Fan's Eye View: Who's top of the class and who should be trying harder

As the 2005-06 season reaches the halfway mark, fans from every Premiership club rate the best performers and dunces of their team - and the opponents that have impressed them most
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The Independent Online

Arsenal P16 W8 D2 L6 Pts26 Pos 8th
Raymond Helihy, of the Arsenal supporters' group REDaction

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Maintained our excellent home record of the last few years, but away from home we have been struggling. The lack of real bite in midfield and lack of a plan B have led to many dropped points so far.

Who has been top of the class?

Robin van Persie has improved a huge amount, but Kolo Touré impresses with a positive attitude that puts some team-mates to shame.

Who has been the class dunce?

Jose Antonio Reyes. His lack of fight and his tendency to hide when the going get tough does him no favours.

Best individual performance against you?

Both Shay Given [Newcastle] and Maik Taylor [Birmingham]. Taylor edges it thanks to a penalty save and only being beaten by a big deflection.

Aston Villa P17 W4 D5 L8 Pts17 Pos 15th
Dave Woodhall, editor of Heroes and Villains fanzine

How has the class done?

By stages; badly, poorly, appallingly, diabolically, not bad and then improving gradually over the past couple of weeks. And there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Who has been top of the class?

James Milner. Has shown that he's one of the most promising young players around, and definitely worth an outside bet for a place in the World Cup squad.

Who has been the class dunce?

It's hard to single out one particular underachiever, but for managing to mystify, alienate and infuriate supporters on a weekly basis, [manager] David O'Leary is sitting firmly in the Naughty Corner.

Best individual performance against you?

How about most inevitable winning performance? Darius Vassell, two goals first time he played against us in Manchester City's 3-1 win.

Birmingham P16 W3 D3 L10 Pts12 Pos 19th
Chris Measey, Birmingham City's London area supporters' club

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Very poor season, could have done a lot better. Lacking in confidence, especially at home. This has also been compounded by a number of long-term injuries.

Who has been top of the class?

Since his return from injury it has to be David Dunn. He has brought so much to the whole shape of the team. Pure class.

Who has been the class dunce?

Julian Gray, although he has scored a couple of important goals this season, including the winner at Sunderland. General standard of play has been very poor.

Best individual performance against you?

Probably Darren Bent for Charlton in our home game against them back in September. We lost 1-0, Bent played on his own up front and scored the winning goal.

Blackburn P17 W6 D3 L8 Pts21 Pos 12th
Steve Birtwell, administrator at BRFCS.COM/ Blackburn Rovers Independent Supporters Association

How has the class done on the whole so far?

I'm reasonably happy with the effort at home, but Rovers need to pick up more points when away. Grade B-

Who has been top of the class?

Craig Bellamy is the true quality player in the side with incredible pace, but his attendance record is poor.

Who has been the class dunce?

Robbie Savage should be achieving more, given his reputation. But Brett Emerton hasn't delivered anything in the last three years at Ewood.

Best individual performance against you?

In the first game, Yossi Benayoun [West Ham United] turned the game on its head by being involved in three second-half goals. Otherwise, Frank Lampard's two goals for Chelsea in November.

Bolton P16 W9 D3 L4 Pts30 Pos 5th
Colin McGreavy, stadium announcer at Bolton Wanderers

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Currently fifth in the Premiership, last 32 of the Uefa Cup, and got as far as last eight of the Carling Cup. The whole class is working to achieve great exam results at the end of next term.

Who has been top of the class?

If I was giving merit badges for performance this term, then all our squad would get one. Headmaster Sam's promotion of Kevin Nolan to head boy is proving popular.

Who has been the class dunce?

Our revision and homework both on and off the field have not identified any dunces in our form. I do not see any reason why this should change on the evidence to date.

Best individual performance against you?

Lampard when Chelsea scored five goals in the second half to come back from 1-0 down.

Charlton P16 W7 D1 L8 Pts22 Pos 11th
Vernon Roper, secretary of Charlton Athletic Supporters Club - West Sussex and Brighton Branch

How has the class done on the whole so far?

It's been an all right start to the season. At one stage we were second. We've had a bit of a disappointing run since, but I think we're not really doing badly - we have just as many points as usual at this stage of the season.

Who has been top of the class?

Darren Bent. He has been the miracle striker we've prayed for, ready to pounce and drill balls through the net. We rely on him on for goals.

Who has been the class dunce?

I wouldn't like to say anyone has been bad really. We've all worked together as a team and have worked hard to pick ourselves up from bad results.

Best individual performance against you?

Wayne Rooney [Manchester United] played brilliantly and the scoreline showed that.

Chelsea P17 W15 D1 L1 Pts46 Pos 1st
Jayne Herring, administrator for theherrings@ chelsealincs.freeserve. co.uk

How has the class done on the whole so far?

The class has performed consistently well, achieving - without over-extending themselves. Obviously they have the potential to step up a gear when needed.

Who has been top of the class?

Top of the class so far is the ever-illuminating Frankie Lampard for his unstinting performances on the field and his support of charities, such as CLIC Sargent, off the field.

