Premier League Grades: How did each team fare in 2014-15?

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, the marks are in and it is time to dish out the grades for each team in 2014-15.

GRADE

source:

A
Swansea City: Nobody expected Monk’s men to get a record points tally. Superb season which deserved a top six finish. Sustainability is the key for the Swans going forward and this could only be the start.
source:  A
Southampton: Same could be said for Koeman’s Saints. After the mass exodus last summer the Dutchman worked miracles. So many highlights including 8-0 and 6-1 wins. A Europa League campaign next season would be a great reward.
source:  A –
Chelsea: Mourinho’s men marched to the title with four games to go and Hazard led a sublime team. In the second half of the season they lost their attacking panache. That’s the only reason they don’t get full marks.
source:  B+ Arsenal: Wenger is progressing this side. A third-place finish proves that and if they can keep everyone fit next season and add 1/2 star players this summer… Watch out.

source:

B+
Stoke City:  Mark Hughes is doing a great job at the Brit. A record points tally for Stoke and when they are on form and  firing on all cylinders, few can match them.
source:   B+ Crystal Palace: What a second half of the season it was. As soon as Alan Pardew replaced Neil Warnock, Selhurst believed again. A top 10 finish is the stuff of dreams for Pards and Palace.
source:   B Leicester City: Just four wins in the first 29 matches and then… BOOM! Nigel Pearson is unorthodox but got his boys playing late on as seven wins from their last nine suggests. One of the greatest “great escapes” in PL history.
source:  B
West Brom: Alan Irvine was fired in January and Tony Pulis arrived to do his best Harry Houdini impression once again. The Baggies survived comfortably in the end and bagged big wins vs. Man United and Chelsea.
source:  B
Tottenham: An up and down year for Spurs as Pochettino will be happy enough with his first season in charge at the Lane. Harry Kane’s emergence was a pleasant surprise and fifth place shows progress.
source:   B Manchester United:  The Red Devils made hard work of making the top four, didn’t they? Louis van Gaal had mixed results to start with but a strong Spring carried them through. Now, time to spend the big bucks wisely and assemble a title-winning squad. Slow progress so far.
source:  B  Manchester City: The Citizens had a down year but still finished second behind Chelsea. If Manuel Pellegrini remains he will likely make plenty of changes this summer. Fresh legs are needed but City aren’t far off. Some of the stuff they play is sublime.
source:  C West Ham:  Fourth in December, a potentially special season unraveled as the Hammers finished 12th. Sam Allardyce has now left as a new era begins in east London.
source:  C- Everton:  A season to forget for the Toffees who suffered from their Europa League exploits and injuries to key man Lukaku and Barkley. Roberto Martinez knows Everton must do better.
source:  D Newcastle: They stayed up by the skin of their teeth. John Carver took over on an interim basis in January when Pardew left and the Magpies lost eight-straight, only saving themselves on the final day. Surely they’ll be better next year?
source:  D
 Burnley: Yes, they were relegated. But Sean Dyche can be extremely proud of his players. That stuck in close in so many games and had Danny Ings found his goalscoring touch after Christmas, it may well have been a different story. Down, but their heads held high.
source:  D-  Aston Villa: Paul Lambert was fired and his replacement Tim Sherwood saved Villa after restoring some attacking intent. They’re in the FA Cup final too but a rebuild is badly needed.
source:  D- Sunderland: Dick Advocaat took over from Gus Poyet and saved the Black Cats but it was far from vintage stuff. Another team who needs a huge rebuild, but on their day they can give anyone a game. Season to forget.
source:  D- 
LiverpoolThis may seem a little harsh, but the drop-off from the Reds was alarming this season. After spending $150 million in the summer, it’s hard to see where that went. Losing Suarez hurt. Plus Sturridge being injured. But Rodgers is walking on thin ice after a sixth-place finish.
source:  F
Hull City:  The Tigers went down on the final day and a severe lack of goals (just 33) haunted Steve Bruce’s side. Expect plenty of players to leave this summer. From an FA Cup final to relegation in 12 months. Ouch.
source:  F
QPR: The less said about this season the better. After Harry Redknapp left in Feb. the reins were handed to Chris Ramsey and he did his best but the defense was shocking. Can QPR keep their yo-yo club status going and bounce back?

Premier League Power Rankings: New team on top with nine games to go

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Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been on a roll with Chelsea and Manchester City struggling a little as the top two no longer look impenetrable. With nine games to go the business end of the season is here as everything is to play for at the top and bottom of the PL. Finger nails are getting shorter and sleepless nights more frequent.

