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Discussion Starter #1
Half Season report - The Independent

Quote:
The Premier League half-term report 2008-09

Compiled by James Mariner

Arsenal
By Danny Grimes, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
Consistently inconsistent. Good performances were wasted.
How has the teacher performed?
That fans question Wenger reflects the win-at-all-costs nature of the Premier League. He will never compromise principles, surely something to be admired.
Top of the class?
Nasri has settled in quickly and scored important goals. Djourou also looked assured.
Class dunce?
Despite Gallas and the ridicule of Eboué, it's Adebayor's dummy spitting which unsettled us.
Best performance against you?
Agbonlahor and Robinho were excellent but as a team Hull looked like a well-drilled Serie A side.

Aston Villa
By Barney, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
I am pleased with the progress and how the team has gelled but we're still short of a regular goalscorer.
How has the teacher performed?
The teacher has been excellent, his policy of an English backbone will attract home-grown talent for years to come.
Top of the class?
For me Laursen, Agbonlahor, Young (A) and Barry, but close to them are Sidwell and Petrov.
Class dunce?
A tie must go to Marlon Harewood and Zat Knight, who are just not really at the party at all.
Best performance against you?
I hate to say it as he's vastly overrated but possibly Downing, although Chelsea were impressive.

Blackburn Rovers
By Stephen Pilling, Life-long supporter
How has the class done?
Pretty awfully. After a bright start to the season, things have been depressing.
How has the teacher performed?
Which one? Big Sam ....marvellous, Incey .....washed down the drain.
Top the class?
Brett Emerton always gives a professional performance, the rest are potential candidates for the next question.
Class dunce?
Take your pick! Roque and Warnock play as if their heart is somewhere else. Nelsen has not been the same since his injury.
Best performance against you?
Man United looked a cut above – whatever happened to our ability to get in their faces?

Bolton Wanderers
By David Blackburn, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
We picked up after a disappointing start. The team is playing with confidence – it's amazing what a couple of clean sheets and goals can do.
How has the teacher performed?
Megson is getting things right, he will not get us relegated. I am looking at 10th place at least.
Top of the class?
Jaaskelainen saved us on more than one occasion – who could ever forget the Hull game?
Class dunce?
I still don't know why we signed Tamir Cohen. Heidar Helguson was shipped to QPR – say no more.
Best performance against you?
Theo Walcott was unplayable, and Geovanni – only Jussi knows how he didn't score four.

Chelsea
By Paul Lagan, Editor of Chelsea Mad website
How has the class done?
They are performing above national average but must concentrate and stand up to bullies who try and take over the playground.
How has the teacher performed?
Mr Scolari is not preparing for classes as he should and that shows in erratic behaviour from pupils.
Top of the class?
Nicolas Anelka has revelled without the competition from class king Didier Drogba.
Class dunce?
Florence Malouda is not doing well at dribbling classes and Salomon Kalouless also disappoints.
best performance against you?
Robin van Persie excelled in shooting practice, making Petr Cech look like Mr Clumsy.

Everton
By Patrick Hart, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
Above average, although they found it hard to settle to the task this term.
How has the teacher performed?
Moyes started the season nursing a hangover from summer. We should be grateful he signed his new deal, because he continues to get results.
Top of the class?
Phil Jagielka kept his head earlier in the campaign when few looked like stars.
Class dunce?
Injuries have affected a number of players, among them Louis Saha who is still to get into a rhythm.
Best performance against you?
Liège were the toughest Uefa Cup draw imaginable. Liverpool, and Kuyt, did well at Goodison.

Fulham
By Mike McCarthy, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
Pretty well. Punching above their weight with a squad containing no real superstars.
How has the teacher performed?
Hodgson is terrific. He exemplifies applied intelligence. Has given the team the confidence and belief to play a passing game.
Top of the class?
Mountain-man centre-half Brede Hangeland. Nothing gets past him. I hope other clubs don't come in for him.
Class dunce?
Ki-Hyeon has an alarming tendency to think he can dribble.
Best performance against you?
Redknapp's revitalised Spurs – apart from butterfingers Gomes who gifted us the first goal.

