English Premier League: Christmas Wish Lists
This season has been one of the most hotly contested in Premier League history. With teams seemingly winning and losing in even measure, it's tight at the top, interesting in mid-table and the relegation battle could claim any number of teams.
With Christmas around the corner, I'm sure there are a host of lists from each club heading to Santa. Some want new players, others new managers, but the January transfer window is notoriously expensive.
Here is a rundown of what each club wants or, in some cases, needs!
Arsenal have enjoyed a successful season so far, sitting pretty around second. Their loss to Manchester United was a blip in their title challenge, but there are many games to go.
Arsene Wenger has been notably stubborn in signing key players at the back. A lack of a top-class keeper has been an issue for many years now, with Manuel Almunia seemingly given his marching orders in January. The acquisitions of Koscielny and Squillaci as centre backs have been unimpressive, especially when compared to last season's capture of Thomas Vermaelen.
On Arsenals wish list is:
- A decent goalkeeper
- One or two centre backs
Aston Villa enjoyed a fantastic season last year, finishing sixth. Unfortunately, due to the loss of James Milner, their highly successful manager Martin O' Neill stepped down. Since then, they have acquired the services of ex-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier.
Villa have struggled a little this season, suffering injury setbacks and relying on youngsters such as Albrighton, Bannan and Hogg, who have been very impressive. The Villa strike force has struggled to net goals, contributing to their current poor form.
If Villa are to regain their previous form and success, they need to keep hold of top players like Ashley Young.
Aston Villa's wish list:
- To keep hold of Ashley Young
- A new goal-scoring striker
- A creative central midfielder
After promotion, last season Birmingham had a fantastic first season in the Premier League, finishing ninth. This season, however, they find themselves at the lower end of the table, mainly due to very poor away form.
Birmingham's side is fairly solid. McLeish found an excellent keeper and replacement for Joe Hart in Ben Foster and the back four are pretty good. They have a few good attacking options but perhaps some more creativity is needed.
Recently it has emerged Swede Sebastian Larsson may not renew his contract at St. Andrews. This would undoubtedly be a blow.
Birmingham's wish list:
- To keep Sebastian Larsson
- Improved away form
- A decent winger or creative attacking options
Blackburn have been fairly consistent this season, finding themselves in a familiar mid-table position.
The takeover by Indian company Venkey's saw the controversial sacking of 'Big Sam' Allardyce. Perhaps a very big mistake made by the English football newcomers. Had money been given to Allardyce, he would undoubtedly have spent wisely and took the club in the correct direction. However, the new owners did not believe this would be the case.
The Blackburn squad is in fairly good condition, however, some key areas may be in need of a tweak. Aging fullback Michel Salgado has perhaps seen better days, and the Rovers have never really found a replacement for the goalscoring ability of the departed Roque Santa Cruz.
Blackburn's wish list:
- A new manager and suitable Allardyce replacement
- A new goalscoring striker
The Seasiders are enjoying a fantastic introduction into the Premier League under barmy but brilliant manager Ian Holloway.
Currently mid-table, if the Tangerines can pull off a few more of their shocking victories they are sure to stay up. Holloway has got the side playing well, but a few of his talents have attracted unwanted transfer attention, he will not want to be losing key players.
With a capacity of only 16,000, Bloomfield Road may become an issue if Blackpool want to sustain their Premier League ambitions.
Blackpool's wish list:
- To keep key players such as Charlie Adam
- Refurbish or expand Bloomfield Road
- To keep playing so well and remain in the Premier League!
Since Owen Coyle took over from Gary Megson as manager, Bolton have improved drastically. So much so that they now sit closer to the top four than the likes of Liverpool.
With a new appealing style of football, and some players like Johan Elmander starting to perform, Bolton are enjoying one of their best spells in the Premier League. However, a few of their better players are now being targeted by the Premier League big boys. With debts of nearly £100 million, it looks likely that selling some stars will be inevitable.
The likes of Gary Cahill, Lee Chung-Yong and Johan Elmander may be hard to keep hold of.
