Coral’s 2015/16 Premier League progress report
Matt Haynes | November 09, 2015
Currently a third of the way through the 2015/16 season and with the international break upon us, Coral take a look at how the Premier League is shaping up so far and whether it has met everyone’s expectations.
As always there have been a couple of dark horses who have taken many by complete surprise, while there are also those who haven’t quite lived up to expectations.
Champions Chelsea choking
Everyone has their opinion on this, though there are a multitude of factors that come into play as to why the Blues have slumped.
The fact that manager Jose Mourinho gave his squad an extended break over the summer following their successful season definitely didn’t help. It showed during the first match against Swansea City, in which they managed a 2-2 draw, with Chelsea looking laborious and this appeared to continue with Chelsea playing catch-up.
Some weeks later, with the Blues still struggling and media pressure mounting, Mourinho revealed that star striker Diego Costa had returned overweight following his summer break, explaining his barren goal spell. Currently in 16th, the club have lost three league matches on the spin, with Mourinho’s position precariously untenable.
However, it cannot all be blamed on the boss; one of the most successful managers of the last decade. Personal problems have dominated Mourinho’s thinking since the start of the season, with his father seriously ill in a Lisbon hospital; something he has been keen to keep out of the mass media and a subject which has every right to be handled with sensitivity.
It was with intrigue, though, that everyone looked forward to this campaign. The so-called Mourinho myth that he does not last longer than three seasons in charge of a club, with a struggle often ensuing, resulting in his dismissal.
At a staggering 100/1 to retain the title with Coral, having started the season as 6/4 favourites, hopes have dwindled. Nevertheless, the club can take confidence from a high-profile club who were in a similar position as they were this time last season.
Louis van Gaal was the subject of much criticism in his first season in charge of Manchester United following their poor start to the campaign, though, they turned it around to secure a top four spot at the end of the campaign.
While speculation is mounting on Mourinho’s future, Roman Abramovich needs to stick by him, write this campaign off and look towards the next.
Gunners leading charge for Premier League?
While Manchester City would always be expected to be the prime candidates to succeed where and if Chelsea failed, few would have predicted Arsenal to be joint-top of the Premier League at this point in time, and 13/8 for a first title in a dozen years.
Much criticism was made towards manager Arsene Wenger after a considerably quiet summer at the Emirates, which saw only goalkeeper Petr Cech arrive from fierce rivals Chelsea. A new defensive midfielder and centre forward was top of most fans’ wishlists, however neither arrived.
As the first game of the season proved in the 2-0 home defeat to West Ham United, these obvious flaws were exposed. However, it has been some turnaround. While their Champions League campaign leaves a lot to be desired, with only a miracle ensuring safe passage through to the last 16, in the Premier League, they have been nothing short of exceptional.
Mesut Ozil is finally starting to show his world-class best, while Olivier Giroud looks back to top form. Whether they have the squad depth to continue to challenge for the title remains to be seen, though Gunners fans have a lot to be positive about right now.
Under Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City have been simply sensational this term. Floundering near the relegation zone for the majority of last season, the East Midlands outfit look like a completely different side.
They are currently third in the English top-flight, one point off being joint-first and they have one of the form strikers in Europe with Jamie Vardy now one goal off Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record for scoring in consecutive matches, having found the net nine games running.
What is different to last campaign, though, with virtually the same squad? Well it seems obvious that Ranieri has allowed his players to express themselves on the ball. An instruction that has seen Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez terrorise defenders with his direct running.
In a bid to instil a sense of team spirit, Ranieri is also incentivising his defenders with free pizza every time they keep a clean sheet. At 12/1 to finish in the Premier League top four this season, it will certainly be intriguing to see how long they can keep up this remarkable run.
Klopp key to Reds revival?
Following a poor start to the season, Liverpool parted company with Brendan Rodgers, subsequently hiring Jurgen Klopp as boss.
All of a sudden there is a renewed hope around Anfield, with fans even more confident about the club’s future. Having missed out on a Champions League finish last season, they are 13/5 to secure a top four finish this term.
At Borussia Dortmund last campaign, Klopp steered the club from in the relegation zone at Christmas to secure a Europa League place in the Bundesliga.
The Reds are currently 10th in the league, seven points off a Champions League place and while Klopp may have just tasted his first Reds defeat after seven games in charge, he will relish the international break as an opportunity to think about the best way he can help Liverpool achieve their goals this season.
Can the Magpies start to soar?
It hasn’t perhaps been the start to the season that all associated with Newcastle football club envisaged, though there have been signs in recent games that they have what it takes to challenge in the right half of the Premier League, with the Tyneside outfit 17th in the table.
New signing Georginio Wijnaldum has been a revelation, while Aleksandar Mitrovic, who also arrived in the summer is starting to show that he has what it takes to be a success.
In Steve McClaren, the club have an experienced coach who knows how to get the best out of players and, there is no reason why they can’t turn St James’ Park into a fortress in time.
Second bite at the cherry for battling Bournemouth?
It currently seems highly unlikely that last season’s Championship winners can stay in the English top-flight, with Eddie Howe’s side hampered by knocks to their best players.
Big money signings Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings have joined star striker Callum Wilson in seeing their season cut short after sustaining serious injuries. If they can get players back quickly, and then strengthen again in January, we’ve seen before that anything is possible, though right now this could prove fruitless.
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