Hull City
By Tom Collins, Writer for Hull City online
How has the class done?
Foolish governors claimed our group were set to be bottom, but amazing results have been achieved through hard work and flair.
How has the teacher performed?
Mr Brown has been quite literally a glowing success, masterminding amazing results.
Top of the class?
Geovanni has taken headlines, but Michael Turner has quelled some of the country's most talked about pupils.
Class dunce?
Wayne Brown has struggled after moving up a set.
Best performance against you?
Frank Lampard transformed my opinion that he was a fat waster who could not finish.

Liverpool
By Al Campbell, LFC Online news editor
How has the class done?
Pretty well. Can't really complain when we're usually 15-20 points behind the leaders at Christmas.
How has the has the teacher performed?
He made some poor buys but addressed the lack of width. He's not rotating for the sake of it as much either and that's helped.
Top of the class?
Xabi Alonso put the transfer uncertainty behind him to become our best player.
Class dunce?
Keane. He might complain about being subbed but it's only when the fourth official raises the board with his number that we usually realise he's on the pitch.
Best performance against you?
Simão had good games against us.

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Discussion Starter #2
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Manchester United
By Joseph Ganley, Columnist for 'United We Stand'
How has the class done?
Consistency has proved elusive. However, with significant away games completed, an attack on two or three trophies looks likely.
How has the teacher performed?
Success relies on Fergie's ability to control Ronaldo, a player struggling with egotism and temperament.
Top of the class?
Rooney remains our most influential figure, an acute and intuitive player whose movement and instinct propels attacks.
Class dunce?
Nani's failure in using the ball casts doubt on first-team prospects.
Best performance against you?
Fabregas presented the kind of challenge offered only by Barcelona's 'passing carousel'.

Manchester City
By Ric Turner,Editor of 'Blue Moon' website
How has the class done?
Expectations were high but it has been a frustrating season thus far. There have been glimpses of brilliance, but, as ever, we are infuriatingly inconsistent.
How has the teacher performed?
Some displays are a cause for concern. Hughes has a habit of playing players out of position and, unforgiveably, selecting Vassell. Every bloody game.
Top of the class?
Ireland has been exceptional. Vision, control and an eye for goal.
Class dunce?
You can almost hear the sigh every time Vassell is selected.
Best performance against you?
Lampard dictated Chelsea's 3-1 victory.

Middlesbrough
By Richard Llewelyn, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
Hugely frustrating. A young, spirited side has dropped too many points to late goals. The potential is there, though.
How has the teacher performed?
In three years Southgate has put together an attacking and fluid team, if occasionally lightweight.
Top of the class?
Tuncay has been outstanding and is a true crowd favourite. Digard is finding his feet since his summer switch from France.
Class dunce?
Alves needs to up his workrate to avoid becoming another Maccarone.
Best performance against you?
The 5-0 demolition by Chelsea wins hands down while Gerrard's injury-time winner still hurts.

Newcastle United
By Matt Marshall, Life-long supporter
How has the class done?
The collapse post-Keegan was partially arrested when JFK came in and kicked a few precious backsides.
How has the teacher performed?
The head teacher jumped ship, leaving us with a foul-mouthed supply teacher with no experience of dealing with unruly classes.
Top of the class?
A gold star and teacher's pet status goes to Shay Given for having one of his best seasons so far.
Class dunce?
Cacapa. He's a trier, but it doesn't help when you can't run, pass, head or control the ball.
Best performance against you?
I don't care really. Special mention to Craig Fagan for getting to his feet after Guthrie's tackle.

Portsmouth
By Jim Bonner, Editor of Fratton Faithful
How has the class done?
Inconsistent. The defence and goalkeeper have forgotten what made them top of the class. The strikers are often starved of service.
How has the teacher performed?
The teacher's assistant's lack of experience has shown with some decisions, but he needs time.
Top of the class?
Glen Johnson has finally fulfilled expectations. He has the ability to become England right-back, but will probably be snatched by Spurs.
Class dunce?
Utaka is absent on too many occasions. When he does attend, he lacks application and infuriates.
Best performance against you?
Rob Green single-handedly denied us.