Bolton's wish list:
- Try to keep star players
- Remain playing their successful style of football
Last year's winners started off a dominant force, but in the last couple of months form has dropped considerably. Games they should have won have been drawn or even lost.
Some star players have been out through injury, but even the fit members of the team have lost form and confidence. The loss of both senior centre backs Terry and Alex simultaneously had a profound impact on performances, the void could not be filled.
During the summer Chelsea made only a select few signings, Ramires being the most prominent. So far he has been rather disappointing. Losing Ricardo Carvalho had more of an impact than they first realised. It was a big mistake not to sign a capable replacement and Ancelotti will have to do so in January.
Many key players of the past are no longer as young and fit as they once were. The likes of Lampard, Anelka and Drogba are well into their 30s and will have to be replaced sooner rather than later.
To add to the saga, the question of Ancelotti's job security will always be an issue at a club such as Chelsea during such periods of poor form.
Chelsea's wish list:
Centre back replacement for Carvalho
A younger goalscoring striker
As usual Everton have had a slow start to the season, however, this year they have struggled uncharacteristically. Usually, by this time of year the Toffees have started to find their feet and put in some good performances, ready for the new year.
They currently lie at the lower end of the table, and are struggling for the emergence of a prominent goalscorer. The signing of Jermaine Beckford has, as expected, not proven to be a Moyes stroke of genius.
Steven Pienaar looks to be heading for the exit too, possibly to Spurs.
Evertons wish list:
- A couple of goalscoring strikers
- Steven Pienaar replacement
The loss of Roy Hodgson was always going to be a big impact on the side. Replacement Mark Hughes has done fairly well so far in that he has lost only a few games. However, he has not won many either.
Too many draws can cost any side dearly and this will have to change, especially when Fulham are floating above relegation.
Fulham's wish list:
- To stop drawing and start winning
It's fair to say Roy Hodgson has not had the best of starts to his Liverpool career. Currently mid-table, Liverpool are struggling for form with top players like Fernando Torres not turning up.
Injuries are also becoming a problem with the likes of Gerrard, Agger and Carragher all spending time on the side lines.
With new owners and the addition of Damien Commoli, the Reds need to make a few signings to improve key areas of the squad, mainly in attack.
The long-running stadium saga continues, just when will this be solved is unknown. Hodgson must improve his away form if he is to win over fans and keep his job.
Liverpool wish list:
- A top second striker to partner Torres
- Left back
- A new stadium
- Away form!
When a club has as much money as Manchester City they are bound to be near the top eventually. City have been around the sought-after fourth spot for most of the season. It looks like only Spurs could spoil their fun.
A title challenge is unlikely. They have the squad, but recently harmony amongst players has been awful and Mancini has struggled to maintain order amongst the ranks.
To add to this, City's star player Tevez, who is relied on greatly, has publicly expressed his desire to leave
Man City's wish list:
- Tevez replacement
- Squad harmony!
- A new manager? *
* with a team like Manchester City, any excuse to sack a manager will be used.
It's extremely hard to fault a team such as the Red Devils who seem to deliver every year. Fergie has made some good signings, but players such as Giggs and Scholes have really seen better days and need to be suitably replaced.
For the past two or three seasons United have struggled at right back, with Gary Neville past it and the likes of John O' Shea and Rafael not fully up to scratch. Also, solid and reliable goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has reached his final season.
The Wayne Rooney scandal is also very interesting. Having managed to keep him, has Fergie been extremely clever intending to sell him at a high price; or will he remain a Manchester United player?
Time will tell.
United's wish list:
- Right back
- Replacements for golden oldies
- Wayne Rooney replacement?
Newly promoted and back where they belong, only a few signings were made for their re-introduction to the Premier League.
The sacking of Chris Hughton was highly controversial, and only time will tell whether it was a good call.
Andy Carroll has been sensational up front, and players such as Nolan and Barton have also stepped up. To really push on and progress, Newcastle may need to improve their defence slightly and consider signing a class winger.
