The 2016/17 Premier League season has been rich with surprises so far. From Pep seemingly feeling the pressure to the relegation battle, we are all loving another great season of ups and downs in England’s top division. Here’s cultivationuk’s mid season review of the most important events from the first half of an eventful season. We also look ahead to predict what will happen in the second half of the 2016/2017 season.
The Title Race- Are Chelsea running away with it?
Following Leicester’s immense surprise success last season, it seems the giants of the Premier League have got their act back together and look to do battle for the precious Premier League title. Chelsea have led the pack so far, on 49 points, and are looking like the favourites for the title. With a deadly attacking force of arguably world class players and a rejuvenated defence generated by Antonio Conte, one of the Premier League’s strongest managers so far, can anyone stop the growing force that is Chelsea.
Their closest challengers are Liverpool on 44 points, 5 points behind the leaders. Jurgen Klopp’s side have looked incredibly strong when attacking- all of Liverpool’s forwards have pace and skill, making them good enough to break down any defence in the Premier League. Conversely, Liverpool’s defence has looked dreadful in the majority of games they have been challenged in. As seen on Monday, when they drew 2-2 with Sunderland. Liverpool must win against fellow title challengers to stand a chance of knocking Chelsea off the top, and to do this they must tighten up their weak defence.
In fourth and fifth are Manchester City and Arsenal, two teams who have not reached their target yet at this point of the season. City have failed to make the impact on the Premier League they wished too, after their encouraging start under Pep Guardiola. They have slowly faded away and look too inconsistent to be true title challengers to Chelsea. For Arsenal it is the same old story, an inevitable loss of form after a very promising start of the season. A loss of form that Arsenal fans have come to expect under the forever present Arsene Wenger. If the erratic performances of Arsenal and City’s players is stopped then possibly they can fight their way back into the title race.
Spurs, who have now moved up to third place on 42 points following a victory against Chelsea, have arguably one of the Premier League’s strongest defences. They will be looking to continue moving up the table after 5 convincing victories in their last 5 games.
Manchester United, who are 10 points behind the leaders in 6th place, will not be challenging for the title (unless an inconceivable drop of form occurs at Stamford Bridge) but will be aiming for a top four place this season. United haven’t lost in their last ten games and Mouriniho has now found a way to manage his United squad. If both of these teams continue their progression they have a large chance of breaking into the top four, with both Arsenal and City not looking in top form.
Most Premier League fans would admit that at this point of the season it looks like the Title will be returning to West London. However it’s still possible for the chasers to put pressure on Chelsea and knock them of the top spot if other top teams play well and win consistently- something no other team has done so far apart from Chelsea, who had one 13 games in a row up until last night when they lost 2-0 to Spurs.
Pep Under Pressure
One of the biggest stories going into the Premier League season was the arrival of the so called ‘super manager’ Pep Guardiola, previously of Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However it seems Pep has struggled to adapt to English football and it’s obvious that he is struggling currently. After City’s previous game, a 2-1 victory against Burnley- a game in which Fernandiniho was dismissed from, Pep’s frustration with the Premier League was very evident. He gave a series of very awkward interviews post game in which he repeatedly questioned the English media and the validity of Premier League referees. See the interview here:
However, Pep is not the only manager struggling in the fiercely competitive Premier League. With a wealth of high profile managers in the league this season, at least a couple of the managers will have to fail. Whether it be because of not winning the title or not finishing in the top four, some managers will fail to reach their targets as a result of six teams all aiming for a high finish. Mouriniho seemed to be one of these managers at the beginning of the season, however his United team have now gained a lot of momentum and look like they may well get a top four place by the end of the season. Another manager from the top six teams under pressure is Arsene Wenger. After twelve years without a title and his Arsenal team only managing draws against mid-table teams, will Wenger leave at the end of this season if Arsenal fail to finish in the top four?
Which Struggling Teams Won’t Avoid The Drop?
At the other end of the table, the fight for survival is on. At the halfway point of the season, the teams that we predict will be battling it out at the end of the season are Hull (13 points), Swansea (15 points), Sunderland (15 points), Crystal Palace (16 points) and Middlesbrough (19 points). Hull are favourites to be relegated from the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson’s apprentice Mike Phelan, who was hired by the tigers after Steve Bruce left the club in the summer, has recently been sacked after no victories in 9 games. The club looks to be in a weak position, and there have been reports the new man to take charge of Hull will be Marco Silva, a 39 year old who has no Premier League experience. If the rumours are true- Hull may be in an even weaker position. They will be taking a huge gamble if the reports and rumours turn out to be true.
Swansea, who have lately sacked their struggling American manager Bob Bradley, beat Crystal Palace yesterday 2-1 and will now look to avoid the drop with their newest manager Paul Clement leading the way. Clement, who was formerly an assistant manager at Bayern Munich, has only ever managed an English team for 8 months (Derby County) and many fans have questioned whether he is the right man with the right experience to lead Swansea out of a relegation battle.
Sunderland, lead by former United and Everton manager David Moyes, have a weak squad and a huge injury list, a perfect storm. To stay up this season will be a huge challenge for Moyes with only one goalscorer currently in the team- Jermaine Defoe (11 goals). If Defoe leaves during January or is injured it is hard to see Sunderland avoiding relegation. Crystal Palace have recently sacked struggling manager Alan Pardew and have appointed Premier League survival specialist Sam Allardyce. Allardyce will look to keep Palace in the league by strengthening a costly defence, if he can do this Palace have the attacking players to allow them to climb up the league. Middlesbrough look as if their going to draw in every game they play currently. Aitor Karanka, formerly an assistant of Mouriniho, will be looking to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.
