Continuing his form from last season, Palace's captain has shown his combative midfield skills on many occasions so far and is the club's top league scorer with five goals.

What is needed in January? - A striker. Strikers Dwight Gayle, Frazier Campbell and Marouane Chamakh have scored only six goals between them this season and have failed to capitalise on their late 13/14 form. The club need a consistent scorer if they are to avoid the drop this time.


Position - 13th

Everton boss Roberto Martinez will be disappointed with his team's performances and results of late, given the high expectations after last season's strong attempt at securing Champions League football. Despite a successful run in the Europa League so far, the schedule has perhaps been the reason to blame for lacklustre displays in front of goal and in defence. The energy from last season seems to have gone missing.

Star Player: Kevin Mirallas - The Belgian forward has notched five league goals so far and has instilled energy in a team that is in badly need of a spark. Manager Roberto Martinez will hope that Mirallas can continue to perform fearlessly in front of the Everton faithful.

What is needed in January? - Defensive reinforcements. Despite the disappointing return of £28 million record signing Romelu Lukaku, the Toffees have conceded cheap goals at the back which has cost them points. Captain Phil Jagielka has failed to pickup from last season's form and Martinez could look at adding another centre-half to sure up a defence that was so formidable last campaign.

Hull City

Position - 15th 

Another team who have struggled after a successful 13/14 season is Hull City. The Tigers have picked up just six points at home so far this season; the lowest in the division and have been lacking spark in front of goal, with only 18 scored. Manager Steve Bruce will be especially disappointed considering the heavy investment in the summer, including £10 million record signing Abel Hernandez, who has just three league goals. Improvement is needed and fast.

Star Player: Andrew Robertson - Not many have impressed significantly but the 20 year-old Scottish left-back has proven to be a superb addition to Bruce's squad. Robertson's pace and energy down the left channel has given the club some much needed consistency during certain periods this season and Bruce will be hoping for more of the same from his youngster.

What is needed in January? - Defensive additions and a striker. Despite not conceding as much as clubs around them (26), manager Bruce will be looking for further defensive solidarity to make up for the lack of goals scored (18). Another striker is indeed needed however, as Hernandez and Nikica Jelavic are not scoring as much as Hull fans would want. 

Leicester City

Position - 20th

After an electrifying start to Premier League life, which included the 5-3 thumping of Manchester United, Leicester's season has tailed off dramatically. No win in 99 days culminated in manager Nigel Pearson falling out with fans. However, a much needed away win at Hull has given renewed hope that the club can become only the third team to survive relegation after being bottom at Christmas.

Star Player: Leonardo Ulloa - The Argentine striker has been vital for the Foxes this season, notching seven league goals. Ulloa has given Leicester a real presence in a position where they lack depth and quality. Pearson will need to keep his star striker fit if they are to have any chance of survival.

What is needed in January? - Extra quality all over the pitch. Much like Burnley, team spirit will only take them so far. Boss Pearson will have to invest in attacking areas to improve on a poor return of 17 goals so far and in defence, where the Foxes have conceded the joint-second most goals conceded (31).


Position - 8th

After the summer departure of the outstanding Luis Suarez, the Reds have looked a shadow of the team which came so close to securing their first league title in 24 years last season. The pace and potency has gone and several lacklustre displays have proven how much of an effect the losses of Suarez and injury-hit Daniel Sturridge have been. 2014 ended on a high however, with wins over Burnley and Swansea offering new hope coming into the new year.

Star Player: Raheem Sterling - The youngster has carried on his fantastic late 13/14 form into the new campaign and has proved the spark that Liverpool have often lacked this season. With extra pressure on his young shoulders after the losses of Suarez and Sturridge, Sterling has looked very lively so far and is thriving in his new No.10 role. The return of Sturridge is likely to help him. 

What is needed in January? - Careful signings. Manager Brendan Rodgers has come under criticism for his signings during his time at Liverpool so far. The summer addition of Mario Balotelli has severely backfired and a more thought out, logical approach will be needed to improve a Liverpool squad badly in need of extra quality both in attack and defence. 

Manchester City

Position - 2nd

After a shaky start, City returned to form in style with nine wins on the bounce until Sunday's slip-up at home to Burnley. Manuel Pellegrini's men look like the only team likely to catch Chelsea and will need to keep key players fit to maintain their title push. Reaching the last-16 of the Champions League was a remarkable effort considering City only had two points after four games and as a result have a tie with Barcelona to look forward to. 

