2012 is coming to end and the first half of the 2012-13 Premier League season has ended. The second half of the EPL season is sure to be every bit as exciting as the first half. Here are my ratings for each of the top 10 teams in the Barclays Premier League to end 2012.
Manchester United: They may be top of the table, but it hasn’t been exactly easy getting there. Sir Alex Ferguson said at the start of the campaign that he wasn’t going to lose the title on goal difference again, however, this remains a real possibility this season despite all the scoring. United’s defense has been less than ideal. This seems to be due more to the lack of a defensive midfielder, or other coverage from the midfield. So far this season they have allowed 28 goals, but their strength has been in attack where they have scored 48. What United needs is a better defense, especially if they want to progress in the Champions League this season.
Manchester City: They may be the reigning Premier League Champions, but there have been plenty of times where they have looked mediocre at best. Their strength has been in defense where they have only allowed 16 goals this season, second in the league. They have managed several last minute wins this season, but these have come largely from individual flashes of brilliance. Despite this they are in second place and they have managed to win, despite not playing well. City needs for Mancini to pick who his best team is and get them playing together as a team.
Chelsea: Chelsea had a very rough November under Robeto Di Matteo which led to his being sacked and the hiring of Rafa Benitez. November saw Chelsea go 0-4-1 in the Premier League. December began with a 3-1 loss to West Ham United, but since then they have a four game winning streak and are showing signs of getting better. There’s really very little they need to change, other than picking up another striker perhaps. If they keep this up, they will be pushing for more than third this season.
Tottenham: Spurs started out the season rather slowly and have had some difficulties finishing off teams. Recent results have been going better and Andre Villas Boas seems to be getting this team organized and moving recently. If players can stay healthy they can retain fourth and get another shot at the Champions League. Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe have done very well together. I would say that Dempsey hasn’t been the greatest but Dembele has settled in nicely. If they had been able to finish off more games that they let slip away in the last 10 minutes they’d be within reach of the top and would warrant a better rating.
Arsenal: The Arsenal has become a team known more for selling players and balancing the books than for winning trophies. It will take a fairly epic second half run for them to challenge for the top spot, let alone second or third. They still have a shot at fourth and Arsene Wenger was able to lead his team through to the round of 16 in the Champions League. They may have sold their leading scorer to rivals Manchester United, but I think they are missing Alex Song more. The lack of a defensive midfielder to solidify that central area has been telling on more than one occasion. Recent performances have shown they can score goals, but they are still fragile at the back and the scoring comes in fits and spurts too often.
Everton: What David Moyes continues to do with this Everton team is always amazing. He has such a small budget compared to other teams challenging for the top four, but yet he is able to get so much out of them. Marouane Fellaini has made a massive impact for them this season. This team will certainly be challenging for a fourth place finish, especially if they can keep Fellaini.
West Brom: Steve Clarke has really put his mark on this team and made them a tactically sound team that should get a European place. I have a hard time seeing them challenge for fourth, but it isn’t out of the question. There have been times where they have had some dips in form and inconsistency, but they are also able to string together runs of results. I expect them to finish in the top ten and possibly even as high as fifth or sixth.
Stoke: Not everyone likes Stoke. In fact, there are quite a lot of people out there that dislike them because they don’t play “pretty” football. This is a team that gets the job done and plays hard week in and week out. They have shown the ability to defend and recently even the ability to score. They don’t always play the nicest football to watch, but they have also shown the ability to change up their style of play throughout a match by playing the long ball as well as stringing together crisp passes and creating chances. Stoke could very well get a shot at European spot this year, but they do have quite a bit of competition above them.
Swansea: I’ve been impressed with Swansea this season. Michael Laudrup picked up where his predecessors left off and added his own touches as well. Buying Michu in the off season was a touch of brilliance and Laudrup also has them playing higher up the pitch, attacking more. They have had a few inconsistent performances, but have also done well to stay in the top 10 through the first half of the season. They will have a difficult time challenging for a place in Europe, but it isn’t out of the question.
Liverpool: I would say that Liverpool has been the most inconsistent team this season. They seem to flip flop between winning and losing, between playing well and playing poorly. Brendan Rodgers is attempting to implement a new style of football at Liverpool, but there have been times that this has looked an obvious work in progress. Recently they have been relying less on Luis Suarez, but he continues to be their best player this season. There is still hope for Liverpool in the second half of the season, but they will need to even out their lack of consistency that has plagued them in the first half.
What are you thoughts on the first half of this Premier League season? What are your highlights? Best team of the year so far, or other thoughts?