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EPL Christmas Cheer – Top Half

Manchester City – City have slumped recently and moved into points tie with United, but still hold the goal tie breaker. City have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offense, led by David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Carlos Tevez should be shipped off this winter, which will help clear the clubhouse of the consistent malcontent. Losing in the Champions League actually helps them focus on the league title against United.

Prediction - Samir Nasri will have a bigger second half and take some of the pressure off of Silva and to a lesser degree Toure.

Manchester United – A surprising early exit from the Champions League will only make Ferguson’s squad focus on beating their cross city rivals. Injuries have taken a toll on this defense, but there have been a lot of young players stepping up and proving their worth – Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling, and David de Gea. If the squad can get healthy and stay healthy, they have a legitimate shot to win the league again.

Prediction - Ashley Young (assists) and Javier Hernandez (goals) will step up their offensive output to challenge City in collecting the most goals.

Tottenham – Tottenham has been the surprise story of the Premier League so far. They have a firm grip on third place and look posed to continue their ascension in the table. Adebayor has been one of the greatest pick-ups this season. Tottenham also has the benefit of having a couple of games in hand, which only strengthens their position. The injury to Van der Vaart hurts, but Gareth Bale has stepped up accordingly.

Prediction - If Manchester United cannot cope with their injuries, expect Tottenham to make a push for second in the league.

Chelsea – Chelsea has had a roller coaster season. They have been treading water in the Premier League, but were able to move their way through pool play in the Champions League. Fernando Torres continues to be a bust, and one can’t help but wonder if there’ll be any room for him on Spain’s National Team. Didier Drogba has had a mini-resurgence and Juan Mata has been the most consistent player. One wonders what will happen with John Terry’s racial abuse case, Chelsea can’t afford to lose him for long.

Prediction - Torres will play better in the second half, but he certainly can’t play any worse.

Arsenal  ­- Arsenal has slowly clawed their way up the table and are in striking distance of finishing in the top four. They are also still alive in the Champions League and FA Cup. Arsenal will consider its season a success if they can finish in the top four and play well in the Champions League. Arsenal will be getting Jack Wilshire back, which will greatly help the offense and take some of the pressure off of van Persie. Arsenal should add Henry if for nothing other than an emotional boost, and also need to add a defender or two through transfers.

Prediction - Expect Gervinho to finish with 15 goals and have a strong second half.

Liverpool – Liverpool was touted as a top four side at the onset of the season, but have been fairly disappointing. Luis Suarez has been a great pick-up, but the same cannot be said of the rest of Liverpool’s signings. Suarez has been the only consistent offensive player and is beginning to serve an eight game suspension for using racial slurs. I am glad that the Premier League is taking exception to racist remarks from its players and I wonder what will happen to John Terry – an eight game ban sets a drastic bar, but one that should be applied to all. Suarez’s suspension has all but guaranteed that Liverpool will miss out finishing in the top four this season.

Prediction – Andy Carroll finishes with 12+ goals in the second half of the season.

Newcastle – Newcastle has one of the better defensive units (keeper included) and it shows in the fact that they are a top half team. Their defense should be enough of a factor to take over the sixth spot from Liverpool in the second half. Demba Ba has been their goal scoring threat, but must convert his chances at a more consistent rate for Newcastle to convert one point into three points.

Prediction – Newcastle’s defense compacted with a John Terry suspension allows the Magpies to contend for fifth place in the Premier League.

Stoke City – Stoke own an impressive home field advantage, but are exposed on the road. They are a solid defensive team, but lack the offense to really make a push up the table and should be glad to hold onto a top half of the table position. Peter Crouch has provided some offense, but more needs to be added to this unit.

Prediction – A strong defensive performance will lead to a home victory over Manchester City or Arsenal.

West Brom – West Brom can be annoying, just ask City. They don’t do one thing spectacular, but are an all around solid squad. They have more offense than Newcastle and Stoke, but lack Newcastle’s defensive prowess or Stoke’s home crowd.

Prediction – Odemwingie scores ten goals in the second half.

Everton – Everton has had a controversial season for reasons not really pertaining to their play on the pitch - through all of this they have persevered and moved, albeit barely, into the top half of the table.  They are actually playing better than their record shows, look at their goal differential. If they can become more consistent they can move up a few spots on the table.

Prediction – Landon Donovan and Tim Howard lead Everton into the top eight.

Whats Your Verdict?