Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

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With nine games left in the Premier League season, there is still plenty to play for. The title could yet find its way to either Manchester or Liverpool, with the Reds breathing down the necks of Pep Guardiola’s side ahead of a crunch clash on April 10th.

Further down, three teams are competing for the illustrious fourth place, and with it qualification for Champions League football next season. The relegation dogfight is fierce too, with as many as 6 teams still potentially in danger of beginning next season in England’s second tier.

So, into the final stretch, 101 looks at who has impressed this season, and who needs to step their game up.

Manchester City (A+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Jack Grealish has struggled to live up to his £100million price tag since moving in the summer. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Star pupil: Bernardo Silva

Struggling to pass: Jack Grealish

Currently top of the Premier League, the champions are probably the best football team in the Premier League, and perhaps even the world, right now.

Pep Guardiola’s side have won 22 of their 29 games so far this campaign, more than any other side, as they look to retain their crown won last year. And, to that end, Bernardo Silva has excelled, with the Portuguese continuing to flourish in Sky Blue despite seemingly wanting to leave the club in the summer.

One man who has struggled more, however, is big-money addition Jack Grealish. Never signed for his volume of goals or assists, he has nonetheless underwhelmed in a Manchester City shirt, with just 4 goal contributions. The former Aston Villa man will surely come good, but it hasn’t quite clicked yet.

Liverpool (A+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 01: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side’s third goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on December 01, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Mo Salah

Struggling to pass: No one

The only side capable of challenging Manchester City this season, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have no obvious weakness and are enjoying the fruits of Mo Salah’s continuing brilliance. With a Carabao Cup trophy already in the cabinet, it is unclear whether they will end up with more silverware in 2021/22, but the Reds will certainly run their opposition close.

With the addition of Luis Diaz in January, the side has more depth that sees it rely less on their Egyptian talisman, while the return to fitness of Virgil van Dijk this season has allowed Liverpool to return to the gung-ho style of football that they enjoyed in their title-winning campaign.

Chelsea (B+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Like Grealish, Lukaku has not made waves since a mega-money move (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Reece James

Struggling to pass: Romelu Lukaku

Relative to their start-of-season expectations, the Blues have been slightly underwhelming this campaign. But, while Romelu Lukaku has not had anything like the impact expected of him when he was brought back from Inter Milan for a second Stamford Bridge stint, there are more extenuating circumstances for Thomas Tuchel.

These come in the form of the injuries picked up by Ben Chilwell and Reece James, crucial parts of the Chelsea system that have been missing for large chunks of the season. James in particular has been fabulous when on the pitch, but has not been on it enough to help his side sustain a title charge.

Arsenal (A)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have breathed new life into Arsenal this season. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Bukayo Saka

Struggling to pass: Alexandre Lacazette

With nine games left to play, Arsenal are favourites to secure 4th place after back-to-back eighth place finishes. Such a finish would represent a massive improvement for the Gunners, and something that no one could have predicted heading into the season when Mikel Arteta’s side looked well off the pace.

Central to this improvement have been England pair Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, who are among the top contributors to the side. However, on the other end of the scale, Alexandre Lacazette has left plenty of fans frustrated with his contributions, and it is clear where the next piece of the Arsenal puzzle is needed.

Tottenham Hotspur (B)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Emerson Royal is another summer mover that has not lived up to the billing (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images).

Star Pupil: Heung-min Son

Struggling to pass: Emerson Royal

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for Tottenham, who have seen their captain go through the worst form of his career after failing to seal a transfer, Nuno Espirito Santo sacked after just 17 games, and a COVID-19 outbreak force them out of the Europa Conference League.

Amid all of their inconsistency, it is hard to look away from Heung-min Son as the man who has perhaps been the best of a bad bunch across two managers. The South Korean has managed 13 goals and 6 assists in the top flight this season.

On the other hand, Emerson Royal has failed to impress since his deadline day move from Barcelona, and has lost his place to formerly cast-aside Matt Doherty.

Manchester United (E)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester United v Atletico Madrid at the Old Trafford on March 15, 2022 in Manchester United Kingdom

Star Pupil: Cristiano Ronaldo

Struggling to pass: Harry Maguire

Where to begin with Manchester United? Seemingly in the race for the title at the beginning of the season, they now know that Champions League football next season is reliant on monumental collapses by both Arsenal and Spurs.

Given the expectation, the money spent and the additions of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, it has been a failure of unforgivable proportions on all fronts, and the season cannot come to a close fast enough for the Red Devils and interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

In the chaos, Ronaldo has at least offered reminders of his quality, including a brilliant hat-trick against Spurs. However, Harry Maguire has severely underperformed, and his removal against Atletico Madrid was met with cheers from the Old Trafford faithful.

