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Jake Doyle : “Grading Each Premier League Teams’ Season”

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Arsenal
Grade: B
Star Player:  Aaron Ramsey

The early season form had Arsenal dreaming of a first league title in ten years and Arsene Wenger’s first trophy at the club since the 2005 FA Cup final triumph. However, at the turn of the year they were stifled by injuries to the likes of record signing Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott on a long-term basis and the likes of Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski. However, the niggling thigh injuries of Welsh midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, punctured the biggest hole in the side for Wenger, as Ramsey, who only rarely scored from the middle of the park netted thirteen times prior to being crocked, and was getting a nose bleed he was so far in the goalscoring charts.

Aston Villa
Grade: C
Star Player: Ashley Westwood

Aston Villa, at the time of writing, still aren’t clear of relegation with a couple of games to go in their season. Paul Lambert will be one of the first to admit it hasn’t been his best season in the job, as he continues to renovate the squad following the debacle of Alex McLeish’s reign. The signing of Leandro Bacuna was a shrewd one whilst the youngsters in the middle of the park have stood up and have been counted. Whilst Fabian Delph may have taken more plaudits for his goals and assists, I can’t look further than Ashley Westwood as Villa’s star player this season. The 24-year old who had previously only played for Crewe and Nantwich, has been a tireless rock in the midfield at Villa Park.

Cardiff City
Grade: D
Star Player: David Marshall

Cardiff City hit rock bottom after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Sunderland this past week and haven’t had the easiest birth into the Premier League. Despite this, however, their goalkeeper David Marshall has played out of his skin, breaking numerous records for saves in a game as he pulled off multiple saves of the season and the fact that he didn’t make the PFA Team of the Year ahead of Petr Cech is a complete travesty.

Chelsea
Grade: A-
Star Player: Eden Hazard

Another player who profited at Chelsea at the end of season PFA awards has been the injured, but nonetheless majestic, Eden Hazard. The quality seaped through in the Belgian’s first season but he rose to prominence with the departure of two-time club player of the year Juan Mata and captured the PFA Young Player of the Year award as, in preparation for the World Cup, he looked to help Chelsea achieve the Premier League and Champions League double.

Crystal Palace
Grade: A*
Star Player: Jason Puncheon

Since the arrival of Tony Pulis his Crystal Palace side have been revitalised and, for the first time in Premier League history, they will stave off relegation. Nobody expected the swift turnaround and could be on course for a top-half finish which is simply spectacular. At the heart of this side were the likes of Damien Delaney at the back with Mile Jedinak putting numerous shifts in in front of the defence. However, the amount of games which Jason Puncheon has netted the winning goals in one-goal wins at Selhurst Park and despite the setback of that penalty miss at White Hart Lane he is deserving of being Palace’s outstanding player.

Everton
Grade: A
Star Player: Seamus Coleman

Roberto Martinez has further improved upon David Moyes’ 11-year tenure, but it looks as though Champions League football is once again out of reach for the Toffees but they should secure fifth place in the league, which is some achievement considering the calibre of teams below them. The acquisitions of Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku and James McCarthy can all be considered front runners for Everton as well as Leighton Baines who has finally broken into the national squad but Seamus Coleman can be viewed as a massive steal at just £60,000 from Sligo Rovers. The Irish full-back has netted six times in the league and his swashbuckling runs forward have implemented Martinez’s tactics going forward which has been rewarded with great results including a double against former manager, David Moyes’ Manchester United.

Fulham
Grade: D-
Star Player: Ashkan Dejagah

It has been a season to forget for Fulham as the West London changed owners and indeed managers on a number of occasions with Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath all tasked with taking the Cottagers out of the mire of relegation, of which they aren’t out of just yet. There have been a few shining lights in their season with the likes of former Premier League winners Scott Parker and Kieran Richardson as well as Steven Sidwell but Ashkan Dejagah has scored some very vital, and spectacular, goals which could prolong Fulham’s thirteen-year stay in the top flight, and is fully deserving of Fulham’s best player award.

Hull City
Grade: A
Star Player: Curtis Davies

After such an impressive season from Steve Bruce’s Hull City, they have staved off relegation and could be well on their way to a respectable league position in the Humberside club’s first season back in the big time. There were some quarters of hushed tones calling for centre-back Curtis Davies to be called up to the England squad in time for the World Cup, whilst those have slightly tailed off, it doesn’t remove the centre half’s fantastic form at the back for Hull. Other contenders include former Tottenham duo Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, the latter of which has been particularly pleasing for the Hull boss.

Liverpool
Grade: A*
Star Player: Steven Gerrard

Liverpool have had their best chance at winning the Premier League for the first time in twenty-four long, heartbreaking years. Whilst the PFA and a fair section of Liverpool fans plumping for top goalscorer Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge over captain, Steven Gerrard, I do believe that the captain for club and country has been instrumental for Liverpool. His retreated role just beyond the back four has raised Liverpool to top place after eleven successive wins. Remove the slip at home to Chelsea and Gerrard has been near faultless this season, akin to his season when he guided Liverpool to European success almost a decade ago. Choosing Gerrard over Sturridge and Suarez was purely for the fact that a Liverpool without Gerrard is worse off than a Liverpool without the aforementioned two forwards.

Manchester City
Grade: A
Star Player: Yaya Toure

Was this in any doubt? If Sergio Aguero could’ve remained fit throughout the season then the Argentine talisman might have troubled the magnificent Ivorian in an attacking playmaking role. Toure was among the frontrunners for the PFA Player of the Year award and with nineteen league goals at the time of writing, Toure has scored numerous goals from set-pieces and audacious distances as he attempted to secure his second league title with Manchester City.

