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EPL Mid-Term Report 14/15

Christmas has come and gone, turkey has been consumed in mass amounts. The New Year has been welcomed with lots of bubbly. This also means we’ve reached the midway point of the Premier League season making it appropriate to take a look back at the 2014/2015 season so far. There have been goals galore, heroic saves, puzzling transfers, mind blowing management and lots more glorious highlights this season, so let’s jump right in.

Premier League Best XI…so far

Unlike last season, there was a lot more of a consensus when it came to picking the players who made up our best XI of the season so far. Defensively, Rishay, Alex and Mohaned had the exact same back line and I had to be the deviant. None of my defenders, Azpilicueta, Clyne, Kompany and Terry’s services were required by the other Cosh boys. In midfield there was more variation. Mohaned had Oscar in his team, Rishay served up the biggest surprise with his inclusion of Juan Mata. Resident hipster Alex proposed the impressive Alex Song but he didn’t make the final cut. Attack wise the only shock inclusion was Mohaned’s choice of Wayne Rooney. If you knew how much he detested the man you’d be surprised too. Below is our final selection. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Best Player So Far #YouDaRealMVP

The amount of debate that this particular category caused was simply incredible. After discussing it for a long time, three men stood head and shoulders above the rest: David De Gea, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez. In third place we had Sergio Aguero. Many people would have had him in first due to him single-handedly leading City’s charge to the top. We all thought City would struggle with his injury but they’ve been able to keep winning with Pellegrini even going strikerless for a few matches. Not to downgrade his importance but it does make it hard to make him the overwhelming favourite after City’s recent run. Rishay gave a rousing and convincing defence of David De Gea for his heroics that have seen a rejuvenated Manchester United hold on to third spot in the league. They are unbeaten in nine games and without him they easily would have lost or drawn most of those matches. The interesting thing is that because of his brilliant performances all bias was put aside and De Gea was everyone’s second pick. The once-scrawny kid who used to cost United points is quite literally winning Manchester United points single-handedly.

As you’ve now worked out, Alexis Sanchez was voted as the Under The Cosh Player of the season so far. Without him Arsenal may be suffering a season as bad as Everton’s. Alexis has papered over the cracks that Arsene Wenger is allowing to become craters at Arsenal. His bravery, determination, quick feet and blistering pace have lead to the 10 goals and 6 assists which still have Arsenal in the top four race despite their worst start to a league campaign in decades. It was a tough decision but congratulations to Alexis Sanchez.

Flops of the season:

Bernie: Emmanuel Adebayor

Rumors came up about Adebayor accusing his mother of using African juju (black magic) to stifle his career. Adebayor’s performances have been nothing short of woeful and when he requested to take a leave of absence to sort out family issues in Togo, manager Pocchettino couldn’t have agreed more quickly.

Mohaned: Yaya Toure

Yes, the Ivorian talisman has not been horrible but Yaya Toure has not been the same player since he didn’t get cake from his club on his birthday. Perhaps other personal reasons have come into play but the former player of the season candidate is nowhere near that form. Mohaned is holding him up to lofty standards so it’s not about him being poor but it’s about Toure coming back to the level of mere mortals instead of being head and shoulders above them.

Alexander Nathan: Per Mertesacker

Last season the Big Friendly German was a rock at the back of a resolute Arsenal defence. This season he’s quite literally been ducking his responsibilities. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s hardly had his regular partner Laurent Koscielny by his side, but Mertesacker has been exposed for his lack of pace time and time and again. His decision making has been surprisingly horrible and as Skrtel’s late equalizer for Liverpool showed, Per has not been up for the fight so far this season.

Rishay Rana: Dejan Lovren

If I’m being honest I had to censor this one a little bit. Rishay rightfully labelled Liverpool the flop of the season but we’ll discuss that later. Dejan Lovren has been a catastrophe. Southampton smiled all the way to the bank when Liverpool paid £20m for the centre back. Lovren was made to look like a Sunday league player by Crystal Palace and his decision making or lack thereof came to the fore at Old Trafford too. He has been a mess and his teammates know it, as exemplified by a bust up with Steven Gerrard. Manager Brendan Rodgers has dropped him for last season’s flop Mamadou Sakho. I guess his season has been so bad it can’t get any worse.

