20 Biggest Disappointments in Premier League so Far
As we approach the halfway mark, we will start to get a real feel for how the Premier League table is going to look come the end of May.
Each manager will be looking at the fixture list over the busy festive period, targeting the games which he believes his side can get something out of.
Of course, it would be naive to think that those in charge of the 20 Premier League clubs won't have any regrets. They will undoubtedly be running over a few past games, wishing they'd done something differently, dwelling on games their team should have won or most certainly should not have lost.
Each team has disappointments along the way, and here are the 20 biggest this season.
They're in no particular order, mind, just a collection of results, signings and scenarios that have not played out quite as they should have.
Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool
Tottenham crashed to a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at White Hart Lane in what was one of the season's biggest disappointments—particularly for Spurs fans.
Luis Suarez opened the scoring for the Reds, notching his 16th of the season, which is more than Tottenham's entire squad have been able to muster this term.
Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling all added further goals, while Suarez grabbed his second against 10-man Spurs, who had Paulinho sent off.
Andre Villas-Boas' men failed to land a single effort on target all afternoon.
It was a comprehensive victory for the visitors, and a real embarrassment for the hosts. An embarrassment that resulted in the Portuguese boss being relieved of his duties.
Back-to-Back Home Defeats for Man United
Manchester United slumped to consecutive home defeats in the space of four days, losing to Everton and then Newcastle.
It was the first time that the Red Devils had lost back-to-back home games since the 2001/02 season, and the result against Newcastle meant that they slipped further behind in the title race.
David Moyes' men went into the match already 12 points behind leaders Arsenal and were made to pay for a lack of creativity when Yohan Cabaye grabbed the game's only goal on the hour mark.
Man City 6-0 Tottenham
In what was one of the season's biggest surprises, Man City ran riot at the Etihad Stadium, smashing six past a hapless Spurs.
Villas-Boas' men had been awfully goal-shy ahead of the clash, but had been resolute at the back and would have fancied themselves to nick a point, if not more, against the Citizens.
It wasn't to be, however, as City went ahead in the first minute thanks to Jesus Navas' excellent finish following Hugo Lloris' error.
City were ruthless when going forward, with Navas grabbing a second, as well as goals from Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo and an own goal from Sandro.
Villas-Boas slammed his players following the defeat, stating that the team should be ashamed of themselves.
Man City 6-3 Arsenal
Succumbing to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium is not something many teams can avoid. Manuel Pellegrini's men are utterly ruthless on home soil.
However, the disappointment for Arsenal players, staff and fans was the sheer gulf in class between the two sides.
Arsenal went into the match sitting atop the Premier League table, six points ahead of City and, after a stellar start to the season, would have hoped to put up a bit more of a fight.
It was a truly thrilling game for the neutral, but there is always an air of disappointment when the league leaders ship six goals.
Aston Villa's Woeful Showing Against Fulham
Aston Villa went into their clash with Fulham at Craven Cottage coming off the back of a four-match unbeaten run in which they had collected eight points.
Things looked to be on the up for Villa, especially considering they were facing a Fulham side that had recently parted company with Martin Jol after a string of terrible performances and a subsequent lack of results.
But, judging by how the game panned out, you'd have thought it was Fulham that were the in-form side.
The home side's players looked full of energy, enthusiasm and confidence and, with Dimitar Berbatov at his very best, took Villa apart, limiting the visitors to very little—comfortably winning the game 2-0.
Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool
A 2-2 draw for Liverpool at St James' Park would seem like a pretty good result now, considering the Magpies' excellent recent form. However, Liverpool fans would have been hugely disappointed to see their side twice trail to 10-man Newcastle, who had defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa sent off.
Yohan Cabaye's screamer put the hosts ahead before Steven Gerrard restored parity after Yanga-Mbiwa was given his marching orders for a foul on Luis Suarez in the penalty area.
It seemed like the visitors, with the numerical advantage, would go on to secure all three points, but Paul Dummett again had the home side in front only for Daniel Sturridge to head the equaliser late on.
West Ham Signing Andy Carroll, Apparently
One of the biggest disappointments of this season was West Ham's signing of Liverpool striker Andy Carroll. That was according to owner David Sullivan, anyway...
Sullivan has recently expressed his dissatisfaction at the England striker's injury problems and went as far to say that the Hammers would not have agreed the deal had they known that he would have been sidelined for such a long time.
Carroll spent last season on loan with the London club and impressed enough for West Ham to cough up £15 million to secure his services on a full-time basis.
