With the winter transfer window open, we’ll take a look at what each EPL side needs to press on in the second half of the season. It doesn’t necessarily have to be through transfers, but clubs looking to qualify for Europe may need to add some depth along the way. Breaking down the table into four sections, we continue today with the middle-lower-half.
Norwich Citya��15th, 23 points
Need: A slightly more threatening attack.
It’s difficult not to write a�?keep doing exactly what they’re doing” for some, and Norwich happens to be one. The winter window is tricky with bringing in new players, so I don’t know who they would target, but they should think about bringing in a center forward.
32 goals conceded isn’t ideal, but they’ve pieced together three wins from their last foura��including one over Manchester United. Beforehand, they drew two of three with Arsenal and Everton.
They’ve tallied 23 goals and their leading scorer is midfielder Nathan Redmond (4), followed by three players with three. Norwich’s summer wasn’t incredibly active, but their heftier purchases were for a left- and right-back.
Nicking points occasionally is exactly what a relegation-threatened team such as Norwich must do to survive, but they’re missing a little bite up top.
Chelseaa��14th, 23 points
Need: Their stars to perform.
It’s starting to happen.
Since Guus Hiddink took over as caretaker manager, the Blues have not lost, winning and drawing two. Diego Costa and Oscara��two of Chelsea’s supposed besta��have started turning in better performances. Better late than never right?
Had Oscar not slipped on a penalty attempt against Watford on Boxing Day, Chelsea would have claimed 10 of a possible 12 points since Hiddink’s appointment, but they’re trending in the right direction.
They’re bullying the teams they should be bullyinga��defeating Sunderland 3-1 and Crystal Palace 0-3 recentlya��but were held to a scoreless draw against United while Watford, as previously mentioned, refused to go away.
From where I’m sitting, it looks like the worst is finally over for the Blues. Former a�?third-best player in the world” for a couple weeks last year, Eden Hazard, continues to struggle on the pitch and with injuries. When will he come good again?
Southamptona��13th, 24 points
After a club-best eighth-place finish in 2013 under Mauricio Pochettino followed by an even better 2014 campaigna��seventh under Ronald Koeman following a mass exodusa��the Saints appear to be playing like a club who’s coming to terms with what they truly are: a mid-table at best, lower-top-half at worst.
After a 1-6 thrashing against Liverpool on December 2, they only took a point from Aston Villa. Following losses against Palace and Tottenham, they put four past Arsenal. Then they lost to West Ham and Norwich.
When talking about Sunderland yesterday, I mentioned how they brought in an entirely new back line over summer and how that’s yielded poor results. Southampton spent the bulk of their summer funds on two defensive midfielders, two center backs, and a right-back.
Losing Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin coupled with not being able to retain Toby Alderweirelda��who’s helped Tottenham to the best defensive record in the leaguea��has crippled them.
They conceded 33 goals last season, second-fewest in the league. They’ve already shipped 24, and it’s no surprise to see them where they are.
West Broma��12th, 26 points
Need: Get Saido Berahino sorted, one way or another.
The 22-year-old striker had a meltdown when his potential move to Tottenham failed over summer. Manager Tony Pulis has gone on record saying how it’s affected Berahino, and as recently as late December, he was a�?lucky to be on the bench,” said Pulis.
Now it’s unclear if promises were madea��after all, chairman Jeremy Peace holds a certain Daniel Levy-esque reputation among the club’s supporters. But at the end of the day, Berahino has to be a professional. That hasn’t been the case, and his forma��whether due to lackadaisical training or other factorsa��has suffered.
Last year, he contributed 14 goals; the next-closest teammate chipped in four. This year he’s registered only three, which sadly still ties for the club lead. Will Tottenham or another club try to make a move for Berahino this month, or will West Brom remain steadfast in their previous desire to keep him?
Regardless, the situation has devolved into a mess.
Evertona��11th, 27 points
Need: Better home performances.
The Toffees aren’t a bad club, but they are underperforming.
In Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge, he led the club to fifth. His side was an exciting and efficient one, scoring 61 goals while allowing just 39. Last year they fell to 11th, scoring only 48 while conceding 50.
This year the excitement and creativity appear to be back, as evidenced by 36 goals scoreda��third-highest in the leaguea��but they’ve shipped 29. Only five clubs have conceded more, and three of those are in the relegation zone.
The defense obviously needs some work, but their home form is most worrying. They’ve had no trouble scoring in 11 matches at Goodison Park (23, or 2.09 per game), but they’ve also let in 20, including four to Stoke and three apiece to Leicester and United.
They’ve won just three of 11 from home, while drawing and losing four apiece. They’ve been much better defensively in nine matches on the road (9) but have only scored 13. Still, they’ve only lost once away while drawing five and winning three.
It’s not ideal if you’re winning more points away than at home, which is where the defense needs to tighten up over the second half of the season. They got off to a good start by allowing only one against Tottenham over this past weekend.
We’ll be back Friday as we start to run through the top half of the table. What do you think each club needs?