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End of Season Team Review – Part 1

 End of Season Team Review   Part 1

With the Premier League season now done and dusted, there is no better time to look at the winners and losers of one of the most open and un-predicable seasons in history.

Arsenal

Despite another trophy-less season there has been a considerable improvement with the Gunners, showing more fight and determination despite playing a majority of the season without any central strikers. However there are clear areas where key additions must be made, case 1: a goalkeeper, case 2: two central defenders, a central midfielder and a striker, which is more than likely to be Chamakh from Bordeaux.

Grade: B

Teacher’s Pet: Thomas Veremalen – without question the best buy of the season, at 8.5m from Ajax, has been solid in defence and knows where the back of the net is too.

Detention: Lucas Fabianski – in Arsene Wenger’s words, despite having talent lacks concentration.  Still will be there next season so Arsenal fans best get used to him.

Aston Villa

Without question one of the most improved teams in the Premier League yet another encouraging season after two Wembley visits and a solid 6th place finish. Have a strong nucleus of English players highlighted by the number of their internationals. Squad is still relatively small and could be bolstered by more firepower and extra protection in midfield.  They are very susceptible to the counter-attack because of the lack of protection given to Petrov due to their heavily attacking midfield of Downing, Milner and Young.

Grade: B

Teacher’s Pet: James Milner – fully deserved his Young Player of the Year award and is a definite for Fabio Capello’s squad if not starting 11.

Detention: Emile Heskey – Hasn’t started enough games or scored goals for Villa this season. In the World Cup squad largely due to his successful partnership with Wayne Rooney.

Birmingham City

Credit where credit is due, having been tipped to be one of the three teams to be relegated.  But with an unbeaten 15-game run and one of the most well organised defences in the country (with Scott Dann and Richard Johnson) The Blues more than deserve there highest finish in the Premier League. Cemented by picking up vital points at home against the original ‘big four’ of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Grade: A-

Teacher’s Pet: Joe Hart – fully deserves his call up to the England squad and if he had more full senior experience would be picked as the No. 1 keeper for the World Cup.

Detention: Christian Benitez – despite real effort and endeavour hasn’t set the Premier League alight and subsequently The Blues have decided not to purchase him.

Blackburn Rovers

Job done for Big Sam’s team, at the start of the season survival was very much the key for Blackburn.  They had a clear problem scoring goals but in the last few months of the season showed key wins against Arsenal and Aston Villa and draws against Man. United and Chelsea providing evidence that they have improved greatly.  Shopping List during the summer must be for a goal scoring striker.

Grade: C

Teacher’s pet: David Dunn – when he is fully fit, he is by far a class apart from any other at the club.  Special mention to Paul Robinson, who has proved his critics wrong with excellent performances this season. Should have been in the mix for a World Cup call-up.

Detention: The Blackburn Strike-force of Roberts, McCarthy (now at West Ham) and Di Santo has scored only 10 goals between them all season.

Bolton

I was one of the football public who originally questioned Owen Coyle’s decision to move from Burnley to Bolton. But it has clearly been the right decision finishing 14th in the Premier League and never looking in any real relegation threat. Have tightened up defensively and next season expect Bolton to target a mid table place.

Grade: D

Teacher’s Pet: Gary Cahill, a huge cog in the defensive wheel who earned an England Call-up before getting injured.

Detention: Johan Elmander – no longer in the pecking order for playing up front alongside Davies, that honour goes to Ivan Klasnic.

Burnley

After a fantastic start to the season signs were starting to show that away form could be a problem if Burnley were to survive.   Losing Owen Coyle was undoubtedly a massive loss, but it’s defensively where Burnley has really struggled.  82 goals have been conceded by the Clarets and Blues this season, the most in the Premier League and the fewest away wins is a recipe that shows the trap door in any level of professional football.

Grade: F

Teacher’s Pet: Good individual season for Graham Alexander, who has been offered another one year contract extension at the age of 38.

Detention: Collectively the defence for conceding 82 goals.

Chelsea

 End of Season Team Review   Part 1

Another season and more silverware in the cabinet! An historic double which wasn’t looking so likely after the defeat to Inter Milan in the Champions League: where Chelsea were out-thought and out-schooled.  From that point forward Chelsea were simply magnificent, scoring goals for fun, 7 past Stoke, 8 past Wigan, an easy victory against Liverpool at Anfield but the biggest result may have been the victory at Old Trafford.  Still concerns over the ‘age’ of the squad and whether they truly have the ability to be the best in the Champions League.

Grade: A+

Teacher’s Pet: Frank Lampard, 22 league goals from midfield is a fantastic achievement: if he has a good World Cup, England will have chance to cause a few upsets.  Other Chelsea personnel who have had excellent seasons include Didier Drogba (another 30+ goal season) and Florent Malouda who has provided Chelsea with more width and another attacking goal threat, 12 goals for him this season in the Premier League.

Detention: Jon Obi Mikel – I can’t see what he brings to the Chelsea team, when Essein is fit, he the man who makes room.

Everton

A quality side hit by key injuries to key players in the early part of the season including Arteta, Yakubu and Jagielka to name a few. Since the return of the core squad Everton form had improved greatly.  Just a little too much to do in order to secure a European spot.  With a full squad next season they will be in the fight again for an Europa League place.

Grade: D

Teacher’s Pet: Tim Howard – Established goal-keeper, another solid season, and rightfully USA’s number 1 choice, likes saving penalties from England players (take note!).

Detention: Marouane Fellaini – has taken up a more defensive role this season, but a player who really lit the blue touch paper in 08/09, but this season has been an enigma.

Stay tuned as the likes of Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are still to come.