Game of the season: “Oh, it’s a great advert for the Premier League”

Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United. This game had it all; a goal of the season contender from British record signing Angel Di Maria, two penalties, poor refereeing, a clear red card, shots off the bar and a stunning comeback to boot. Manchester United put in a wonderful performance to lead 3-1 early into the second half. Manchester United of old would have held on and claimed an easy three points. The early version of Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United were definitely not capable of this. They got overrun by a rampant Leicester. Vardy, Ulloa and an aging Cambiasso were able to out-do the star power of Van Persie, Rooney, Falcao and Di Maria. United have rebounded well since the defeat and Leicester’s form has suffered greatly. We can be happy for what we can actually call a great advert for the premier league.

 Most Disappointing Team: Liverpool

286518-liverpool-crystal-palace-apWhatever happened to Liverpool? 12 months ago, Luis Suarez was our best player and Brendan Rodgers was a candidate for best manager. Daniel Sturridge was a revelation for the Reds and Steven Gerrard was enjoying a renaissance as a holding midfielder. Well, the wheels have definitely come off this season. Suarez left for huge money to Barcelona, Sturridge has hardly played due to injury and Gerrard’s form has been woeful. Rodgers invested the Suarez money on squad players. Lallana, Manquillo, Moreno, Markovic, and Emre Can are hardly world beaters. Rickie Lambert was signed as a backup option. Dejan Lovren has been incredibly useless at centre back. Perhaps surprisingly, Mario Balotelli has also been a disaster so far. We could put it down to the Italian’s lack of confidence in front of goal or mismanagement from Brendan Rodgers. Either way, zero goals in the Premier League so far is unacceptable. Brendan Rodgers needs to be criticized heavily for his role in this calamity. From his transfers to the handling of his under-performing goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, the manager has just not been good enough. Liverpool went from potential title contenders to fighting for a Europa League spot. Let’s see how the rest of the season plays out, but for now Liverpool have been incredibly disappointing considering their lofty position last season. Was it all a fluke? Maybe so.

Most Surprising Team: Southampton

We were going to have Southampton and West Ham share this one but in all honesty it’s tough to look past Southampton here. After an encouraging performance in the league last season, Southampton were raided of their best players and their manager. Liverpool were the biggest culprits prizing away not one, not two but three of Southampton’s best players in Lambert, Lallana and Lovren. Manchester United spent £30m on Luke Shaw, while Arsenal also came in for up-and-comer Callum Chambers. Of all the clubs in Europe’s elite leagues, no team made more money from player sales than the Saints. Tottenham’s revolving door spun again. Out went Tim Sherwood and in came Southampton’s manager Mauricio Pocchettino. The fans were concerned that their beloved team would now go from respectable to an absolute laughing stock. In came Ronald Koeman and we must say that his summer recruits have been fantastic. Ryan Bertrand has been outstanding, Pelle a breath of fresh air. Tadic has stolen hearts all over the country, Aldeweireld has shown his class while Mane has been a menace for defenses all season. Southampton now find themselves in fourth place, above all expectations and doing much better than they were even last season. A fantastic story so far. Let’s see how they do in the second half of the season.

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Goal of the season

Yet again, we couldn’t come to a consensus so we decided to give you our own candidates and you can see if any of make sense or if we’re all bonkers.

Bernie: Enner Valencia vs Hull

This is the goal that announced Enner Valencia to the Premier League. The Ecuadorian had a wonderful World Cup and captured the imagination. Most of us approached his signing for West Ham with caution. West Ham paid £12m for a player coming from the Mexican league and was unproven at the highest level. We’ve seen many World Cup stars come to the Premier League and fall flat on their faces. What better way to introduce yourself than a stunning curling rocket like this one? The power and accuracy are a joy to behold. Well done Enner Valencia.

Alexander Nathan: Angel Di Maria vs Leicester City

In the early weeks of the season, Di Maria’s delicious lob was a sign of things to come from the Premiership’s exciting new South American contingent. The Angel of the North dropped his shoulder and beat two men, gliding effortlessly through the centre of the park. Exchanging passes with Rooney, Di Maria drove into the box. Faced with a tight angle, an advancing keeper and a ball stuck under his feet, the Argentine barely paused before flicking the ball over Kasper Schmeichel with impish mischief. It had all happened so quickly, the quality of the goal barely had time to sink in. Magic from Di Maria.

Rishay Rana: Phil Jagielka vs Liverpool

There are several candidates for the top goal contender, with many factors to consider. Some goals are the result of brilliant passing and movement combinations by teams, while other goals are the result of individual pieces of magic. After careful consideration, my choice is Phil Jagielka’s absolute missile of a strike against Liverpool. For a game in which Everton seemed resigned to a 1-0 loss at Anfield, deep into injury time with the ball being headed clear from the home team’s goal, up stepped the veteran defender (arguably underrated) to launch one of the fiercest half volleys that defied the laws of physics and sent the away fans into delirium. This strike can be watched over and over again. Given the scenario and the type of goal and who came up with the goods, I think it is hard to argue against this for goal of the season.

