JOE’s review of the 28.94 per cent of the Premier League season gone so far, Part Three 9 years ago

JOE’s review of the 28.94 per cent of the Premier League season gone so far, Part Three

We've covered the bottom seven, and those around the middle. Now it's time to report on those sitting pretty in the top six.

1st Arsenal


Reasons to be cheerful: After opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the turnaround has been incredible. Let us count the ways; The fans are back onside, Aaron Ramsey is playing out of his skin and scoring for fun, Mathieu Flamini is back better than ever, Mesut Ozil has settled in well and the defence is more secure than it has been in years. Arsene Wenger is back smiling again and with all their nearest rivals unable or unwilling to put any sort of run together, Arsenal's few slip-ups haven't been punished to their fullest.

Reasons to be fearful: Defeat at Manchester United, the biggest test of the Gunners this season, showed up Arsenal's biggest problem; squad depth. Hit with an illness, the bench looked disturbingly weak and when they needed a goal, Wenger had to turn to Nicklas Bendtner, the sort of situation that would have you reaching for the quit button if you were playing Fifa. Perhaps it was as a result of the illness too but key men like Olivier Giroud looked knackered and a long-term injury to him, Ramsey, Cazorla, Mertesacker or Szczesny would severely weaken Arsenal's ability to go all the way.

The star so far: There have been many, but Aaron Ramsey has to get the nod. Fully two years after he had his leg broken he is now finally showing what a class act he is. Confident, dictating play and with a knack for scoring (six in the league, one more than Giroud) he's been magnificent.



Flop: We spoke about the lack of striking options Arsenal have and the French youngster Yaya Sanogo has been unable to help. One appearance followed by an injury has meant his career has really failed to start at all at the Emirates. He's only 20, and probably one for the future anyway, but Arsenal desperately need a strike to take the load of Giroud.

Most hilarious moment of the season so far: It's been all positive for Arsenal this season, but a bad omen had to have been when Arsene Wenger began to have zip problems again before the United game. Cue a 1-0 defeat. Bin the coat Arsene...

2nd Liverpool

Reasons to be cheerful: Many a Liverpool fan has been struck with a bloody nose thanks to the altitude, as they haven't been this high up the table in years. Brendan Rodgers has the team playing a very quick and exciting brand of football that has developed from last year's possession play, and when they've come up against a team that is in any way vulnerable at the back, they've grabbed as many goals as they can. Plus Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez look like they're in decent form too with 16 goals between them.


Reasons to be fearful: For some reason, Liverpool have noticeably slowed down and often failed to score in the second half of matches. The high pace of the opening minutes could be a reason for this, but it's worth keeping an eye on to make sure that the rhythm doesn't drop and the team doesn't stagnate. The loss to Arsenal was not the end of the world, but it did show up that the 5-3-2/3-5-2 that Brendan Rodgers wants to play will only work if Glen Johnson is in the squad and can do the covering running. Otherwise everything comes into a packed middle where Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard end up standing on top of each other. That may need to be addressed in the transfer window.

The star so far: Although Sturridge scored the goals in his absence, Suarez is once again in the good books of most Liverpool fans. He has been on fire since he paid his debt to society and has returned to the shores of fistiana (obscure Simpsons reference warning), sorry football, and he wants revenge, on everyone's defence. He seems to be pretty happy, but it might be a very different story in January if a Spanish giant or nouveau-riche French club arrive with a dump truck full of money and the promise of Champions League football.

Flop: Hard to say really. Worryingly, several Liverpool players that fans were expecting big things from have gone missing in recent weeks thanks to the fact that they simply aren't playing. We haven't seen much of Raheem Sterling, Iago Aspas is yet to string together a run of performances, and most people have forgotten Luis Alberto exists. Mainly though, Aly Cissokho has been pretty disappointing. He looks out of his depth, but he perhaps deserves some time to settle in to see how he gets on a little further down the line.

Liverpool FC Training


Most hilarious moment of the season so far: It wasn't a particularly funny game for Liverpool fans, but Daniel Sturridge's angry face after missing a good opportunity at Arsenal was pretty priceless. If not that, then his strange Call of Duty rant must make the list.

3rd Southampton

Reasons to be cheerful: Blessed with the tightest defence in the Premier League, and one of the best in Europe, Southampton are in a giddy third place but they are there on merit. Well drilled by Mauricio Pochettino, they press as a unit high up the pitch and they defend superbly from that position. The addition of a raft of their players to the England squad shows what an impact they have had and they really are a joy to watch.

Reasons to be fearful: You would wonder if that defence can stay quite so tight all year. If it starts to creak, can the likes of Ricky Lambert and Jay Rodriguez score enough to win games against the very best sides? Games against Arsenal (away), Chelsea (away) and Man City (home) will tell us a lot about their ability to stick around.


The star so far: Adam Lallana. Another youngster from the same production line of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, Lallana is already being coveted by the big clubs. Three goals and three assists, plus a non-stop style of play, makes him a real asset to the Saints style and at 25 he is finally fulfilling his promise.

