Don’t supporters deserve to be loved especially well on the holidays?
While new players are the easiest answer to questions that plague Premier League clubs, they aren’t the only option to fix what ails sides across England.
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Let’s hand out some gifts to the fine people of our PL world, from most to least needy.
- Fluid attackers – While the sale of Christian Benteke hurt the side, even the big Belgian would’ve struggled given the lack of service and danger from the Villans.
- Better defenders – Yup. This, too. Allowing nearly two goals a game.
- Maturity for Jack Grealish – If his discipline closes the gap on his talent, things will look up at Villa Park.
- Breathing room – Sunderland has led for a mere 115 minutes this season, second-worst in the PL. Seventy-one of those minutes came against Newcastle.
- More home games – The Black Cats have picked up two-thirds of their points at the Stadium of Light.
- Lamine Kone – The Lorient defender is being linked with Sam Allardyce‘s side, and the Black Cats need better at the back.
- Better starts – The Canaries have only led in two of 16 Premier League matches, and have won both.
- Another clean sheet – Norwich is the only team in the PL with just one shutout this season.
- A penalty – Norwich is one of only four teams (Newcastle, Chelsea, Everton) to not have been awarded a PK this season.
- Better early play – Swans have allowed the first goal in 12 of 16 matches.
- Goals, period – They’ve also scored two or fewer goals in all 16 matches.
- Marcelo Bielsa – Rumors are that Roma might leap into the fray for Swans’ desired manager, and we’d like to see Bielsa in charge at the Liberty Stadium.
- Player heart – You can say what you want about pride and effort and blah blah blah, but there’s no way Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and company have been operating at full-bore.
- A center back – Kurt Zouma is nice and Gary Cahill is a great third option, but John Terry‘s been miserable and the Blues need someone better to pair with Zouma.
- A relentless striker – He’s not coming, but a high-pressure player like Jamie Vardy would work wonders for the Blues.
- A prolonged FA Cup run – It would start with a win against Watford, and the Magpies’ fans deserve better than their recent Cup misery. And perhaps a tournament win could help change the overall mindset of the club.
- Mettle – The Magpies are brilliant when inspired, but rarely look inspired.
- Derby success – Losing to Sunderland consistently is bad enough. That the Black Cats have been terrible for close to the duration of the streak is even worse.
- Miraculous recoveries – The Cherries are picking up points despite the lengthy absences of Callum Wilson, Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings amongst others.
- Stability in net – Artur Boruc isn’t a bad keeper, but he’s also not the type you’d like to count on for points.
- Organization and focus – Thirty of 31 goals conceded by Bournemputh have come inside their 18.
West Bromwich Albion
- An attacking mindset – Tony Pulis is a fine and disciplined manager, but watching the Baggies each week is a chore.
- The ball – West Brom’s possession stats are absolutely horrid. A counter-attacking mindset is fine, but not all the time. Woof.
- Precision – The Baggies have just one goal from outside the 18.
- Hitting the target – Southampton have attempted the fourth-most shots in the Premier League, but carry the second-worst accuracy (40 percent).
- Jay Rodriguez – He’s so fun to watch, but so often hurt. Give the man some health.
- Goalkeeper health – With Fraser Forster out, Saints are now dealing with a toe injury to Maarten Stekelenburg.
- A breakout scoring match – The Potters haven’t posted a three-goal game.
- Halftime heroes – Stoke has been outscore 3-0 in between the 41st and 50th minutes this season.
- Excitement – Potters’ matches have featured a league-low 19 percent of matches with 3 or more total goals.
- Set piece goals – The Toffees have struck just twice off dead balls, tied with Newcastle for the worst in the league.
- Those shoes that help you jump higher – Everton’s allowed a league-worst eight headed goals.
- Close the store – Be nice for Everton fans to know they’ll be allowed to see out a season with John Stones, Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman in the fold.
- Focus – The Reds have committed the most defensive errors in the Premier League by far. Their 17 count for three more than No. 2 Arsenal.
- Help at the back — Jurgen Klopp could use a more commanding goalkeeper than Simon Mignolet.
- Marquinhos – The PSG center back could pair with Martin Skrtel to give the Reds an absolute wall at the back.
West Ham United
- Dmitri Payet – The French wizard is the key to Slaven Bilic‘s attack, but is set for a couple more months on the mend. We’d gift him back early Better yet, an end to the attackers’ injury plague – Diafra Sakho and Victor Moses are key to West Ham’s danger, but also out for a while.
- Discipline – The Hammers have four red cards, more than anyone else.
- Better luck – West Ham have been credited with 10 defensive errors, and a PL-worst 8 have gone into their goal.
- Better second-half starts – The Hornets have been outscored 9-4 from the 51st to 80th minute.
- Soap – Wash out Watford’s mouths: The Hornets have picked up the league’s most cards for chatter (tied with Everton and West Ham).
- Juan Iturbe – Rumors says the Roma winger could see a loan move to Watford, and that seems the sort of move that could make financial and football sense.
- Striker goals – Connor Wickham‘s hold-up play has been nice, but Palace could use goals from players other than Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye and their talented midfield.
- Ibuprofen – Palace has blocked more shots (82) than anyone in the league.
- A striker – See No. 1: Could Alan Pardew get a reunion with Loic Remy?
- Discipline – Spurs are tied with four other clubs for the most cards in the Premier League (35).
- Saido Berahino – This isn’t just a gift for Spurs fans, it’s a gift for soccer. Let’s see this kid freed from the grasp of Pulis.
- Michy Batshuayi – The attacked is being linked with loads of teams, but we’d love to see him join Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son in attack.
- Better road defense – United has allowed 92 percent of its goals this season away from Old Trafford.
- Guts – United is winning a joint-worst 45 percent of its duels, and has blocked fewer shots than anyone in the PL (although they aren’t conceding a ton, either)
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Merry Christmas, here’s one of the best players in the world and he loves your club. It’s an expensive gift, but you’ll probably sell that many CR7 jerseys anyway. Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay and company are electric, but aren’t putting the ball across the line.
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- Forward depth – A healthy Wilfried Bony and Sergio Aguero will do the trick in the PL, but another dynamite finisher would serve City well as it surges forward in the UEFA Champions League.
- A home clean sheet – Doesn’t Joe Hart deserve better than seven-straight home matches without a ‘zero’ on his side.
- Keyed-in Yaya – When Toure wants to play, Toure dominates.
- Healing – From Danny Welbeck to Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin to Jack Wilshere, Arsene Wenger could use some sort of magic potion.
- Science – These injury issues are an annual winter occurrence for Wenger, so perhaps better planning would work, too.
- Striker depth – Too much, too often is requested of Olivier Giroud.
- More fuel – Leicester has yet to be blanked this season. Whatever the Foxes have been eating, more of that please.
- Pass accuracy – The Foxes’ 72 percent rate is the worst in PL.
- More good fortune – Like many, I love the Leicester story and am hoping they keep it up. The numbers say they’ve been plenty lucky — the Foxes are the worst PL team in the air — and have arguably the toughest remaining schedule of a team not competing in the UCL or Europa League.