Who has been the class dunce?

Dunce is not a word we use for any of our players.

Best individual performance against you?

I would say Kelvin Davis - the goalkeeper at Sunderland. He made a cracking save from Del Horno and kept the score down to 2-0.

Everton P17 W5 D2 L10 Pts17 Pos 16th
Mark Staniford, editor of Speke from the Harbour

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Disappointing, to quote our old manager Walter Smith. From a season that promised so much we appear to have taken two steps backwards.

Who has been top of the class?

Mikel Arteta. Most good things that have happened have had something to do with him. He is consistent, skilful and able to play in centre midfield or on the right.

Who has been the class dunce?

Kevin Kilbane. He couldn't get in my five-a-side team. The Lord alone knows why we gave him another contract.

Best individual performance against you?

Juan Roman Riquelme for Villarreal in the Champions' League qualifier. A truly class act in a team that finished top of their group. Possibly the worst draw in the competition we could have got!

Fulham P17 W5 D4 L8 Pts19 Pos 14th
Tom Greatrex, spokesman for the Fulham Supporters' Trust and season ticket holder

How has the class done on the whole so far?

We are doing as well as expected, we are sitting comfortably in the league position which we wanted and our performances are at an acceptable standard for us.

Who has been top of the class?

Steed Malbranque has been brilliant. I hope that we hang on to him for January and he keeps performing the way he has been for us.

Who has been the class dunce?

Zat Knight has not been performing up to scratch. I think if he carries on the way he has been, we should accept any offer we get for him.

Best individual performance against you?

Thierry Henry [Arsenal] in August was by far the best player I have seen against us this season. He's the sort we'd love to have here at Fulham!

Liverpool P15 W9 D4 L2 Pts31 Pos 3rd
Duncan Oldham, editor of KOPTALK.COM

How has the class done on the whole so far?

New classmates took time to settle in while other pupils seemed distracted by the school's early start. Now they're finally listening to teacher. Extra revision has resulted in better marks.

Who has been top of the class?

Steven Gerrard remains head boy. He presents himself well and is reliable at all times. Prefects Jamie Carragher and Xabi Alonso help him keep the boys in line.

Who has been the class dunce?

Djibril Cissé's attitude leaves a lot to be desired. He must try harder or face expulsion. Teacher is certainly not impressed.

Best individual performance against you?

Didier Drogba [Chelsea] gave Sami Hyypia a terrible time on the playing field. Although Sami had a sick-note, teacher still made him attend.

Manchester City P17 W8 D3 L6 Pts27 Pos 7th
Ric Turner, editor www.bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

How has the class done on the whole so far?

So far so good: top half of the league, a number of exciting youngsters coming through - notably Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha - and the best young manager in the division.

Who has been top of the class?

Andy Cole has been a revelation since his free transfer from Fulham. It's never easy for ex-Reds to win over the City crowd, especially a player like Cole who was once reviled by Blues.

Who has been the class dunce?

Antoine Sibierski has offered little of note on the occasions he has been called into the first team this season. It seems no one knows what his best position is.

Best individual performance against you?

Steed Malbranque was exceptional in our 2-1 loss at Fulham.

Man Utd P17 W11 D4 L2 Pts37 Pos 2nd
Chris O'Brien, webmaster of ManUtdWeb.com

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Mediocre. Chelsea's dominance breeds even greater expectations, but United have been dumped out of Europe and the Premiership looks out of reach. The supporters are not pleased.

Who has been top of the class?

Wayne Rooney. With nine goals to his name, Rooney's creativity and ingenuity have often carried the team. In a largely lifeless campaign, the youngster has excelled.

Who has been the class dunce?

Rio Ferdinand. Again failed to match his gross £30m price-tag with a series of unconvincing displays. His partnership with Mikaël Silvestre fails to inspire confidence.

Best individual performance against you?

Gaizka Mendieta. The Middlesbrough midfielder tore United apart during the 4-1 reverse at the Riverside Stadium.

Middlesbro' P17 W5 D5 L7 Pts20 Pos 13th
Robert Nichols, editor of Fly Me To The Moon www.fmttm.com

How has the class done on the whole so far?

We've not done as well as we would have hoped in the league, but have become a more than useful cup side, especially in Europe. Must do better in the league.

Who has been top of the class?

Gaizka Mendieta showed why he was a Spanish superstar with a world-class display that started the Manchester United rot. Sadly he has been injured far too often.

Who has been the class dunce?

Abel Xavier let everyone down by testing positive for steroids and leaving us high and dry without a right back and with no blond highlights to light up the grey winter sky.

Best individual performance against you?

Danny Murphy pulled all the strings as Charlton pulled us apart. It was back in August but it is a defeat that still smarts.

Newcastle P17 W7 D4 L6 Pts25 Pos 10th
Paul Gordon, editor of www.toonweb.co.uk

How has the class done on the whole so far?

The class has done poorly. The odd decent game scattered amongst the mediocre sums up our season so far.