[ Archive: Premier League Power Rankings ]

In case you are new around here, each week we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team. Forget about the official league standings (here they are in case you actually do want them) that doesn’t mean squat.

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables. The W-D-L bracket shows each PL team’s current record and you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

Let’s get to it!

RANKING
Up/Down

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1 UP 1 Liverpool: After winning eight of their last nine, there’s no doubt who the form team in the PL is. Liverpool host fierce rivals Man United at home on Sunday. A win takes them above United and into the top four. (16-6-7)
source:  2 DOWN 1 Arsenal: The Gunners are unlucky to lose top spot in our rankings after five-straight wins. Their UCL exit to Monaco was a bitter pill to swallow but they’re just one point behind Man City in second. Newcastle away this weekend. (17-6-6)
source:  3  – Manchester United: Seven wins from their last nine and a 3-0 thumping of Spurs was their best display this season. Can Wayne Rooney lead them to derby success at Anfield? (16-8-5)
source:  4 DOWN 1 Chelsea: The Blues are limping to the title rather than striding forward with purpose. Mourinho’s men were knocked out of the UCL by PSG and looked nervy at home to Saints. A slip up at Hull this weekend will blow the title race open. (19-7-2)

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5 UP 1 Southampton: Koeman’s boys are still hanging around in the top six and looked lively vs. Chelsea last time out. Very winnable home match vs. Burnley. (15-5-9)
source:  6 DOWN 2 Manchester City:  Two defeats in their last three has left City’s title hopes in ruins, as they also crashed out of the UCL to Barca. Pellegrini looks a worried man. Must beat WBA this Saturday. (17-7-5)
source:  7 UP 2 West Brom: Talking of WBA, the Baggies are in fine form after Pulis took charge. Three wins from five have them well clear of danger. (8-9-12)
source:  8 Crystal PalaceThe Eagles are non-movers and have won two of their last three to keep Alan Pardew’s impressive start as boss going. Can they knock off Stoke this Saturday? (8-9-12)
source:  9 DOWN 3 Tottenham Hotspur: Pochettino’s boys had been going along quite nicely. But a nervy win at QPR was followed up by a drubbing at he hands of Man United. Must beat Leicester if their top four dreams are to become a reality. (15-5-9)
source:  10 Everton:  One step forward, two steps back for the Toffees. Roberto Martinez is a great manager, more on that here, but Europa League has definitely harmed the Toffees. Must beat QPR this Sunday. (7-10-12)
source:  11 UP 8 Aston Villa: Wow. What a difference a few victories make. After two-straight wins Tim Sherwood’s team is looking completely different. Not out of relegation trouble yet, but a win vs. Swansea would help the survival bid. (7-7-15)
source:  12 UP 1 Stoke City: The Potters have steadied the ship and won three of the last four before their woeful display vs. WBA. Palace at home this weekend as they look to seal their best ever PL finish of 10th place. (12-6-11)
source:  13 UP 7 Hull City: Steve Bruce’s side are once again hard to beat as they’ve lost just one of their last five and conceded three goals in the process. Can the stun Chelsea this week? (6-10-13)
source:  14 DOWN 3 Swansea CityPlenty of industry in south Wales but performances have lacked a little bit of flair of late. Can they overcome a stubborn Villa side away? (11-7-11)
source:  15 UP 2 Burnley:  Beating Man City has to be their best-ever win as a PL club. Sean Dyche’s men have a fighting chance of survival given Sunderland’s woes. Saints away is toughie this weekend. (5-10-14)
source:  16 DOWN 2 Newcastle United: Bit of a rudderless ship are Newcastle. Their usual trick of excelling up until Christmas and then collapsing has repeated itself. No danger of relegation, but will likely lose to Arsenal (9-8-12)
source:  17 DOWN 5 West Ham: The Hammers have gone right off the boil as uncertainty around Sam Allardyce’s future remains. No win in six and three-straight defeats but Sunderland up next. (10-9-10)
source:  18 QPR:  Another London club struggling is QPR with eight defeats from their last nine. A heavy defeat at Palace last week (even though Phillips scored this screamer) proved how poor they are. Still hope for the R’s but time is running out. (5-4-14)
source:  19 DOWN 3 Leicester City The Foxes are slowly drifting away as they are seven points from safety at the bottom. Can anything save them now? spurs away this weekend. (4-7-17)
source:  20 DOWN 5 Sunderland: Gus Poyet lost his job and now Dick Advocaat is in as a short-term replacement. The Dutchman has a heck of a job on his hands after Sunderland’s 4-0 home defeat to Villa. Relegation is in the air around the Stadium of Light. (4-14-10)

 

Premier League roundup: Man City’s title hopes dashed by Burnley; Arsenal, Palace win

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UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have many of the Premier League’s best playing their league games on Sunday, but there was still plenty of Saturday entertainment on the docket.

