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Premier League grades

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola dissect the current state of the Premier League's battle for the top four and discuss if Manchester United truly have what it takes.

With the halfway point of the season here, it is time to reveal our mid-term Premier League grades for all 20 clubs.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Let’s get to it, as we analyze who has surpassed expectations and which clubs have struggled mightily in the opening half of the 2020-21 campaign.

It’s safe to say there are some big boys flunking and a few underdogs top of the class, so far, as there are just eight points between the first place and seventh place team in the Premier League table.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Below we dish out our grades for the first half of the 2020-21 Premier League.

Premier League mid-term grades for 2020-21

Arsenal: D-
Mikel Arteta’s side had a fine comeback over the festive period, but that doesn’t make up for an awful start to the season which had them in the relegation picture for most of it. The Gunners will be hoping 2021 is the year they kick on and prove their top four credentials.

Aston Villa: A+
What a start to the season for Villa! They are in the top four picture and have two games in-hand over most of their rivals, as Jack Grealish has pulled the strings, they’ve improved massively at the back and Ollie Watkins gives them an extra edge in attack. After just staying up last season, they’ve rode that wave of optimism spectacularly.

Burnley: C+
What you would expect, just about. Sean Dyche deserves credit as the club didn’t spend money in the transfer window due to the impending takeover, which is now complete, and he’s managed to steer Burnley just above the relegation zone despite a woeful start and they had a huge win against Liverpool. Still, they need to add key parts in January to kick on and away from the drop zone.

Brighton: D-
Pretty awful from a results perspective, as Graham Potter’s side continue to play lovely stuff but can’t get the job done as they’ve won just three times in 19 games so far this season. That isn’t good enough for this squad of players. A relegation scrap beckons.

Chelsea: C
For a few weeks it seemed like they were genuine title contenders, but the same few mistakes keep hitting Chelsea hard. They can’t finish chances off and they make silly defensive mistakes. Not a great combo. Big-money arrivals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have struggled in the Premier League and that means Frank Lampard was fired as a title bid has turned into a scrap to be in the top four picture. Not good enough considering the squad they have.

Crystal Palace: C+
Well, C+ is just about the most Roy Hodgson grade you can get. The Eagles continue to just exceed expectations, as Wilfried Zaha has been in great form and they have had a lot of injuries to deal with. Comfortably in midtable.

Everton: A-
After an amazing start to the season there was a lot of talk of a title push for the Toffees. That talk had dissipated, slightly, but a recent run of good form has them in the top four conversation. When Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James Rodriguez are fit, they can beat anyone. Injuries haven’t been kind to them, but they’re finding a way to grind out wins.

Fulham: C
Poor start to life back in the Premier League but they’ve rebounded well. Scott Parker has found his preferred system of 3-4-3 which has shored up their defensive issues and still gives them a threat in attack. They need to score more goals, but their defensive additions late in the summer window were brilliant. Let’s see what January brings at the other end of the pitch.

Leeds United: B
This was what we expected from Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have gone for it in pretty much every game and the Premier League has been taken aback by how quickly they’ve settled with their high-press. Leeds are in midtable and primed for a top 10 push, at least. Patrick Bamford is scoring goals and if they didn’t have so many defensive injuries, maybe the great entertainers would be in the top six.

Leicester City: A+
You have to applaud Brendan Rodgers’ side for a wonderful season so far. After just missing out on the top four last season, they are right up there once again. Add in so many injuries, especially at the back, and the fact they’ve been in Europa League action, and it is quite remarkable. If Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi stay fit, they have a chance of pushing for the title. Seriously.

Liverpool: B+
Talking about a title push and injuries, the Reds have hung in there despite losing their two first-choice center backs in Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez but the last few weeks have been tough. Away from home, Liverpool have struggled and they have been lackluster in attack in recent weeks. Jurgen Klopp says he is focusing on a top four finish rather than winning the title. Surely that is lowering the expectations too much?

Manchester City: B+
Here. They. Come. After struggling through the opening months of the season -- often without a striker as they struggled for goals without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus -- City have found their feet. Pep Guardiola’s side are more pragmatic this season and that is what they needed to do. Especially against the big teams. A different sort of City team, but still capable of dominating games as Kevin de Bruyne is running the show and John Stones is a man reborn. KDB is out injured, so they will have to deal with that in the next month.

Manchester United: A-
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Man United in the title race? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Man United in the title race. Whisper it, but United are in incredible form and they’ve finally found consistency. After a slow start, both in the season and during games, they have their top attacking talents firing on all cylinders. United are ahead of schedule and Bruno Fernandes is getting better and better, plus a shoutout to their much-maligned defenders Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw who have turned things around.

Newcastle United: C+
They’ve picked up more points than they deserved, and Steve Bruce is edging them closer to the 40 point marker. But that’s about it. Callum Wilson has been good for a squad hit hard by the long-term impacts of COVID-19. Not the most inspiring to watch, and the pressure is on Bruce after a wretched recent run.

Sheffield United: F
Just woeful. The Blades are playing well enough in games but in the key moments they aren’t good enough at the back and going forward they just can’t score. Five points and one win from their opening 19 games is historically bad, but they aren’t doing a lot different than last season. Perhaps they have been really, really unlucky? New signings Rhian Brewster and Aaron Ramsdale have struggled at either end of the pitch and they just have to score more goals.

Southampton: A+
The Saints are marching on. After a fine ‘Project Restart’ they improved after a shaky start and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side still high-press, but have shored things up at the back and are much better on the ball. As long as Danny Ings stays fit, Saints can push for the top six. James Ward-Prowse, Kyle Walker-Peters, Jannik Vestergaard, Oriol Romeu and Che Adams are all having fine seasons too.

Tottenham Hotspur: B+
A very good start to the season for Jose Mourinho’s side, and it needed to be after their big-spending summer. They’ve fallen away a little, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon have been great signings. They aren’t always the best to watch, but Harry Kane and Heung-min Son are on fire and make Spurs worth watching. They are still just about in the title race, and the League Cup final, and Mourinho is a master at getting teams over the line.

West Bromwich Albion: F
Slaven Bilic is a nice bloke, and a good coach, but he wasn’t backed in the transfer window after getting them promoted, and it showed. New boss Sam Allardyce needs to be backed in the window, or else they are going to get relegated very quickly. Going forward they are struggling for goals and the Baggies are really up against it at the back. Worrying.

West Ham United: B+
David Moyes has done a really good job and his two main signings, Coufal and Soucek, have been fine additions. West Ham aren’t always the best to watch but they’ve been economical and they’ve missed Michail Antonio badly. Defensively they are tough to break down and they can push for Europe if Antonio is fit and they bring in another forward in January.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: C+
The injury to Raul Jimenez hit them hard but Wolves have shown plenty of grit to hang in there. They may not challenge for the top six, but you get the sense they will kick on in 2021. Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto have shown flashes of brilliance but they haven’t been consistent enough. Willian Jo

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