25 Games In.

With the relentless Christmas period well and truly over, the Premier League is now entering a make-or-break stage of the season. There are now just 13 games left in this season’s league campaign and the next few games will determine whether teams fighting relegation will pull clear or face the drop, teams battling for the top 4 will make it to the promised land of the Champions League or face Thursdays in Azerbaijan and whether Chelsea will be caught or pull away from the chasing pack.

In this article, I am going to review every team and (try to) predict what will happen to them heading into the final stretch. Disagree with me? Let me know by leaving a comment on the article or get in contact with me on Social media! @eastterrace00 is my Twitter handle.

1 – Chelsea

25 games, 19 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats, 60 points.

 

I wrote an article earlier on this month which wrote about how impressive Chelsea have been since Conte switched to his 3-5-2 formation which won him so many trophies at Juventus. Performances from Kante, Costa and Hazard have seen Chelsea pull clear at the top of the Premier League and the tenacity and determination of Conte should ensure the side from West London do not get complacent and are crowned Champions in May.

2 – Manchester City

25 games played, 16 wins, 4 draws, 5 defeats, 52 points.

Despite all of the criticism aimed at boss Guardiola for their dip in form over the Christmas period, the side from the Etihad Stadium have rallied and picked up some excellent wins in the past few weeks. The signing of Gabriel Jesus from Brazilian side Palmerias has proved to be a timely boost for the Citizens – so much so that Sergio Aguero’s future is now in question, given how well Jesus has slotted in to the front 3 alongside Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Question marks still hang over the defence, but the return of Vincent Kompany from injury will be a massive boost heading in to the final few months of the season. With the side still in the Champions League and FA Cup, fans will be hoping Pep Guardiola ends his first season in England with a trophy.

3 – Tottenham

25 games, 14 wins, 8 draws, 3 defeats, 50 points.

 

Spurs’ defeat to Liverpool on Saturday has halted a run in which made Spurs look like they were going to be the only real threat to Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge this season. A young side who are improving with every game, Mauricio Pochettino will need to juggle the Europa League with their League fixtures, whilst potentially going for the FA Cup as well. Time will tell whether they will successfully navigate the rest of the season without letting fatigue become an issue, but it cannot be doubted that they are one of the best sides to watch in Europe when they hit their stride.

4 – Arsenal

25 games, 15 wins, 5 draws, 5 defeats, 50 points.

 

Whilst they are on the same points as Spurs in the league and also face Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week, signs of inconsistency in the league, fan discontent and questions regarding Wenger’s future are threatening to de-rail Arsenal’s season for yet another year. Whilst Mesut Ozil struggles to find the form which made him one of the most flamboyant midfielders in Europe, they have become heavily dependent on Alexis Sanchez and will hope talk of mega money offers from elsewhere do not materialise. Excellent on their day but frustratingly poor the rest of the time, is a new era under a new manager on the cards at the emirates?

5 – Liverpool

25 games, 14 wins, 7 draws, 4 defeats, 49 points.

 

The 2-0 win against Spurs at Anfield on Saturday evening was a crucial win in the context of Liverpool’s season. Before that, they had not won a single league game in 2017 and had been knocked out of the League cup by Southampton and, perhaps more surprisingly, the FA Cup by Wolves at Anfield which ended any chance of Silverware for Klopp’s men this season. It is clear that Champions League qualification is the priority for owners FSG and the Management, but they cannot afford another dip in form like the one they have just experienced if they are to achieve their goals. Mane’s return from AFCON duty is a huge boost.

6 – Manchester United

25 games played, 13 wins, 9 draws, 3 defeats, 48 points

Unbeaten in the Premier League since October, Jose Mourinho seems to have found his strongest starting 11 and are looking like a very good side indeed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite his age, is leading the line excellently and using every bit of his vast experience to great effect for Mourinho’s men, with 15 goals and 4 assists so far. Despite Pogba’s struggles to date, other players have stepped up and significantly contributed towards the cause, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata chipping in with goals and assists. Their impressive 16 game unbeaten run sees them somehow stay 6th in the league, but if Jose can balance the league and Europa League, the top 4 looks very likely.

