The Barclays Premier League is known for the fun, excitement and unpredictable drama, this season has proven to be the most exciting season in recent times. From the top of the table to the bottom of the table there are unique surprises and a handful of heroes and villains.
In this midseason review of the Barclays Premier League we will be differentiating the standout performers from the flops.
Hero of the Season
That Leicester City remains at the top of the premiership table is no longer a surprise. While the entire team effort is commendable one name that stands out consistently is Jamie Vardy. Many assumed that after breaking Ruud Van Nistelrooy record by scoring in 11 consecutive games that his form would drop but this has not been the case, Vardy has responded very well to the pressure and seems to be motivated by it.
His work ethic is admirable, he has developed a telepathic understanding with Riyad Mahrez and his finishing is of the highest quality. If Leicester City are to go all the way and win the Premier League they will definitely have to rely on the spectacular finishing of Jamie Vardy.
Vardy’s audacious 30 yard strike against Liverpool
Mahrez serves as Robin to Vardy’s Batman and he is more than a capable deputy. Mahrez controls the midfield of the Leicester team and makes it tick he uses his skill, flair and creativity to outwit the oppositions defender and he is no slouch when it comes to goal scoring. Mahrez and Vardy have scored a combined 32 out of the 47 goals Leicester has scored. The sky is definitely the beginning for the 25 year old Mahrez whose value is on a meteoric rise and if he continues with his spectacular performances the top clubs in Europe will definitely come calling.
Manchester United season would be considered disastrous by the average fans and critics of the team. However there has been one shining light that has kept Manchester United in a position to qualify for the Champions League next season and that is David DeGea. Manchester United would consider themselves fortunate to have him this season after a protracted transfer saga and his performance this season has only enhanced his reputation. His ability to use both his hands and his feet has won him many admirers and his excellent performance against Chelsea has definitely gotten him more suitors this summer.
Villain of the Season
Following a remarkable 2014-2015 where Chelsea won the Premier League by a healthy 8 points gap over second place Manchester City many pundits and fans predicted that Chelsea would successfully defend their crown and possibly set their sight on improving on their poor run in the Champions League.
That Chelsea season turns out to be this disastrous rest on the hands of Jose Mourinho, right from the start there were signs that these season would be a bitter one for the confident Portugese.
From the sack of Eva Carneiro in controversial circumstances to the constant barrage of criticism and insult of the players it was clear that Mourinho lost the plot.
Mourinho blamed everyone from the medical staff to the players to the F.A to the referees to the ball boys for conspiring against him but it was clear that at the end of the day he was clueless on how to manage the players and get the best out of them.
His constant criticism and berating of the players created a toxic atmosphere in the club and while Chelsea are far from their best they have not lost a single game since he was sacked by the club.
Mourinho status changed from the happy one to the bitter one
Eden Hazard easily won the PFA player of the year award last season, but you will be forgiven if you have forgotten about that already. So pivotal to Chelsea title run last season, he was tipped by football lovers along with Neymar and Pogba to be future winners of the Ballon d’or but that prediction looks like a forgotten conclusion.
Hazard has a horrible season and it is not likely to get better for him. From missing the penalty which eliminated Chelsea out of the league cup against Stoke to going scoreless in 31 games Hazard has seen it all.
His recent text message apology to Mourinho for his performance shows that he understands that his form has dipped so low for a player of his sterling reputation.
The fact that he is no longer a guaranteed starter for Chelsea does not come as a surprise as Guus Hiddink selection of John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic to shore up the ailing defence has meant Hazard has to settle for a place in the bench.
As it stands his future at Chelsea is uncertain and he might exit the club during the summer for Real Madrid or PSG who are rumored to be interested in his services to revive his ailing career.
If Arsenal are to win the Premier League for the first time since the 2004/2005 season this is their best opportunity. Manchester City with the appointment of Pep Guardiola would likely be stronger next season and Chelsea would also likely come back stronger to compete for the title.
So this opportunity Arsenal have at the moment is one that is too good to miss, however Arsenal’s tendency to crumble under pressure is why they have not won the Premier League for over 10 years.
Their defence line has always been suspect and they have shown that they cannot handle pressure and right now the weakest link in their back line is Per Mertesacker his chronic lack of pace is regularly exploited by strikers and this was evident in the loss to Chelsea when he was red carded for a senseless tackle on Diego Costa.
From poor positioning to sluggishness and playing with a lack of confidence Per Mertesacker has become a thorn in the Arsenal side and his continuous selection could hurt Arsenal in their battle for the Premier League Title.
Arsene Wenger has a big choice to make as Leicester City comes calling should he restore Per Mertesacker into the starting line up or continue with his pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista.
Surprise team of the season
25 weeks in the season and Leicester City still sits 5 points clear at the top of the table, the question on everyone’s mind is can their remarkable run continue. Many expected Leicester City to be fighting a relegation battle not a battle for the Premier League. If Claudio Ranieri team win the Premier League title it would be a remarkable story in this age of superstar footballers, that a team with previously unknown players can win the title.
As Arsene Wenger said the world is behind Leicester City as they are the surprise package of the season and everyone loves the success story of the underdog.
Leicester City has gotten all the highlights for the right reasons but Watford has also been a surprise package. They are well positioned on the log table and Odion Ighalo form in front of goal has been inspiring for the team. They have also adjusted well to the rigors of the Premier League and watching them pay you will be surprised to know that you are watching a newly promoted team.
Flop team of the Season
Chelsea form this season has been so abysmal this season that 25 weeks in they are still not safe from a relegation battle. Many assumed that after the exit of Jose Mourinho they will discover their winning touch but they are still performing poorly. Though they have lost in 9 games since Guus Hiddink arrival they have not won most of their games either.
Chelsea are now content to settle with draws as their jubilant celebrations after the 1-1 draw with Manchester United showed that they are an average team at this point in time.
Watching Chelsea play so poorly you definitely would have forgotten that this was this the same crop of players who won the title 9 months ago.
The 6 months injury to Kurt Zouma is another setback to what is already a disappointing season for the club, Chelsea should probably start planning ahead for next season as they probably can’t win any title this season.
That Chelsea pipped Aston Villa to the worst team award does not diminish how disastrous Aston Villa has been all season. Aston Villa has gathered only 16 points all season and unless a miracle occurs there relegation status is almost confirmed. It is unbelievable that at this point in the season team like Aston Villa has only won 3 games and drawn 7 all season. However the signs were there all along that they would end up in the bottom of the table as they narrowly escaped relegation last season when they finished 17th.
One begins to wonder what is wrong with Aston Villa after all they have above average players such as Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jordan Ayew, Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards in their ranks, it definitely means that there is something drastically wrong with the team this season.
So there you have it. Our list of the heroes, villains, surprises and flops. Do you agree or disagree with our list? You can express your views in our comment session below.
Watch this space next week for the Heroes and Villains of the La-liga so far.