Premier League 2014 Team Review – Part 2
Hull City are suffering a nasty case of second season syndrome. Having exceeded all expectations at the start of the year, not only staying in the Premier League, but also getting to the FA Cup Final. Manager Steve Bruce has improved the squad but the team have not gelled and they are in a relegation battle and probably will be until May. Regardless, Bruce remains their best hope of staying up. Their best player has been without a doubt Curtis Davies. He has been one of the few players who has maintained form during their recent bad run and was also integral at centre-back last season. Their worst player, by far, has been Hatem Ben Arfa. He was supposed to be the jewel in Hull’s crown when he arrived from Newcastle back in August, but he has failed to perform and has been dropped by Bruce. Where will they be a year from now? They will probably have a serious fight on their hands to stay in the top flight. It’s not going to be as easy, though and Bruce knows he must get more from his players.
Leicester City have had a difficult introduction to the Premier League but this should not erase the good work of last season, when they clinched the Championship title while chomping on cigars. Nigel Pearson built a decent squad and deserves time to turn it around this season. Their best player would either be new signing Leonardo Ulloa, or Kasper Schmeichel. The son of Manchester United legend Peter has undoubtedly established his own reputation and was vital in the promotion campaign. Missed his first league game in years at the start of the season. Their worst player, Paul Konchesky, still seems to have problems with discipline and his positional play has not improved over time. Where will they be a year from now? Leicester fans are already fearing a swift return to the second tier and their alarming slump could also see a change in manager.
Liverpool have gone from being sublime to ridiculous: it has been a year of extremes at Anfield. The first half of 2014 saw Liverpool produce their best football for 20 years but the second half has seen some of the most turgid displays since Roy Hodgson’s brief tenure. The best player now plays for Barcelona. Luis Suarez was one of many outstanding performers who almost won the club’s first title since 1990, but others too shone over the past year, Sturridge, Sterling and Henderson to name a few. The worst player has by far been the keeper Simon Mignolet, even if the signing of Balotelli puts the manager Brendan Rodgers into a close second. Where will they be a year from now? Fighting for a top four finish, and a distant chance of winning some silverware.
Manchester City have had arguably been one of the best calendar years in their history with two trophies in a season and qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second successive year. The only minor blot is Chelsea leading the way at the top of the league, but that could change. Their best player has been by far, Sergio Aguero. The Argentine forward is perhaps the outstanding player in the Premier League, the one true world-class talent following Luis Suarez’s departure from Liverpool for Barcelona. Their worst was Scott Sinclair due to his absolute failure to make an impression at all. Where will they be a year from now?? By qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages, who knows where City can from here but it will al depend on the fitness of Aguero, without which they will be eliminated from the Champions League and end of at best second in the League.
Manchester United’s 2014 was on course to become the club’s annus horribilis. David Moyes was sacked after eleven months in charge with United set to finish seventh and Louis van Gaal started with a whimper, even being hammered by MK Dons. The return of Carrick, and a large helping hand from “Lady Luck”, and things seem completely different. Their best player has been David de Gea. When your goalkeeper stands out as your best player, it is usually a sign of things being not as they should be. De Gea has been outstanding and, but for his heroics, 2014 could have been even worse for United. Their worst player? Take your pick from Marouane Fellaini, Rio Ferdinand, and those misfits quickly moved on by Louis van Gaal, including Tom Cleverley, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa. Where will they be a year from now? Challenging for a top four spot seems a distinct probability, but the in for the Title race seems a bit far fetched.
Newcastle United were woeful for much of the year with Alan Pardew who looked to be heading for the sack following a dreadful end to last season and an equally bad start to this one. However, owner Mike Ashley refused to sack him and Pardew has managed to galvanise his players in impressive fashion. Newcastle look like the safe mid-table side they appeared to be on paper in the summer and their best player has been Moussa Sissoko. He is an imposing physical specimen, quick, skilful and can grab a game by the scruff of the neck. He is also capable of going through the motions. Newcastle have seen far more of the former this season. Their worst player Facundo Ferreyra seem to have been bought without Alan Pardew making the decision to sign the Argentine from Shakhtar, which is probably why he has not made a single first team appearance. Where they will be a year from now? The only thing that remains consistent about Newcastle United is their inconsistency and now that the manager has left for Palace who knows what will happen.
QPR, whose priority was to obtain the promotion back to the Premier League has had a very bumpy ride since. Their have been some serious questions surrounding player recruitment and the lack of imagination with some recent signings. The squad do appear more united this season, however, and they might now have the foundation to survive. Their best player, Charlie Austin has been crucial in helping Rangers get promoted but also get some really important points in the EPL. Their worst player has been Rio Ferdinand. QPR have won just one game when he has played and his most notable moment this season has been the suspension for a Twitter outburst. Where will they be a year from now? Very probably relegated, but you never know.
Premier League 2014 Team Review – Part 1