QPR saw a stunning distance goal in defeat, Aston Villa embarrassed a fellow relegation struggler and Arsenal cruised through a London Derby amongst other results on Saturday.

And then Burnley. Oh my, Burnley.

Let’s dig in.

Burnley 1-0 Manchester City – RECAP

Ladies and gentlemen, Sean Dyche’s Clarets are not going down without a fight. George Boyd’s second-half goal boosted Burnley to within a point of 17th place Sunderland and three points of 16th place Aston Villa. Burnley has a tough road in, but finishes the season with a final weekend visit to Villa Park.

The story for City fans will be the inability to break through Burnley’s stacked banks of players, as well as a late non-call after Pablo Zabaleta was taken down in the box by Ben Mee.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Queens Park RangersRECAP

The day started with another strong note sounded by Alan Pardew’s resurgent Crystal Palace side. The Eagles built a 3-0 lead before hitting their only speed bump, a thrilling distance strike from Matty Phillips. Still, the Eagles are all-but-safe from the drop while QPR’s plight remains quite dire.

Sunderland 0-4 Aston Villa – RECAP

Did we just see Gus Poyet’s last match as Sunderland manager? It’s hard to put it on him, as a listless Sunderland side looked almost devoid of creativity in going down 4-0 by halftime. On the other hand, Tim Sherwood is the toast of the town after Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor each netted twice to get Villa closer to ensuring its Premier League safety.

source: Getty Images

Arsenal 3-0 West Ham United – RECAP

Sam Allardyce’s Irons are struggling and Arsene Wenger’s Gunners are hitting their stride. While West Ham was missing a forward due to a broken tea cup (Enner Valencia), Arsenal saw classy goals from Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey in battering their London Derby rivals.

West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Stoke City – RECAP

Brown Ideye continues to love the Tony Pulis era at the Hawthorns, with the Baggies record signing heading in Craig Gardner’s cross to pull once-desperate West Brom well clear of the drop. Stoke remains in eighth place, two points ahead of Swansea City, which plays Sunday.

Leicester City 0-0 Hull City – RECAP

There wasn’t much to this one other than a late red card to Tom Huddlestone. Even playing up a man only allowed Leicester City to total three shots on frame. The Foxes remain in the Premier League’s basement slot, with Hull inching closer to safety.

Tuesday Premier League Preview: New managers square off in Midlands derby

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We have midweek Premier League action this week, and while most of the top-half teams are saved for tomorrow, there are still some important matches today in the relegation picture, with a trio of matches kicking off at 2:45 ET.

Most notably, a Midlands derby brings us Aston Villa vs West Brom, as Tim Sherwood and Tony Pulis do battle with their new squads. Tim Sherwood has yet to pick up a single point in two matches in charge of Villa, and they remain in the relegation zone, but snagging his first win today would pull the Claret & Blue out of the drop and send them above three other clubs.

Sherwood believes should they win today, Villa would “never look back” as they rise out of the relegation area. Their drop to the Championship would be a big story, given they were a founding member of the Premier League and have played in every year since despite flirting with the drop multiple times. Villa has not won since December 7.

[MORE: Premier League News | Standings | Stats Leaders

Hull City also hosts Sunderland, with the two teams just a point apart in the bottom quarter of the table. Hull City is just four points above the relegation zone, while Sunderland precariously lays a point behind them and three above the flashing red lights. The Tigers are coming off a match where they produced just a single shot against Stoke City over the weekend, and they take on a Sunderland side that has won once since the holiday season.

But with Sunderland now stunned with Adam Johnson – who scored in this reverse fixture on Boxing Day – now suspended indefinitely following his arrest for his alleged sexual encounter with an underage girl, Hull City could make its move. Three points for either side here would be absolutely enormous, and could mark a third home win in a row for the Tigers to give Steve Bruce some wiggle room.

