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Midseason grades: Rating each Premier League club

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After reaching the halfway point of the 2016-17 Premier League, Pro Soccer Talk is handing out its awards over the next few days.

[ MORE: PST’s full midseason awards ]

Click on the link above for all of the midseason awards, while below we dish out grades to each PL team based on their performance so far this season.

[ MORE: PL standings  | schedule

Too harsh? Too lenient?

Let us know in the comments section below.

[ LISTEN: The 2 Robbies, Rebecca Lowe, midseason review


Chelsea's Eden Hazard, left, and Chelsea's team manager Antonio Conte celebrate after winning the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Chelsea: A+
16 wins out of 19 will get you top of the class. Antonio Conte has made a huge impact and Blues are the title favs.

Liverpool: A
Jurgen Klopp‘s project is gathering steam. Offensively incredible but still question marks in defense. Legit title contenders.

West Brom: B+
Tony Pulis‘ side have started to score goals by the bucket load. Combined with their tight defense, the Baggies are flying high.

Burnley: B+
Turf Moor is a fortress and it seems like Sean Dyche‘s side have learned from their PL experience two seasons ago. Great start.

Tottenham Hotspur: B+
Mauricio Pochettino‘s youngsters are back in the groove after their shock UCL exit. Spurs’ star players Kane and Alli back to their best.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Gareth McAuley of West Bromwich Albion (C) celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Jose Salomon Rondon of West Bromwich Albion (R) and Hal Robson-Kanu of West Bromwich Albion (L) during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Hull City at The Hawthorns on January 2, 2017 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Arsenal: B+
The Gunners are ticking over nicely as we hit halfway. Futures of Arsene Wenger, Sanchez and Ozil up in the air but title contenders.

Manchester United: B
Six-straight wins heading into halfway has confidence high at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho’s stars in Zlatan and Pogba are stepping up.

Bournemouth: B
The Cherries continue to punch above their weight and look like they can finish in the top 10. Great work from Eddie Howe.

Manchester City: B-
Yes, Pep Guardiola‘s men are still in the title hunt (just) but we all expected a bit more, didn’t we? So did Pep. A work in progress.

Everton: C
Toffees have had an up and down start but Ronald Koeman is bringing through youngsters and had a good festive period. Promising.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Watford: C
Walter Mazzarri makes so many changes to his team that its hard to judge them. That said, Hornets started well but are currently in a slump.

Middlesbrough: C
Scoring goals is a massive issue for ‘Boro but Aitor Karanka‘s side are staying solid at the back. They should stay up quite comfortably.

Southampton: C
Europa League exploits (and shock exit) took its toll and Claude Puel is under pressure after a poor festive period. Scoring goals a huge problem.

Stoke City: C-
Everyone expected a lot more from the Potters. Injuries haven’t been kind to them but shaky defensive displays hampering Mark Hughes.

Sunderland: D
What did we really expect from the Black Cats? The perennial relegation battlers are fighting away under David Moyes. Get ready for a rally.

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Robert Huth of Leicester City reacts to the final whistle after the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Leicester City at Riverside Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

West Ham: D
Exiting Europa League in qualifying set the tone and the move to London Stadium a negative. Bilic’s side have recovered well from early struggles.

Hull City: D
Much like Sunderland, what else did we expect? Mike Phelan finally got the job permanently and January transfers are much needed. Hanging in there.

Leicester City: D-
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season far. The reigning champs have underwhelmed on the road and UCL has been the priority. Relegation battle.

Crystal Palace: F
Eagles have ditched Pardew for Allardyce and they know they’re in a relegation battle. With the quality in their squad, that’s shocking. Defensive issues galore.

Swansea City: F
A big fat F for the Swans. Firing two managers by the midway point not a recipe for success. Bob Bradley not given a chance. Paul Clement has a huge challenge.

SWANSEA, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Bob Bradley, Manager of Swansea City looks on prior to the Premier League match between Swansea City and Crystal Palace at Liberty Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

VIDEO: Coutinho scores brilliant curler; Iniesta walks off

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It’s often funny to read the A. in front of Andres Iniesta’s surname on his match jersey, as if there’s any other.

On Sunday, the 34-year-old midfielder walked off the field for the last time (video at bottom) as a Barcelona player, handing the captain’s arm band to Lionel Messi and beginning a new era for both the club and player.

[ MORE: Bayern salutes Heynckes (again) ]

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Sunday in the final La Liga match of the season.

While the match will be remembered as Iniesta’s last with Blaugranas, Philippe Coutinho gave a glimpse of the future with his eighth goal of the season and sixth in his last five games.

Barca finishes a 1-loss season with 99 goals and a 14-point lead over La Liga runners-up Atletico Madrid.

Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to Jupp Heynckes, again

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.