West Ham (A+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 13: Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United celebrates with their team’s second goal scorer Craig Dawson during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Star pupil: Jarrod Bowen

Struggling to pass: Nikola Vlasic

Everyone expected West Ham to be a flash in the pan after finishing 5th last season, but they have kicked on this time out and though Champions League qualification seems unlikely, the Irons have made it to a European quarter-final, and are in position to be playing Europa League football again in 2022/23.

Central to their form has been Jarrod Bowen, with the winger continuing to demonstrate why Liverpool took an interest in him last summer. However, Nikola Vlasic, signed to replace Jesse Lingard in the squad, has struggled to live up to his 30 million pound price tag, and has left the Hammers somewhat short of rotation options in attack.

Wolves (A)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 13: Conor Coady and Jose Sa of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrate their sides victory after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Jose Sa

Struggling to pass: Fabio Silva

A low-scoring side, Wolves’ season has dropped off somewhat from once-outsiders for the top-4, but they remain strong contenders for the Europa League places, a significant improvement from their final season under Nuno Espirito Santo.

They have been helped by the form of Jose Sa, who has looked a step up even from the impressive Rui Patricio since his move to Wolves in the summer. However, Bruno Lage’s men have still lacked poise in front of goal, with Fabio Silva failing to live up to his price-tag even two seasons on from his arrival. Nonetheless, it has been a strong season for the Molineux outfit.

Aston Villa (C)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 09: Jacob Ramsey of Aston Villa scores their team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on February 09, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Jacob Ramsey

Struggling to pass: Leon Bailey

An altogether hit-and-miss affair at Villa Park to this point in the campaign, the Claret and Blue have too often flattered to deceive on the back of a big-money summer outlay which saw the likes of Emi Buendia and Danny Ings arrive in the west Midlands.

Up-and-coming midfielder Jacob Ramsey has proven a bright spark, whilst Villans fans will no doubt be hopeful of January arrival Philippe Coutinho’s signing being made permanent, but Steven Gerrard has his work cut out in guiding his new club away from mid-table and back towards the demanded heights of European football.

Leicester City (C)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Jannick Vestergaard has endured a tough few months since joining from Southampton. (Photo by Mikolaj Barbanell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Harvey Barnes

Struggling to pass: Jannik Vestergaard

Leicester’s campaign never really got going, as a pre-season injury suffered by Wesley Fofana derailed any plans that they had of success. Following back-to-back fifth-place finishes, and a seemingly smart recruitment policy in the summer, it was expected that they would be around the Champions League spots once more.

However, with 11 games to go, the Foxes sit 10th in the Premier league, while they were knocked down into the Europa Conference League after coming third in their Europa League group. Harvey Barnes, when fit, has been a shining light for the King Power side, but the void left by Fofana has been one that Vestergaard was expected to fill, and one that he has failed to.

By their recent high standards, this season has been a failure.

Southampton (B)

James Ward-Prowse

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 30: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton scores his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Crystal Palace at St Mary’s Stadium on January 30, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: James Ward-Prowse

Struggling to pass: Moussa Djenepo

Just a spot off the Premier League’s top half, Southampton, all told, have exceeded expectations to this point in the campaign.

Never in real danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight, the Saints have thanked the brilliance of the likes of captain James Ward-Prowse and summer addition Tino Livramento for another impressive season to date.

Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl also deserves major credit, amid continued excellence on the St. Mary’s touchline.

Crystal Palace (B+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 14: Conor Gallagher of Crystal Palace celebrates after he scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace at American Express Community Stadium on January 14, 2022 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Conor Gallagher

Struggling to pass: Luka Milivojevic

Crystal Palace could well have been looking at an A grade here, had it not been for a whole host of points dropped right at the death, versus the likes of Arsenal and Brighton.

Still, Patrick Vieira’s up-and-coming Eagles have provided the club’s loyal fanbase with plenty to get excited about, on their way to a spot in mid-table.

Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher has proven the undisputed star of the show, but fellow youngsters Tyrick Mitchell, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise (the former pair of whom were afforded their senior England bows this week) have all shone bright, too.

Add to this the return to fitness of Eberechi Eze, and there appears reason aplenty to smile as a Crystal Palace fan at present.

Brighton (B)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Yves Bissouma of Brighton & Hove Albion breaks with the ball during the Premier League match between Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park on January 02, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Yves Bissouma

Struggling to pass: Neil Maupay

A season which initially promised so much on the south coast, Brighton & Hove Albion, after finding themselves amongst the heights of the battle for European football early on, have been brought back down to earth in a major way of late.

Graham Potter’s men, all told, have succumbed to six straight Premier League defeats, to slip to the depths of the bottom half of the table.

Nevertheless, reason for optimism remains, with in-demand boss Potter looking likely to remain beyond the summer, and a top-half finish not out of the question, should the Seagulls enjoy a post-international break return to form.