Who has been top of the class?

Stars at the moment are two of our younger players: Steven Taylor and Peter Ramage. Michael Owen looks class every time he plays and Scott Parker gets an A-plus for effort.

Who has been the class dunce?

The teacher and the headmaster are the two dunces. [Manager, Graeme] Souness and [Chairman, Freddy] Shepherd have combined to buy quality players yet languish in mid-table with them.

Best individual performance against you?

Wayne Rooney's one man show against us at St James' [Park] was both frustrating and awe-inspiring. After that I really wished we had signed him.

Portsmouth P17 W3 D4 L10 Pts13 Pos 18th
Colin Farmery, web master of www.pompey-fans.com
How has the class done on the whole so far?

Could do better. Much better. Many pupils arrived this summer from uncertain or unstable backgrounds and have found it difficult to adapt to advanced level work.

Who has been top of the class?

Salif Diao has generally impressed while Lomano LuaLua showed early promise until an unfortunate bout of illness kept him away for several weeks.

Who has been the class dunce?

Laurent Robert was expected to be Head Boy, but he has an irritating habit of cheeking his elders. His new teacher hopes to sort his attitude out.

Best individual performance against you?

Michael Carrick was a young man the Portsmouth school had hoped to enrol for 2004, but he chose Spurs instead. On the opening day of the current academic year, he showed us what we had missed.

Sunderland P17 W1 D2 L14 Pts5 Pos 20th
Andy Fury, writer for the Love Supreme fanzine

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Terrible, could not have been worse to be honest. Everyone thought we would struggle and it would be a tough year but we did not expect it to be this tough.

Who has been top of the class?

Dean Whitehead, after signing from Oxford United many people doubted his ability but he stepped up last season and has risen to the challenge even more this year. One shining light.

Who has been the class dunce?

Tommy Miller, unfortunately because he is a Sunderland fan. But he was signed to score goals from midfield but has been pretty anonymous so far.

Best individual performance against you?

Thierry Henry or Wayne Rooney. Henry was possibly the best player I have ever seen playing against us.

Tottenham P17 W8 D7 L2 Pts31 Pos 4th
Gary Walker, administrator of www.thespursweb.com

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Excellently. We're almost halfway, we're fourth and we're above Arsenal on merit. Experience has been added to youthful promise and we're flying.

Who has been top of the class?

That's a tough one. Edgar Davids is becoming more integral with every game, Michael Carrick runs the midfield, Michael Dawson has been immaculate and Paul Robinson has made some world class saves. Davids.

Who has been the class dunce?

If there has to be a weak link it's Paul Stalteri - not bad when you can say that about a man who won a league and cup double with Werder Bremen.

Best individual performance against you?

I can't say I've seen anyone frighten us, but Wayne Rooney was pretty good in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

West Bromwich P17 W4 D4 L9 Pts16 Pos 17
Amanda Hume and Fraser Allen, Sutton Coldfield WBA Supporters' Club

How has the class done on the whole so far?

The class has performed patchily with some outstanding lessons and some abysmal. The head teacher has now got his best team sorted though so we hope for better things to come.

Who has been top of the class?

Paul Robinson is undoubtedly the rising star of this class. The fans love him because he plays the way they would if they got the chance to pull on the shirt, he is 100 per cent wholehearted.

Who has been the class dunce?

A few who we hope will not appear again - such as Russell Hoult. A tremendous goalkeeper in his time but if he were a sheepdog you would have to put him down for his own good.

Best individual performance against you?

Michael Owen's goals for Newcastle were sheer class.

West Ham P17 W7 D4 L6 Pts25 Pos 9th
Norman Collins, Northern Hammers' West Ham supporter

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Exceeded everyone's expectations, played good football in the West Ham way and shown excellent team spirit in adversity and minimal bookings showing a desire to get into Europe any way possible.

Who has been top of the class?

Teddy Sheringham, who sets a new record every time he scores, provides an excellent example to the youngsters and commands respect. Second is either Anton Ferdinand or Yossi Benayoun.

Who has been the class dunce?

Christian Dailly, who should never play centre back. In a midfield role he can a get up front more and does not distract the back four when he boobs.

Best individual performance against you?

Wayne Rooney. He was awesome and I am sure our back four learnt a lot that afternoon.

Wigan P16 W9 D1 L7 Pts28 Pos 6th
George Chilvers, Ultimate Wigan Athletic website, www.ultimatewigan.co.uk

How has the class done on the whole so far?

Done far better than expected. Worked hard and despite some reservations that would have to move down at the end of the year, things are looking very promising.

Who has been top of the class?

Pascal Chimbonda, despite limitations in language lessons, settled in well and has shown great promise. Needs to toughen up a bit - gloves in September indeed!

Who has been the class dunce?

Have been pleased with all in class who have pulled together well. As a result, the dunce's cap is gathering dust in the corner.

Best Individual performance against you?

Thierry ("Terry") Henry from the top stream did very well when tested, but otherwise believe our class can hold their own among the alleged brighter classes.

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