Premier League New Year Resolutions
Another year is drawing to a close, but what lessons can each Premier League side learn heading into 2020?
We’ve got one resolution for each Premier League side as we wave goodbye to 2019…
One New Year’s Resolution For Each Premier League Side
ARSENAL… learn that patience is a virtue…. Fans have put their faith in Mikel Arteta – now the Spaniard needs to be given the time and space to turn things around. As the Chelsea result proves, there’s no instant fix to Arsenal’s long-standing problems, but Arteta already looks to be stamping his own identity on a side lacking in confidence.
ASTON VILLA… learn to win ugly… reality is starting to kick in for last season’s play-off winners after one win in seven games in December. The Villains have looked bright in patches this season but naïve passages of play plus a lack of killer instinct surely all point towards a sustained slog towards safety this spring. Despite spending nearly £150m last summer, the purse strings surely need to be loosened yet again to add extra firepower with £22m-man Wesley struggling to make an impact.
BOURNEMOUTH… accept that sometimes a change is as good as a rest…. after years of sterling service, it’s a controversial suggestion… but are Eddie Howe and the Cherries approaching their end game? Bournemouth look like a side desperately in need of some fresh impetus. Whether that comes from Howe finally moving on to a new project at the next available opportunity, or the Bournemouth boss reshuffling the pack this January and moving on some of his longest-serving players, a new decade could lead to a new era at the Vitality.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION… take on some target practice… the Seagulls are carving out plenty of chances under Graham Potter but a failure to regularly convert possession into points could be the difference between a comfortable mid-table campaign and a relegation scrap. Thankfully for the Seagulls, they are good at sharing the goals around, with 11 different goalscorers so far this season. Now they just need to press home their advantage when on top in games as Potter’s quiet revolution continues.
BURNLEY… keep picking off the points… this won’t go down as a vintage Premier League season for the Clarets. However, it’s not one that should cause any sleepless nights at Turf Moor, either. Burnley are lacking for consistency, but the canny Sean Dyche should squeeze enough from his workmanlike squad to comfortably lift them to around the 40-point mark by May.
CHELSEA… don’t slip back into bad habits… Frank Lampard now has money to burn with Chelsea’s transfer ban lifted, but a spending spree comes with its own problems. Despite a few wobbles, Lampard’s decision to put his faith in the Blues’ fabled youth academy looks to have paid dividends for the most part this season. Some extra star quality in January wouldn’t go amiss, but Lampard has a delicate balancing act to strike. Any disruptive egos arriving in the Stamford Bridge dressing room could undo most of his good work in keeping Chelsea competitive in the race for European football.
CRYSTAL PALACE… don’t apologise for being ruthless…. Palace’s possession (17th) and big chance created (20th) stats don’t make for great reading, and certainly don’t tally with a side sitting pretty in the top 10. However, stats ultimately count for very little if a team can regularly find a way to win even when not playing well. The Eagles can conjure a goal from nowhere if needs must – a skill that should ensure they tread water in the Premier League for yet another season.
EVERTON… get the basics right… the Toffees have the talent to push on after a forgettable first six months of the season. Now they also have an elite-level manager in place to achieve the consistency needed to fulfil their potential. Expect the pragmatic Carlo Ancelotti to turn Everton into a much harder-to-beat proposition on the road and a team that can finally start setting their sights a little higher in 2020.
LEICESTER CITY… focus on getting over the finish line… recent results suggest a title charge was always a bridge too far in Brendan Rodgers’ first season in charge. However, with no European football to tie them down this spring, the Foxes are ideally placed to consolidate their position in the top four. An 11-point buffer gives them breathing space if form tails off slightly – although Rodgers is unlikely to let standards slip.
LIVERPOOL… keep on keeping on… for a club that live for the drama when it comes to winning silverware, Jürgen Klopp’s side are playing remarkably against type – strolling towards a first Premier League title without even a hint of tension. After years of dreaming about lifting that famous trophy, will it all be a bit of a boring procession? Provided they finally get over that magic line, Reds fans won’t mind one bit.