Flop: Brought in for big, big money, Dani Osvaldo has provided little return thus far. One goal and one assist, both against Palace, is scant return for the Saints spend. He needs to settle in quickly if he isn't to be a €15m flushed down the drain acquisition.

Most hilarious moment of the season so far: One of the five goals they have conceded this year was the weirdest of the lot; a 100-yard punt by Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic. The Sun's tactical breakdown of the strike was fantastic.

4th Chelsea

Reasons to be cheerful: Mourinho is back, and the glory days are possibly just around the corner again. That ridiculous home record is still intact (thanks to a somewhat dodgy penalty decision) but the team does seem to be grinding out some results despite that. The form of champions, as they say. There are some very exciting players in the squad, and if one man can find a way to make them work well together then it's surely 'The Special One'.

Reasons to be fearful: There seems to have been some sort of dispute between Mourinho and two of the stars last season in Mata and Hazard. Even if they do play decently when they've got a run in the team, their confidence has most certainly been knocked and that will affect them on some level. The defeat to Newcastle and the performance against West Brom showed some worrying signs of malaise creeping in to that squad, and Mourinho seems less composed than normal. The cliché of 'He's not sure of his best XI' might actually be true here.

The star so far: André Schürrle has probably been the standout player this season. He might only have one goal to his name so far this season, but his link play has been impressive, and if Chelsea want to win things by playing some pretty football, then this man is most certainly going to be a very key part of the squad.

Newcastle United V Chelsea

Flop: Willian hasn't really lived up to the big price tag he came with, and there is a slight suspicion that Mourinho just wanted to nick him away from Tottenham. Certainly the squad didn't seem to need more players in his position, but perhaps the real flop is Mou himself. He hasn't had that desired spurring effect that it was thought he would, and as the season wears on he seems to be ditching the usual stylish suits and scarves for t-shirts and blazers. It looked against West Brom like he'd been out the previous night, and he's only a few steps away from showing up at a game dressed like Rab C. Nesbitt. His temper is flaring a bit too.

Most hilarious moment of the season so far: Jose celebrating with a lad in the crowd wearing a Leitrim jersey, there's no alternative to that.

5th Manchester United

Reasons to be cheerful: After a very slow start, things are picking up for David Moyes. The win over Arsenal was massive and Wayne Rooney seems to be in the middle of one of his lethal runs of form. Robin van Persie may not quite be at the level he was last term but he is still scoring at a decent rate and the emergence of Adnan Januzaj is great news for Moyes and any Manchester United fan. That they are only five points behind Arsenal after such an uneven start is a massive bonus too.

Reasons to be fearful: There are still concerns aplenty. Defensively United have looked a mess at times, as Moyes tries to find a duo that works, and one that can stay healthy. The miles on the clock of Ferdinand and Vidic suggest it is time for the likes of Evans and Smalling and Jones to take over, but the instability has cost them. Midfield creativity continues to be an issue and the singing of Marouane Fellaini has yet to click too.

The star so far: Wayne Rooney. Considering the rumbling about his future when Fergie left, it seems the England man is really enjoying life under Moyes. The bald facts (sorry Wayne, couldn't resist) of five goals and six assists don't really tell the full story. Full of running, he really is the engine of this team now and if Moyes can keep him motoring, who knows what the season could bring.

Flop: Marouane Fellaini. Not sure where he fits into United's current style of play, the big Belgian has looked a fish out of water at times. An injury hasn't helped but it's been a difficult transition thus far.

Fellaini 201314

Most hilarious moment of the season so far: A happy David Moyes doing some photobombing...

6th Everton

Reasons to be cheerful: To paraphrase Chief Wiggum, that's some fine looking football you're playing there boys. Martinez's arrival heralded an almost immediate change in style, and the results seem to have followed with a more talented squad at his disposal than he had at Wigan. The players who came in during the transfer window have all settled incredibly well, Leighton Baines is continuing his excellent form from last season, and Romelu Lukaku genuinely looks like one of the best strikers in the league. From an Irish point of view, it's great to see a key midfielder in our set up doing so well at a team that's high up the table. Not only that, but the team have still only suffered one defeat, which is a fantastic record.

Reasons to be fearful: Martinez's Wigan side often had a period in the middle of the season where they completely switched off and ended up having to put together the most unlikely of runs to stay alive. That said, Wigan also started the season poorly, so it seems that Everton have kicked into gear straight from the off. Hopefully for Everton fans he can keep them motivated throughout the season, but his record suggests otherwise.

The star so far: Ross Barkley started the season incredibly brightly, and being given a bit more responsibility with some good football that relies on the midfield seems to suit him. However, Romelu Lukaku is the man that everyone will be talking about, as he has continued to impress and made Mourinho look a bit foolish for letting him go, given the troubles his Chelsea side are having in front of goal.

Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League

He's commonly referred to as a beast or a man with raw power, but his positioning and his finishing are the marks of a truly top class footballer, no matter what his physical gifts are.

Flop: Arouna Kone has looked almost entirely rubbish. He may well prove us wrong when he comes back from injury, but he has been worryingly poor in front of goal for a man who earns his living as a striker.

Most hilarious moment of the season so far: They make them passionate on Merseyside, even this young.
A young Everton fan shouts his encouragement