Half-term report: who's top of the class and who could do a lot better

Today's games mark the half-way point of the Premier League season. Fans from every club nominate their dazzlers and their dunces after four frenetic months of football activity
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The Independent Football

Arsenal P18 W13 D4 L1 Pts43 Pos: 1st

Rupert Graves, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

We have done better than predicted. The concentration has been much improved since last term. Sick notes aside, the class has been unstoppable so far this campaign.

How has the teacher performed?

Arsne Wenger did get a bit lairy on the recent trip to Spain, but he has kept faith with the juniors and has been rewarded.

Who has been top of the class?

To measure by improvement, Master Alexander Hleb. But Cesc Fabregas wins the Harry Potter prize for sheer untouchable wizardry.

Who has been the class dunce? Ebou. When he's good, he's good but when he's bad he's...

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Javier Mascherano did well for Liverpool. He stopped us playing to our full potential.

Aston Villa P18 W8 D5 L5 Pts29 Pos 8th

Matt Reeves, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

So far it has been a positive start to the season. Beating Birmingham City at St Andrew's was a high point, as was beating Chelsea at home. At this rate, hopes of a European place look a real possibility.

How has the teacher performed?

Martin O'Neill has had a successful start to his second season. His signings are really showing their class now.

Who has been top of the class?

Ashley Young. His runs are brilliant and he is a great crosser. Defenders always seem to have a problem with him. Give that boy the Gold Star.

Who has been the class dunce?

One moment that sticks out is Marlon Harewood giving away the penalty against Tottenham.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Portsmouth's Muntari his strikes were outstanding.

Birmingham P18 W4 D3 L11 Pts15 Pos: 16th

Jon James, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

It's been satisfactory. A young and inexperienced team have shown that they belong in the division and should go onto better things in the second half of the season.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

It's very early days, but it does appear we will now give it a bit more of a go, which is refreshing after Bruce's negative approach.

Who has been top of the class?

The striker Cameron Jerome a real star in the making!

Who has been the class dunce?

It would be hard to pick between Franck Queudrue or Gary McSheffrey, to be honest. Franck probably shades it.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

I find it hard to single out any individual performance. I still mourn the loss of Thierry Henry to Barcelona last summer!

Blackburn P18 W7 D5 L6 Pts26 Pos: 10th

Andrew Tattersall, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

We started off brilliantly, but since the international break have gone downhill in every department. Silly individual errors keep costing us, but a top-six finish is still our target.

How has the teacher performed?

Sparky's a legend. I still think he should give players a chance when others don't perform. Derbyshire should be getting on every game.

Who has been top of the class?

Roque Santa Cruz is a class act. He's a lot faster than expected and he brings other people into the game.

Who has been the class dunce?

Pedersen has been terrible, we need him in the form of 18 months ago when the goals were flying in from everywhere.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Ronaldo at Old Trafford. He scored two and ran all day long.

Bolton P18 W4 D5 L9 Pts17 Pos: 14th

David Blackburn, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

Very shaky start but after a change in teacher, things have improved. The Reebok is becoming a fortress.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

Headmaster Gartside put Sammy Lee in charge but he had one win in the league and fell out with his pupils. Megson is winning the supporters over and has got his class playing again.

Who has been top of the class?

Danny Guthrie. An excellent grafter who never knows when to give up. Covers every blade of grass and plays with his heart on his sleeve.

Who has been the class dunce?

Daniel Braaten. Seems to have lost his way a little and become very lazy and disinterested.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery terrorised us.

Chelsea P18 W11 D4 L3 Pts37 Pos: 3rd

Paul Lagan, Editor of Chelsea Mad website

How has the class done?

The Blues have gone backwards and that was in large part due to the loss of Jos Mourinho in September.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

John Terry could have picked up the chalk and given the lessons, leaving Grant in the staff room sipping tea. Grant knows how to say nothing while giving the impression of saying something.

Who has been top of the class?

Drogba without a doubt. He plays to the top of his abilities, and gives Terry a run for his money in the leadership stakes.

Who has been the class dunce?

I spied Salomon Kalou a few times outside head's door. The boy has talent but is yet to show it consistently must do better.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Brad Friedel at Stamford Bridge an inspired performance.

Derby P18 W1 D4 L13 Pts7 Pos: 20th

Ian Hayes, Editor of Derby Mad website

How has the class done?

Things have gone from bad to worse. The side is desperately out of its depth at this level of football.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

Difficult to answer that one as Paul Jewell has only just arrived. He does however see the need to have two attacking players on the field, something we have not seen in previous weeks.

Who has been top of the class?

Matt Oakley has displayed leadership skills. He at least has shown he can play in the Premier League.

Who has been the class dunce?

There are so many, where do you start? The dunces corner at Pride Park will have to be widened if things don't improve.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Lee Bowyer's overall performance for West Ham was outstanding.

