Chelsea lead the way, Liverpool contenders but Swansea doomed

The ESPN FC crew discuss whether Chelsea can be stopped this season.
The ESPN FC crew discuss whether Chelsea can be stopped this season.

The 2016-17 Premier League season is approaching its halfway point, with Chelsea setting the pace. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have had their ups and downs at Manchester City and Manchester United while Arsenal are fourth. Again. 

West Brom have emerged as surprise packages under Tony Pulis, reaching the dizzy heights of eighth, but towards the bottom the picture looks bleak for Bob Bradley and Swansea. 

How has your side got on so far? Each Premier League team has been given a grade for the campaign, ranging from A+ for the best and F for those failing. We’ve arranged it in the order of the Premier League table so far, with Chelsea leading the way.

Click on each team for a detailed assessment of their season to this point.

CHELSEA: The brand of football that Antonio Conte has introduced, mixing expansive attacking play with traditional Italian defensive virtues, means Chelsea are not just winning games but doing so in style. Read  — Phil Lythell

LIVERPOOL: The Reds can be champions. Second in the table at Christmas is the obvious positive, but how Liverpool got there also provides great encouragement for supporters. Read  — David Usher

MAN CITY: It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Guardiola. The 10-match winning start and 3-1 win over Barcelona showed what this side are capable of, but the Catalan has endured some rocky moments too. Read  — Simon Curtis

ARSENAL: Arsenal’s away record against the league’s big boys remains a cause for concern. The past week has been damaging to their title challenge and although Alexis Sanchez is a star, is this the case of same old Arsenal? Read  — Andrew Mangan

TOTTENHAM: Spurs suffered a poor Champions League campaign but can now aim to move through the gears in the New Year and push into the top four, particularly as they have already faced Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United away from home in the league. Read  — Ben Pearce

MAN UNITED: Manchester United have started to play football the fans want to watch. As frustrating as some of the results have been this season, there can be no complaints about the way they have approached their games. Going to Old Trafford is an enjoyable experience again. Read  — Scott Patterson

SOUTHAMPTON: Virgil van Dijk is Saints’ man man but the Claude Puel era has started rather low-key, with his side struggling in front of goal and Charlie Austin out long term. Read Alex Crook

WEST BROM: The main positive this season has to be the way Pulis has got his side playing. He’s finally taken the handbrake off his players and they’re reaping the benefits.  Read Matthew Evans

EVERTON: Manager Ronald Koeman quickly identified the need to toughen up a passive Everton squad, instill aggression and have a more proactive approach when the opposition is in possession. It has been a frustrating process but one not entirely without encouragement. Read  — Luke O’Farrell

BOURNEMOUTH: The Cherries have had some brilliant results this season, which serve as further proof that the club are becoming a genuine Premier League force. Read — Will Kent

STOKE: An impressive run of form has seen the Potters make their way back up towards the top half of the table, a change of fortune inspired by the introduction of a new formation. Read James Whittaker

WATFORD: Despite an inconsistent first half of the season, the Hornets find themselves relatively comfortably placed in mid-table. Considering that Premier League survival is the sole aim of the campaign, this represents something of an achievement. Read  — Mike Parkin

WEST HAM: In just a few months at the new ground in Stratford, the Hammers have suffered some heavy defeats and the crowd have witnessed some unedifying football. Read  — Peter Thorne

MIDDLESBROUGH: Middlesbrough’s defence has been a real boon this year and has continued in the same brilliant form that was lauded during the past couple of years in the Championship. Premier League survival looks possible. Read — Catherine Wilson

LEICESTER: It’s all gone wrong for the champions this season as they nervously contemplate a relegation fight. Their exploits in the Champions League have provided some respite but Jamie Vardy Co. need to buck their ideas up quickly domestically. Read   Ben Jacobs

BURNLEY: Burnley sit comfortably above the relegation zone, and the supporters would certainly have taken that before the start of the season. They have been excellent at home, beating Liverpool and Everton and holding their own against Arsenal. Read — Jamie Smith

CRYSTAL PALACE: It’s impossible to look at this half-season without pointing to Palace’s awful form since the end of September. If they can buck up their creativity during the second half of the season, they have enough quality to get a mid-table finish. Read  — Rob Sutherland

SUNDERLAND: Hopes of a comfortable, mid-table season have been dashed. As such, relegation is a distinct possibility, leaving 16th or 17th place as no more than viable targets. Read — Colin Randall

SWANSEA: It is difficult to pick out many positives from the mess Swansea are in at present. New coach Bradley has completely failed to bring anything interesting, new or effective to the team.  Read  — Max Hicks

HULL CITY: Without huge investment in January, it’s hard to see anything but relegation for a side struggling to keep pace with the Premier League after a surprisingly decent start. Read Philip Buckingham

Are Liverpool title challengers? Can anyone stop Chelsea? Will Manchester United finish in the top four and who is going down?

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