Mohaned Kheir: Graziano Pelle vs QPR

The touch, the guile, the overhead finish… oh my word this goal was pure class. The best part about this goal was that it was purely instinctive. As the ball is flicked up by Pelle he has his back to goal and his options are incredibly limited. So the big man serves up a wonderful over head kick. Every time I watch I feel a warm tingling sensation that I can’t explain. I’d say that this goal sums up their season perfectly; a wonderful surprise.

 

Best Manager: Sam Allardyce

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Last season West Ham did what they were supposed to do as they avoided relegation. Sam Allardyce teams just don’t go down. So when you’ve met expectations you’d expect to retain your job comfortably right? Not a chance! The West Ham owners wanted Sam Allardye out and the whole world knew it. During their crunch talks they gave Sam a list of conditions that most managers would have rejected. The board wanted greater control over transfers, they wanted to hire an attacking coach to work with Sam in order to stimulate an attacking approach to the game. Instead of resigning, the proud manager didn’t give the owners the resignation that they craved. He agreed to their conditions much to the shock of the world. This season West Ham have exceeded all expectations. They are viable candidates for a place in Europe and are playing some wonderful stuff. Maybe the board’s ultimatum was the kick up the backside he needed or maybe Sam is just that good. No matter the reason, Sam deserves credit for making me look like a mumu as he was the man I picked to win the Premier League sack race,

Best Goalkeeping Performance:

David De Gea vs Everybody

Last season’s winner was Tim Krul for his incredible performance for Newcastle away to Tottenham. This decision wasn’t which goalkeeper had the best performance. We couldn’t pick between David De Gea’s match wining performances against Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool. Manchester United’s goalkeeper has been absolutely brilliant and on current form is leading the way as far as goalkeepers are concerned. His game has improved greatly since landing in England four years ago. Gary Neville breaks it down better than any one in the video below.

Own goal of the season:

We already made enough Verginity jokes so instead of discussing this one, just enjoy it over and over again.

“What were you thinking?” moment of the season:

Vito Mannone has provided us with some gems this season. Losing his footing at the vital moment to allow Alexis Sanchez a tap in was bad. However, this inexplicable pass to Southampton’s Tadic tops the pops.

Best Signing so far: Alexis Sanchez

See above for the lavish praise that has been bestowed on the Chilean maestro.

Worst Signing so far:

When a striker fails to score a single goal in the league and he has a big reputation and costs £16m, it makes your decision quite easy. Mario Balotelli, whether it’s his fault or not is simply the worst signing of the season. From the beginning his transfer seemed odd. A few weeks before, Brendan Rodgers said he would “categorically not be” signing Balotelli but in the end he did. Rodgers admitted that Balotelli was his last option which means there really wasn’t a plan to play to the man’s strengths or build a team around him. Balotelli is a player a manager needs to think carefully about and can’t just be thrown into any system just because you can. His confidence in front of goal is at rock bottom and perhaps Gerrard should let him take a penalty in the league so he can remember what the rippling of the net looks like. Mohaned didn’t like that Arsenal pursued Danny Welbeck instead of Mario. On this evidence, Arsenal made the right choice while Balotelli and Rodgers must wish they never met each other.

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5 replies »

  1. Awesome recap folks. You just can’t really pick best manager unanimously. Koeman, LVG & even Pardew deserve a bit of credit too. But yes, Big Sam is the kind of guy you always want to see in the sidelines.

    • Thank you sir! Koeman deserves so much credit you’re right. Except for De Gea, Big Sam was the one person there was no argument over. LVG, thats interesting. United are 3rd but doesn’t it feel a but underwhelming?

      • With LVG, maybe a bit, considering MUFC’s budget; however, his coaching staff has done a great job taking the best out of De Gea and finding use of Juan Mata while dealing with injuries like Blind and Rojo. Yes, 3rd is underachieving for their standards; but, following last season’s tough times, and making this a re-building year, he is handling pressure very well (like he did when he first took over in Barcelona). For those reasons I believe he deserves some credit. But yes, because of the budget Uncle Sam deserves big credit. Koeman seems to me like the perfect piece in the great work of the Southampton academy.

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