Everton P18 W9 D3 L6 Pts30 Pos: 6th

Les Roberts, Editor of Everton Mad website

How has the class done?

Great! The cup competitions have brightened the season up we've sailed through the Uefa Cup and reached the semis of the Carling Cup can't complain!

How has the teacher performed?

David Moyes has done a wonderful job. We're reaping the rewards of sticking with him and are starting to play some great football.

Who has been top of the class?

I'd give it to Yakubu. A lot of eyebrows were raised when we signed him but he's looking fitter and sharper now and his movement is intelligent.

Who has been the class dunce?

It's a bit harsh but I'd have to give it to Phil Jagielka. He hasn't looked great since his arrival.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

The best came from a ref. I give you Mr Clattenburg in the derby.

Fulham P18 W2 D8 L8 Pts14 Pos: 17th

Aaron McGuigan, Lifelong supporter

How has the class done?

Is dire an appropriate word? It's been horrifying to watch at times, dull and unimaginative.

Why was the teacher sacked?

At the rate we are going, the Championship is calling. Performances this year are as bad as last, despite spending 25m on new acquisitions. The play was influenced by Sanchez, so the buck stopped with him.

Who has been top of the class?

Despite injuries, Antti Niemi stands out above the rest. Had it not been for him, we would surely be bottom.

Who has been the class dunce?

Steven Davis has been nothing short of abysmal. His only contribution has been to set up Ronaldo for his goal this month.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

No player has stood out, our games tend to be dull affairs.

Liverpool P17 W9 D6 L2 Pts33 Pos: 5th

Joe Rimmer, LFC Online columnist

How has the class done?

The boys have worked hard and should be given credit. They have not always performed on European trips, however a recent change in attitude must be commended.

How has the teacher performed?

Despite rumours of fallings out with Head Teachers, Benitez has helped the class develop. Sometimes fails to communicate his ideas to the class.

Who has been top of the class?

Despite good shows from Torres and Gerrard, we have given this to Mascherano. Javier had problems at his old school but he works hard and produces excellent work.

Who has been the class dunce?

Sissoko has not performed and I am also concerned about Riise.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Fabregas showed maturity beyond his years. Controlled the game.

Man City P18 W10 D4 L4 Pts34 Pos: 4th

Ric Turner, Editor of Blue Moon website

How has the class done?

They have exceeded our wildest expectations. The new signings have made immediate impacts, and there's a nice blend of youth and experience.

How has the teacher performed?

Eriksson has shown he is still an exceptional manager and his reputation has been restored. He's been incredibly astute in the transfer market, and we're playing attractive football.

Who has been top of the class?

Elano has been a revelation, creating chances and chipping in with stunning goals.

Who has been the class dunce?

It'd have to be Georgios Samaras. I would not be surprised to see him leave in January.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Berbatov was outstanding. It was easily the best performance I've seen this season. A masterclass in centre-forward play.

Man Utd P18 W13 D3 L2 Pts42 Pos: 2nd

Jerome Doraisamy, Lifelong supporter

How has the class done?

Exceptional for most of the season. We are well positioned to grab the lead from Arsenal, and in that sense the results have been fantastic.

How has the teacher performed?

Superb in every aspect, notably his respect and support for younger players. He has been wise in his selections and transfers, so we won't need to recruit heavily in January.

Who has been top of the class?

Looking beyond Ronaldo, I'd say Carlos Tevez. He fits in well, and he's definitely one for the future at Old Trafford.

Who has been the class dunce?

Hargreaves, simply because it's disappointing that he's been injured a lot. The fact I chose him reflects the squad's strength.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Cesc Fabregas during the 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

Middlesbrough P18 W4 D5 L9 Pts17 Pos: 15th

Charles Walford, Lifelong Supporter

How has the class done?

It was a slow start but with Tuncay and O'Neil coming to the fore and Rochemback and Boateng finding their best form there is plenty to build on going into the new year.

How has the teacher performed?

Gareth Southgate promised more after a mixed first season and overall the signs, if admittedly not the results, have been encouraging.

Who has been top of the class?

Wheater and O'Neil have shown promise, but I've a feeling by the end of the season the answer will be Tuncay. He has started to show real class.

Who has been the class dunce?

Lee Dong-Gook. Worst player of the past 20 years (older fans will no doubt say longer).

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Arteta pretty much ran the show when Everton beat us 2-0.

Newcastle P18 W7 D5 L6 Pts26 Pos: 9th

Alex Mincoff, Season ticket holder

How has the class done?

Typical Newcastle, a real mixed bag. Some excellent performances combined with clueless defeats. We have to conquer our inconsistency.

How has the teacher performed?

A worry was that Sam Allardyce would adopt a defensive approach and at times this has been the case. If we are sacrificing attacking football, the least we expect is results.

Who has been top of the class?

James Milner has worked extremely hard on his game and is easily our most creative player.

Who has been the class dunce?

