Premier League: Mid-season rankings and end-of-season predictions
Right, we’re pretty much at the halfway point of the 2020/21 Premier League season. Some have played 19 bang on, some more, some less – but that’s to be expected in this COVID-affected campaign.
Regardless, we thought there was no better time to rank the performance of all 20 teams so far. Not only that, we’re going to put our neck on the line and make some predictions for how it’ll all pan out come May. We might be right, we’ll almost certainly be wrong – but feel free to tell us how you’d rate your club and where you think they’ll finish.
So, take a seat and take a look at these mid-season report cards. And if you’ve got a final season fancy, take a look at the Premier League betting available with Grosvenor Sport.
The curious case of Arsenal. We’re not sure quite where to rank the Gunners, who we discussed in depth a couple of months ago. We’re not sure where they should finish, or what the expectations are at the Emirates – but they have slowly turned the tide in recent weeks.
Four wins from five, the brilliance of Bukayo Saka, the exciting addition of Martin Odegaard. And AFTV seems to have gone quiet again which is always a good sign. This weekend’s game against Manchester United should provide another marker of progress. Europe is back in sight.
Where did this come from? Aston Villa stayed up by inches last season, but they have been reborn as one of the most exciting teams of the campaign. Take nothing away from the rest of the lads, but the Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley (albeit hampered by injury) and Ollie Watkins triple threat is quite something.
Aston Villa’s Expected Goals tally is only bettered by Manchester City and Liverpool this season, and xG can often come to the fore by the end of the campaign. Villa might need Europe to have any chance of holding on to their esteemed captain. But… they might just do it, you know.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
If only this team could score more. Brighton have been a joy to watch at times under the influence of the excellent Graham Potter but, at the end of the day, this team are in a relegation battle. Sitting 17th at the time of writing, the Seagulls have a bit of leeway, but improvement is needed.
The standout star has been midfield powerhouse Yves Bissouma who seems destined for a summer move. They have the quality to pull away from danger, but a home win would help. Their only wins at the AMEX have come against League One opposition this season. Work to do.
Burnley made a slow start to this season and out came the usual anti-Sean Dyche propaganda. But the gravel-voiced gaffer knows exactly what works, and he has the Clarets doing what they do best once again.
The hope and expectation at Turf Moor is always safety – and a nine-point cushion at this stage emphatically ticks that box. Not always pretty, but effective. And that’s the Burnley way. Good enough.
Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea. What will we do with you? Frank Lampard guided his side to the top of the table after doing a sterling job last term. But then came a slide and a handful of defeats. And that’s all the motivation Roman Abramovich needs to wield the axe.
The Blues legend paid the price for spending big on players he didn’t need, and now it’s Thomas Tuchel’s job to slot Pulisic, Ziyech, Werner, Havertz, Abraham, Giroud and Hudson-Odoi into a front three. To be fair, he’s got the know-how. You can’t rule Chelsea out of making a charge, but it might take time.
There’s been some good, some bad and some ugly, but Crystal Palace can be reasonably happy with how their season is going. A recent drop-off in results has occurred, but they’re 10 points clear of the drop and 10 points from sixth. A very happy medium.
Roy Hodgson’s side have shipped far too many goals, but they always have quality shining through with Wilfried Zaha and the easy-on-the-eye Eberechi Eze making things happen. Nothing to write home about, but the Eagles won’t mind that.
Everton started strong and the blue side of Merseyside were happy to claim the early season bragging rights. With the mercurial talents of James Rodrigues and the finishing prowess of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Carlo Ancelotti’s side sat at the summit in the very early stages of the season.
Naturally, they fell away with injuries to some of the star players not helping. But the aforementioned duo are back fit, as is Lucas Digne (the best left-back in the Prem, anyone?). They’re seventh with games in hand, and European football is on the cards. Well done, Toffees.
A 3-0 opening day defeat against Arsenal left everyone gravely concerned for Fulham’s fortunes this season, especially as they squeezed into the Premier League via the Championship Play-Offs with rookie boss Scott Parker in charge.
But it seems the former England international is learning on the job – and learning pretty well. The defence has been shored up, they’ve got the ability to mix up their game, but they do need goals. The 0-0 at Brighton last week was one of the most predictable results in top-flight history. The Cottagers look the most likely of the current crop to get out of the bottom three. If they do it, we’ll turn this E into an A.
After a couple of impressive seasons in the Championship, it was pretty much unanimous that Leeds would be absolutely fine on their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence. And so it has proved.
BielsaBall has come in for praise and criticism. Some call it brave, some call it reckless, but the Argentine coach’s methods have got the job done when needed. The thumping defeat at Man Utd was disappointing, but the Elland Road faithful are more than used to taking the rough with the smooth. Good work.
Excellent. Leicester showcased their quality last season before the late collapse, falling out of the top four. But with some shrewd acquisitions and breakout seasons from the likes of James Justin and Harvey Barnes, the Foxes are up there again and in no mood for slowing down.
