Premier League Top Fives

The 2012/13 Premier League Season is in its final stretch, only thirteen games remain and there is still a lot to play for. For those teams in the top half of the table, the race is on to get enough points to finish in the top four and qualify for a spot in next seasons Champions League. For those teams struggling in the bottom half, survival is the key – maintaining form, scoring points and keeping out of the bottom three come the last day on May 19th.

While the following top fives are by no means a glimpse into the future, what they can do is provide us with a good idea of which players and what clubs are hitting top form at this crucial time of the year.

Will Manchester City’s failure to have a striker in the top five goal scorers cost them the title?  Will the amount of goals Aston Villa concede see them relegated at the end of the season? Will Manchester United’s superior goal difference give them the edge after missing out on becoming champions by one goal last season? Will Chelsea’s decision to replace manager Roberto Di Matteo with Rafael Bentiez cost them in the long run?

Official Top Fives: (as of February 8th)

Top scorers:

  1. Robin van Persie – Manchester United – 18
  2. Luis Suarez – Liverpool – 17
  3. Demba Ba – Chelsea – 14
  4. Michu – Swansea City – 13
  5. Gareth Bale – Tottenham – 11

Most Assists:

  1. Steven Gerrard – Liverpool – 9
  2. Juan Mata – Chelsea – 9
  3. Lukas Podolski – Arsenal – 9
  4. Damien Duff – Fulham – 7
  5. Wayne Rooney – 7 – Manchester United

Minutes per goal ratio: Source Give Me Football

  1. Javier Hernandez _ Manchester United – 8 goals in 622 minutes (77.8 average)
  2. Adam Le Fondre – Reading – 10 goals in 996 minutes (99.6 average)
  3. Edin Dzeko  – Manchester City – 11 goals in 1100 minutes (100 average)
  4. Frank Lampard – Chelsea – 10 goals in 1046 minutes (104.6 average)
  5. Robin Van Persie – Manchester Utd – 18 goals in 2026 minutes (112.6 average)

Most goals scored:

  1. Manchester Utd – 60
  2. Chelsea – 51
  3. Arsenal – 49
  4. Manchester City – 47
  5. Liverpool – 44

Most goals conceded:

  1. Aston Villa – 49
  2. Wigan Athletic – 47
  3. Reading – 46
  4. Southampton – 44
  5. Newcastle – 44

Top Manager: (based on the number of points returned per game ) Source BBC Sport

  1. Alex Ferguson – Manchester United – Games: 25, Points: 62 Points per game: 2.48
  2. Roberto Mancini – Manchester City – Games: 25, Points: 53 Points per game: 2.12
  3. Roberto Di Matteo (sacked November 21st 2012) – Chelsea – Games: 12, Points: 24 Points per game: 2.00
  4. Andre Villas-Boas – Tottenham Hotspur – Games: 25, Points: 45 Points per game: 1.80
  5. Rafael Benitez (current Chelsea Manager) – Games: 13, Points: 22 Points per game: 1.69

The top fives, its not just about who has scored the most goals. The team who has suffered a poor first half of the season had the opportunity – during the recent January transfer window – to buy a player(s) who could influence their fortunes.

Will QPR’s new signings help lift them from the bottom of the table or just compound their misery? Will Tottenham’s reluctance to buy a striker cost them a top four finish? And who will save Aston Villa?

Unofficial Top Fives (based on players current form, and transfer fee):

Best transfer window buys:

  1. Philippe Coutinho  – Inter Milan to Liverpool  – $13.5m – 20-year old dubbed the new Brazilian wonder kid.
  2. Christopher Samba – Anzhi Makhachkala to QPR – $19m – Giant defender with huge a huge amount of Premier League experience.
  3. Lewis Holtby | FC Schalke 04 to Tottenham – $2.3m – Great passer of the ball, will be a phenomenal addition to the team.
  4. Moussa Sissoko | Toulouse to Newcastle – $2.8m – Scored two great goals in only his second game for the club.
  5. Andros Townsend – Tottenham to QPR – loan – Enjoyed a wonderful debut, by far the best player on the field against Norwich

Worst transfer window buys:

  1. Aston Villa – for not having bought a recognized experienced defender to shore up their leaky defense.
  2. Loric Remney – Marseille to QPR – $12.5m – brought in as the new star striker to score the goals to help save the club from relegation – injured himself in training, and will not be fit to play for two months.
  3. Wilfried Zaha | Crystal Palace to Manchester Utd – $15.8m – Huge price tag for a player from the Championship division, and do Man Utd need yet another winger?
  4. Tal Ben Haim | Unattached to QPR – free – A mystery why QPR signed him, it can be argued that he will bring nothing of value to the team
  5. Tottenham – for not buying another striker when they only have one available

Only time will tell what impact these ‘top fives’  – be it a player, manager or transfer window signing – will have on their clubs fortunes during the second half of the 2012/13 Premier League Season.  Countdown has started.

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How to avoid the drop

The ‘drop’, ‘going down’, ‘getting relegated’ all terms English Premier League soccer fans have come to know and love when it comes to watching which three teams will finish bottom of the league.

Affectionately know as ‘the drop’ the three teams with the fewest points when the season concludes in May will see their position in the Premier League come to an end and the following season(s) they will spend their time playing in the lower leagues of English soccer.

The drop normally co insides not only with a huge loss of advertising, commercial revenue (up to $50m), but can spell disaster for the club in general. They can no longer attract the top players, many of the current players in the team leave the club to play elsewhere, the attendance of the much needed fan base and the revenue from the tickets/season ticket sales declines severely, and a club which once found themselves comfortably in the black, can soon find themselves in the red and struggling for financial survival.

Many clubs who have been relegated and had hoped for a quick return to the Premiership have found themselves languishing in the lower divisions for years; some have gone into administration while some have never recovered – professionally or financially.

So how do teams avoid the drop?

Make sure the team has more than 40 points by the end of the season. It has long been the belief that teams who can accrue 40 points or more during the season are safe, and since the Premier League started in 1992, this has generally been the case. But there have been seasons when 34 points were enough, as well as seasons when teams needed 44 points to survive.

Try and avoid being bottom at Christmas – the ‘Curse of Christmas’ refers to a trend where the team at the bottom at Christmas has been relegated – this has happened every year except one (2004/5 West Bromwich Albion) since the league started in 1992. Their survival lead to the term ‘the great escape’ which is now given to a team, who, it was thought, had no chance of staying up, and yet manages to survive.

Don’t do a Swindon Town – in the 1993/94 season, Swindon won five games out of forty two and conceded 100 goals (still a Premier League Record). They were relegated and have never made it back to the Premier League.

Try and do better than Sunderland – Sunderland hold the record for the ‘worst ever Premier League Club’, during the 2005/6 season they managed just three wins and only got fifteen points – there were relegated.

Hire Harry Redknapp as the manager – having engineered the ‘great escape’ for Portsmouth from what seemed like an impossible survival position in 2006, Redknapp is currently trying to perform the same feet with his current team Queens Park Rangers (and yes they were bottom at Christmas).

Sadly there is no magic formula to avoid ‘the drop, it all comes down to hard work, sheer belief, and luck. Along with having your no.1 striker hit top form in the last few months of the season, having the opportunity to sell the teams dodgy goal keeper in the January transfer window, hoping that all the teams around you start to loose more games than you do, and above all, making sure you are not bottom of the league at Christmas. Good luck Queens Park Rangers!

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