English Premier League Mid-Season Review
Hey Red Card Nation- I hope you’ve had a fantastic start to 2012. This blog is primed for another big year, and with the support I’ve had the last 2 years carrying over to 2012, I have no doubt that is exactly what will happen. Thanks again to everyone who continues to read. I would also like to show some love to my favorite podcast: Men In Blazers. MIB is a soccer podcast hosted by two Brits, Michael Davies and Roger Bennett. They are a wealth of football knowledge and humor. They have also live in the U.S. for years, so they cater to an American audience. Trust me, if you give them a listen, you’ll be a loyal fan like I am in no time.
Finally, in my eyes at least, it is time to give soccer some love on the Red Card. Now that the January Transfer Window has closed, we have reached the half-way point of the English Premier League season; which means that it is time to analyze what we know and predict what we don’t. This edition of the Red Card (aptly named) will rank the teams, give out some plaudits and show some folks the RED CARD before predicting the second half.
First, let’s look at the current table in the EPL. But- instead of ranking the teams 1-20, Im going to rank my top 6, then the middle 8 and finish with the 6 teams in the relegation battle. Note: not all teams will be ranked according to points, I take into account current form as well.
Top 6 Teams (Top 4 qualify for the Champions League in 2012-2013):
1. Manchester City: 54 points.
2. Manchester United: 54 points.
3. Tottenham Hotspur: 49 points.
4. Chelsea: 42 points.
5. Newcastle: 39 points.
6. Liverpool: 38 points.
7. Arsenal: 37 points.
8. Stoke City: 30 points.
9. Sunderland: 30 points.
10. Everton: 29 points.
11. Norwich City: 29 points.
12. Fulham: 27 points.
13. Swansea City: 27 points.
14. Aston Villa: 28 points.
Bottom 6 teams (Last 3 get relegated to the Championship Division)
15. West Bromwich Albion: 26 points.
16. Queens Park Rangers: 21 points.
17. Bolton Wanderers: 20 points.
18. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 18 points.
19. Blackburn Rovers: 18 points.
20. Wigan Athletic: 15 points.
Starting XI from the first half:
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul (Newcastle)
Defenders: Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle) , Jose Enrique (Liverpool)
Midfielders: David Silva (Manchester City), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
Strikers: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal), Demba Ba (Newcastle)
Honorable Mention: Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (Manchester City); Defenders: John Terry (Chelsea), Bacary Sanga (Arsenal), Leighton Baines (Everton), Micah Richards (Manchester City); Midfielders: Leon Britton (Swansea City), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur); Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Here is the list of those most deserving RED CARDS from the first half:
- Mario Balotelli (Manchester City): This guy is a talented lunatic. Among his many acts of idiocy this year: blowing up his bathroom with fireworks, the Why Always Me t-shirt after scoring the opener against Manchester United, and most recently stomping on Scott Parker’s face intentionally before scoring the winning goal against Tottenham. His personality is like The Joker. RED CARD.
- John Terry (Chelsea): His reputation precedes him. He cannot remain England captain if found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. RED CARD.
- Luis Suarez (Liverpool): Currently serving an 8 match ban for being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra. RED CARD
- Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool): The Liverpool manager OK’d shirts supporting Suarez during the FA’s racism hearing. Dirtball move. RED CARD.
- Roberto Mancini (Manchester City): For displaying and appealing for RED CARDS during games. It is not sportsman-like, stop it. Now Ill show you one: RED CARD.
- Andre Villas Boas (Chelsea): The Chelsea manager has been at the helm of controversy this entire season, but his ruthless skepticism of the English media is getting old. It is a high pressure job- deal with it. RED CARD.
- Fernando Torres (Chelsea): Has scored 3 total goals for Chelsea since arriving on January 31st of last year for $80 million. That is $26.7 million/goal. RED CARD.
- Andy Carroll (Liverpool): If you think Torres form is terrible, try watching Andy Carroll play. RED CARD.
- Premier League Referees: The harsh decisions by Premier League referees are at an all-time high. They need to get it together before they ruin anymore matches with silly decisions. RED CARD.
- Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers): Barton leads the league in fouls, and total yellow and red cards with 9. He is a tough midfielder, but constantly goes over-the-top with bad play. RED CARD.
- Arsene Wenger (Arsenal): His management magic at Arsenal might be up. Wenger has looked, and managed, like a shell of his former self. RED CARD.
Best Moment: Gary Speed Tributes. Unfortunately for many in the UK and around the world, footballing legend Gary Speed died in November. He played for Leeds United, Newcastle, Everton and Bolton before becoming the Wales manager and leading that team to unbelievable success. The outpouring of support for this former great player was unbelievable. Many clubs had moments of silence, chanted songs with his name during large portions of entire matches and had memorials set up outside of their respective stadiums. Speed was revered like very few footballers in the UK, and his legend will live on accordingly.
Worst Moment: John Terry (Chelsea) and Luis Suarez (Liverpool) racism allegations. Suarez was banned by the F.A. for 8 matches after it was found that he shouted racist remarks at Patrice Evra (Manchester United) during the teams match on October 15th. Terry has yet to be charged by the F.A., but is also under investigation from the Crown Prosecution Service for alleged racist remarks that he said to Anton Ferdinand (Queens Park Rangers) during their October match. What makes both situations even worse is that both players have a history of terrible lapses of character. In this day and age, it is unfathomable that this kind of behavior still exists- especially in the top football league in the world. It is reprehensible, and I hope justice is done.
Player of the first half: Robin Van Persie. Arsenal’s captain has been nothing short of spectacular through the first half. He has amassed 19 goals and 5 assists already and is on pace for many more. Plus, his leadership have helped Arsenal weather a tough first half of the season. We will truly see how good he is in the second half.
Team of the first half: Manchester City. Without a doubt, City have been the most impressive squad of the first half of the season. Their consistency and attacking threat have been unmatched so far.
Goals of the first half:
1) Daniel Sturridge vs. Sunderland: watch
2) Robin Van Persie vs. Everton: watch
3) Luka Modric vs. Liverpool: watch
Bold predictions for the 2nd half of the season:
- Fernando Torres will find his goal scoring form. I expect the Spaniard to ‘come good’ during the second half of this season.
- Manchester United will have a tough 2nd half and finish 3rd or 4th. I know they are the standard by which all other teams are measured, but they seem to have lost their creative spark this season. Goals are much tougher to come by these days for United.
- Arsenal will not qualify for the Champions League. I dont see how the Gunners finish in the Top 4- especially with the squad decisions that Arsene Wenger has been making lately.
- Norwich and Swansea City will both finish middle of the table. Both squads are built to play in the Premier League, and they will continue to play spoiler to big clubs.
- Landon Donovan will finish the second half of the season with Everton and sign for them permanently.
- Clint Dempsey will end up playing for a bigger club by the start of the next season. His form is top-notch right now.
- Tottenham will qualify for the Champions League, sparking Harry Redknapp to stay with Spurs instead of taking the England National Team position.
- David Moyes will take the England job.
- Chelsea’s 2nd half MVP- Michael Essien. If ‘Ess’ can come back to health- he can be a destructive force for the Blues.
- Newcastle continues their great form when Demba Ba returns from the African Nations Cup. They qualify for the Europa League.