Skip to content

Midseason Reports: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Cardiff, Chelsea, Crystal Palace

Jan 6, 2014, 8:52 AM EDT

Can the Gunners extend their lead at the top? Or will they come unstuck against the Toffees? Getty Images

Every day this week at ProSoccerTalk we will be assessing how all 20 Premier League teams have fared so far, as we issue our midseason reports.

The second half of the season is already upon us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect on what’s been a sensational start to the 2013-14 PL campaign. Here we go…

ARSENAL

Best moment: A dominant 2-0 win over Liverpool showcased exactly why the Gunners are top of the table. Giroud was the focal point and a plethora of attacking options destroyed the opponents defense.

Worst moment: A 6-3 hammering by Manchester City at the Etihad. Arsenal didn’t play that poorly and created plenty of chances, but incidents involving Mesut Ozil not applauding Arsenal’s fans and Jack Wilshere flipping the bird at City’s supporters left a sour taste in the mouth.

Top player: Aaron Ramsey. Has perhaps been the player of the season so far in the PL. 13 goals across all competitions in the opening half of the season from the flourishing Welshman has driven Arsenal to the top of the league. Hopefully he isn’t out for too long with a recent injury.

Manager: Wenger has done what he needed to do, buy a big name player that complemented his squad. Ozil has done that. Arsenal’s defense has also improved drastically.

GRADE: A-

Almost top marks for the Gunners who led the way by eight points in November. That lead at the top is down to just one point now but players returning from injury is good news.

ASTON VILLA

source: AP

Villa need to stick together, as a tough second half of the season beckons.

Best moment: One of two massive wins at the start of the season, as Villa beat Arsenal 3-1 away on the opening day and Man city at home a few weeks later.

Worst moment: A 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day saw the Villans drop perilously close to the drop zone. A last-gasp defeat made the natives restless.

Top player: Gabriel Agbonlahor. The Villa veteran is still young and his electric pace has caused plenty of problems. Plenty of goals from him this season too.

Manager: Paul Lambert still has his hands tied behind his back, with a young squad and no money to spend. That said, there’s been no real progress.

GRADE: C

Still plenty of work to do at Villa, but some massive wins here and there have shown promise. But there’s been plenty of dismal displays, especially going forward. Given all that, their league position isn’t bad.

CARDIFF

Best moment:  Beating Man City 3-2 at home on a hot August day in South Wales definitely the highlight. Frazier Campbell scored twice late on to give the Bluebirds a famous PL win.

source: Getty Images

New boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer must splash the cash in January if the Bluebirds are to stay up.

Worst moment: Losing 3-0 at home to Southampton on Boxing Day spelled the end for Malky Mackay, as the entire saga between Cardiff’s manager and controversial owner Vincent Tan came to a head.

Top player: Jordon Mutch. The young attacker has taken to the PL like a duck to water, four goals and three assists easily make him Cardiff’s most productive player.

Manager: Mackay was doing a good job but Tan’s involvement made it untenable. Now the Bluebirds’ hopes live with Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, as the former Manchester United boss manages in the PL for the first time.

GRADE: D+

Cardiff were so strong and solid for most of the opening weeks but as the season wore on Mackay’s personal feud with Tan took over. A decent squad who can dazzle on their day, new boss Solksjaer must buy big in January.

CHELSEA

Best moment: The 2-1 home win over Liverpool on Dec. 28 showed how Jose Mourinho’s side can defend well, are resolute and full of creative nous when needed.

source: Getty Images

Chelsea’s young attacking stars have to take center stage from here on out.

Worst moment: A 1-0 away defeat at Everton early in the season proved there was plenty of work to do, as the offense looked weak and devoid of ideas. A wake up call.

Top player: Eden Hazard. The young Belgian winger has flourished under the Special One and has scored plenty of important goals, plus he looks hungry to succeed.

Manager: Mourinho repeatedly states he’s starting a project at Chelsea, and with the exciting young attackers he has you can see that. But Chelsea look at their best with staunch defense and lightning-quick counters. So far, so good.

GRADE: B+

Chelsea have plodded along nicely, beaten the sides they should have and frustrated the top teams with tight defensive displays. The Blues are perfectly poised for a title push in the second half of the season.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Best moment: A 2-0 win against Cardiff City at home completed a great run for Palace as their fans began to believe they could survive in the PL.

source: AP

Tony Pulis has brought belief to Palace. But the Eagles are still fighting for their PL lives.

Worst moment: A 4-1 hammering by struggling Fulham, as Ian Holloway knew his time was up at Selhurst Park and left soon after.

Top player: Mile Jedinak. Doesn’t grab many goals but captain Jedinak has been superb in the midfield engine room. The Aussie is powerful, keeps the ball and thwarts the opposition.

Manager: Holloway stepped aside as he thought someone else could save Palace… turns out he could be right. Tony Pulis has arrived and the Eagles have been soaring.