7 – Everton

25 games played, 11 wins, 8 draws, 6 defeats, 41 points

 

The defeat to Leicester at Goodison Park in the FA Cup was a fatal blow to any hopes of silverware the Everton faithful had this season, but Koeman’s side have rallied since then and there are several encouraging signs moving forward in to next season and beyond. The signing of Manchester United defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has proved to be a really good acquisition for the club, adding steel and energy in a midfield which needed his expertise. Rumours of Lukaku leaving are frequently mentioned and keeping him is essential if they want to realise their top 4 ambitions.

8 – West Brom

25 games played, 10 wins, 7 draws, 8 defeats, 37 points

 

Tony Pulis is one of the most devisive football managers in the Premier League. Whilst his style guarantees safety for the club’s he’s managed over his career, many fans and pundits are critical of his coaching and argue his methods are now outdated. However, with a top half finish looking likely for the baggies and the TV money increasing, the club continues to improve under Pulis’ management.

9 – Stoke City

25 games played, 8 wins, 8 draws, 9 defeats, 32 points.

 

Very much a mixed bag of results this season for Mark Hughes’ men, who are struggling to improve on last season’s campaign. Whilst there is no danger of them getting relegated, some fans may have been hoping for a push for the top 6 this season, but that has proven not to be the case. The signing of Saido Berahino from West Brom in January could prove to be a very smart move in the next season or so – Bony and Crouch are not seen as long term solutions in the attacking third of the pitch.

10 – West Ham

25 games played, 9 wins, 5 draws, 11 defeats, 32 points.

Much has been made of the club’s move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium and early signs this season suggested a relegation battle was on the cards. However, the departure of once-idolised Dimitri Payet seems to have unified the club and things are looking up. The 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City aside, recent form has improved and has coincided with Andy Carroll’s recent goal scoring run.

11 – Southampton

25 games played, 8 wins, 6 draws, 11 defeats. 30 points.

 

A somewhat disappointing first season for new boss Claude Puel looks to be on the cards in regards to the clubs league finish, but the club reaching the League Cup Final has put a gloss on things. Until Manolo Gabbiadini joined the club in the January transfer window, the club has struggled for goals, with only 28 scored in 25 games this season. Fans will be hoping that they can kick on after the cup final and be sure they do not finish the season on a low. For a club famed on successful managerial appointments, Puel’s second season will be a key indicator of whether his time on the south coast will be seen as a success or disappointment.

12 – Burnley

25 games played, 9 wins, 3 draws, 13 defeats, 30 points.

For a side who has one of the smallest budgets in the Premier League, a relegation battle was always going to be on the cards for Sean Dyche’s men this season. However, their hugely impressive home form and team spirit looks as though they are going to avoid the drop and face another season in the top division. Shrewd signings such as Belgian international midfielder Steven Defour and club record signing Robbie Brady have massively improved the side and Dyche should be given massive credit for the way he’s handled affairs this year. A hugely impressive manager.

13 – Watford

25 games played, 8 wins, 6 draws, 11 defeats, 30 points.

 

The infamous Italian owners The Pozzo’s at Vicarage road made the decision to part ways with the popular Spaniard Enrique Sanchez Flores in the summer and replace him with ex Napoli and Inter Milan coach Walter Mazzarri. A stoney faced Italian who focuses on organisation and discipline, he looks to have steered the Hertfordshire club away from the relegation zone and settle for a mid-table finish this season. Whether this will be enough for the owners remains to be seen, but heavy defeats to Spurs and Liverpool over Christmas and an FA Cup defeat to 3rd division side Millwall will not have helped his cause.