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Finally, Southampton welcomes a roaring Crystal Palace squad, a matchup of teams on either ends of the table but also trending in opposite directions. Palace has been revitalized under Alan Pardew and got back to winning ways this weekend with a 3-1 victory over West Ham. Pardew arrived at Palace with the club in the relegation zone, and now has them a whopping eight points clear.

Saints, meanwhile, are just trying to cling to their European position for dear life. They sit a pair above Tottenham in sixth position, but have lost two straight and four of their last five. Graziano Pelle hasn’t scored in a whopping 10 matches, and after missing an absolute sitter over the weekend, there are calls for him to get a spell on the bench. Last time Alan Pardew visited St. Mary’s, he was in charge of Newcastle and was hammered 4-0 back in September. Now he gets another chance with a different squad.

What they’re saying

Aston Villa’s Tim Sherwood on two losses so far: “Zero points could have easily been six, it could have been four. We have to bounce back and get points as soon as we can.”

West Brom’s Tony Pulis on Tim Sherwood: “I like Tim. He’s a very, very honest, straight-talking chap. There’s no fluff surrounding him. He’s a good football man, he’s worked for some good managers and coaches and has taken lots of good things on board. He is what he is and he’ll leave all the jargon to other people.”

Hull City’s Steve Bruce on the relegation battle: “We’re in a horrible dogfight and there’s eight or nine teams in with us who are all feeling it. Two weeks ago we were in the bottom three and now we’re four points clear, but we’ve got to maintain it. We’re not out of the woods yet. If you can put another couple of results together at this particular stage of the season, it will really help.”

Gus Poyet on Sunderland’s position: “To play a certain kind of football I like you need to play with your heart but also be calm. There’s a tension but at the same time on the ball you need to relax. I don’t think there will be too much relaxing now. It’s a different kind of game now. We have to try our nuts off. We need to get something, somehow. It’s not about beautiful football any more, it’s just about making sure you beat your rival. I’m convinced we’ll be OK but I’m trying to make sure we do the right thing now. That’s a challenge and a big responsibility. It would be better not to be going through this again.”

 Alan Pardew on Crystal Palace’s aims: “We need to stay in the division, it’s as simple as that. That’s our only goal.”

Ronald Koeman on scoring early: “I think [our results are] also a lot down to scoring in the game. I think 90 per cent of when we scored the first goal we won the games. That means for us it is a comfortable situation. But if we are down in the result then it makes it difficult. We still try, we still have the spirit to score, but the opponents make it very difficult for us and then you need to be patient, then you need quality in the last part of the attacking.”

Injuries/Absences

Aston Villa: Ron Vlaar was suspended for the weekend for yellow card accumulation but is doubtful today with a calf injury. Kieran Richardson and Aly Cissokho are no-go’s. Allan Hutton must also prove fit before the match.

West Brom: Victor Anichebe is a definite no with a groin problem, while Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye are question marks. Berahino would be the biggest loss by far, as he limped off against Southampton with a foot injury.

Hull City: Robbie Brady is looking at the possibility of six weeks out after picking up a calf injury, but the rest is good news. Dame N’Doye was rested Saturday and should be back, while Nikica Jelavic has a swollen knee but should be good to go.

Sunderland: Adam Johnson is suspended by the club and unavailable, but Wes Brown is ready to go after winning his red card appeal for wrongful dismissal. The rest is good news as well, with Jack Rodwell, Ricky Alvarez and Billy Jones all set to make returns.

Southampton: Toby Alderweireld is available after seven weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring tear. That appears to have cleared up the only injury problem for Southampton aside from Jay Rodriguez’s long-term injury.

Crystal Palace: Mile Jedinak was suspended four matches for throwing an elbow at Diafra Sakho over the weekend, and decided not to appeal. Glenn Murray is also suspended, and a group of Jordan Mutch, Frazier Campbell, Marouane Chamakh, and Yaya Sanogo are all out, the latter trio with hamstring injuries.

Premier League Power Rankings: Liverpool, Arsenal flying high

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Ladies and gents, we have a new top two in our rankings of power this week.

Arsenal and Liverpool are on a roll and with Chelsea and Manchester City stumbling, they are no longer the form teams. Take a look below to see who else is steaming into the upper echelons as the business end of the season is just around the corner.

[ Archive: Premier League Power Rankings ]

In case you are new around here, each week we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team. Forget about the official league standings (here they are in case you actually do want them) that doesn’t mean squat.

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables. The W-D-L bracket shows each PL team’s current record and you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

Let’s get to it!