GRADE: C

Nobody expected great things from Palace but they’ve given themselves a fighting chance of staying up with four wins since November. Some shrewd signings in the transfer window could see them just beat the drop.  

Latest Posts
  1. Manchester United, adidas unveil kits with “smashing” photos

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:52 PM EDT

    man-fb-mata_3331957

    The leaked images of United’s kit were the real McCoy, and the Red Devils white-cuffed kits are pretty sharp.

  2. Pep Guardiola on final year of contract: “Not completely convinced” he’s right for Bayern

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:14 PM EDT

    GUANGZHOU, CHINA - JULY 23: Pep Guardiola, coach of Bayern Munich FC looks on after losing the International Friendly Match of Volkswagen Cup between Bayern Munich FC and Guangzhou Evergrande at Tianhe Stadium on July 23, 2015 in Guangzhou, China.  (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Guardiola can erase a minor Bayern demon with his first Super Cup win on Saturday versus Wolfsburg.

  3. Fourth-tier NPSL, PDL to hold semifinals this weekend; PDL to hold final, too

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:08 PM EDT

    New York Cosmos B New York Cosmos B

    In the PDL, Seattle Sounders U-23, New York Red Bulls U-23, K-W United and Ocala Stampede are left, while the NPSL has New York Cosmos B, Chattanooga FC, Indiana Fire and CD Aguiluchos USA remaining.

  4. FA Community Shield preview: Will Arsenal or Chelsea claim the season’s first reward?

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Arsenal looks to win its second-straight Community Shield, something that only Manchester United has been able to do since 2000.

  5. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Sunderland

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT

    Sunderland

    Dick Advocaat is hoping familiarity will combine with a couple buys to help Sunderland avoid a relegation fight for the 1st time in a while.

  6. NASL commissioner continues to tout promotion/relegation in BBC feature

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    NASL

    In a BBC feature, Bill Peterson makes it clear he thinks the desire for pro/rel is real.

  7. Report: Aron Johannsson wants MLS move, but clubs hesitant to meet salary demands

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:41 PM EDT

    <>during the 2015 CONCACAF  Gold Cup match between United States and Haiti at Gillette Stadium on July 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images

    Johannsson had already said he wants to play Stateside in “his prime”, but a Yahoo Sports report said his desires have obstacles.

  8. PHOTOS: Orlando City unveils designs for third-largest stadium in MLS

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Orlando Sentinel Orlando Sentinel

    The Lions will continue to play at the Citrus Bowl until the new venue is completed.

  9. Lambert revival? English striker moves to West Brom from Liverpool

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT

    wba.co.uk wba.co.uk

    Is this the case of a 33-year-old who’s over the hill, or can he return to the form which saw him score double-digit goals and assists?

  10. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Southampton

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    southampton

    Will the Saints keep marching up the PL standings? Maybe a European campaign will derail their progress?

  11. Aston Villa sign Rudy Gestede, Jordan Veretout as Sherwood continues French revolution

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    After signing nine new players this summer, is Sherwood taking a gamble?

  12. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Stoke City

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    Stoke City logo

    Can the Potters build on their best-ever PL finish last season? The top eight is a possibility for Hughes’ side.

  13. Jose Mourinho issues Chelsea injury update; believes Arsenal can win Premier League

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-COMMUNITY-CHELSEA-ARSENAL FBL-ENG-PR-COMMUNITY-CHELSEA-ARSENAL

    Blues boss compliments Gunners, gives update on injured duo ahead of Community Shield match.

  14. After 12-year absence, Southampton wholeheartedly embrace European return

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT

    Southampton v Vitesse - UEFA Europa League: Third Qualifying Round 1st Leg Getty Images

    Soaking in the atmosphere on a special night at St Mary’s, as Saints’ Europa League campaign began.

  15. Chelsea’s John Terry calls out haters, says rivals jealous of his success

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:50 AM EDT

    150527-John-Terry Getty Images

    Terry: “Regardless of what people say, you can’t take away what I have won and done in the game.”

  16. Theo Walcott signs lucrative four-year contract at Arsenal; Cazorla extends

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT

    Walcott Getty Images

    Gunners keep experienced duo around, as Walcott decides to stay at the Emirates.

  17. Where in the world is Angel Di Maria? Man United boss Louis van Gaal has no idea

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:27 PM EDT

    Louis van Gaal & Angel Di Maria, Manchester United FC Louis van Gaal & Angel Di Maria, Manchester United FC

    Louis van Gaal seems to have misplaced his club’s $90 million investment, purchased just 12 months ago.

  18. Anfield exit looming? Balotelli, Borini left out of squad for Liverpool’s final preseason games

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT

    Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC

    With three attacking signings already made this summer, Balotelli and Borini look destined to leave Liverpool before the transfer deadline.

Featured video

What can we expect from PL new boys?