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Horror Reds stat behind slump; worrying figure City cant ignore: PL Mid-Season Report Card

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We’re at the halfway mark for the 2022/23 Premier League season and most fans’ pre-season predictions have been torn up.

Arsenal have emerged as the league leaders as Mikel Arteta’s young squad continue to dazzle, Eddie Howe’s incredible turnaround at Newcastle has the Magpies sitting pretty in third while Fulham have stuck the middle finger up at the ‘yo-yo club’ critics.

However, fans of Liverpool and Chelsea have had to cop taunts from their rivals as they both struggle in mid-table as West Ham, who went as deep as the semi-finals in last year’s Europa League, are firmly entrenched in a fight for survival.

Foxsports.com.au runs the rule over EVERY team’s season to date in our Premier League Mid-Season Report Card!

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ARSENAL: A+

Mid-season MVP: Bukayo Saka

Arsenal went top of the Premier League after Matchweek Three and have never looked like relinquishing it.

Despite having one of the youngest squads in the competition, Mikel Arteta’s side have displayed a maturity beyond their years when it comes to striking at the right moments and their defensive awareness.

The summer acquisition of Gabriel Jesus proved pivotal in boosting the Gunners’ attacking fortunes, but the constant presence of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka on the wings cannot be understated.

Even in Jesus’ absence through injury after the World Cup, Eddie Nketiah has seamlessly slotted in and it’s been business as usual for Arteta’s side.

It isn’t just up top where Arsenal have shined either as their backline has shipped just 14 goals all season, chalking up nine clean sheets.

The title is Arsenal’s to lose at the moment, with the only questions surrounding their title credentials centred around a lack of depth should a horror run of injuries hit.

But until that happens, those at the Emirates will continue to sing long into the night and dream of a first Premier League title since the ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04.

Hard to give any other grade other than full marks.

Mikel Arteta and Bukayo Saka are all smiles thanks to Arsenal’s form this season. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

Mikel Arteta and Bukayo Saka are all smiles thanks to Arsenal’s form this season. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

Source: AFP

ASTON VILLA: B-

Mid-season MVP: Boubacar Kamara

Aston Villa went into the 2022/23 season with high hopes having signed Philippe Coutinho on a permanent deal as well as highly-rated midfielder Boubacar Kamara (free) and Diego Carlos ($45m).

However, it took just 90 minutes for that optimism to evaporate with an opening-day defeat to Bournemouth.

One win (at home to Everton) in their next five fixtures did Villa boss Steven Gerrard no favours as the Villa Park faithful’s discontent increased in volume with every passing game.

Villa would again win once (at home to Southampton) in their next five before Gerrard was sacked after a dismal 3-0 loss away to Fulham that left the Villans languishing in 17th and an increasingly bleak outlook.

Former Arsenal boss and four-time Europa League winner Unai Emery was announced as Gerrard’s replacement in a massive coup for the Birmingham-based club.

Emery hit the ground running and has four wins in his first six games as Villa boss with the Claret and Blues sitting just outside the top half.

Kamara has been the bright spot in the team and looks set to become an even more important player under Emery as Villa fans rejoice they finally found a player to fill the defensive midfield void that has plagued the club for years.

With Emery to lead Villa through the second half of the season, their final grade could be vastly improved.

Boubacar Kamara’s move to Villa on a free transfer appears to be an absolute steal. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

BOURNEMOUTH: D

Mid-season MVP: Marcus Tavernier

It’s never a good sign when your manager claims your team is “way short of where we need to be” and “barely had any defenders” before the Premier League season began.

But that’s exactly what came out of Bournemouth manager Scott Parker’s mouth after the Cherries’ last pre-season friendly.

He wasn’t wrong either, given Bournemouth went into the Premier League season with a weaker squad than the one they got promoted from the Championship with.

Although Parker oversaw a surprise opening day win over Aston Villa, things quickly unravelled.

A 4-0 loss to Manchester City, a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal and a 9-0 shellacking away at Liverpool cost Parker his job as Gary O’Neil stepped up to the plate.

Despite working with the same squad, O’Neil enjoyed a six-game unbeaten run which propelled the club as high as 10th in the table at the end of it.

But from that moment on, it has been an alarming slide back down the table.

The Cherries have lost eight of their last nine, with a 3-0 win over Everton the only bright spot during the nightmare run of form.

Summer arrival Marcus Tavernier has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise dull Cherries side and will be key to helping the team stay afloat in the top flight.

