Barclays Premier League Midseason Breakdown

Soccer is trending. According to an ESPN study, it’s America’s second favorite sport. Due to the most prolific goal scoring year, faster play and more competitive teams, the world’s favorite game has become much more watchable in the states. Coming towards the end of match week 20, the sentinel will fill you in on what you missed during the first half of the Premier League season.

In case you didn’t know, here are some basic rules for the Barclays Premier League: A team scores three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. The standings are determined by the amount of points a team has and ties are broken by win/loss ratio or goal differential between two teams. The top point earning team at the end of a season gets the Premier League title, while the bottom three teams can get relegated to England’s Npower Championship league, and are replaced by the top three teams in that league.

Manchester United’s (52 points) dramatic victories in recent weeks have masked some flaws in the back, but they are still the class of the league. Victory over Man City in December was critical. With the some of the top strikers in the league (Robin Van Persie, the league’s leading scorer with 19 goals, as well as Wayne Rooney and Chicharito) it’s unlikely for United to drop out of first place.

Manchester City (45 points) sits in second place on the leader boards. After two disappointing losses in December (one against Sunderland!) City hopes to be in shooting distance of its rival and neighboring team Manchester United come April when the squads face off. Edin Dzeko is playing brilliantly for City, scoring 9 goals off the bench.

Tottenham Hotspur (39 points) narrowly held onto third place this coming Monday with close victories over Reading and Sunderland. American Clint Dempsey, Englishman Jermaine Defoe, and Welshmen Gareth Bale showed that Tottenham has some world-class talent of its own.

Sitting in the final spot of the top 4 is Chelsea, with 38 points. Through Spanish stars, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata and with the help of newly acquired Striker Demba Ba, it would not be surprising to see Chelsea move up the standings in the coming weeks. Chelsea won their last 4 out of 5, and hopes to keep stride under manager Rafa Benitez’s leadership.

Everton lies unexpectedly in 5thplace with 36 points halfway through the season. Led by the 6 foot 5, afro-headed, head-butting, trash-talking and goal-scoring Belgian, Marouane Fellaini, Everton surprised the football world by becoming a dominant team in the Premier League. However, Fellaini’s physical presence, eight goals, and brilliant performance this season have attracted the attention of Real Madrid, Manchester United, and other big name teams.

In 6th place with 34 points is Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. With an impressive goal differential of +18, the gunners have a promising future this season. Coming off a four win streak, Arsenal wants to keep up the momentum and defeat powerhouse Manchester City on January 13. Leading the Gunners iss the Spaniard Santi Cazorla and the German striker Lucas Podolski.

In seventh place after losing its last two games is West Bromwich with 33 points. Belgian Romelu Lukaku is in great form for West Brom and has scored 7 goals this season. Remarkably, he is just 19 years old.

In eighth place is the historic Liverpool. Led by the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who has 15 goals this season, and by 18-year-old Raheem Sterling, who is one of the youngest and most talented wingers in the league. Scoring goals has not been the problem, rather the defense consistently lets in late goals. Due to this, Liverpool has nearly as many draws as wins, and sits in eighth place.

Swansea City is in ninth place with 29 points. Miguel Michu was the signing of the year for Swansea and the soccer world, scoring 13 goals and playing a key part in everyone of Swansea’s victories. He was the squad’s biggest offensive threat and has helped keep the side out of the relegation zone.

In tenth place is the conservative Stoke City. Utilizing its infamous “10 behind the ball formation,” Stoke earned points in ten of its last 11 matchups. However, a majority of Stokes 29 points are from ties. If Stoke wants to be a contender against a top four team like Man City, it has to start playing more on the attack.

Following Stoke is West Ham with 26 points. The Hammers are the best of the promoted sides this season and should have no problem staying out of the relegation zone.

Norwich City is in 12th place with 25 points. The Norwich Canaries have surprised many BPL followers this season by staying mid-table. Yet, their -8 goal differential reveals some concerns that will likely catch up with them unless they can find some offensive firepower before the January transfer window passes.

Fullham is in 13th place with 24 points. Racking up just one win in its last four games, Fullham needs to pick up the slack to keep out of the relegation zone.

In 14th place with 22 points is Sunderland. Scotsman Stephen Fletcher has really shined in this squad, scoring the majority of the team’s goals.

In 15th place is Newcastle United with 20 points. This squad is one of this year’s biggest disappointments. Alan Pardew’s crew has not been able to follow up their stellar 2011-12 campaign with anything positive except Demba Ba’s continued scoring punch (11 goals – no one else has more than 3). However, Ba was sold to Chelsea and it would not be that surprising to see Newcastle drop in the ranking.

Taking the last five spots respectably are Aston Villa, Southampton, Wigan Athletic, Reading, and Queen’s Park Rangers.

With surprising talent from Everton and Swansea, and world-class play from the two Manchester teams, this is the season to watch. Expect lots of upsets and thrilling games the second half of the Barclays Premier League.

Will Bloomer, Staff Writer

 

Posted by on January 8, 2013. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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