MAN CITY… take each game as it comes… Liverpool currently look unstoppable in the race for the Premier League title, but even the slightest drop-off in form from the Reds might crank up the tension around Anfield as they close in on a first Premier League title. A complete collapse from the Reds seems unlikely, but all City can do is keep winning and see if that plays havoc with the nerves around Merseyside.
MAN UTD… keep up the mean streak… whisper it quietly, but have Man Utd rediscovered their mojo under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer? The pre-Christmas defeat to Watford suggests the Red Devils are still vulnerable to an off-day on the road, but Utd steadily seem to be getting their act together when it comes to sweeping away teams they ‘should’ be beating.
NEWCASTLE UTD… give Brucey a break… two quickfire defeats have put the Magpies boss back under pressure, but he’s done more than enough so far this season to earn the fans’ trust for now. If mid-table consolidation is the aim of the game at St James’ Park, Bruce looks to be hitting his targets – although that’s unlikely to win over some of his harshest critics.
NORWICH CITY… don’t give so generously…. the Canaries are by no means the worst promoted side to ever grace this level, but regular lapses in defence mean Daniel Farke’s side will always be their own worst enemy. Tighten up, and their attacking approach could give them an outside chance of survival. A few moves in the transfer market might also help lighten the mood after a stingy summer by Premier League standards at Carrow Road.
SHEFFIELD UTD… don’t start believing in your own hype… a flying first half of the season means the Blades will no longer be underestimated heading into 2020 – which means they need to keep evolving before teams get wise to their methods. After finally losing their unbeaten away record at Man City, Utd might be about to face their first major test of character this season with a trip to Anfield next on the agenda. Nonetheless, expect the inventive Chris Wilder to find the right solutions.
SOUTHAMPTON… lose 0-9 more often… it sounds odd, but the massacre at St Mary’s in October might just be the best thing that could have happened to the Saints this season. That nadir arguably helped shake Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side out of their lifeless start to the 2019/20 campaign. Form remains patchy, but survival now looks a much surer bet on the South Coast with steady improvement since that humbling earlier this autumn.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR… go vintage Mourinho and cut out the mistakes… the artist formerly known as the Special One has steadily guided Spurs within touching distance of the Champions League places since his arrival in November. However, they’ve yet to show much evidence of the defensive masterclasses that helped hand the Portuguese manager three Premier League titles. Mourinho arguably has a better spine to work with than the one he inherited at Man Utd. Now he just needs to add steel to a sloppy back line to turn Tottenham back into top four contenders.
WATFORD… let Pearson be Pearson… the Hornets might just have stumbled upon the right formula for survival – and that’s arguably more by accident than design. Few would have guessed at the start of the season an old school British manager would be the Watford board’s ‘get out of jail free’ card after some disastrous decision-making this year. With the players seemingly buying into Pearson’s methods, the great escape could be on at Vicarage Road – but that’s predicated on the board leaving their new man to his own devices.
WEST HAM UTD… breathe deeply and prepare for a bumpy ride…. the re-appointment of David Moyes has hardly got Hammers fans jumping for joy. However, the unpopular Scotsman did manage to do just about enough to steer West Ham clear of trouble during his last spell in charge. Despite the misgivings, Moyes should at least bring some semblance of organisation in the short term to a team lacking any sense of direction. Whether it’s the right long-term match remains to be seen.
WOLVES… cut out the complacency… Big Six teams know Nuno’s side will always give them a run for their money, but this talented team too often let their guard down against supposedly inferior opponents. Draws against the likes of Brighton, Southampton and Burnley could ultimately prove costly as they bid for a second straight season of European football. Wolves seem to be carrying out the ‘play the game, not the occasion’ mantra in reverse – creating a stir in the glamour ties while stumbling away from the media spotlight.]
Image sources: PA Images
What resolution would you give your team?
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