Can Gary O’Neil mastermind a Bournemouth resurgence in the second half of the season? (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

BRENTFORD: A

Mid-season MVP: Ivan Toney

Having seen Sheffield United suffer second season syndrome and Leeds come perilously close to relegation last year, fans were right to be fearful over how Brentford would get on having finished 13th in their debut Premier League season.

Those fears have well and truly been quashed this season as Thomas Frank’s side sit pretty in eighth spot having lost just once in their last 10 games.

It’s not just a remarkable run, but a remarkable campaign that has included a 4-0 win over Manchester United, a 3-1 win over Liverpool and a 2-1 away to Manchester City.

Central to Brentford’s stunning season to date has been the form of striker Ivan Toney, who has 13 goals to his name.

Summer arrival Ben Mee has also slotted seamlessly into the Bees’ backline, leading the team in blocks per game (1.3) and second in interceptions.

Having proved they won’t succumb to second season syndrome, Brentford can start to think about a potential European push in the second half of the season.

Ivan Toney has been scoring for fun this season. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

BRIGHTON: B+

Mid-season MVP: Solly March

Brighton went into the season having lost $154 million worth of talent, with defensive midfielder Yves Bissouma and left back Marc Cucurella departing to Spurs and Chelsea respectively.

Yet the Seagulls didn’t look they’d missed their star duo at all as new arrival Pervis Estupinan slotted in at left back with ease while his fellow Ecuadorean Moises Caicedo stepped up to fill the hole left by Bissouma.

Graham Potter oversaw a blistering start to the season with four wins from their first six games, including a first-ever win at Old Trafford to beat Manchester United on the opening day.

However, it seemed only a matter of time before a bigger club came calling for Potter and that’s exactly what happened as Chelsea plucked the Englishman from the Amex to replace Thomas Tuchel on September 8.

The Seagulls needed just 10 days to find a replacement as former Sassuolo boss Roberto De Zerbi signed on.

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi had a tough start to Premier League life but has since adapted (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

Source: AFP

The Italian had a tough start to Premier League life, failing to win any of his first five fixtures as big questions were asked if he had the credentials to manage in England.

However, those critics have certainly decreased in volume as De Zerbi finally got his first league win as Brighton boss — no prizes for guessing which team and manager it was against.

Solly March has been pivotal in Brighton’s recent run of five wins from their last seven and will continue to be the go-to man as the season continues.

With four goals and four assists so far, the midfielder looks a player reborn under De Zerbi.

Should Brighton continue their form, the big focus will inevitably turn to their ability to handle the pressure of a push for Europe.

Solly March has enjoyed a resurgence under new Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

CHELSEA: D-

Mid-season MVP: Mason Mount

New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly backed Thomas Tuchel in the summer window to the tune of $411 million, as Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all arrived.

However, the German boss only got six league games to operate with his new players before he got the boot after a shock Champions League loss to Dinamo Zagreb.

In came Graham Potter from Brighton, swapping the seaside in Sussex for the streets of London.

Although Potter enjoyed three wins from his first three league games as Chelsea boss, the Blues have gone on to taste victory just twice in their next ten games.

Five of those games have ended in defeat, with all losses coming against teams in the top seven.

For a team that spent so heavily in the summer to add to what is already a star-studded team, it’s simply not good enough.

The new faces in the summer have also faced serious struggles to make their mark.

Fofana has played just two games before succumbing to injury, Aubameyang has one goal, Koulibaly has been caught out several times and Sterling hasn’t had the attacking returns expected from a $82 million player.

With Chelsea sitting in 10th, Potter has an almighty job on his hands to turn the Blues’ season around as he looks to keep the boo boys at bay.

Boehly remains committed to giving the embattled boss time in a departure from the hire-and-fire nature of former owner Roman Abramovich, but for fans who have come to expect success for several years, the clock is certainly ticking.

Will Potter get the chance to turn this team around? (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

CRYSTAL PALACE: C-

Mid-season MVP: Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace once again remains the Wilfried Zaha show in a wildly inconsistent season.

Patrick Vieira’s side have scored a joint third-fewest goals this season with 17 goals, with Zaha scoring six of those.

Just one win (3-1 over Aston Villa) in their opening seven games was followed by four wins from their next six.

However, all of Palace’s wins this season have come against teams below them on the ladder.

And aside from losses to Nottingham Forest and Everton, the Eagles have only tasted defeat against teams 10th or higher.

It’s too much of a stretch to call them flat track bullies, but their form represents a team that is as middle of the road as you can get.

However, is it too much to expect a team blessed with attacking talent like Zaha, silky midfielder Eberechi Eze and tricky winger Michael Olise to produce more goals?