The veteran coach is going back into retirement after leading Bayern to another league title. The side was five points adrift when he returned in October, but rebounded to wrap up the title with five rounds to spare.

[ MORE: Pellegrini to WHU inches closer ]

It might have been more for Heynckes, but Eintracht Frankfurt stunned the side to win the German Cup final on Saturday and Real Madrid emerged triumphant from the sides’ Champions League semifinal.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge paid tribute to the 73-year-old Heynckes for bringing “old values” such as “humanity and empathy” back to the side.

“The little downside for us is that we would have liked to give our Jupp, our coach, the nearly perfect finish, but it didn’t quite work out,” Rummenigge said of the shock defeat to Frankfurt.

Heynckes led Bayern to the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles in his previous stint in 2013, before he retired for the first time.

Bayern’s players were clearly still disappointed over Saturday’s cup defeat as they celebrated the league win on the Munich town hall balcony.

“It feels really bad, how the season ended,” said Thomas Mueller, who added that the team would try to “put a brave face on it.”

WORLD CUP: France wins, but what happened to Ronaldo?

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Despite playing a central role in the establishment of the World Cup, France had always fallen short at the tournament. That changed on one glorious night in Paris in 1998.

[ MORE: PST chats with Vincent Kompany after Man City’s title ]

After a strong start to the tournament it was hosting for the second time, France struggled in the knockout stages. It only managed to make the final after defender Lilian Thuram scored the only two goals of his 142-match international career to give France a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Croatia.

The prevailing view was that beating defending champion Brazil would prove to be beyond Les Bleus. After all, Brazil had Ronaldo, the undoubted player of the tournament.

But France strolled to its maiden title , two first-half headers from the great Zinedine Zidane easing the nerves in the Stade de France. A third goal from Emmanuel Petit in injury time was the cue for wild celebrations across the country, with the team hailed for its multi-ethnic heritage.

In scenes reminiscent of Paris’ liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944, more than 1 million people stormed the Champs-Elysees to celebrate.

For Brazil, the final remains a mystery.

The team just never got going, its underperformance blamed on the health of Ronaldo. To the shock of just about everyone, coach Mario Zagallo left his main striker out of his starting line-up, apparently for health reasons. Years later, Ronaldo said he had a seizure earlier in the day.

However, just before the match, another team sheet was submitted, this time with Ronaldo’s name on it. Whatever happened, Ronaldo was a very different player that night and Brazil was a very different team.

Ronaldo would get another chance four years later to put the ghosts of Paris behind him.

He did just that.

For more, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmjFa9LB7Pg

AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Transfer rumor roundup: Vardy to Atleti? Fekir close to Liverpool move

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With the Premier League transfer window set to close early this summer, we’ve already begun moving season for players.

Below, Pro Soccer Talk looks at several of the day’s biggest transfer rumors, including another attacking move for UEFA Champions League finalists Liverpool.

[ MORE: Vincent Kompany talks third PL title, Belgium and more ]

Leicester City has had to fend off significant interest in its players for some time, and the Foxes could be in line to lose several quality pieces this transfer window.

The attention is focused on striker Jamie Vardy at the moment though, as the Leicester front man is being targeted by Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

Atleti manager Diego Simeone is inevitably preparing for Antoine Griezmann’s post-World Cup move to Barcelona, which would leave the Spanish runners’ up in desperate need to find another option up front alongside Diego Costa.

Vardy could be a logical solution for Simeone, after scoring 57 PL goals in the last three seasons at the King Power Stadium.


Jurgen Klopp has built something special at Anfield, and with his side nearing a Champions League final appearance next weekend against giants Real Madrid, it appears the German manager isn’t done adding to his brilliant front line just yet.

French TV station Canal+ is reporting that the Reds are “99 percent done” on a move that would bring Lyon attacker Nabil Fekir to Liverpool next season.

The 24-year-old Frenchman will likely command a significant sum, estimated at over $81 million, after the Ligue 1 star notched 23 goals in all competitions this season for the third-place club.


The Wayne Rooney saga at Everton has brought up great doubt that the veteran Englishman will be playing in the PL next season, and it appears the Toffees don’t want the former Manchester United striker back.

The 32-year-old has been strongly linked with a transfer to MLS side D.C. United over recent weeks, however, when Everton manager Sam Allardyce was sacked, that appeared to leave the door open for a Rooney return.

Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case though.

The Toffees are believed to be willing to part ways with Rooney, who totaled 10 goals in 31 appearances for the club in 2017/18.


Finally, Everton could be looking to add another attacking spark, particularly if Rooney exits Goodison Park this summer.

The Sun is reporting that the Toffees are eyeing up a move for Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace, who has caught the attention of many PL sides over recent years.

Zaha is coming off of his best season as a professional, having scored nine goals in England’s top flight and guides the Eagles to an 11th-place finish.