The big striker hasn't featured this season and has gained criticism from West Ham owner Sullivan.
In an interview with the BBC, he said:
Had we known he would be out for this long, we would not have signed him.
We are not a rich enough club to deal with that. You know any player can get injured, but we can't buy a player knowing he is going to be out for half the season.
When we signed him we were assured by the medical staff that the very, very latest he would be back was 1 September. That would have meant he would only miss two league games.
Owners' Lack of Patience
There’s been a severe lack of patience among owners and chairmen so far this year.
In the last week, we have seen the likes of Tottenham’s Andre Villas-Boas and West Brom’s Steve Clarke lose their jobs.
AVB’s side have been on the end of a few drubbings this season, but the manager guided Spurs to their highest-ever Premier League points tally last season. The recent 5-0 defeat to Liverpool was seemingly the final straw, as Daniel Levy moved to relieve the Portuguese of his duties.
Clarke, on the other hand, has been making steady progress with the Baggies over recent years, though they have severely missed Romelu Lukaku—who spent last season on loan at the Hawthorns.
West Brom currently lie 16th in the league after a series of defeats—a narrow 1-0 loss to fellow strugglers Cardiff City enough to force the Baggies into sacking Clarke.
Young Argentine Erik Lamela joined Tottenham in the summer for a reported fee of £30 million but has, so far, failed to emulate anything like the form he showed at former club Roma.
Spurs broke their record transfer fee to get their man, who had attracted much attention from some of Europe’s top clubs, but the 21-year-old has failed to get to grips with Premier League life.
Lamela has been used as a bit-part player for Spurs so far and will surely continue to do so if he fails to show signs of drastic improvement.
Spanish forward Roberto Soldado has been, without doubt, one of the biggest disappointments this season.
Ahead of his move to Tottenham, Soldado had scored 104 goals in 212 games with various clubs during his time in Spain. Spurs had been after the 5’10” striker for a while and finally secured his signature in August for a club record fee of £26 million—though that was surpassed by the signing of Erik Lamela.
Soldado has featured 14 times in the league for the North London club so far this campaign and has only managed a disappointing total of four goals. And what makes that stat even worse is that three of them have come from the penalty spot.
After all the drama surrounding Willian’s transfer to Chelsea, the Brazilian has struggled to live up to the hype.
The winger joined Russian side Anzhi in January but was put up for sale along with every other member of the team in the summer due to financial strife.
In one of the more eventful transfers of the summer, the 25-year-old signed a contract with Tottenham before having a last-minute change of heart and travelling across London to join Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, according to the Express.
Despite the £30 million price tag, Willian has only made seven appearances from Chelsea’s 16 appearances this campaign and, despite a stunning goal on his debut against Norwich, has remained pretty non-existent whenever he has played.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s most technically gifted players, Dimitar Berbatov is also one of the most frustrating. The Bulgarian striker has shown during his time in the Premier League—with Tottenham, Manchester United and Fulham—that he is a unique talent. Unfortunately, what he also often shows is a complete lack of desire when on the football pitch, though that is usually overshadowed by the glimpses of genius he exhibits on a regular basis.
This season has been different, though. There were obviously a number of underlying factors as to why the Cottagers struggled under Martin Jol but have since upped their game following the manager’s departure. However, Berbatov’s performances pre-Jol’s sacking were, in one word, disgraceful.
Gone were the moments of genius, and all Fulham fans were left with was a lacklustre, half-hearted striker that was willing to give nothing for the team.
His agent has since stated that Berbatov would like a transfer away from the club in January, though his recent performances would suggest otherwise.
Disappointing for Chelsea fans, football fans and Juan Mata himself; Jose Mourinho’s reluctance to play the Spaniard at the start of the season was truly a shock.
There was much made of the Chelsea boss’ insistence on overlooking the winger, but Mata was soon given the chance to prove his worth.
Unfortunately, Mata has been unable to replicate the form that earned him so many plaudits last year.
Mata featured heavily for the Blues during the 2012/13 season and was one of their better players—if not their best. However, whether it be a lack of confidence following a falling out of favour or something else, the 25-year-old is not doing himself any favours and is surely not changing the Chelsea boss’ opinion of him.
West Ham have had their fair share of problems to deal with this year, with the likes of Andy Carroll and Ricardo Vaz Te injured for lengthy periods. The Hammers have, for large parts of the season, been forced to play without a striker on the pitch—something which has seen them slip toward the bottom of the league table.
