English Premier League Quarterly Review: Part 3

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Manchester United – 7th

Top Goalscorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 4 goals

Player of the season thus far: David De Gea

Manchester United under Jose Mourinho have yet to hit any real form. Other than the 4-1 thrashing of Leicester, they have been one of the disappointments of the league so far. With big names like Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Mourinho now at the club, United were expected to be a real force this season. However, they have already lost to Watford, Manchester City and most recently, were thumped by Chelsea. They’re lucky they have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world between the sticks. Without the presence of David De Gea, they could have lost some of their games by more or even lost games they narrowly won. United sit on just 14 points but that’s just 6 points from top spot in the league.

Prediction going forward: Manchester United have arguably the best manager of the 21st century leading them now. They also have one of the world’s best talents in the form of Paul Pogba. Around them, there is a wealth of classy and talented footballers. They have had a rough start to the season but they are still in the title race due to the competitive nature of the league this year. If they can find some form and put together some results they’ll be right back in the title race. This needs to happen sooner rather than later if the Special One is to continue his run of being successful at every club he’s managed.

 

Middlesbrough – 17th

Top Goalscorer: Christian Stuani – 3 goals

Player of the season thus far: Christian Stuani

Middlesbrough started the season decently enough. They were unbeaten in three with two draws and a win. However, they have failed to win a match since the second week of the season over two months ago. Despite a decent away draw with Arsenal this past week-end, they are floundering near the bottom of the table. They have the joint worst home record in the league and have scored the second fewest goals overall. Without their talisman Christian Stuani who’s performed well thus far, they would be even worse off. Middlesbrough are in for a real relegation dogfight and if they’re to stay up, big names like Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes will really have to step up.

Prediction going forward: Middlesbrough are one of the teams we’re really worried for. Like Hull, they do not really have a Premier League squad. They fail to score goals and can not contain many Premier League sides. Their only hope is if team’s around them perform poorly throughout the season and they manage to beat them when they play one another. Otherwise we see a quick return to Championship life for the men from the Riverside Stadium.

 

Southampton – 8th

Top Goalscorer: Charlie Austin – 4 goals

Player of the season thus far: Oriol Romeu

Southampton are yet again proving that they are made of stern stuff. After yet another summer where they sold on key players they find themselves in among the big boys of the league. Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama are just a few of the notable names to have left this past summer. Despite this major losses, Southampton has found more than ample replacements in the form of Nathan Redmond, Charlie Austin and Oriol Romeu. The latter, a former Chelsea man, has become a centerpiece in the middle of their rugged and tenacious midfield. With draws against Manchester City and Leicester, coupled with a solid showing away to Arsenal which saw them lose very late to a 94th minute penalty, Saints fans and players have a lot to be proud of so far this season.

Prediction going forward: Southampton continue to prove they can adapt season to season even when some of their best players are sold on. They are unlikely to trouble the top 7 overall, especially with their heavy fixture list. However, we feel they could be a real bogey team for multiple sides. As a result we do not see them being a part of the title race themselves. We do think they may play a part by upsetting a contender or two later on in this season. They’ll finish in the middle of the table comfortably in a season defined by consolidation with some growth.

 

Stoke City – 16th

Top Goalscorer: Joe Allen – 4 goals

Player of the season thus far: Joe Allen

Stoke started the season just about as badly as you can. After an opening match day draw, they lost 4 straight games and things began to look very ominous for them. In a welcome turn of events, they are now unbeaten in 4 having won two and drawn two of those games. Additionally, they have uncovered a goalscorer in the very unlikely form of Joe Allen. His 4 goals in 9 games equals the amount he’s managed to score in the Premier League in the last 4 years collectively. His goal scoring along with his work rate and ability is a large part of Stoke climbing out of that early season hole they found themselves in. They’re far from being out of reach of the relegation zone but they’re much better off than they were.

Prediction going forward: They sit on just 9 points which is a mere 2 points above the relegation zone. However, Stoke has far too much quality to be in the relegation discussion. With the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Joe Allen in their team, they’re sure to avoid the drop. It is important that Stoke continue to string some good results together. This is important because they seem to be a team of runs both good and bad. Therefore, they need to get as many points as they can whilst they’re playing well before they slip back into another slump in form which could prove costly come the end of the season.

 

Sunderland – 20th

Top Goalscorer: Jermaine Defoe – 4 goals

Player of the season thus far: Duncan Watmore

There really is nothing all that positive to say about Sunderland this season. They are the only team in the league without a win. They have scored the fewest goals of any team and they also have injuries to key men in every area of the field. Real quality and important players like Lee Catermole, Jason Denayer, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Larsson, Adnan Januzaj, Jan Kirchoff and Vito Mannone have all missed matches. To make matters worse, Sunderland have had a relatively easy schedule but things immediately get harder this week-end with a visit from high flying Arsenal. Duncan Watmore has worked his socks off in many a losing effort and incredibly Jermaine Defoe manages to keep scoring goals, even in a team that’s bottom of the league.

Prediction going forward: It’s looking very bleak for Sunderland. Their season has now boiled down to “we need our first win”. The longer that goes on, the more and more trouble they’ll be in. A losing mentality will very easily settle in for the black cats and they could end up beating themselves mentally most weeks before a ball is kicked. The bad news is they’re rock bottom of the table. The good news is they have 29 more games to change their fortunes. They have time to escape the drop zone. The problem is we just don’t believe they will. In the past few years, the black cats have performed some of the great last gasp escapes from the relegation zone. However, we feel as though they’re now down to their last life.

Despair: David Moyes descent as a football manager has continued this season with Sunderland. The former Everton and Manchester United boss looks dejected as his Sunderland team are without a win in 9 Premier League matches.

Despair: David Moyes’ descent as a football manager has continued this season with Sunderland. The former Everton and Manchester United boss looks dejected as his Sunderland team are without a win in 9 Premier League matches.