At times it has been the entire team. However, certain players have suffered for being played out of position.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Steven Gerrard put in a terrific shift in Liverpool's stroll on Tyneside. A virtuoso display.

Portsmouth P18 W8 D6 L4 Pts30 Pos: 7th

Jim Bonner, Editor of Fratton Faithful website

How has the class done?

Very well, especially away from home. Our home form has been disappointing but the seven straight away wins were enjoyable, especially at Villa and Newcastle.

How has the teacher performed?

Harry had been touted for the England job so he's been doing an excellent job this season. However, he needs to find a cure for our home form.

Who has been top of the class?

Sylvain Distin. He reads the game well and is quick, good in the air and comfortable on the ball. One of the best defenders I have seen in a Pompey shirt.

Who has been the class dunce?

Utaka has not lived up to the 8m price tag, while Nugent could be off in January already.



Which player gave the best performance against you?

Fabregas. Arsenal tore us apart and he was a central part of that.

Reading P18 W6 D3 L9 Pts21 Pos: 12th

Jon Keen, Board member of Supporters Trust

How has the class done?

Not as well as last year. Labouring under the weight of unrealistic expectations from some who expected this year to be a breeze after finishing eighth last year!

How has the teacher performed?

Steve Coppell, the "English Arsne Wenger" continues to find a solution for every problem. Despite some doubts he still inspires confidence.

Who has been top of the class?

Kitson continues to mature into a superb player. Plays with total commitment and possesses a superb footballing brain very Sheringham.

Who has been the class dunce?

Lita has tried Coppell's patience by living the lifestyle without putting in the performances.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

I think it has to be Benjani of Portsmouth for his hat-trick.

Sunderland P18 W3 D5 L10 Pts14 Pos: 18th

Martyn Bowers, Editor of Black Cats website

How has the class done?

It's been a stop-start season. Overall, they have performed satisfyingly.

How has the teacher performed?

Some substitutions have been questionable but maybe they were part of some secret Keano plan! His signings have been decent, apart from Kenwyne Jones who is twice the 'decentness' of the rest. Let's see who he signs in January.

Who has been top of the class?

Jones has been the best. He works his socks off and can score some beautiful goals with either foot.

Who has been the class dunce?

Greg Halford has been a liablility at the back on most occasions. Getting sent off twice in the season so far is unacceptable.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Torres was lively for Liverpool and showed great technique.

Tottenham P18 W4 D6 L8 Pts18 Pos: 13th

Gareth Davies, Editor of Spurs MAD website

How has the class done?

Some blame the headmaster but many students got complacent, believed the hype and underperformed.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

Mr Ramos has shown a penchant for stricter homework and radical lesson plans. Unfortunately his students are yet to shake the habit of falling asleep five minutes before the lesson finishes.

Who has been top of the class?

Yet again class joker Robbie Keane has excelled and remains one of the most underrated students in the school.

Who has been the class dunce?

Robinson and Kaboul have racked up their fair share of detention slips and Darren Bent keeps falling asleep in class.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Grudgingly, I'd have to say Emmanuel Adebayor at the Lane.

West Ham P17 W7 D4 L6 Pts25 Pos: 11th

Gordon Thrower, Editor of Knees Up Mother Brown website

How has the class done?

Pretty well considering. The defence in particular has been amazingly sound. I can't believe I just wrote that!

How has the teacher performed?

Pretty well under the circumstances. 4-4-1-1 has served us well, especially away from home where our record is better than our home record. I can't believe I wrote that either!

Who has been top of the class?

Upson has been outstanding, McCartney has been steady and Green isn't good enough for England. Apparently.

Who has been the class dunce?

Ljungberg has been playing truant for much of the year and has added little in the few minutes that he's had on the pitch.

Which player gave the best performance against you?

Elano of Manchester City had a fine game on the opening day.

Wigan P18 W3 D4 L11 Pts13 Pos: 19th

Paul Farrington, Editor of Wiganer Net site

How has the class done?

Not too well. We had high hopes at the start and started brightly but we have slowly slipped down. Only Derby are making us feel better.

How has the change in teacher affected the performance?

We have to start picking up points and fast. I think Steve Bruce can guide us to safety. He is a passionate manager who knows how to get results.

Who has been top of the class?

Kilbane has been up there with his performances, while Bramble has been immense in defence.

Who has been the class dunce?

Paul Scharner has been taking a lot of stick, but most of the squad hasn't been good enough.

Which player gave the best performance against you? >

Bruce motivated his Birmingham side to take three points off us at St Andrew's. We could do with those points back!

Most Goals: 11 Ronaldo 10 Adebayor, Anelka 9 Benjani, Yakubu

Most Assists: 9 Fabregas 7 A Young, Gerrard 6 Berbatov

Most Fouls: 49 A Smith 42 Benjani, K Davies

Most Bookings: 40 Middlesbrough 38 Bolton

Most Dismissals: 5 Blackburn 3 Chelsea, Fulham

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