It’s highly likely Palace will be safe this season, but how long the Selhurst Park faithful are content with this type of form will certainly come in to focus as the campaign goes on.

One storyline to watch with great intrigue is Zaha’s future, given he is out of contract in the summer.

Should he walk at the season’s end, an awful lot of the Eagles’ goals go with him.

Wilfried Zaha has been Palace’s talisman for several years. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)

Source: AFP

EVERTON: D-

Mid-season MVP: James Tarkowski

Having survived by the skin of their teeth last season, Everton fans were hoping their blood pressure would be a little calmer this campaign.

Unfortunately for Toffees supporters, that has not been the case.

Frank Lampard was backed in the summer window to bring in $149 million worth of talent in the form of Dwight McNeil, Amadou Onana and James Tarkowski to name three.

But Lampard has struggled to find any form of winning formula, with just three league wins all season long — two of which were against teams alongside them in the relegation zone.

It’s been a torrid run of results for Everton, losing eight out of their last 11 games as they stare down the increasingly-real threat of life in the Championship.

The atmosphere at Goodison Park has also taken an incredibly toxic turn, with the club’s board members instructed not to attend their recent fixture against Southampton out of fear for their safety.

Lampard’s position is almost untenable and should he stay in the hot seat, Everton appear headed in only one direction.

Hint: It’s not up.

Frank Lampard has Everton hurtling towards relegation. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

FULHAM: A+

Mid-season MVP: Aleksandar Mitrovic

Many pundits, including this journalist, had Fulham pencilled to yo-yo straight back down to the Championship at the season’s end.

What has transpired since has been nothing short of mind-boggling.

Despite a relatively daunting opening start to the season, the Cottagers emerged unscathed as Marco Silva’s team picked up several impressive wins.

A run of four straight wins after the World Cup break helped propel Fulham up the table to sixth before a narrow defeat to Newcastle broke the streak.

Fulham’s seven defeats this year have also come against teams in the top five, with the exception of West Ham United, proving they are no easy beats.

What’s worth noting is that Fulham are seriously performing their xPTS (expected points).

According to Understat, Fulham theoretically should be in 12th with an xPTS of 22, but they are overperforming and have 31 points on the board in the official table.

Whether it all evens out in the second half of the season remains to be seen, but as long as Fulham silence the yo-yo club critics, it’s a successful campaign.

Central to the Cottagers’ sensational year is the goalscoring exploits of Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serbian sharpshooter has 11 to his name, equalling his previous best Premier League goal tally.

As long as Mitrovic keeps smashing them in for Fulham and goalkeeper Bernd Leno continues to shine between the sticks, there’s no limit on just how good a season Fulham could end up having.

Mitrovic is on track for his highest Premier League goalscoring return. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

LEEDS UNITED: C-

Mid-season MVP: Rodrigo

Leeds coach Jesse Marsch would have been salivating at having a full pre-season to get his playing philosophy across to his squad, but losing star duo Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha for a combined $170 million dampened the mood.

But Leeds did splash the cash to replace them and upgrade elsewhere in the squad as Brenden Aaronson, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca, Tyler Adams and Luis Sinisterra made the move to West Yorkshire.

A bright start to the season, which included a stunning 3-0 win over Chelsea, had Leeds fans giddy with optimism at what could await them this season.

But it’s been a worrying decline since, as Marsch’s side went on to win just two and lose nine of their next 15 fixtures.

Those victories came on the back of some late heroics courtesy of 21-year-old Dutch sensation Crysencio Summerville, who scored an 89th-minute winner against Liverpool and an 84th-minute winner against Bournemouth.

Thankfully, there have been six teams worse than Leeds to date this season, but there’s only so many times they can circle the drain.

One would hate to think where the club could be without the 10-goal contribution from Spanish striker Rodrigo as well as Summerville’s last-gasp winners.

It’s certainly looking like it could a nervy stumble over the finish line once again for Leeds.

Rodrigo has been Leeds’ go-to guy all season long. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)

Source: AFP

LEICESTER CITY: D

Mid-season MVP: James Maddison

Leicester’s summer dealings, or lack of, was an omen for the early season struggles they were about to endure as the Foxes didn’t sign an outfield player until deadline day in the form of centre-back Wout Faes.

Brendan Rodgers’ side drew their first game of the season against Brentford, but six straight losses — shipping a combined 11 goals to Brighton and Spurs — condemned Leicester to the bottom of the table.

Remarkably, the powers that be at the King Power Stadium opted to stick with Rodgers rather than twist and it paid off.