No doubt the fans would have new owners at the top of their list!
Newcastle wish list:
- A winger
- New owners!
Tony Pulis made a few big signings in the summer, and his side have played largely very well...but on many occassions been extremely unlucky with decisions.
Ryan Shawcross may be a target for bigger clubs so may need replacing. But the side overall seems to be solidly built for purpose. Loaned winger Jermaine Pennant has had a high price tag placed on him by his club Real Zaragoza; Stoke will hope to sign him for a lower price.
Stoke's wish list:
- Ryan Shawcross replacement (if he cant be kept)
- Jermaine Pennant (at the right price)
- Some luck!
Steve Bruce is enjoying a great run of form from his side, who are sitting well into the top half of the table.
Recently his side have suffered injuries to key defenders, but have managed to stay on course with results. A selection of Sunderland's players are loanees and they may benefit from making their contracts permanent.
Sunderland's wish list:
- less defensive injuries
- to capture some top performing players permanently
Since the arrival of Harry Redknapp, Spurs have gone from relegation battlers to Champions League giant killers. Some top signings have turned the side into an attacking force capable of beating any top side.
Redknapp has struggled to fill his centre back roles consistently, never appearing happy with any combination. Of course, ideally Ledley King would always be available but this is not the case. Another slightly concerning area is between the posts. Gomez is a fantastic shot stopper, but is known for occasional blunders.
The emergence of Gareth Bale as a star player has alerted many clubs globally to his skills. The Welshman remains distinctly quiet about his future at Spurs. Beyond Jermain Defoe, the Spurs strike force could be tweaked slightly. The addition of just one extra world-class striker may cement their top four status permanently.
Spurs' wish list:
- Hold on to Gareth Bale
- A world class striker
- A solid and consistent centre back pairing
- A reliable goalkeeper
West Bromwich Albion
Like fellow newcomers Blackpool and Newcastle, West Brom are enjoying a successful introduction to the Premier League.
Roberto Di Matteo's side lie just outside the top half of the table, and players such as Somen Tchoyi and Peter Odemwingie have proven to be fantastic signings.
Recently, form has slipped slightly and West Brom will be aware of how easy it is to let things slide in the Premier League.
Fans will hope to end the period of being a 'yo-yo club'
West Brom's wish list:
- Maintain good form consistently
- Stay in the Premier League and stop yo-yoing up and down
West Ham United
After scraping to stay in the Premier League last season, Gianfranco Zola was swiftly replaced by Avram Grant. Unfortunately for Hammers fans, the London side are suffering an extremely poor campaign and lie rock bottom of the table.
The signing of strikers such as Victor Obinna and Frederic Piquionne have had little impact and the side lacks confidence and creativity.
The team itself is not particularly poor with players like Scott Parker desperately trying to bring class to the way the Hammers play, although to little effect. West Ham will face a battle to keep some of its stars, and losing them would have dire consequences.
Grant supposedly has three games to save his job. With Sam Allardyce currently unemployed, it is possible he may be an ideal replacement.
West Ham's wish list:
- Survive in the Premier League
- Keep Scott Parker
- New manager?
- Improve goalscoring
- 3 points!
Wigan have really struggled this season and find themselves in the relegation zone. Roberto Martinez now has the Caldwell brothers at centre back and the addition of two new Argentinian strikers Boselli and Franco Di Santo.
Like so many of the struggling teams Wigan have been unable to find the net regularly. Charles N' Zogbia is the most creative player they have, but the vultures are circling around the winger.
Luckily for Wigan they are not adrift beyond rescue; but wins have to start coming their way. Fast.
Wigan's wish list:
- Keep Charles N' Zogbia
- Win some games!
- Find the net more often
The final team of the 'three W's' which make up the relegation zone. Mick McCarthy's side have played consistently very well; but struggled on many occasions to secure all three points.
Again Wolves are not high and dry, and a succession of wins could save them. Football is fickle and some good results in the new year would turn their fortunes around.
Wolves' wish list:
- Some luck
- 3 points more often