Premier League: Mid-Season Review (Part 2)
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Midseason Team Analysis – MIDTABLE
SuperGrover is back with the 2nd part of his midseason review and verdict of the Premier League teams, this time the six teams that currently reside midtable. If you missed it earlier in the week do check out his review of the the TOP SIX here. Enjoy!
A fortunate club perhaps, as the underlying statistics and goal differential do not support their point total. In attack, the Baggies are below average across the board statistically, with fewer shots and shots on target than most. Defensively, it’s much the same story. More disconcerting is the recent form which has provided West Brom with just 7 points over 9 fixtures, with the underlying numbers substantiating that record.
Fun Fact: Romelu Lukaku averages a goal about every 112 minutes, just 2 minutes off Robin Van Persie’s pace. The on loan Belgian has scored 7 goals in his last 8 starts.
Prediction: West Brom continue to slide down the league, eventually landing firmly mid-table. Romelu Lukaku remains an enigma, producing splendidly when on the pitch. Fantasy managers everywhere look on in disdain.
Former kings and current reality show darlings, Liverpool have experienced an up-and-down first season under Brendan Rodgers. Statistically, the club looks elite, every bit worthy of challenging for a UCL position. On the pitch this excellence has manifested itself at times. For example, for the majority of the home game against United Liverpool were superb, especially considering Shelvey was sent off very early in the game.
They were better than City at home but succumbed to a Skrtel error. They were the better team in the second halves against Chelsea, against Tottenham and in the return fixture with United but only after going down early in each. Alternatively, the Reds have suffered some ignominious defeats. West Bromwich beat them handily in the second half on opening day. Christian Benteke went crazy at Anfield and Stoke somehow scored three against what had been an elite defense. As I mentioned, it’s been up and down.
Fun Fact: Luis Suarez has been involved (scored or assisted) in 62.5% of goals scored while on the pitch, including assists for Baines’ own goal and the penalty won at Stoke.
Prediction: Liverpool continue to play well and establish themselves as a top 5 club heading into next season. Sturridge helps offensively and the Reds challenge Everton and Arsenal for a fifth up until the final few game weeks.
Miguel Perez Cuesta, a.k.a Michu, the transfer of the season. The lanky Spaniard has almost single-handedly rescued an attack that has been somewhat void of options without him. Defensively, the Swans started strong but seemed to succumb to injury and possibly fatigue, as the late fall saw a significant downturn in defensive performance. That has picked up a bit recently, perhaps due to a more pragmatic approach from Laudrup against equivalent or superior opponents, but Swansea remain a below average club defensively.
Fun Fact: Swansea have scored just twice off set plays, ranked last in the league. Not surprisingly, their single goal from a defender is also tied for last in the league.
Prediction: Michu and a solid midfield make Swansea a somewhat difficult match up, especially on the road. A solid top ten finish ends a great first year under Laudrup.
Bullies. Thugs. Rugby players. The Potters have heard this all before and don’t care, but they do do deserve their reputation as a big, physical group. Their underlying statistics tell the tale of a well formed, solid, damn near impenetrable backline with little offensive interest. That sums up Stoke under Pulis. Whatever the case, it’s good enough to keep them mid table.
Fun Fact: Stoke have blocked 32% of their opponents’ shots, highest in the league. Only one other team has blocked more than 29% (Sunderland). This illustrates how well they maintain order and numbers in their backline.
Prediction: Nothing sexy about Pulis’ style, but the results will continue to be there. A return of Marc Wilson could make Stoke’s defense even better through the remainder of the season.
The most successful of the promoted clubs thus far, the Hammers currently mark the beginning of the bottom of the table. West Ham have performed about as expected based upon their underlying statistics, getting a bit unlucky on shot accuracy but a bit lucky on shot conversion. In the end, you have a below average attack with about an average defense, combining to form a pretty mediocre club that should be good enough to stay well clear of relegation.
Fun Fact: Andy Carroll has scored 1 goal on 25 shots this season. Last season, he scored 4 goals on 88 shots. His 5 goals in 113 shots are 9 goals fewer than Daniel Sturridge has scored in his last 109 shots.
Prediction: The return of Andy Carroll does nothing to improve the Hammers attack. Home games remain winnable, but this is a perfectly cromulent football club.
It looked ugly early for Norwich City early on, but their underlying statistics were never as bad as the table indicated. Paul Lambert’s club have always shown some statistical upside, but finally shored up the defense to allow for the real improvement demonstrated on the pitch. Norwich remain a below average club on both sides of the ball, but are strong enough all round to be significantly better than bottom table teams such as Wigan and Reading.
Fun Fact: The Canaries have scored half of their goals from set plays with Bassong, Snodgrass and Martin all contributing on more than one occasion.
Prediction: The talent is there to maybe challenge for 10th. If not, expect status quo as the nightmares of late Summer are long forgotten.