Premier League progress report

As the international break is upon us I thought I would take a moment to analyse the performances of Premier League teams.

Better than expected

Hull City: Who could have predicted this? This was a team that have hardly any top-flight experience, no big money acquisitions and no star players but they have been outstanding. Not even the most die-hard Hull fan could have predicted wins at both White Hart Lane and the Emirates, especially after getting shelled at home to Wigan. Hull have won these tough games by playing good, attacking football, setting up with more adventurous formations than teams are used to seeing. Geovanni has been a revelation and he probably has already scored the goal of the season against Arsenal. Marlon King has done a good job so far as well.
Liverpool: Do we dare to dream? Joint-top of the table, unbeaten, having defeated Man Utd. A win against Chelsea in two weeks will make everyone believe Liverpool have a real chance for the title.
Chelsea: Scolari has them playing the best football in the league. Bosingwa has been superb, Deco has settled in well and Anelka looks rejuvenated.
Aston Villa: Agbonlahor and Carew are one of the leagues best parterships, Ashley Young is the best winger in the league. Barry has put transfer talk behind him to run the midfield.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Arsenal: Once again playing some superb attacking football. However, they really do seem to lack some steel in the team and have lost to battling teams like Hull and Fulham and should have lost to Sunderland. Also, they still are intent on walking the ball into the net, rather than taking shots, which is stopping them scoring more. Will still finish in the top 4 though.
Man Utd: Slow start but starting to pick up momentum. Ronaldo’s return has helped Rooney and when Berbatov really gets going, they’ll be back to their formidable best.
Man City: Ronbinho’s playing well, Wright-Phillips has been excellent and the whole team is doing as well as expected. It’ll be interesting to see how Robinho adapts to the English winter. It would be a shame if the new owners slpashed the cash too much as homegrown players like Michael Johnson, Stephen Ireland and Ched Evans have been superb.
West Brom: Amassed 10 points so far. Still a bit too light up front for my liking but they seem defensively sound and Koren, Valero and Greening have played very well so far.

Satisfied so far

Sunderland: Much better team than last season, Cisse and Diouf will be a handful for any defence and Malbranque is the creative force any ambitious team needs. If they can get Chopra in the right state of mind then they will push for a top half finish. They do still look vulnerable at full back and a little light in the centre of midfield though.
Portsmouth: Disappointing defensively, considering it is mostly the same personnel as last season, Belhadj has not worked out so far. Defoe and Crouch are working well together but need to be supported by more goals from midfield.
Wigan: Still concede stupid goals (especially when Bramble plays) but have picked up some good wins. Zaki has been outstanding and they have to make his signing permanent. Heskey has had a good start to the season and Palacios and Valencia have been attracting some of the big clubs with their performances.
Blackburn: Had a worrying run when they were leaking goals but seemed to have stabilised. Not had much luck with refereeing decisions which has cost them points.

Disappointments

Everton: Have only picked up one point at home and have been knocked out of the Carling Cup and the Uefa Cup already. Their strength has been in their defence in previous seasons, but this year they have been dreadful defensively, conceding an average of two goals a game. Luckily they can score goals so will not b in relegation trouble but this will be a bleak season for Everton based on their displays so far.
West Ham: Okay on the pitch but a shambles off it. Zola is still finding his feet as a manager and the return of Bellamy is good news for the Hammers. Off the pitch they are in deep trouble as the owner has lost million from the collapse of the Icelandic banks and may have to sell. Also, they still have players on ludicrous contracts they may find impossible to sell on.
Bolton: They just have not improved since last season. Elmander has been hampered with injury and they play the same type of football as under Sam Allardyce, only not as well.
Middlesbrough: Same as Bolton in that they have not improved since last season in that they are still dragging out scrappy wins or turgid draws. Another season of mid-table mediocrity beckons.

Disasters

Newcastle: Turmoil off the pitch has led to disaster on it. No word on a possible takeover, or the return of Kevin Keegan, or any other manager so Joe Kinnear is going to have to soldier on for now.
Fulham: Who’s going to score? Andy Johnson looks like he did at Everton rather than he did at Crystal Palace, which is bad news. They have a good midfield but are not the best at the back or up front and have lost 4 straight games.
Stoke: By no means disgracing themselves but they look out of their depth. Nobody has really turned them over yet but it’s hard to see where the goals are coming from. When you look most threatening from throw-ins you know there’s a problem.
Tottenham: Disaster! Can’t score, can’t defend. Losing Berbatov and Keane at the start of the season was a big loss, but both transfers were coming and it seemed as though no other players were lined up to replace them. Pavlyuchenko and Modric are reportedly unhappy and are making noises about leaving already. Damien Comolli has taken the fall so far but Ramos looks like a man who has no idea what to try next and the Spurs board must be ruing the day hey sacked Martin Jol.