Coping without Jamie Vardy is a short-term concern, but not the issue it might have been in 2015/16. This squad is far better than that title-winning side, Brendan Rodgers has got them capable of beating the best and competing at the very top. Second wouldn’t surprise us but… not quite.
Liverpool bounced back from weeks of disappointment with an impressive win at Spurs, but the damage may have been done in a scoreless spell of 486 minutes. A 7-0 rout of Crystal Palace was followed by five winless matches, including losing their long Anfield unbeaten run against Burnley.
It was never going to be easy replicating the efforts of last season, or even the season before. But performances as well as results have been underwhelming recently. They say retaining the title is the mark of a truly great side and it looks like Jurgen Klopp’s men will fall short.
We’re sticking a minus on there due to the slow start, but it’s beginning to look like Man City will pass this season with flying colours. They are rolling right now and it’s looking ominous for the chasing pack.
Since drawing with West Brom in mid-December, City have won seven on the spin, conceding just once – a stoppage-time goal when leading 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. That was a vintage performance, and they have two more winnable games before a crunch match against Liverpool. This title race might be over before you know it.
Are we being harsh here, or generous? You tell us. Man Utd started terribly, produced a remarkable run to move to the top of the league, then surrendered their place at the summit by losing to Sheffield Utd.
You could make a case for a higher grade due to the fact they sit 2nd in the Premier League, but is regression on the cards? As the Blades defeat showed, you can’t keep conceding the first goal and coming back to win. It’s unsustainable. This team is still very much a work in progress and top four would still be a success.
Newcastle narrowly avoid a big fat fail, purely because of their league position. The Magpies are on a horrid run of form, the football they play is far from entertaining, yet they remain six points clear of the relegation zone.
However, that might not last. Unless the return of talisman Allan Saint-Maximin can turn things around, Steve Bruce and his misfiring squad are on the slide and could face another relegation under the turbulent ownership of Mike Ashley. It might be a case of just praying there are three sides worse than them.
A torrid, torrid season. After proving just about everybody wrong last term, things haven’t worked out this time around. The injury to Jack O’Connell, a key cog in the Sheffield United system, has hindered Sheffield Utd massively. That bit of good fortune has deserted them, and ultimately a lack of quality when it matters has proved costly in a series of narrow defeats.
Whatever happens, the 2019/20 season will go down as one of the best in the club’s history and the famous win at Old Trafford last week is another highlight for Chris Wilder and his brave Blades. Recent results suggest it’s unlikely they go down as the worst Premier League team ever, but the Championship is sadly imminent.
Another tough one. The football has been fantastic, an incredible hard-fought win against Liverpool was one of many highlights, but injuries – and a lack of investment – has hindered the Saints’ steady progress.
The brilliant Ralph Hasenhuttl had this Southampton side looking like dark horses for a place in Europe, but they’ve quickly dropped out of contention. This grade would have been markedly higher a few weeks ago, but they’re now back in the position where they finished last season.
A lightning start had Spurs dreaming of Premier League glory but the Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min two-man show couldn’t last forever. However, the glorious Tanguy Ndombele has joined the party and Spurs are still doing alright.
Jose Mourinho’s men have dropped away a little and Kane faces a spell on the sidelines, but they’re still in the mix. The loss to Liverpool showed they might still have a way to go to be contenders, but it’s still been a solid effort. And they’re in a Cup Final!
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Whether Slaven Bilic would have taken the Baggies down is up for debate, but the timing of the sacking – and his replacement – didn’t seem to sit well with anyone outside the Hawthorns. But if WBA fans did think Sam Allardyce was the saviour, they might be changing that opinion right about now.
A memorable win at West Midlands rivals Wolves will have helped endear Big Sam slightly, but the defence has gone to pot and they’re currently on target to break unwanted Premier League defensive records. There have been highlights, but there’s serious work to be done if West Brom are to avoid boing-boing’ing back to the Championship.
WEST HAM UNITED
The team of the season so far? We’re not going to argue. Because we wrote it. At the time of writing, four straight wins have taken West Ham into the fight for the UEFA Champions League places. The club was, maybe still is, a bit of a mess upstairs and behind the scenes. But they’re doing the business on the pitch where it really matters.
Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek are one of the best central midfield partnerships in the division, Aaron Cresswell has probably been the standout left back of the campaign, Jarrod Bowen outstanding and Michail Antonio is fighting fit and firing in the goals. Remember when David Moyes had Everton consistently in top-four contention? He’s baaaaack.
The focal point of Wolves went away with the horrific head injury to Raul Jimenez and as a result, the team have lost their mojo a little bit. The squad is packed with talent including the Portuguese influx, but it’s not quite clicking.
This should have been the season that Wolves closed the gap and put themselves in Champions League contention, but instead of mixing it with the Leicesters and Tottenhams of this world, they’re alongside Leeds, Palace and Burnley. D for disappointing.
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