While the blame cannot be placed at anybody’s door for their plight regarding injuries, Sam Allardyce must shoulder some of the responsibility. The West Ham boss re-signed Carlton Cole in the summer but continued to send a team onto the field without an out-and-out striker—instead opting to push Kevin Nolan further upfield.
West Ham have subsequently struggled in front of goal and have had more 0-0 results than the entire Bundesliga put together this year.
Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke netted 19 league goals during his debut season in England. The Belgian striker single-handedly saved Villa from relegation last year, but his goal haul had many questioning whether he could continue in the same rich vein of form.
All questions seemed to be put to be bed following the first four games of this campaign, however, as he found the net four times.
Unfortunately for the Villa striker, he suffered an injury during September and subsequently missed the following two games.
Upon his return, many had hoped that the talismanic forward would continue to bang in the goals for Villa, but he has now gone an incredible 10 games without a goal—his longest dry spell for the club.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel
Dutch forward Ricky van Wolfswinkel arrived at Norwich with a big reputation for goals and with an £8 million price tag on his head.
With European experience under his belt, having played in the Europa League for FC Utrecht and Sporting Lisbon, many expected big things from the 24-year-old, and he didn't disappoint on his league debut.
Van Wolfswinkel grabbed a dramatic point for the Canaries with a late equaliser against Everton, dispatching a superb header in a 2-2 draw.
Despite that goal, the Dutchman contributed very little toward his team's effort in that game. In fact, he had just eight touches of the ball during the 90 minutes—fewer than any other Premier League player for six years.
And it's been much of the same ever since. The striker has been unable to feature in any of Norwich's last seven fixtures through injury, but his contribution in the previous games was minimal.
The Norwich fans will hope that Van Wolfswinkel will find the goals again upon his return from injury, but if his eight appearances in the yellow shirt are anything to go by, then they could be be hugely let down.
Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle
Newcastle are currently on a very impressive run that sees them sitting sixth with five wins from their last seven games—including the scalps of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.
However, it seems that one thing sparked off this magnificent run, and it was their biggest disappointment of the season—a painful loss to archrivals Sunderland.
The Black Cats secured their first win of the season at the best possible time whilst the Magpies fell to a second defeat in two seasons against their most bitter rivals.
Stoke 3-2 Chelsea
Chelsea could well be top of the Premier League on Monday, with league leaders Arsenal next on their list, but Jose Mourinho's men were humbled in embarrassing circumstances just a few weeks ago.
The Blues travelled to the Midlands to face a Stoke City side that were stuttering and stalling under Mark Hughes and would have expected to come away with three points, especially considering that the Britannia Stadium is no longer a venue teams fear playing at.
The game started so well for Chelsea, as they went ahead inside 10 minutes, Andre Schurrle opening the scoring. But they were soon trailing thanks to goals from Peter Crouch and a magnificent Stephen Ireland effort.
Schurrle restored parity with over half an hour to play, and it looked likely that the Blues would go on to win the match, only for Oussama Assaidi's wonderful solo effort to nick it at the death for the hosts.
Sunderland 1-0 Man City
Man City have had a number of obstacles to contend with this season—the disappearance of No. 1 goalkeeper Joe Hart's form the most obvious—but they still remain on track for a genuine title push.
City are simply unstoppable at home and have dismantled a number of teams that have visited the Etihad Stadium this term, though their form on the road has been less than satisfactory.
A 3-2 defeat at Villa Park was one of their lowest points, especially considering they gifted Villa two goals and the other was offside, but their biggest disappointment was an incredibly narrow 1-0 loss to Sunderland.
City, in fairness, didn't play particularly poorly but went behind through a well-taken Phil Bardsley goal, and no matter how hard they tried, they simply could not break down the stubborn Black Cats defence.
Southampton 2-3 Aston Villa
Southampton were one of the surprise packages last season, with Mauricio Pochettino proving just why the Saints board fired former manager Nigel Adkins and replaced him with the Argentine.
And after a promising start to this campaign, the Saints have gone off the boil and are on a poor run of form.
However, despite that form, they would have thought the last thing that could have happened to them was Aston Villa travelling to St. Mary's and beating them 3-2. Well, that was what happened.
Twice the Saints trailed and twice they managed to restore parity, but as they pushed for a winner at the death, Villa struck through Fabian Delph's first league goal.
The all-action midfielder ventured out of his own half and deep into the home side's. With no challenge forthcoming, Delph opted to let rip from 25 yards, finding the top corner in some style and securing all three points for Villa.