RANKING
Up/Down

source:

1 UP 4 Arsenal: The Gunners have won three on the spin, five of their last six and have shored things up at the back. Can they climb into the top four by beating Spurs in the North London derby? Wilshere may be celebrating with a cigar… (12-6-5)
 source:  2 UP 3 LiverpoolThe recovery is on. No defeats in seven and five wins in that spin says the Reds are back to their best. Plus, Sturridge is back. Can they beat Everton in the Merseyside derby to keep it going? (11-5-7)
source:  3  – Chelsea: Still top of the actual standings, Chelsea missed Diego Costa and Fabregas vs. Man City and were lucky to get a draw. Trundling along just fine, but not red-hot. Not at all. Aston Villa up next. (16-5-2)
source:  4 DOWN 4 Manchester City: No win in three games see City fall from top to fourth in our rankings. Manuel Pellegrini’s men improved vs. Chelsea, but they need Yaya Toure and Bony back from AFCON. Fast. Hull at home this weekend. (14-6-3)

source:

5 UP 1  Tottenham Hotspur: With three wins from four, Spurs are sneaking up towards the top four. A win vs. bitter rivals Arsenal on Saturday would see them momentarily in the UCL places. Plus Kane re-upped, which is huge. (12-4-7)
source:  6 DOWN 4 Southampton:  Saints are still in fourth, but a damaging home defeat to Swansea hurt. They dominated play but couldn’t find a goal. Can they beat struggling QPR this weekend to stay fourth? (13-3-7)
source:  7 UP 1 Manchester UnitedThe Red Devils have won two-straight but that was against basement boys QPR and Leicester. A trip to West Ham this weekend will be tough going. Oh yeah, LVG’s in trouble with the FA. (12-7-4)
source:  8 UP 2 Crystal PalaceAlan Pardew’s revolution continues. Even though the Eagles went down to Everton, they are looking much better going forward. That said, they’re only four points above the drop. Leicester away this week. HUGE. (5-8-10)
source:  9 UP 2 West Brom: The Baggies are becoming tough to beat, but Spurs put on a clinic as the 3-0 scoreline flattered them. If Pulis can find a pure finisher, WBA would easily stay up. Burnley away this week. MASSIVE. (5-7-11)
 source:  10 UP 8 Everton: Relief. The Toffees won for the first time in seven matches at Palace. That has set them up nicely for the Merseyside derby this Saturday. Tim Howard is back in training too. (6-8-9)
source:  11 UP 3 Swansea CityThe Swans performed a perfect smash and grab away at Saints with Jonjo scoring a screamer. Can they beat Sunderland at home to keep climbing? (9-6-8)
source:  12 DOWN 5 West Ham: A 2-0 defeat at Liverpool is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Hammers are drifting away from the top four slightly. Can they stun Man United? (10-6-7)
source:  13 Stoke CityBack-to-back wins for the Potters as Jon Walters scored a perfect hat trick to see off QPR. Newcastle away this week. (9-5-9)
source:  14 UP 2 Newcastle United: Speaking of Newcastle, the Magpies got a massive 3-0 win at Hull as John Carver is in charge until the end of the season. Is he the right man to take over permanently? (8-6-9)
source:  15 UP 2 Sunderland: Staying in the north east, the Mackems got what they wanted. Goals. Jermain Defoe scored and Poyet’s boys beat Burnley. Can they beat Swansea to climb into midtable? (4-11-8)
source:  16 DOWN 4 Leicester CityStill bottom, the Foxes were soundly beaten by United and lost a close one to Stoke. Will they drag Palace into the relegation battle this weekend? Need a win. Big time. (4-5-14)
source:  17 DOWN 8 Burnley:  All is not lost for Sean Dyche’s men despite two-straight defeats. They have kept hold of Danny Ings and will fancy their chances vs. WBA at Turf Moor. (4-8-11)
source:  18 DOWN 3 QPR: What a week in west London. Harry Redknapp walked out, as the R’s are managerless and still without a point in 11 away games. Can they stun high-flying Saints? The home fans at Loftus Road will be crucial. (5-4-14)
source:  19 Aston Villa: Villa’s miserable time continues as the pressure mounts on Paul Lambert. The 5-0 drubbing at Arsenal was embarrassing. They beat Chelsea at home last season… can they do it again on Saturday? (5-7-9)
source:  20 Hull City:  Talking about pressure, Steve Bruce is under plenty too as his side were booed off in the defeat to Newcastle. Three defeats on the spin and Man City away next. Oh dear… (4-7-12)