The only way is up

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-20 5:03:02

The biggest disappointments of the Premier League season so far

Chelsea's English defender John Terry reacts as he leaves the pitch after their 1-0 loss to Stoke City in the English Premier League in Stoke-on-Trent on November 7. Photo: CFP

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. That's how the adage goes and it rings true for the Premier League this season.

It can be argued that Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal is one of the division's worst players - he is the most dispossessed player (41 times) and is fifth for most unsuccessful touches (28) - but the numbers don't tell the whole story: The Chilean scored a brace against Manchester United to secure the Gunners three points and he also popped up with a hat trick against high-flying Leicester City. Sanchez might need a rest to reach the heights of last season but he is far from the worst player in the league. He continues to prove a match ­winner and it could be argued that those statistics are actually a reflection of how good he is - both are happening because he is trying to beat men in the final third, which he does more often than not.

The stats tell a truer story for many of the other players in the Premier League. And with the prevalence of Opta, Prozone and fantasy league scrutiny, footballers can't hide from them. These numbers provide back up for what is made obvious by the league table and watching games. This is our take on the worst team of the season so far. It's playing in a rather unorthodox formation to reflect the biggest under­performers rather than the outright worst - there are no Sunderland or Aston Villa defenders, for example, despite their obvious shortcomings. These are players that have hit the heights before, or who ­arrived with much fanfare, but already wish the season was over.

GK: Asmir Begovic - Chelsea

Only Artur Boruc at Bournemouth and the Crystal Palace pair of Wayne Hennessey and Alex McCarthy have worse ratings. The truth is that the Bosnian stopper was signed as a backup and due to Thibault Cortouis' injury he has been thrust in the spotlight but it's gone hand-in-glove with Chelsea's truly remarkable title defense. The fact that Brad Guzan at Aston Villa and Costel Pantimillion of Sunderland are just ahead of him is testament where the West Londoners currently stand. It might not be his fault but he's taking the fall.

DF: Branislav Ivanovic - Chelsea

The Serb has been a rock since arriving at Stamford Bridge … until this season, when he has become the poster boy for Chelsea's slump. He's gone from being arguably the best defender in the league - at both ends of the field to a complete liability targeted by opposition managers as a weak link. A hamstring injury means he has missed the last few games but he is set to return this weekend against Norwich. His performance against Nathan Redmond, should he also return, is a chance to prove this season is a blip.

DF: John Terry - Chelsea

Hauled off at halftime when the Blues were battered at Manchester City, the skipper is no longer the defensive talisman so synonymous with success at Stamford Bridge. Age appears to have caught up with the 34-year-old and after over a decade of putting his body on the line it seems that last year's title was one season too far. Unfair perhaps, but soccer moves on and it might be time for JT to do the same.

MD: Nemanja Matic - Chelsea

Another Serb at Chelsea whose form has come as a complete shock. He was the foundation at the base of a midfield that cantered to the championship but this campaign has seen stray passes and an absence of the assuredness that allowed his flair colleagues to play.

MD: Memphis Depay - Manchester United

The young Dutchman is the third most dispossessed player in the Premier League this season, having lost the ball 32 times. Despite much fanfare, record shirt sales and some quite outspoken quotes, Depay has so far struggled to adapt to the pace and power of the Premier League. He may get a chance to return to the starting lineup this weekend if Anthony Martial is injured but he is currently being kept out of the team by Jesse Lingard.

MD: Cesc Fabregas - Chelsea

This time last season the Spaniard had double figure assists but has just one this season. He's still making chances but at a lesser rate per game and the forwards are not finishing them. A great assist against England last week proves he still has it but nothing is coming off in a blue shirt.

MD: Eden Hazard - Chelsea

The reigning PFA Player of the Year has been anonymous this season. No goals and two assists so far plus he has been confined to the bench as Jose Mourinho turns away from flair players to arrest Chelsea's slide. Oddly, he still delivers for ­Belgium, which adds weight to rumors he wants out of the club.

MD: Pedro - Chelsea

The former Barcelona man marked his arrival with a goal and it appeared a transfer coup that Chelsea signed him from under the nose of Manchester United. No longer. He has the worst finishing percentage in the league players who have had more than 10 shots this season.

FW: Roberto Firmino - Liverpool

Linked with every big club this summer, it was Liverpool who signed the Brazilian from Hoffenheim. He's been hampered by injury, being eased in to the league and a change in managers but there were big expectations along with his transfer fee. No goals so far make it fair to say he has not yet met them.

FW: Wayne Rooney - Manchester United

A victim of Van Gaal's boa ­constrictor-style soccer or over the hill? The jury is out but the England captain has not delivered for Manchester United this season, aside from a hat trick against Club Brugges. He has scored for his country, surpassing Bobby Charlton's record, but looks off the pace at Old Trafford.

FW: Radamel Falcao - Chelsea

The striker's barren run has continued since moving to London. A solitary goal in 11 appearances has not been the rebirth that Mourinho predicted. It's a sad sight and one that may come to an end in January if he returns to Monaco.

Manager: Jose Mourinho - Chelsea

It could only be the Special One. He's taken the champions to 16th place and their title defence is in tatters. Mourinho is rumored to have lost the dressing room and his players are not performing for him. Seven defeats in 12 games is uncharacteristic and it remains to be seen how long his chairman will put up with this. Truly unexpected.

Posted in: Feature, Soccer

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