Stan Collymore's Half-Term Report

The People (London, England), December 30, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Stan Collymore's Half-Term Report


Byline: STAN COLLYMORE

THE greatest sporting year in my lifetime is almost behind us - 2013 has a lot to live up to. But it's all boiling up nicely for another dramatic Premier League finale.

Manchester City can definitely still win the title again because they have not hit top gear yet, so have plenty in reserve.

And I think the manager will ask for funds to give them a new buzz.

But my understanding is that there is resentment towards Mario Balotelli and if City are to pull it off again, then the first thing Roberto Mancini must do is dump the young Italian.

It was a big own goal to play Balotelli in the Manchester derby - Carlos Tevez had far more impact when he came into the game, although City still lost. The outcome swung the title race in United's favour - and as City look to push themselves back into contention, it's Balotelli who must make way.

The City dressing room is not happy. They will tolerate the crackpot Italian if he is doing the business, but they would be better off without him.

Fergie was truly gutted about United losing the league on goal difference and he has made sure they are scoring enough to ensure it doesn't happen again. Their attack is absolutely superb - the firepower papering over cracks that are present in defence and midfield.

Remember, City clawed back an eight-point gap last season so this race is a long way from over. And I think City will take heart from the fact United concede goals easily.

Chelsea are third at the moment and Rafa Benitez does seem to be getting the best out of Fernando Torres, but I cannot see them catching United and City.

Almost everyone wrote off QPR weeks ago yet I genuinely believed Harry Redknapp might save them - but even I have to concede that it's going to take a minor miracle now.

With half the season gone, here is my club-by-club half-term report ...

ARSENAL

THE Gunners are still close to a Champions League spot, so this season is not as bad as some people would have us believe.

I think Arsene Wenger needs to utilise the window and get rid of Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh and Tomas Rosicky to recoup some money and then sign a top combative midfielder and a striker like Demba Ba.

Ba could be as good for Wenger as Kanu was, and they have to be aggressive in the market to keep up.

PREDICTION 4th GRADE B

Games Played 19

Goals 39

Ave Goals per game 2.05

Shots (excl blocked shots) 216

% Shots on Target 47.2

Goals Conceded 21

Ave goals conceded per game 1.11

Tackles Won % 77.7

Fouls 193

Yellow Cards 17

Red Cards 1

ASTON VILLA

VILLA have leaked far too many goals this season.

It was a problem Paul Lambert thought he had fixed by switching to a back three, but things went horribly wrong at CHELSEA and he must have faith that things can change again.

It's a young team, but they can turn defence into attack quickly as Andreas Weimann spins into the right and left channels - and Christian Benteke gets goals. Lambert's side will have to be prepared for a scrap.

PREDICTION 16th GRADE C

Games Played 20

Goals 15

Ave Goals per game 0.75

Shots (excl blocked shots) 148

% Shots on Target 41.9

Goals Conceded 39

Ave goals conceded per game 1.95

Tackles Won % 72.8

Fouls 233

Yellow Cards 34

Red Cards 2

CHELSEA

WHAT concerns me is the Blues' central midfield.

Frank Lampard may be off and while everyone raves about Ramires, I don't think he is a great holding player - and nor is John Obi Mikel. Chelsea's overall pass completion rate is only the sixthbest in the division and David Luiz is going to have to grow into the role to give them the drive they need in 2013.

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