Star Player: Sergio Aguero - The Argentinian striker's form this season has been nothing short of outstanding. Not only has he consistently proven his undoubted quality, but he has done it on the big occasions such as the derby win against Manchester United and against Bayern Munich. 14 goals in the league this season has propelled City to second place after their wobbly start. It is imperative the City keep arguably the league's best player fit.

What is needed January? - Perhaps another striker. City have a very big squad already but have suffered recent injuries to strikers Aguero and Edin Dzeko and Pellegrini will not want to continue using James Milner or Samir Nasri as false nines for much longer. The Chilean may look at striking options elsewhere to bring in cover.

Manchester United

Position - 3rd

Following the turmoil of last season, it seems like Louis Van Gaal is guiding Manchester United forward considerably again. No European football has indeed helped, with the squad looking fresh after a worrying start. The return of Champions League football is looking likely again and there has even been talk of a push for the title. Their resurgence has been highly impressive so far.

Star Player: David De Gea - The Spanish goalkeeper has produced some truly remarkable displays recently and has been the catalyst in maintaining United's recent revival. De Gea has made 57 saves with a 75% save percentage so far this season. He also has six clean sheets under his belt while dazzling many with several staggering stops. A key man for United.

What is needed in January? - Defensive reinforcements. Van Gaal spent very heavily on attacking talent in the summer but failed to sure up the defence with any big name additions. The recent form of Jonny Evans and Marcus Rojo has been encouraging but United may get punished against better teams. Van Gaal may make sure that is not the case by the end of the window. Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund has been strongly linked in the past.

Newcastle United

Position - 10th

A considerably poor start sparked protests against manager Alan Pardew but a significant improvement has been evident since then, with the club ending 2014 in the top 10. Pardew has now joined Crystal Palace though, leaving Newcastle without a manager. There are high expectations at St. James' Park and maintaining their place in the top 10 will be high on the agenda in the coming months.

Star Player: Papiss Cisse - The Senegalese striker has had a very impressive first half of the season, bagging nine league goals and becoming an imperative part of the Magpies' attacking play. His form has seen a dramatic change in fortunes after scoring just two league goals during the whole of last season. Newcastle need to keep him fit and firing.

What is needed in January? - Keep their big names. Key players such as midfielder Moussa Sissoko and summer signing Ayonze Perez will no doubt attract the attention of big clubs during the winter window and the Magpies will need to keep them at bay.

Queens Park Rangers

Position - 16th 

It is fair to say that there have been two sides to QPR's return to the Premier League so far; Great at home but poor away. The high pace and zest that Harry Redknapp's men play with at home seems to disappear away from Loftus Road. The club became the first team since Bolton in 1995-96 to lose their opening nine league games away from home. Redknapp will need to improve his team's away form to safely avoid the drop this campaign.

Star Player: Charlie Austin - Austin has been simply superb for QPR so far, scoring 12 goals, prompting calls for an England call-up in the near future. Austin's goals will be absolutely crucial to help the club survive, although if he keeps up this form, his future could be away from Loftus Road.

What is needed in January? - More quality and experience. As per usual, Redknapp is likely to dip into the transfer market to guide his side away from the danger zone. Redknapp's former Tottenham players Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe have been heavily linked and will no doubt improve a squad that needs it.


Position - 4th 

After the summer exodus that occurred at St. Mary's many were tipping a struggle for Southampton this season, how badly wrong they were. New boss Ronald Koeman brought in admirable replacements such as Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Ryan Bertrand to replace Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw and the risky policy has worked wonders. Several dazzling displays have led the Saints to a top four finish - their best start to a Premier League campaign after 19 games.

Star Player: Morgan Schneiderlin - Many players have caught the eye at St. Mary's this season but 25 year-old Schneiderlin is most certainly 'the man' at Southampton. His tough tacking and excellent passing has been crucial to the Saints' displays so far. However, with him winning many admirers, Saints will have a fight on their hands to keep the Frenchman in January. 

What is needed in January? - Hold on to their key players. Despite a potential need to add an extra one or two to improve the depth of the squad, Southampton's window is likely to revolve around them holding onto their star players once again. Winger Eljero Elia has already been added to cover for Sadio Mane, who is off to the Africa Cup of Nations. 

Stoke City 

Position - 11th

Another season of solidarity has brought about a typical Stoke season so far. Their impressive record against the big team points to the fact that they are still a very tough side to face, especially at home. Manager Mark Hughes has brought in a more exciting form of attacking team from the one-dimensional side they perhaps were two or three years ago. Another season of consolidation beckons.

