2012/2013 English Premier League Standings
Half way point
Well the half way stage of the English Premier League is upon us, 19/38 games played, if the first half of the season is mirrored, it would see Manchester United 14 points clear at the top of the table but if there is anything we have learned from last season, is that even a 7 point lead can be overcome and nobody will be fully writing City off this time, until it is mathematically impossible. Chelsea's 8 - 0 win against Aston Villa shows that they are a force to be reckoned with on their day, Arsenal, Everton and Spurs remain big outsiders but Football is a funny old game, which can throw up the odd miracle.
Who will win the 2012-13 EPL Outright?
Results of the Aug-Dec Poll
The results are in.... and Football fans believe that Manchester United will win the 2012/13 English Premier League, based on votes gathered between Gameweek 1 to Gameweek 19.
Post Manc Derby Standings
Standings after Gameweek 15
Standings after Gameweek 13
Standings after Gameweek 12
Post AUG Transfer Window POLL
Who Will Win The 2012-2013 Outright!?
- 27% Arsenal FC
- 26% Chelsea FC
- 5% Liverpool FC
- 9% Manchester City
- 29% Manchester United
- 1% Newcastle United
- 2% Tottenham Hotspurs
- 1% Other
This poll is now closed to voting.
Now that the Transfer window is finished, we have a better view of the strength of the squads, perhaps a new signing or loss of a player has changed your opinion on a certain teams title credentials, the poll's have been reopened, so it is time to vote again and see if the opinion has changed!
We have also got an insight into how the teams are gelling, perhaps Chelsea being the only team to win all 3 opening games has changed your mind, certainly numerically they have an advantage, or maybe seeing RVP fire on all cyclinders has made you think that Man Utd stand a better chance than you originally thought, or perhaps you still think that Man City will defend their crown or that Arsenal will still win it, despite their slow start.
Results from the Pre Season Polls
According to the results of the polls, pre-season expectation was;
1st - Arsenal
2nd - Manchester United
3rd - Chelsea
and the final CL spot
4th - Liverpool
PRE SEASON PREDICTIONS
Who Will Win The 2012/2013 English Premier League Outright?
- 32% Arsenal FC
- 17% Chelsea FC
- 14% Liverpool FC
- 11% Manchester City
- 21% Manchester United
- 2% Newcastle United
- 3% Tottenham Hotspurs
- 1% Other
This poll is now closed to voting.
Vote now for who YOU think will win it and have your say.
With the English Premier League fast approaching, it is time to look at who the main contenders for the title are and analyze their title credentials, The 2011/2012 season brought a thrilling climax, as for the first time in EPL history, the Title was won and lost on goal difference on the final day of the season. If that wasn't thrilling enough, the title shifted hands in the final minutes of play. This season could be even more spectacular, with all squads arguably strengthened, last season quickly became a two horse race between the 2 Manchester Clubs, however this season could see the re-emergence of Chelsea and Arsenal as strong contenders, following their relative splashing of the cash this summer.
Arsenal finished 3rd in the 2011/2012 campaign and managed to avoid the embarrassment of finishing lower than their bitter rivals Tottenham, who led them for most of the season but a Strong second half of the season saw Arsenal finish strongly and see off the other competitors for what would turn out to be the final champions league spot, much to Tottenhams misfortune, something the Arsenal fans would have relished even further.
However not all was rosey and glossy, for Arsenal made a terrible start to the 2011/2012 campaign and were much closer to a relegation battle opposed to champions league place battle for the first quarter. A 8 - 2 loss at the hands of rivals Manchester United was perhaps the low point in their season, this led to increased speculation that Arsene Wenger would be sacked but unlike most other clubs, the Arsenal directors kept they're faith in a manager which had brought them such success in his early reign at the club.
Arsenal then began stringing multiple victories together, many attribute this to the sheer form of Robin Van Persie (RVP), who was on fire and managed to avoid injury throughout a whole campaign for possibly the first time in his Arsenal career, this led to him picking up the Golden Boot and deemed him by many, to have carried Arsenal back up to the top end of the table.