Newcastle United (C+)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

NORWICH, ENGLAND – AUGUST 17: Joelinton of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Newcastle United at Carrow Road on August 17, 2019 in Norwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Joelinton

Struggling to pass: Miguel Almiron

Had our report card been unveiled at the midpoint of the term, Newcastle United could well have been staring at an F, after remarkably failing to pick up their first 3-point haul until December.

Since the turn of the year, owing to a combination of the instillation of Eddie Howe on the bench at St. James’ Park, and an influx of reinforcements on the back of the club’s big-money takeover, though, the Magpies have looked a team reborn.

Six wins and a draw from seven outings between late January and early March have catapulted Newcastle nine points clear of the drop zone, to what appears certain safety.

A special mention should also be reserved for Joelinton, with the once so-heavily maligned attacker having emerged as quite possibly the Geordie outfit’s most important player, since being handed the chance to impress in an all-action berth in the middle of the park.

Brentford (B)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Ivan Toney of Brentford applauds during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Brentford at Riverside Stadium(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

Star Pupil: Ivan Toney

Struggling to pass: Marcus Forss

A solid showing to date for Brentford, amid the club’s first-ever campaign in the Premier League.

A head-turning stretch of impressive early-season form was always likely to taper off, and since has, with Thomas Frank’s men sitting 15th in the table, eight points clear of 18th-placed Watford.

Survival, though, was always the no.1 goal for the Bees, and as things stand, they appear well on their way towards securing precisely that.

Leeds United (D)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Daniel James of Leeds United shoots during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road on January 22, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Raphinha

Struggling to pass: Dan James

It is easy to suggest that second-season syndrome has hit Leeds hard after their impressive showing back in the top flight last season. And to an extent, that could well be true, but the Yorkshire side have been without key players for much of the season, in a system that relies heavily upon them.

Raphinha has once again been a shining light, but Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Patrick Bamford have all missed long stretches of the term, leaving the lack of depth in the Leeds squad clear for all to see. It has led to a tricky first season for Dan James, too, who has been deployed at times as a lone striker and has never been allowed to get any rhythm into his game.

Should they survive, the Whites should be much improved next season.

Everton (E)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Jordan Pickford has been one of the few bright sparks for Everton. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Jordan Pickford

Struggling to pass: Richarlison

Everton are in a mess. With a squad performing much worse than it should be on paper, Rafa Benitez was an unpopular choice from the beginning and did nothing to win over the fans either on or off the pitch. Frank Lampard, the man chosen to replace the Spaniard, seems to be in over his head as he looks to keep them in the top flight.

That is not to say that there haven’t been bright sparks, albeit few. Jordan Pickford marks one such positive, having been solid if unspectacular in between the sticks, not helped by the rest of his team’s struggles.

Meanwhile, Richarlison’s pitiful return of four goals in 20 appearances for the Toffees has been a key reason as to why they find themselves in their current predicament.

Watford (C)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

LEEDS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Danny Rose of Watford FC is challenged by Raphinha of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Watford at Elland Road on October 02, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Emmanuel Dennis

Struggling to pass: Danny Rose

Deep down, Watford and their fans knew that they would be embroiled in a relegation dogfight this season, and so they have been. While incredible highs, such as the 4-1 win over Manchester United and the form of Emmanuel Dennis, have been brilliant, they have been infrequent, and the Hornets’ position in the top flight reflects this.

Meanwhile, Danny Rose has endured a year to forget on his return to top-flight football, and looked well off the pace in the first half of the season, before being banished to the stands for the remainder of the term.

Burnley (D)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Dwight McNeil of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor, Burnley on Sunday 12th May 2019. (Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Dwight McNeil

Struggling to pass: Ashley Barnes

Could this prove the campaign which finally sees Sean Dyche’s Burnley outfit fall short in their efforts to stave off the drop?

As things, stand, the Clarets look primed for precisely that, having struggled to rediscover the famed ‘grind it out’ mentality which has for so long proven key to the club’s Premier League survival.

Dwight McNeil has represented a rare source of optimism amid an otherwise difficult term to date, whilst the January arrival of hitman Wout Weghorst has too aided Burnley’s endeavours in the attacking third.

Still, results must arrive, and soon, if Turf Moor is to remain a top-flight ground for the 7th successive campaign in 2022/23.

Norwich (E)

Premier League mid-season report cards: Who has excelled, and who is hardly passing the grade?

Arsenal’s Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu (L) vies with Norwich City’s Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 11, 2021. Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Star Pupil: Grant Hanley

Struggling to pass: Billy Gilmour

Another year in the English top-flight, and another swift return to the Championship on the horizon.

This has become something of a running theme at Carrow Road over recent seasons, and 2021/22 has proven no different, with Norwich City sitting dead bottom of the Premier League with a paltry 17 points secured from 29 fixtures.

The dismissal of Daniel Farke and ensuing appointment of Dean Smith late last year did culminate in something of a ‘new manager bounce’, but much more will be needed next time round, if the Canaries hope to carve out any sort of extended top-flight stay for themselves.

 

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