Star Player: Bojan Krkic - Stoke's big summer signing has proven to be a key player for the Potters in his debut season in England after a relatively slow start. The Spaniard has brought an element of class to Stoke's play and has been a real driving force so far. Maybe he has finally found his home at the Britannia. 

What is needed in January? - Perhaps another centre-half. The Potters have not conceded as many goals as teams around them but have struggled to find a reliable partner for captain Ryan Shawcross and Hughes may look to address that in January.


Position - 14th

Sunderland's season so far has consisted of severe ups and downs. A dramatic derby win against Newcastle coincided with a home defeat to Hull not long after. The Black Cats have failed to chalk up any consistency of late but will be relatively happy with ending 2014 in 14th place. They will need to pick up form to avoid a repeat of the crazy escape from relegation last season however.

Star Player: Adam Johnson - The 27 year-old may not have been at his absolute best this season but has been vital to Sunderland's attack so far. His three league goals, including a last minute winner in the Tyne-Wear derby, as well as his pace on the wing has given the Black Cats a different dimension. An important player.

What is needed in January? - Forwards. A poor total of just 16 league goals so far points to the fact that Sunderland need a man who will consistently put the ball into the net. Manager Gus Poyet is likely to try and solve this problem in January.

Swansea City

Position - 9th

A solid season so far ended on a bad note with a 4-1 defeat to Liverpool on Monday Night Football. Manager Gary Monk will have many reasons to be optimistic however, with a top 10 finish fully justified by an exciting brand of football that has come to the Liberty Stadium. The Swans have proven themselves to be a difficult team to face and are set for a good season.

Star Player: Wilfried Bony - The powerful Ivorian has been in good form so far with eight league goals. He is central to the Swans' attacking play and his interlinking with playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson has been a joy to watch at times. Yet he will be badly missed as he is off to the Africa Cup of Nations. A very reliable front man.

What is needed in January? - Another forward. Swansea's attacking threat of Bony, Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer will cause many teams problems but depth is bound to be a problem if injuries occur. A short-term replacement may be needed for Bony's departure. 

Tottenham Hotspur 

Position - 5th

Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be quietly happy with his team's position after a very nervy start. They have shown a never say die attitude after snatching late wins at West Ham, Aston Villa, Hull City and Swansea City. Their resilient approach has been different to other seasons and there is a sense that if Pochettino is given considerable time, bright things could be on the horizon for Spurs.

Star Player: Christian Eriksen - Harry Kane's improvement in front of goal has been a real positive for Spurs but it is Eriksen who is their real match-winner. Seven league goals from attacking midfield has proven his reputation as one of the brightest stars in the Premier League. His creativity and guile is vital to Spurs' chances of having a successful season.

What is needed in January? - More attacking quality. With fellow strikers Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor continually failing, a lot of pressure is on young Kane's shoulders. Pochettino could look to add some more attacking depth in the window to give his side more of a potent threat.

West Bromwich Albion

Position - 17th

A season of real struggle and battle is looming for West Brom after a series of inconsistent displays. Wins at Spurs and against great rivals Aston Villa have provided some room for comfort. Yet the first half of the season has clearly not been acceptable for some and manager Alan Irvine was sacked on Monday evening after a disappointing campaign thus far. West Brom may have a real scrap for survival on their hands. 

Star Player: Saido Berahino - Despite dropping off slightly after a lightning start, Berahino has proven to be West Brom's go-to man this season. The youngster has bagged seven league goals so far and his pace and potency has proven to be a real threat to several teams. The Baggies need him on form if they are to avoid the drop.

What is needed in January? - Quality all over the pitch. There may be a limited budget at the Hawthorns but the club will need to invest in more players in order to have a good chance of staying up. It could be difficult to be find the right players in January.

West Ham United

Position - 7th

An absolutely fantastic season so far has propelled West Ham to 7th place despite a recent slump after defeats against Chelsea and Arsenal. Not only has form picked up, but the style of play, so often criticised last season, has changed dramatically. Pace and power has been a real feature to the Hammers' play this time out, with the new signings turning out to be a revelation. It will be hard to maintain this form however.

Star Player: Stewart Downing - Downing has looked totally revitalised under boss Sam Allardyce and has added a real end product to his game while combining that to his undoubted pace and skill. He is arguably the league's most improved player and will be key in West Ham's potential push for European football in 2015.

What is needed in January? - Defensive reinforcements. Allardyce's squad looks strong but he may want to look at adding another centre-half to take the pressure off Winston Reid and James Tomkins. Apart from that, January signings look unlikely.

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