14 – Bournemouth

25 games played, 7 wins, 3 wins, 15 defeats, 26 points.

 

Despite the attractive football coach Eddie Howe insists on playing, Bournemouth’s form in 2017 has been appalling and the side from the south coast are being dragged in to what looks to be one of the closes relegation battles in recent Premier League history. The high profile signing of Jack Wilshere, whilst starting well, has not lived up to expectations and defensively they are leaking goals very regularly. For all of his potential, Howe needs to find a solution to stop the rot, or they may find themselves playing Championship football next season.

15 – Swansea City

25 games played, 7 wins, 3 draws, 15 defeats, 24 points.

 

The decision to sack American coach Bob Bradley and replace him with Paul Clement was seen with surprise and worry, but it looks to be a fantastic decision by the Swansea owners. Named manager of the month for January and after comfortably beating Leicester 2-0 at home on Sunday, Clement’s side from South Wales have pulled clear of the drop zone and will be hoping key players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson carries on his excellent recent form to secure their top-flight status for another season.

16 – Middlesbrough

25 games played, 4 wins, 10 draws, 11 defeats, 22 points

Another side who are famed for playing attractive, stylish football on a limited budget, Aitor Karanka’s Boro side have found themselves dragged into a serious relegation battle. With the fewest wins of any side in the Premier League so far this season and the fewest goals scored, there are serious concerns amongst fans that they will be in the bottom 3 in May. Alvaro Negredo was seen as the big hope to fire them to safety, but with only 6 goals in 25 league games this season, he has struggled. Adama Traore has been a bright light for the club and will go for big money this summer.

17 – Leicester City

25 games played, 5 wins, 6 draws, 14 defeats, 21 points.

 

Last season’s Premier League champions by 10 points have had the season from hell and find their selves perilously close to the drop zone this year. Key players from last season’s campaign such as Vardy, Mahrez and Drinkwater have been extremely disappointing and as the pressure mounts on title winning coach Claudio Ranieri, he will hope that the Champions League can provide a welcome distraction to their Premier League form and act as a motivation to not become the first side to be relegated the season after winning the title. An astonishing few seasons for the side from the Midlands.

18 – Hull City

25 games played, 5 wins, 5 draws, 15 defeats, 20 points.

Looking doomed in December, the owners decided to part ways with ex-Man United assistant manager Mike Phelan and replace him with relative unknown Portuguese boss Marco Silva. Since his appointment, he has made the side more organised, instilled a disciplined attitude throughout the club and has improved performances hugely. Outcasts at other clubs, players such as Oumar Niasse, Lazar Markovic and  Andrea Ranocchia have joined on short term deals and have improved the strength and class of the side. Do not be surprised if Hull stay up this season and Silva gets an offer from a much bigger club. A very impressive manager.

19 – Crystal Palace

25 games played, 5 wins, 4 draws, 16 defeats, 19 points.

 

After parting company with popular manager Alan Pardew just before Christmas and replacing him with Sam Allardyce, doubts were raised as to whether Big Sam returned from his forced absence after losing his job as England manager too early. Based on recent performances, in particular the 4-0 hammering by fellow strugglers Sunderland at home earlier this month, it looks as if Allardyce’s record of never being relegated is about to come to an end this season. Signings such as Patrick Van Aanholt from Sunderland have improved the side, but is it too little too late?

20 – Sunderland

25 games played, 5 wins, 4 draws, 16 defeats, 19 points.

 

The fact Sunderland have achieved 19 points so far this season is a miracle in itself. The club has Jermain Defoe to thank for still being in with a shout of avoiding the drop – he has been directly involved in over half of Sunderland’s goals in all competitions this season and keeping him fit is an absolute must if they are to have any chance of avoiding the drop. Part of me feels relegation would not necessarily be a bad thing for the club as a whole – flirting with the drop season upon season is a clear sign of multiple flaws in the playing staff and beyond and starting fresh may be a good thing.

-EastTerrace

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