This perhaps overshadowed the influence of the other players, when Song's creativity, Koscielny's increasing competency and the return of the rock solid Thomas Vermaelen, whose return from injury, coincided with Arsenals change in fortunes. Arsenal were rocked by somewhat of a defender crisis in the early stages of the season, the youngsters were unable to step up to the plate and Arsenals lack of squad depth was exposed.
The losses of key players Fabregas and Nasri were a big loss no doubt, however Arsenal have shown enough signs of emerging talent to perhaps overcome this in the form of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshire.
Many will see the RVP factor to be the greatest influence as to whether Arsenal will contend for the title this year, his 30 goals from last season will undoutably be a missed asset, however Arsenal have strengthened their attack force, with a rare loosening of the purse strings from Arsene Wenger, which has seen him bring in German international Lukas Podolski and French international Giroud, however Wenger seems unable to learn from his mistakes and has failed to adequately buy cover for his defensive positions, which was arguably the cause of their poor start to the 2011/2012 season, with Per Mertzacker looking set to be a flop in the Arsenal red.
Liverpool finished 8th in the 2011/2012 campaign a position which doesn't settle too lightly amongst the Anfield faithful, made worse by losing out to seventh place and finishing below bitter rivals Everton on the final day of the season. Despite good performances in the domestic cups in 2012, the season will ultimately be deemed as a failure and the club was at the center of great controversy and manager and club legend Kenny Dalglish didn't do his career any favors in either respects, leaving the initial resurgence of Liverpool FC in his opening games looking like a false dawn, the new transfers flopped and Liverpool were frequently unable to score goals and hold onto leads and so King Kenny was sacked after failing to take the club to Premier League heights as he had done for Blackburn Rovers in the 94/95 season.
Liverpool have since replaced him with Brenden Rogers who did a remarkable job at Swansea FC, with very limited resources but he will now have a big chance to prove his managerial worth and flex his muscles with a relatively larger transfer budget. Brenden looks set to make his mark on the squad early and has already offloaded Maxi and Dirk Kuyt and looks set to get rid of Andy Carrol, all of whom don't comply with Brenden Rogers's distinctive brand of passing football and maintaining possession, which was regularly on display at Swansea FC, he looks poised for a reunion with welsh midfielder Joe Allen, who has been molded into that very type of player of which Brenden Rogers craves by himself at Swansea FC. Don't be surprised to see Liverpool playing a tight conservation possession game this season but will it suit the current crop of players, it is either going to be an instant success or a much more tedious bedding in period in which the Liverpool faithful may have to accept another mediocre table finish whilst the team is in a transitional phase.
Liverpools stature and its history make them a constant contender for the title, regardless of their recent positions and striker Luis Suarez will absolutely key if they are to perform this season, he will be aided by the arrival of Italian striker Borini who will be no stranger to Brenden Rogers, who worked with him during his time at Chelsea FC. The aging Captain Steven Gerrard insists that he still has a lot to give and his 3 assists in the Euro 2012 campaign and avoidance of injury throughout provide argue in his defense, can he drive Liverpool towards that ever elusive EPL title and restore themselves as European Heavy weights, the likes of Gerrard will be bitterly determined to fill that void which they have in their trophy cabinet.
Chelsea finished 6th in the 2011/2012 campaign, their lowest finish of the Roman reign, however they can now laugh it off, as the campaign was arguably a success, with them scooping the Champions League title against all odds, giving them automatic qualification for the Champions League, to the expense of 4th place Tottenham, had Chelsea have failed to win the Champions League, their future could have looked very bleak, with their 6th place EPL finish, not being sufficient enough to gain qualification for the following years Champions League, had this have happened, i would have been very surprised if they had of being able to compete within the transfer market in the way that they have, remarkably beating Champions Manchester City and giants Manchester United to the purchase of Eden Hazard.