Manchester United
Grade: F
Star Player: Wayne Rooney

In an unusually troubled season for the Red Devils, there have been very few outstanding players in the Old Trafford ranks. David Moyes became Man United’s third shortest serving manager after his sacking just nine and a half months into a six-year contract. The replacing of legendary predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson has been a bumpy road to say the least as the most decorated British footballer took interim charge. Adnan Januzaj has burst onto the scene as an eighteen year old but hasn’t been all that consistent whilst Danny Welbeck’s purple patches have come in drips and with Robin van Persie’s troubled injury-hit season he can’t be considered United’s best player. Wayne Rooney remains United’s top scorer and has to be named as their best player this season, carrying the poor form of the United team into the final eight of the Champions League and into seventh place in the league.

Newcastle United
Grade: D
Star Player: Loic Remy

It’s been a strange season for Newcastle. Whilst they have improved upon their 16th place of last season which was achieved under the burden of Europa League football, they were at times this season in contention of European football but have since dropped off into ninth place, thanks in no part to their manager, Alan Pardew’s discipline. Following the headbutt to David Meyler they have won just one in seven, which included scoring just two goals in that time period. In terms of goals, Loic Remy has been their best in that respect, digging the Toon out of many holes but it looks to be no more than mid-table for Pardew’s side.

Norwich City
Grade: E
Star Player: Robert Snodgrass

Norwich, like Fulham, haven’t had the best season and have been focussing more on staving off relegation than pushing for a top-half position this year. My selection for their player of the season is former Leeds midfielder Robert Snodgrass, when he’s not verbally fighting off supporters’ criticism he has been a kingpin from set piece situations. He hasn’t been as prolific as last season but has become a more rounded individual, supplying the likes of their failing attackers and perhaps with a better forward line-up, he could be more popular in the division.

Southampton
Grade: A
Star Player: Adam Lallana

What a season for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. He has helped quell the off-field problems with fantastic form, thanks in no part to their terrific English quarter who have appeared to blossom all at the same time. They are on for a record Premier League points haul and the likes of Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw were nominated for prestigious awards by the PFA and were included in the team of the year. Jay Rodriguez’s season was unfortunately cut short by a ligament injury which stole his dream of playing for England at a World Cup whilst Rickie Lambert has been equally talismanic. However, between the four outstanding participants on the south coast, the award for best player has to go to Adam Lallana, who might not have scored more than his teammates up front but has been the glue sticking Southampton together this year, helping them to a probable eighth place finish.

Stoke City
Grade: B+
Star Player: Charlie Adam

Supporters were divided when Mark Hughes took over Tony Pulis at the start of the season but the former Chelsea and Man United forward has adapted his own way of thinking to the Potters and has gentled pointed Stoke to a very respectable possible top-half finish and are currently 10th at the time of writing. There have been the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Marko Arnautovic, Peter Crouch and, since his signing in January, Peter Odemwingie who have put in sterling performances but Charlie Adam is my selection. There hasn’t been one defining player in the side built very much on a hard-working team but Adam has scored some spectacular goals, for instance against Manchester United in a 2-1 win.

Sunderland
Grade: C-
Star Player: Adam Johnson

Gus Poyet looks to be masterminding the great escape, picking up the pieces from Paolo di Canio’s tumultuous reign. A recent thrashing of Cardiff has dragged his side out of the bottom three. The star performer though, has to be Adam Johnson although not being picked as much recently, his mid-season form was out of this world, with some calling for his selection in the England World Cup squad.

Swansea City
Grade: C
Star Player: Wilfried Bony

Swansea haven’t had the best of seasons with the managerial transition from experienced Michael Laudrup to the former player Garry Monk but they look to be safe in terms of their Premier League status for the next season. Whilst the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Jonathan de Guzman have been great in the middle of the park, with Shelvey’s recent 45-yard volley a mere glimpse of his potential. However, for the sheer amount of goals, the frontman Wilfried Bony has helped Swansea pick up vital points towards their task of mid-table mediocrity.

Tottenham Hotspur
Grade: C
Star Player: Christian Eriksen

The sale of Gareth Bale damaged Tottenham severely last summer and as hard as he tried, Andre Villas-Boas has tried to fill the immense gap left by the Welsh winger’s departure to the Bernabeu. One of those men was Christian Eriksen, who under new manager Tim Sherwood has been excellent in North London. Whilst they haven’t been able to usurp rivals Arsenal’s bid for Champions League football, their future remains uncertain with the reported exit of Tim Sherwood.

West Bromwich Albion
Grade: C-
Star Player: Morgan Amalfitano

There has been some disruption at West Brom with the arrival of Pepe Mel but the Baggies have gained very respectable points at home against Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham—four of the league’s top six. They should be safe but there needs to be an improvement for the Albion if they are to maintain their stay in the league. In terms of the outstanding player, Morgan Amalfitano is one of the only players worthy of this, especially after Shane Long’s departure mid-season to Hull. His goals against Cardiff and Man United in particular were world class.

West Ham United
Grade: C
Star Player: Kevin Nolan

Sam Allardyce’s criticism of his style of play at Upton Park is simply mesmerising. Should they adapt their play towards a more attacking or possession model? No. With aggressive and strong players such as Andy Carroll, Mohamed Diame and Kevin Nolan, their current style suits them down to the ground. The question fans need to ask themselves is would they rather be playing scruffy Premier League football or fluent football in the Football League? Due to Andy Carroll’s injury-hit season since his £15 million move from Merseyside, Kevin Nolan has to take the best player gong.

Jake Doyle

follow me on twitter @JakeDoyle93

 

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