Premier League Midseason Worst 11
With 2013 complete and the Premier League season now half-way over, you will see plenty of best-of lists of goals and players.
However, there are plenty of players who will love to put 2013 in the rear-view mirror and hope for a better 2014. These players need to improve significantly to keep their place in the squad, and in some cases, the Premier League altogether.
To qualify, a player must have made at least five starts and 10 total appearances so far this season.
All stats from WhoScored unless noted.
Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg, Fulham
Maarten Stekelenburg was supposed to be the heir to the Fulham goalkeeping job with longtime servant Mark Schwarzer leaving the club.
However, Stekelenburg has missed several games due to injury and has been far from convincing when he has played.
The Dutch international has conceded 2.27 goals per match in his 11 appearances, according to Squawka. In addition, Stekelenburg has only stopped 58.1 percent of shots that required a save.
While David Stockdale hasn't exactly been a wall in the Fulham goal either, his performances have bettered Stekelenburg for the most part. Enough that the job may not automatically go back to Stekelenburg when he gets healthy.
Center-Back: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Newcastle United
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is one of several French-based players to have joined Alan Pardew at Newcastle United in the past two years.
The 24-year-old isn't the prototypical center-back in the way many of his Premier League counterparts may be. Yanga-Mbiwa is very reluctant to get involved in aerial duels, winning only nine of 22 duels he has been involved in.
The native of Central African Republic doesn't place the highest priority on getting stuck in on tackles either. Yanga-Mbiwa only makes 1.5 tackles per match. His lack of proficiency does get him in trouble on occasion, as his sending off against Liverpool indicates.
Center-Back: Aaron Hughes, Fulham
At 34 years of age, it appears Aaron Hughes' best days are behind him.
Hughes has barely been a factor in the Fulham defense, averaging just 0.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match. The "highlight" of his 13 appearances so far was the own goal he scored for Swansea in November.
The native of Northern Ireland does rank well in clearances with 8.8 per match. But that doesn't make up for being part of the Premier League's worst defense, which has allowed 42 goals already this season.
Left-Back: Razvan Rat, West Ham United
Romanian captain Razvan Rat was supposed to bring international and European experience coming over in a free transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk.
But Rat has struggled to adapt to play in the Premier League. The 32-year-old has only completed 65.9 percent of his passes in 13 appearances for the Hammers. His crossing has been quite poor as well, completing only 12-of-49 this season.
Rat hasn't been a big factor on defense either. While the Romanian does average a respectable 1.7 interceptions per match, Rat doesn't like getting stuck in on tackles, making only 10 all season.
Right-Back: Matthew Lowton, Aston Villa
Matthew Lowton is one of the more promising English young talents in the Premier League. Unfortunately, Lowton's 2013 ended more with a whimper than a bang.
The 24-year-old has been easier to get around than a disc cone this season. Lowton has been dribbled past 1.6 times per match while being booked three times. He currently has fewer tackles (20) than the number of times he's been dribbled by (21).
Offensively, Lowton hasn't been much brighter. While his pass completion rate of 75.7 percent isn't awful, the Englishman must improve his crossing. Two successful crosses on 20 attempts is dreadful for a professional footballer.
Defensive-Midfielder: Lee Cattermole, Sunderland
Lee Cattermole started the season out in the cold under then-Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio. He was stripped of the captaincy and given the less-than-favorable number 33 shirt instead of the No. 6 Cattermole wore the previous season.
Cattermole would regain favor and has been a regular under new manager Gus Poyet. But the 25-year-old hasn't produced many good performances.
His error against Aston Villa led to Villa's only goal in a 1-0 loss with Cattermole being substituted at halftime. The Englishman was also sent off before halftime against Hull City.
Defensively, Cattermole hasn't been bad, expect for the number of times he has been dribbled past (15 in 12 appearances). Offensively, the Sunderland man is a non-factor, even as a defensive midfielder. Cattermole has just five shots, three key passes and three successful dribbles on the season.
Central-Midfielder: Kagisho Dikgacoi, Crystal Palace
Kagisho Dikgacoi is one of many Crystal Palace players who have struggled to adapt to the Premier League.
The South African has yet to score or provide an assist for Palace in his 14 appearances, despite taking 14 shots.
Dikgacoi has been untidy with his passing, completing only 78.4 percent of his passes. The passes he does complete rarely generate chances, as the 29-year-old has only seven key passes this season.
Dikgacoi also was sent off against Manchester United, albeit under dubious circumstances involving Ashley Young.
Left-Winger: Wayne Routledge, Swansea City
After bouncing from club to club, it appears Wayne Routledge has finally found a home at Swansea City.
But that comfortable feeling may be hindering his performances.
Routledge has yet to score this season while making 17 appearances for the Swans, including 14 starts. The 28-year-old hasn't done much to create offense for his teammates either. Routledge only has 10 successful dribbles on the season, a low number for a true winger.
Routledge does have two assists this season, but his crossing must improve. The Englishman has only completed 6-of-52 attempted crosses so far this season.
Right-Winger: Damien Duff, Fulham
Damien Duff completes an unfortunate hat trick of Fulham players to make this list.
At 34, Duff has lost most of the pace needed to be an effective winger. The Irish international only has five successful dribbles in 12 appearances, while being dispossessed 13 times.
While Duff has tallied two assists, his crossing is a reason for concern. He has completed only 7 of his 28 attempted crosses so far this season.
Duff hasn't scored this season, and hasn't helped that much on defense. The right-winger has only made a combined nine tackles and interceptions during the first half.
Forward: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City
Ricky van Wolfswinkel was one of the more intriguing newcomers to the Premier League coming from Sporting CP of Portugal. So far, his performances have failed to live up to his reported £8.5 million transfer fee.
Van Wolfswinkel has only found the net once on 15 shots in 11 appearances for the Canaries. The Dutch international is prone to giving the ball away easily. He turns the ball over 1.3 times per match on just 12.1 passes per game.
The 24-year-old is also quite prone to catching the referee's attention. Van Wolfswinkel has been called for 24 fouls, a rate of 2.2 per match.
Forward: Peter Odemwingie, Cardiff City
Peter Odemwingie finally got his wish to move away from West Bromwich Albion when he signed for Cardiff City in the summer. However, Odemwingie may wish he never left the club where he found most of his success.
Since moving to Wales, the 32-year-old has struggled to find his form. Odemwingie has only scored once in 14 appearances, and has only attempted 14 shots this season.
While his dribbling skills haven't left him—the Nigerian international still averages 1.3 successful dribbles per game—Odemwingie has been dispossessed 1.8 times per match. He also strays into offside positions often, getting caught 16 times already, more than once per match.
Odemwingie has been deployed as a winger on a few occasions this season, where his performances may even be worse. One successful cross out of 13 attempts should give new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reluctance to play him there.
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