Chelsea's revival came in coincidence with the sacking of manager Andre Villas Boas (AVB), now of Tottenham Hotspur, AVB soon cast a controversial figure amongst players and fans alike, as he chose to bench Chelsea established first team players and legends of the club in the form of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. There was much speculation that there was unrest in the Chelsea camp and that perhaps AVB's age or lack of experience within Football, was giving him difficulty in gaining respect from the players, with the likes of Lampard and Drogba being his peers, it was perhaps in part due to this that AVB decided the only way he could gain respect and remain senior was to be freeze such players out and so for perhaps the first time in their Chelsea careers, Frank and Didier were finding themselves on the bench, something that proved to be very unwelcome to such competitive and decorated players. However AVB was not completely alone, factions of the fans and media had also began speculating on the fitness of the two players and whether they 'still had it', despite constant insistance from both players, that they were still feeling good and fit.
AVB was setting out to rebuild the Chelsea squad but a terrible run of form meant that despite Romans initial intentions to oversee a patient rebuilding of the Chelsea squad with youth players, AVB had to go and in stepped Caretaker Manager Roberto Di Mateo, to help salvage the rest of the season and keep things ticking over at Chelsea until Roman could decide on his next future ex-manager. Di Matteo managed to regalvanize the squad and brought Lampard and Drogba back into the heart of the club and gave them value again, they repaid this faith by spearheading a remarkable turn of events in final quarter of the season, which saw them dump the infamous and deemed by many as unbeatable; Barcelona out of the CL competition at Semi's over two legs. With Didier Drogba inparticularly the driving force behind their inspirational win, sticking a big loud middle finger up towards AVB. This left many Chelsea fans wondering, what may have been with Roberto Di Matteo in charge for a full season, with his great tactical choices and getting the players happy and enjoying their Football again, well they are about to find out, as Roberto Di Matteo leads the helm going into the 2012/2013 season, however Chelsea will be without their Talismanic frontman Didier Drogba.
Their acquisition of Eden Hazard sent a big message to their rivals, we are here to mean business!, it demonstrated an ambition to conquer once again and invest in the squad, Roman now has his ever elusive CL trophy and can return to focusing on the EPL again. Romelu Lukaka looks poised to attempt to fill the big shoes of Didier Drogba and revitalized striker Fernando Torres picked up the 2012 European Championships Golden Boot award, leading many to tout him as set to be this seasons top scorer in the EPL. Further acquisitions of Marin who has already scored within pre-season and the highly rated Brazilian midfielder Oscar, will only strengthen their plight and don't be too surprised to see a few more transfers from Chelsea, with HULK looking imminent, as they look poised to take their rightful place in 'the top 4'.
Manchester United finished 2nd in the 2011/2012 campaign. They are the most decorated English club in Premier League history. Since its formation in 1992, they have won a staggering 12 titles in 20 attempts and if not the winners typically finish as runners up, much as they did in the thrilling end to the 2011/2012 campaign, which saw Manchester United uncharacteristically throw away an 8 point lead in the title race, losing twice to rivals Manchester City before finally losing to them on the final day of the season, at the final kick of the ball, on goal difference. Nearly everybody in the Footballing world was certain that United would seal the EPL no problem, at 8 points ahead, with only a handful of games remaining but City obviously hadn't read that script, most pundits identified the experience of the United players, in this kind of situation and a superior ability to do what needs to be done under pressure, a winning mentality which has been evident in the majority of the previous campaigns, however last year this failed them and many people deem the current crop of players to be low down in the rankings compared to other squads under the rule of Sir Alex. The biggest loss to Manchester United was their captain Vidic, at the start of the season, its always a blow to loose any first team regular but the fact it was their captain and rock at the heart of the defence clearly had a big impact, as United ultimately lost the title by conceding a greater amount of goals than their rivals and their inability to hold onto leads in the final games of the season, as epitomized by their 4 - 4 draw with Everton after leading 4 - 2, which most people attribute to be the moment their season turned for the worse.
People are likely to view the negatives from the 2011/2012 season but i'm sure a different tune had of being sung, had Aguero not managed to slot home in the dying minutes vs QPR. United for most games had the youngest team on the pitch and this shows a promising future, Scholes' return was masterful comeback and Rooney despite much criticism still managed to bag 27 EPL goals, only 3 behind RVP. De Gea now looks a lot steadier than at the beginning of the season and his Shots against to Saves ratio is the best in the league.
