English Premier League New Years Resolutions

Can the Theatre of Draws become the Theatre of Dreams once again in 2016?
Can the Theatre of Draws become the Theatre of Dreams once again in 2016? /

2016 is upon us. A new year awaits and the halfway mark of the season has officially arrived.

Nineteen games into the English Premier League season sees Leicester tied with Arsenal at the top of the table. Tottenham are in fourth behind Manchester City on goal difference.

Manchester United languish in sixth whilst Champions Chelsea’s historically bad start sees them in fourteenth. Aston Villa prop up the table in last, eleven points from safety.

It’s been an unpredictable season, maybe the most yet.

A busy January awaits, and the vast majority (if not all) the clubs in the division have issues to iron out if they are to push on through the second half of the campaign.

So what changes, adjustments and resolutions do clubs need to make to ensure their progress, success or survival? Let’s take a look:

More from The Top Flight

Arsenal: sign a defensive midfielder. This has been demanded by fans for too long, and the injury to Francis Coquelin has now made the signing a must.

Quality defensive anchors are hard enough to find, let alone in January so Arsene Wenger has his work cut out if he wants to complete a squad with the potential to finally reclaim the Premier League trophy.

Aston Villa: pray for a miracle. Having scored the least amount of goals in the Premier League and conceded the second most in the division, the Villains languish in last.

Barring a miracle signing or two in the winter window, Villa are likely heading to the Championship at the end of the season.

Bournemouth: keep the belief. After a five game unbeaten streak starting in late November, the Cherries pulled off a comeback draw against Everton, before miraculously beating Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive weeks.

They now have the belief they can make it in the top flight. Now they need to sustain it. A signing or two to cover the harsh injuries they’ve suffered couldn’t hurt either.

Chelsea: come together, or fall apart. It is clear all is not well at Stamford Bridge. Rumours of in fighting in the dressing room have been reported all season long with Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas supposedly unhappy.

Fans have let their feelings be known at games and if they don’t start mending some fences, they have no chance of making the European places.

How long will Jose Mourinho’s shadow linger over Stamford Bridge? /

Crystal Palace: more goals from their main men. Crystal Palace are a new team under Alan Pardew, whose turned relegation battlers into mainstays of the entire division. They sit in fifth place, are strong at the back and score enough goals.

The only issue? No striker has scored in open play this season. That has to change if Palace are to sustain their momentum and potentially improve.

Everton: start defending consistently. In recent weeks the Toffees have shipped three goals to Bournemouth and Leicester, then four on the weekend at home to Stoke.

Two of those results have included late goals, and those are crucial points. With one of the most breath taking counter attacks in England, if they can start tightening up their defence they can start moving up the table.

Leicester: get Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy help. The Foxes two main men are not alone in pulling their team to the top of the table. But considering they’ve scored twenty-eight of their thirty-seven goals, they’ve played a huge part.

They’re going to need help in January to keep dreaming of Europe. Luckily they’ve got willing owners who’ve already indicated they’ll be doing some shopping.

Liverpool: stop dropping valuable points. Under new manager Jürgen Klopp the Reds have embraced gegenpressing, smashing Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton in the process. 

But teams get numbers behind the ball, and it’s seen them drop valuable points in the process. They need to figure out how to adapt and beat this if they’re going to push higher than their current tenth position.

Manchester City: rely on their stars less. Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero are world class stars. But the Citizens rely far too heavily on them.

This morning’s draw was City’s first clean sheet without their captain. Whilst injuries to Silva and Aguero seems to derail their attack. Either via new signings or current players stepping up, their key men need some help.

Can the Theatre of Draws become the Theatre of Dreams once again in 2016?
Can the Theatre of Draws become the Theatre of Dreams once again in 2016? /

Manchester United: make the right signings. There is nothing wrong with the players Manchester United have signed.

But the Red Devils have ignored the need to add quality in central defence and attack for too long, and they rely far too much on only Ander Herrera to provide midfield dynamism. Ed Woodward has failed through five transfer windows. He cannot make it six.

Newcastle United: develop consistency. But a team cannot survive if they beat Norwich 6-2 after losing to Manchester City 6-1 the week before, not to mention brilliant wins against Liverpool and Tottenham after horrible 5-1 and 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

Relying on Georginio Wijnaldum (who’s scored seven of their nineteen goals) less couldn’t hurt either.

Norwich City: maintain their current form. Following a horrible start to the season, the Canaries have finally found their groove putting together a lightning quick counter attack.

They’ve started showing what they can do, including a historic win at Old Trafford. They only lost to Manchester City and Chelsea by a goal each, whilst holding Arsenal to a tough draw at home. The ability is there if they can use it.

Southampton: don’t let Sadio Mané leave. It’s pretty simple really, hold onto your talisman. Mané is their key man, tallying three goals and six assists so far this season.

Their Senegalese attacker is a lightning dribbler and key set up man. Manchester United are keen admirers with a glaring need on the right of their attack. Southampton must ward off their interest, at least until the summer.

Stoke City: keep building their squad. Don’t look now, but Mark Hughes seems to be building something special in Stoke.

Bojan, Marco Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Affelay form one of the most exciting attacks in the whole country. If they can keep scoring consistently while adding some muscle to their midfield to support their stars, they can keep rising.

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Sunderland: don’t do a Queens Park Rangers. In January 2013 Harry Redknapp spent big to try and ensure Rangers survival in the Premier League. 

Christopher Samba arrived from Anzhi Makhachkala for £12.5m, failed miserably and the club were relegated anyway. Sam Allardyce can’t follow his path in his attempt to keep Sunderland up and they can’t afford to panic buy.

Swansea City: find a new manager and survive. It’s pretty simple for the Welsh club, they’re sitting seventeenth and their squad is too good for the Championship.

Not many had them picked for the drop, but they stopped responding to Garry Monk. They need a task master who can get the team back on track. A striker couldn’t hurt either. They’ve only scored sixteen goals through nineteen games.

Tottenham: keep improving. Tottenham are on the rise. On the back of a long unbeaten streak, Spurs have now rolled off three impressive wins in a row.

They are tough to beat, strong at the back, full of exciting young stars (such as breakout star Delle Ali) and Harry Kane is the form striker of 2015 (with 10 more goals than any other Premier League player). It’s onwards and upwards at White Hart Lane.

Watford: don’t get complacent. The Hornets are eighth, and before yesterday’s result were tied with Manchester United on points.

They already have twenty eight points on the way to the magical forty point mark. Bournemouth appear to have beaten them to the signing of Juan Iturbe, but if they can consolidate with that type of player they can aim for a top half finish.

West Bromwich Albion: score more goals. Tony Pulis teams are always defensively resolute, and the Baggies have only conceded twenty-four goals this campaign which is more than reasonable.

But only Aston Villa and Swansea have scored less goals. They need more to ensure their survival.

West Ham United: get healthy. Injuries have cut down Slaven Bilić’s squad, who started so promisingly with wins away from home against Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The loss of Dimitri Payet long term has been costly, and the Hammers won their first match in two months yesterday. A very promising campaign can get back on track with a little luck.