Leicester went on to win five of their next eight fixtures, a run that coincided with sparkling form from star midfielder James Maddison.

The England star scored four goals and assisted three in those eight games and launched him into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup.

However, the Foxes have once again returned to struggle street after the World Cup break with four defeats in four games, with Maddison missing all of the matches with a knee injury.

If Rodgers isn’t backed in the summer window, it could be a very long second half of the season.

Brendan Rodgers is under immense pressure at Leicester. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

LIVERPOOL: C-

Mid-season MVP: Mohamed Salah

Having come so close to winning the Premier League last season, Liverpool splashed $113 million to bring in Darwin Nunez with the expectation he would be the one to push the Reds over the final hurdle this season.

However, Liverpool’s 22/23 campaign has been a horror show.

Draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace in the opening two games had fans wondering how crucial that would prove to be in the title race, but such a thought seems laughable now.

A resounding 9-0 win over Bournemouth was followed by a last-gasp win against Newcastle to lift the mood at Anfield, but several missed opportunities against teams Liverpool have become accustomed to beating said it all about the Reds’ title hopes.

Nunez has also badly struggled to live up to his price tag, scoring just five goals in 13 games, but he’s importantly getting chances to score and has an xG of 9.48, per Understat.

Darwin Nunez hasn’t exactly hit the ground running. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

It’s just now down to the Uruguayan to start burying his chances more often.

Another worrying sign about Liverpool’s poor form this season is their defensive frailty.

So far, the Reds have kept three clean sheets, with two of those coming in wins against teams in the bottom four, the other was in an impressive win over Manchester City.

But a comparison to last season, where Klopp’s side chalked up four clean sheets in their first five games, should ring alarm bells.

Once again it has been the Mohamed Salah show for Liverpool when it comes to scoring, with the Egyptian notching seven goals and three assists.

However, with an xG of 10.01, he is evidently underperforming.

Klopp has pointed the finger for his side’s slump squarely at last season’s overloaded schedule catching up to his troops, so with half a season to go, it could get even worse.

But Liverpool have too much individual quality to continue sliding down the table and drop points … right?

This season hasn’t quite gone to plan for Jurgen Klopp. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

Source: AFP

MANCHESTER CITY: B+

Mid-season MVP: Erling Haaland

A summer window which brought in Kalvin Phillips and goal machine Erling Haaland gave plenty of pundits every reason to pencil in Manchester City at the top of the ladder.

Although Phillips has struggled with fitness issues, Haaland has exploded.

The Norwegian scored three hat-tricks in the space of five games, including one against cross-town rivals Manchester United in a 6-3 win.

So far, Haaland has 21 goals from just 17 appearances, an incredible return that has him on track to break Alan Shearer’s record of 34 goals in a Premier League season.

What’s even more remarkable is the fact he’s converting at a crazy rate, given he has an xG of 16 goals.

But for all of Haaland’s scoring prowess, City haven’t been their usual stingy selves at the back and it’s proven costly as they sit eight points behind league-leaders Arsenal.

Through 38 games last season, City conceded only 26 goals.

At the halfway mark, Guardiola’s side have shipped 18.

The defensive lapses and ensuing results have caused City boss Pep Guardiola to all but concede the title race, which is undoubtedly a psychological ploy to throw Arsenal off.

But given the sheer depth and longstanding success of this team, plus a certain Norwegian up front who scores for fun, there is no way this team can be discounted just yet.

Erling Haaland has broken all sorts of goalscoring records in his debut season. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Source: AFP

MANCHESTER UNITED: A-

Mid-season MVP: Casemiro

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag barely had his feet under the desk before he had to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo wanting out in the summer, offering the Dutchman a glimpse into the chaos awaiting him.

The critics took aim at the club for some of their transfer dealings too, especially at Ten Hag reuniting himself with former Ajax duo Lisandro Martinez and Antony for a combined $142.7 million.

Two early defeats against Brighton and Brentford did not help proceedings at all as the collective world pointed and laughed in United’s direction, especially since the 4-0 loss to Brentford left the Red Devils at the foot of the ladder.

But after some brutal sessions — including one in which Ten Hag himself ran the difference in running distances between Brentford and United — the Red Devils are back on track.

United have won 12 out of their last 16 to fly up the ladder and sit in fourth spot, losing only two games in that time.

Not even the trainwreck interview from Ronaldo was able to derail the team’s season as United terminated his contract and cast him free.