Vidic is now back and United have overseen a small overhaul, as Fergie is determined to improve the squad in order to get revenge on their neighbors, Fergie thrives off a challenge and will have been wracking his brains all summer about how to compete. United have a much smaller transfer budget and it is public knowledge that the Glazier family have left their finances in a very poor state, this has led to them no longer being able to compete in the transfer market, with the likes of super rich Chelsea and Man City and they recently lost out to the purchase of Eden Hazard. Fergie has been shrewd as always this season and has been looking for bargains or 'Market Value' as he calls it, clearly aware of how inflated the transfer market has recently become and the ridiculous fees thrown around on players such as Fernando Torres and Andy Carrol, which are arguably over priced. New transfer Shinji Kagawa was bought for a very humble 12-17 million and looks a hot prospect having scored in pre-season already, the fact that he has transferred from a team which won the Bundesliga last term, shows that Manchester United still hold their reputation and therefore can still attract high calibre players, despite a disappointing season all round, where they only won the Community Shield and rather feebly limped out of the champions league, F,A cup and League cup.
With the exception of the 2003-2006 era, Manchester United have never gone two seasons without winning the EPL and will be desperate to ensure that of all people it is not their bitter rivals City, that deprive them of it. Manchester United will come back with a new found motivation and players such as Jones, Smalling and De Gea will now be a year older and a year wiser. Fergie doesn't seem content on stopping there, he has also purchased the 18 year old promising attacking midfielder 'Nick Powell', who looks like one for the future and is busy trying to sign Brazils young prodigy 'Moura', he looks determined to forge one last strong team, with enough youth for his legacy to last well after his retirement.
Manchester United have begun their pre-season training in South Africa for the fourth time in EPL history, the other three times they then went on to win the league in that same year, could this be an omen for the future.
Newcastle finished 5th in the 2011/2012 campaign. It was a remarkable feat for a club that was not long ago in the Championship. They will be a real outsider odd but then again, who thought they'd finish 5th.
They started very strongly and at one point found themselves at the top of the table, Demba Ba was proving to the buy of the season, banging goal after goal in and all this for a striker who had been bought on a free, it made the 50 million purchase of Fernando Torres look all the more ridiculous. When Ba and Tiote left for the African cup of nations, Newcastle began to suffer and dropped their biggest points during this time. Upon returning from national duty, Demba Ba appeared to bring a friend back with him (Papiss Cisse), the club had finally decide to seemingly splash out some of their Andy Carroll money. Papiss Cisse started in electric form, scoring a goal on his debut and then proceeding to score in every game afterwards, breaking the EPL record for goals scored within consecutive games. Demba Ba has began to stop scoring goals and turned provider, playing in a much deeper role than normal but nobody was going to complain, whilst him and Cisse were linking up for goal after goal. Yohan Cabaye looked a real player through and another complete steal in the market by Alan Pardew costing a mere 4.3 million, Ben Arfa clearly enjoyed his limited loan spell at Newcastle, which was cut short by Nigel de Jongs poor tackle, which saw him break his leg and miss the rest of the season, making the loan deal perminant and in the second stage of the season inparticular, showed himself to be a player of true class. Newcastle went on a run and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and found themselves potentially battling for 3rd, which would have been a remarkable feat and Champions League football looked like a very realistic prospect, but alas to many peoples disappointment, they ran out of steam in the final weeks and finished 5th, which is still a brilliant achievement.
The question is, can they repeat the feat, will they be able to pick up where they left off and can they keep hold of their stars?, so far they've done a good job of holding on to their players but Mike Ashley has a history of selling players. There has been some strong links with Andy Carroll making a return to Newcastle, which would certainly see them an even more formidable force, it would be important for them to get some cover during the African cup of nations, which otherwise will surely ruin their title credentials, should Ba and Cisse both choose to go away on international duty.
