Grading Every Team in the English Premier League
Premier League Grades
The season has fairly flown by. And so as we enter the final third, with so much hanging in the balance, I take a look at how well each team has done so far and grade them accordingly. Marks from 1-10 will be awarded on the basis of finances, how well the club is run, and certain other factors that will be made clear. Therefore, a team at the top may be awarded fewer points than one below them.
With so much more money flooding into the Premier League next season, the newly promoted clubs want to stay in and reap the rewards, while those at the top end are fighting for European places.
As the January window slowly begins to shut, this is the last opportunity for clubs to make a move in the transfer market. The decisions that are made now could make or break the very futures of managers, players and the clubs.
I have tried to judge with neutral eyes and will now judge the teams in the order of their current Premier League positions.
20. For QPR to climb out of the relegation places, they need to earn 5 points and rely on the three teams above them earning none. Since Redknapp took over from Hughes, they have pulled together - and even won at Chelsea.But I think they have left it too late, as they would need to win half of their remaining games.
A return to the Championship 2
19. For the last few years, Wigan is always in a precarious position and being written off. But every year they somehow find a run of wins that saves them at the last hour.
As they have achieved this so many times, it would be unwise of me to predict their demise this year. But they are certainly pushing their luck, and one year that luck is going to run out. Unlucky for some. 3
18. Reading started the Premiership playing too open and paid the price. But they are learning and recent results have given them a fighting chance.
The problem is, though, can they sustain it? I just don’t think Reading has enough quality in the team. But one thing is for sure, Reading will fight on until the last day. I don’t think relegation would be as bad for Reading as it would be for certain other clubs like Villa. And for that reason, they might not get the jitters. 5.5
17. By anyone’s standards, Aston Villa is a big English club and should not really be in the position they now find themselves. However, the table does not lie and they are just one point better than relegation candidates with a worse goal average.
They have been knocked out of the Capital 1 Cup by a fourth tier team, and knocked out of the FA Cup by a Championship team. There is not enough experience in the side, and have yet to strengthen in the January window.
A woeful 2
16. Newcastle is in big trouble, and only two points outside the relegation places. They have sold their top scorer to Chelsea, and their captain wants to return home to Argentina.
A lot has been made of their recent crop of French players who have just been bought, and no one can predict how they are going to adapt to the Premier League. This move by Newcastle is simply: do or die. 5
15. Southampton has gained back-to-back promotions with Nigel Adkins, and been on a good run lately, climbing out of the drop-zone. However, he has been sacked and replaced by Pochettino, an Argentinian, who has been given the task of keeping them in the Premier League.
It is very difficult to predict the outcome. An unsure 6
14. Fulham has been on a bad run, and Martin Jol’s odds of getting fired have shortened accordingly. Fulham needs 15 points for Premiership safety. Can they get them? I think that they may just creep over the finishing-line, but it will be close.
A lot depends on whether Berbatov can score enough goals. A dicey 5
13. Norwich is in their second season in the Premier League and still punching above their weight. Chris Hughton has done well to steady the ship after Paul Lambert’s departure, but needs to be careful not to have any kind of bad run that could see them get caught by the teams below them.
I think that Norwich will manage to gain enough points for survival. 6.5
12. Promoted last year, West Ham’s only goal was to make sure it remained in the league. The Hammers over-achieved in the first part of the season, but has now gone ten games with only one win. There has been dissention in the camp, with Diame and Diarra talking to the press about wanting to leave.
Allardyce has also come under fire for his team selection at Arsenal. West Ham needs 13 more points to accrue the magic 40. This should be achievable in the home games. 6.5
11. Many people decried the amount of money Martin O’ Neil payed for Fletcher, but without his goals they would be in trouble. I think eleventh is their natural position.
They could go on a good run, but just as easily go on a bad one. I am unsure as to whether the Sunderland board has the will or money to aim higher.
An up and down 6
10. Let us face the facts, unless you are a Stoke fan, no one in their right mind would willingly pay to watch them. At the same time, Tony Pullis, on a limited budget, has established Stoke as a Premier League team. They are not quite as robust as last year, but know likes going away to the Potters.
9. Swansea has been defying critics for a few years now, but they have begun to earn deserved respect this year under Laudrup. They are comfortable in the league and have reached the final of the Capital 1 Cup.
Swansea is a well run club and is fast establishing itself as a true Premier League club. Add to that the astute scouting of Michu and one or two others, and it’s a blueprint for sustained success.
A glowing report card 9
8. Although West Brom has floundered of late, their early form came as a surprise to most – including themselves. I think if you’d asked anyone connected to the Hawthornes at the beginning of the season if they would like the position where they find themselves now, they would most definitely have taken it.
Can they maintain this position until the end of the season? I’m not sure. A deserved 7.5
7. Liverpool has had a very up and down start to the campaign, but are now putting a decent run together, and Sturridge looks like he’s going to be a good partner for Suarez.
I also think that most Liverpool fans would be happy to see their team end the year in seventh. If they achieve this and strengthen again in the summer, the Liverpool of old may begin to be a force again. 6.5
6. Arsenal is obviously missing the fire-power of Van Persie. I cannot see them finishing lower than the position they are in now. The big question is: can they put a run together to overhaul Spurs and Everton to clinch the all-important Champions League place?
If they don’t manage it, then attracting big players next season is going to be tough. This is a defining year for Arsenal. 6
5. Everton has a budget that is smaller than many clubs in the EPl. But this is where David Moyes really earns his corn. H has an eye for the right type of player that can fit easily into the Everton way. They usually start badly and come on in the second half of the season. This has been turned around this year as they have had a fantastic start.
If they too, can hold off Arsenal, no one could really ask for more. An over-achieving 9
4. Spurs is knocking on the top-three door again, and could take advantage of the turmoil at Chelsea and the underperforming Man City. If ever there was a year that they could do it, this is the one. They are easy on the eye and have consolidated their position as a top 5 club.
Need to finish above Arsenal. 7
3. Chelsea maybe third, but all is not well at Stamford Bridge. They sacked Roberto di Matteo after he won the Champions League, and replaced him with the hugely unpopular Rafael Benitez. The shenanigans at Swansea the other night have only compounded their problems. However, they will retain their current position of third.
Must do better. 5
2. Manchester City, in contrast to Man Utd, is huffing and puffing their way to victories, whereas last season they blew teams away. With their vast investment, it was a shocker when they were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage.
I do not think they have the will to catch their neighbours. They have not improved on last season – in fact they have regressed.
So I give them a sickly 6
1. Sir Alex Ferguson may like a drink and dress like a tramp, but you have to hand it to him, he has got Manchester United in pole position, yet again. Although he has a vast budget at his disposal - compared to almost everyone else - it is not in the same league as Man City or Chelsea.
He has, over the years, instilled a winning habit into the Red Devils, and it looks very likely his team will regain the title. There is also the prospect of a mouth-watering tie against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid to look forward to. The only real negative this year is the defence, which has leaked too many goals.
Nevertheless, I award a healthy 8