Cristiano Ronaldo was let go by Manchester United after his horrendous interview with Piers Morgan. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Source: AFP

With the Portuguese superstar’s toxic presence removed, Ten Hag proved he isn’t afraid to put his foot down and let any of his players call the shots, no matter how many trophies or Ballon d’Or’s they may have won.

A return to goalscoring form for Marcus Rashford has been key to United’s revival, with the Englishman scoring eight so far.

So too has been the leadership and drive of midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who has three goals and three assists.

But one of the summer signings, Casemiro, has arguably been the most pivotal to the Red Devils’ remarkable turnaround.

The Brazilian has been a rock at the base of the midfield as he clears up danger and breaks down attacks with ease, reflected with a team-leading average of 3.1 tackles per game.

Casemiro has also shown his ability to provide the perfect pass for his teammates as he has three assists to his name.

Just how long United’s incredible run will continue remains to be seen, but for the first time in a long time, the Old Trafford faithful can feel hopeful about the on-field future of the team.

Erik ten Hag has transformed Manchester United and given hope back to the fans. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Source: AFP

NEWCASTLE UNITED: A

Mid-season MVP: Kieran Trippier

At the halfway mark last season, Newcastle were sitting in 19th with just one win to their name.

Hit the fast-forward button to now and the difference is night and day.

The Magpies are sitting pretty in third and are one point off second place having lost just once this season and even that defeat resulted from a stoppage-time goal against Liverpool.

It is an incredible season unfolding at St. James’ Park with commentators running out of superlatives to describe how dramatic of a transformation Eddie Howe has overseen.

The summer signings of Sven Botman and Nick Pope have been critical to Newcastle holding the league’s best defensive record, having conceded a remarkable 11 goals all season long.

Pope especially has been in tremendous form given Newcastle have an xGA (expected goals against) of 20.24, per Understat.

There’s been plenty of contributors to the Toon’s stunning rise up the ladder.

Eddie Howe has worked wonders for Newcastle. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Source: AFP

Miguel Almiron is enjoying his new lease of life on the right wing and leads the team in the goalscoring department, with nine to his name.

Joelinton’s rebranding as a central midfielder also goes from strength-to-strength and leads the team in average tackles per game, as Howe’s tactical tweak to shift the Brazilian into the middle of the park continues to work wonders.

But there has been no player quite as good as right back Kieran Trippier.

The England star has four assists to his name and has the third-highest average in the team for interceptions per game at 1.3.

Although he is primarily a defender, it is Trippier’s attacking forays that make him so valuable.

Trippier holds an xA figure of 0.36 which may not seem too high at first glance, but when you factor in the league average is 0.07, it stands out like a sore thumb.

Whether Newcastle can maintain their push for European football remains to be seen, but for Howe’s first full season at the helm, it has been nothing short of dreamland for the Toon Army.

Kieran Trippier has been one of the Premier League’s best. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Source: AFP

NOTTINGHAM FOREST: B-

Mid-season MVP: Morgan Gibbs-White

Nottingham Forest had one of the craziest summer transfer windows in football history, signing 18 — yes, 18 — players as they geared up for their first season in the Premier League since 1998/99.

But these signings weren’t just made for the sake of it, even if an extravagant number of new faces rocked up to the City Ground, as Forest lost a host of players from their successful Championship season due to contracts and loan deals expiring.

Forest boss Steve Cooper’s battle to find his best starting lineup coincided with the team struggling on the park, as the Midlands outfit lost six of their first eight fixtures.

It would have been an incredibly easy call for Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis to sack the man that brought the club back to the promised land, but he instead handed Cooper a new contract on October 7 to show his faith in the boss.

That faith has been repaid in spades.

Steve Cooper has impressed in his debut season as a Premier League manager for Nottingham Forest. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

Since Cooper signed the extension, Forest have won four games, drawn four and lost three in a major contrast to their previous form.

More importantly, Cooper looks to have found a system based on defensive solidity first before worrying about the attack, as Forest have conceded more than 2 goals on two occasions: a 3-0 loss to fourth-placed Manchester United and a 5-0 defeat to league leaders Arsenal.

Even though Forest’s resurgence is down to a newfound defensive resilience, record signing Morgan Gibbs-White has been a driving force for the team’s attack.

The 22-year-old has two goals and four assists to his name, but hell definitely look to increase those numbers as he forges a strong bond with Brennan Johnson up front.

If Forest can stay up, it would be a truly monumental accomplishment for Cooper given how most had written them off after their early season struggles.

And once his new faces have a full season under their belts, who knows how far Cooper could take this team into the future.

But before they can even think about that, they have to survive this season. Read more – FOX SPORTS

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