Manchester City are the current holders of the Premier League after finishing first in the 2011/2012 campaign, there is little secret of uncertainty surrounding the club now as Roberto Mancini has surprisingly failed to sign any new players so far and clearly show signs of unwillingness to splash the same kinds of money and wages that they did during the initial formation of their squad, perhaps they have one eye on the financial fair play regulations looming in the future. There is an argument to suggest that they don't need to bring in any new players, as their current crop of players are fulfilling their duty sufficiently in delivering the EPL title, it was their first EPL title and beating their neighbors Manchester United will have made it all the sweeter, they have had to settle with being 2nd best to United for quite some time now and their recent insurgance thanks to the investment of the Sheikh family, has led to them being dubbed 'The Noisy Neighbors', they laid to bed any doubts that people had as to whether this group of individuals could be forged into a team and the nature of their comeback on the final day of the season will only help to galvanize the squad, the pressure will be on City now, to prove it wasn't a one of fluke.
In some respects they can be proud simply to have won the title in such a manor and showed a cool head and good spirit to do the impossible and peg Manchester United back after falling 8 points behind at such a late point in the season, all the while pundits and the footballing world alike were ready to stake their house on Manchester United seeing out the remainder of the games and easily sealing the title, Mancini all the while playing down his own teams chances in what was probably mind games and in hindsight effective mind games at that. On the other hand City are not without their problems and it should not be forgotten that they too threw away an early 5 point lead on their rivals. The team is not without its fractures, some thought that Balotelli would never play for City again, at least not for the remainder of the season, after constant bickering amongst his own players and poor professionalism left him in the dog house and not a single person would have staked their house on Tevez ever pulling on the blue shirt again, after very publicly falling out with manager Roberto Mancini and wanting out, but he came back the end of the season, as we are to believe all is rosy again in the camp. Despite all this and the fact that they did end up sticking together to win the league, they are still a very volatile crop of players, ready to self implode at any minute and the ego's are there for all to see.
Roberto Mancini has done a fantastic job at handling the numerous tricky situations his immature spoilt squad have thrown at him so far, he is worth his weight in gold as a manager for that alone, can he continue to hold them together so that they can go on to win back to back titles, only 3 clubs have more than one EPL title and only 2 of them have won back to back titles, City have the chance to make that 3 clubs this season and will be many peoples favorites.
Tottenham finished in 4th place in the 2011/2012 campaign. They were encridibly unfortunate, first of all not to finish top 3, after a very bright initial start to the campaign and then the cruelest of all missing out on Champions League football, despite finishing in the desired 4th position, due to Chelsea taking the final Champions League slot after winning the Champions League, despite finishing 6th place in the EPL themselves.
The repercussions of this could be great, without the lure of Champions League Football, they will be unable to attract stellar players but the greater concern lies closer to home, there is unrest in the squad as star man Modric wants away and has very publicly said so, his relationship with the club and the chairman Daniel levy, would appear to beyond repair. There was a fear that if Harry Redknapp left, there would be a mass exodus. Frontman Emmanuel Adebayor who proved to be an instant hit with the Spurs faithful, despite his past history at Arsenal, has now returned to his Parent club Manchester City. They have released Saha and now we must assume that Jermaine Defoe is their main out and out striker, with Van Der Vaart adept to playing pushed up to a forward role in support. They look a weaker squad than they did last year in both skill and team cohesion, Bale failed to set the world alight in the way he had began to in 2011 and there is a fear that as it is Harry Redknapp who brought them to the heights of the top 6, they may very well revert back to being a mid table club in his absence. The appointment of AVB is sure to make every Spurs fan a little nervous after his poor performance at neighbors Chelsea but they should look to his record in Portugal for comfort.
Tottenham was arguably the best side to watch in the first half of the season but then went on an atrocious run of form, which coincided with the speculation regarding Manager Harry Redknapp and the vacant England Managerial position.
Tottenham have to be considered a contender for the exciting attacking play that they are capable of, however i fear the club may end up in a downward spiral following the exit of Harry and potential exit of Modric.