JOE’s review of the 28.94 per cent of the Premier League season gone so far, Part One
All’s fairly quiet on the Premier League front during the international break, so what better time to review how things stand, starting with the clubs currently occupying the bottom seven places in the table.
14th: Cardiff City
Reasons to be cheerful: Had they been told before the season that they would be well above the relegation zone at this stage and level on points with Swansea, we dare say Cardiff fans would have taken it. Some big performances against the likes of Manchester City and Swansea suggests that they have a lot of fight about them and if Malky Mackay hangs around, they might just have enough to stay up.
Reasons to be fearful: Judging by some of the chaotic reports we’ve heard so far, owner Vincent Tan seems a little unstable to say the least and the danger of losing a good manager in Malky Mackay will always linger.
The star so far: Record signing Steven Caulker has delivered some impressive performances in the heart of the Bluebirds’ defence and has grabbed a couple of crucial goals, including the only one in the derby victory over Swansea. If he keeps this up, a recall to the England squad could be on the cards, even though Scotland are also thought to be interested.
Flop: The much lampooned Peter Odemwingie has scored just once since his arrival and has yet to play a full 90 minutes for his new club. If he doesn’t step it up he could be spending January deadline day wandering around the car park of another Premier League club.
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: When it emerged that head of recruitment Iain Moody was replaced by a 23-year-old Kazakh friend of the chairman's son, who had no previous experience in football. That’s a clever recruitment strategy right there.
15th: Norwich City
Reasons to be cheerful: Despite their struggles so far, Norwich still have the bones of a very decent squad with a very good manager. If the summer signings can start to make their presence felt, then the safety of mid-table should be a very achievable target.
Reasons to be fearful: The Canaries’ away form is worrying to say the least. They have picked up just three out of a possible 15 points (a win at Stoke) and have been conceding freely away from Carrow Road, letting in 14 in five games so far. Granted they’ve had some tough away days, but it’s something that has to improve going forward.
The star so far: Norwich have conceded a lot of goals, but they would have conceded even more if it wasn’t for John Ruddy, who has remained solid between the sticks.
Flop: It might be a bit harsh considering he hasn’t played since early October because of injury, but brilliant and all as his name is, Ricky van Wolfswinkel had managed only one goal in seven games prior to his absence, which isn’t good enough for a marquee signing.
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: The absolute lack of f**ks given by Leroy Fer over the furore of his disallowed goal against Cardiff last month. Etiquette? Leroy ain’t got no time Fer etiquette.
16th: West Ham United
Reasons to be cheerful: Their defence. The Hammers have conceded a fairly miserly 11 goals in 11 games so far and have kept clean sheets in over half their league games to date.
Reasons to be fearful: Conversely, West Ham are badly lacking in attacking options and only the bottom two sides, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, have scored fewer than Big Sam’s men this season. A striker in January is an absolute necessity.
The star so far: Ravel Morrison has looked great at times, but Winston Reid has been the main man in a sturdy rearguard and was badly missed against Norwich at the weekend.
Flop: Stewart Downing has recorded a grand total of zero goals and zero assists since the start of the season. Sound familiar Liverpool fans?
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: Big Sam’s evil laugh in the direction on Swansea’s Chico Flores after he had the gall to go to ground in front of him. Just brilliant.
17th: Stoke City
Reasons to be cheerful: Mark Hughes is at least trying to change the way Stoke play football and they have been unlucky not to pick up more points in games against Liverpool and the two Manchester sides.
Reasons to be fearful: Like a lot of teams towards the bottom they are looking quite toothless in attack and the fact that only one player (Charlie Adam) has scored more than a single goal says a lot.
The star so far: Hard to pick one but we’ll go for Asmir Begovic on the basis that he continues to look like one of the best ‘keepers in the league and remains their joint second-highest goalscorer this season.
Flop: Peter Crouch. Recorded two assists against Swansea but one goal so far is simply not enough.
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: Jonathan Walters addressing the haters in his first foray into the Twittersphere before they even had a chance to react.
Reasons to be cheerful: In the likes of Berbatov, Ruiz and Bent, Fulham have real quality in their squad and players who can win a match with a single moment of magic.
Reasons to be fearful: Not helped by the three players mentioned above, there appears to be a very lackadaisical approach within the ranks at the moment and whether it’s his fault or not, it might take the removal of Martin Jol to address it. Recent defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool in particular smacked of a distinct lack of effort and application.
The star so far: Pajtim Kasami has delivered a couple of exceptional individual moments and will be in with a real shout of winning the goal of the season thanks to his tremendous effort against Crystal Palace.
Flop: The Cottagers have been very leaky at the back and Philippe Senderos hasn’t exactly distinguished himself at the heart of the back four.
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: The removal of the fairly inexplicable Michael Jackson statue at the home ground, which harsh observers might say has been replaced with an occasionally mobile statue of Dimitar Berbatov on the pitch.
Reasons to be cheerful: There have already been small signs of improvement under Gus Poyet, particularly against Manchester City at the weekend. Whether he can do enough to beat the drop remains to be seen but he’s had a positive start.
Reasons to be fearful: At times this season they have been simply dreadful and have looked like a team that signed a load of players with no apparent strategy in place during the summer. They also need Steven Fletcher to remain fit to give them hope.
The star so far: Nearly impossible to pick, but John O’Shea hasn’t been terrible and is an automatic selection when fit.
Flop: Lee Cattermole. Still hasn’t learned his lesson about the need to keep cool despite repeated warnings in the past. And he’s meant to be a leader in the team.
Most hilarious moment of the season so far: Paolo di Canio’s attempts to have a conversation with the travelling Sunderland fans following defeat to West Brom. It’s no surprise he was sacked 24 hours later.
20th: Crystal Palace
Reasons to be cheerful: The Eagles have shown a lot of battling qualities in the games since Ian Holloway’s departure and have probably been unlucky not to pick up more points than the single one earned at Everton on Saturday.
Reasons to be fearful: With only four points from 11 games, relegation appears inevitable, even at this early stage. Scoring goals is also a huge problem, with only six in 11 games.
The star so far: Stars have been few and far between but Mile Jedinak has shown a bit of fight and has played every minute so far.
Flop: There are any amount of contenders to pick from but Marouane Chamakh’s displays have once again raised questions about how Arsenal were willing to pay a fair chunk of cash for him in the first place.
Most hilarious moment so far: When the lights went out in the executive boxes during the game with Fulham at Selhurst Park. With Palace conceding two quite ridiculous goals to boot, they should have known it wasn’t their night.