Only a few points are separating the teams battling it out at the bottom, meaning any of these teams could currently save themselves. Although with the way Hull are playing and their appointment of an inexperienced manager, they are looking like favourites to drop down a league.
January Transfer Rumours and Done Deals
- Joey Barton- Unattached to Burnley
- Rudy Gestede- Aston Villa to Middlesbrough
Morgan Schneiderlin, who is out of favour at Manchester United, has been linked with a number of teams recently for around a fee of £20 million. Everton and West Brom have been heavily linked with the midfielder.
Real Madrid are rumoured to be interested in young Tottenham midfielder, Dele Alli. According to reports they are willing to pay up to £50 million for the Englishman. However Spurs have said Alli is not for sale. But can Alli refuse an offer from Madrid?
Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, who’s contract ends in the summer, has been linked with clubs from the Spanish league and the Chinese league.
West Ham are interested in Sunderland’s Jermaine Defoe, who has 11 goals this season. However an offer has already been rejected. If Sunderland were to let him go, surely their fight for survival will be put in serious jeopardy.
Virgil Van Dijk, who has been in tremendous form for Southampton this season, has been linked with Everton, Liverpool and Middlesbrough. The centre back is valued at £50 million. This would be a huge loss to Everton.
Out of favour United winger, Memphis Depay has been linked with many loan moves. Most notably to Everton.
And finally, could Payet be looking for a way out of West Ham? PSG are reportedly interested in the French international.
CULTIVATIONUK.COM’s End Of Season Predictions
Here at cultivationuk.com we breathe football and adore the Premier League, Here are our slightly biased end of season predictions of the title battle and survival struggle:
Ryan (Manchester United)
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
Chelsea have a 13 game winning streak, a strong team with strong rotation players. United have a strong team with a large number of exceptional players, a win streak will bring them up to second. Liverpool have already gathered enough points to finish well, the team lacks strength to finish higher. Arsenal played well the first half of the season, they’re expected to drop off as the season continues and suffer multiple injuries. City have a manager who’s struggling to adjust to the BPL, players are performing well on a regular basis but collapsing at crucial times. Spurs are likely to struggle with a lack of rotation players later in the season, may finish higher than sixth if other teams struggle.
18. Crystal Palace 19. Swansea 20.Hull City
Palace are suffering from the worst point total in English professional
football, the new manager may cause upset amongst players. Swansea are suffering consistent losses, their now onto their 3rd manager of the season, the players lack character to push out of the relegation zone. Hull haven’t won in the league since early November, have little to no squad rotation players and have already lost 2 managers.
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
Chelsea have such a strong squad, that if players are out of form they can be easily replaced. Our unbeaten run could go on forever- the trophy is returning to it’s rightful owner! Liverpool have a great attack and are lead by a great manager (Jurgen Klopp) but their carelessness in defence won’t allow them to come close to the title. City will finish 3rd in my opinion, I think Guardiola will turn it
around once he finds a system that works. Mouriniho will get a tune out of stacked United squad, they should finish in the top four. Tottenham have a strong first team but lack depth and this will be costly towards the end of the season. Arsenal’s poor form will continue and their players don’t seem to have the right attitude to turn it around- with the exception of Alexis Sanchez.
18.Swansea 19.Sunderland 20.Hull City
Swansea have a manager in Paul Clement, who has been a coach for Munich and has vast experience in Europe’s top leagues. However,if I had to suggest which manager is more likely to keep a team in the Premier League up between Sam Allardyce (Crystal Palace) and Paul Clement (Swansea) it would have to be Sam Allardyce. I think it will be close between Swansea and Crystal Palace in the fight for 17th place but Swansea will be the team that loses out. Hull are almost guaranteed to be relegated- they’re not good enough for the Premier League. Sunderland will put up a fight, but in my opinion there are too many teams with more talent than them
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
Chelsea have an unbelievable win streak and are potential record breakers in the making, with no signs of slowing down. With unbelievable squad depth and teams yet to discover how to stop them, it’s hard to see them not becoming champions. United are gaining form and are really being a cohesive unit now. Their squad quality makes them genuine title contenders. Knowing Arsenal they’ll pick it up during the closing stages of the season. Being able to hold their own with injuries to the likes of Ozil as well as Bellerin proves their squad is good enough to maintain a high place. My only reasoning for putting Liverpool in fourth is that Sadio Mane will be leaving them for a bit during the AFCON and therefore I believe their attack will lose some quality. Also, with their shakiness at the back, I expect the
m to struggle. City’s defence and disciplinary records needs to be rejuvenated, will Pep figure it out before it’s too late though? I think not. Spurs, massive bottlers, it is in their nature to choke when they are doing well, so they will mess up eventually!
18. Middlesbrough 19.Swansea 20.Hull City
Palace have too much talent to go down, Big Sam will aid the cause. Sunderland will stay up, believe in Moyes. Middlesbrough will get relegated, not enough end product in the final third. Swansea have a very talented squad, yet I think it’s too late for them to pull themselves together. Hull have had manager changes mid season, with a very small squad, it is not a good formula for success. They’ll go back down for next season