Stoke City
By Richard Murphy, Author of 'Stoke City on this day'
How has the class done?
The class has done well and surprised more than a few people. The effort they put in can't be faulted.
How has the teacher performed?
Pulis has done well in his first term teaching at this level. He uses unpopular methods but is always honest in his appraisal.
Top of the class?
Sidibe. He has confounded most people by not only stepping up to the new level but thriving.
Class dunce?
So far, Dave Kitson. His arrival was widely heralded but as yet he has disappointed and is now sick.
Best performance against you?
Robinho hit a clinical hat-trick, but I'd say referee Rob Styles after his performance for Derby.

Sunderland
By Paul Maughan, Writer for 'A Love Supreme'
How has the class done?
Until the halfway stage we did OK; since we beat Newcastle, we got ****y and we need to reinstill discipline.
How has the teacher performed?
Mr Keane became increasingly hardline, and rumours of fights with students led to him leaving the class under a cloud.
Top of the class?
Young master Anton has been superb since joining and shows promising signs of following in brother Rio's footsteps.
Class dunce?
Diouf has constantly been in trouble, often breaks curfew and shows little regard for rules.
Best performance against you?
Young Shaun Wright-Phillips embarrassed our boys.

Tottenham Hotspur
By Gary Moss, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
After an atrocious start we've turned the corner under Harry Redknapp and gained valuable momentum.
How has the teacher performed?
Ramos was inexplicably bad. Redknapp is an old-school teacher who puts his arm round players and brings the best out of them.
Top of the class?
Aaron Lennon has often provided the spark for the team. When we have needed goals we have looked to him to provide.
Class dunce?
Bale. His poor league record hasn't come about by accident. Also Bentley needs to produce more.
Best performance against you?
Barry was excellent against us. Everything went through him.

West Bromwich
By John Ferguson, Season-ticket holder
How has the class done?
With no real threat up front, as expected.
How has the teacher performed?
Unimaginatively. Granted he's still learning his trade, and would do well to ring Phil Brown for advice on how to combine quality passing with the art of breaking quickly.
Top of the class?
Ishmael Miller, for being the only player to at least threaten the opposition in the final third.
Class dunce?
The chairman, Jeremy Peace, who never has, and never will, speculate to accumulate.
Best performance against you?
We even made Sunderland look world-beaters, so take your pick.

West Ham United
By Gordon Thrower, Co-editor of Knees Up Mother Brown
How has the class done?
Good test results were spoiled somewhat by a lack of concentration for a few weeks.
How has the teacher performed?
It's difficult for a new teacher to take over and he has made mistakes. However there are signs that he has learned from them.
Top of the class?
Ilunga has been excellent. Green has – one game apart – been fine and James 'Ginger Pele' Collins has added backbone.
Class dunce?
Possibly Diego Tristan – if he actually exists.
Best performance against you?
Man City's Petrov caused mayhem down our right up at Eastlands at the start of the season.

Wigan Athletic
By Callum Wright, Life-long supporter
How has the class done?
Overall pretty good. Started off well, stumbled a little, but back on course for a top-half finish now.
How has the teacher performed?
A steadying influence. Unwavering faith in players like Heskey and Bramble paying massive dividends at the moment.
Top of the class?
Would have to be Zaki. A virtual unknown when he arrived, within weeks even Real Madrid wanted him. Gold stars also for Bramble and Kirkland.
Class dunce?
Kapo has failed to make his mark and has not found his feet yet.
Best performance against you?
Villa destroyed us but I was more impressed by the Arsenal kids.


The stats
Most goals 14 N Anelka (Chelsea); 9 G Agbonlahor (A Villa); six players on 8.
Most assists 8 S Malbranque (Sunderland); 7 E Adebayor (Arsenal); four players on 6.
Most fouls 52 M Fellaini (Everton); 50 K Davies (Bolton); 41 C Cole (West Ham).
Most bookings 8 M Fellaini (Everton); 7 A Arbeloa (Liverpool); five players on 6.
Most bookings 37 Blackburn; 34 Stoke; 32 Bolton, Manchester United, West Bromwich.
Most shots 260 Chelsea; 254 Liverpool; 248 Arsenal; 218 Manchester United.
Most clean sheets 12 Chelsea; 10 Liverpool, Man United; 7 Aston Villa, Fulham.
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/f...9-1211376.html


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