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Premier League half-term reports: Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham and Huddersfield

With just over half the Premier League season completed, BTSport.com takes stock of how each of the 20 teams has fared to date and their hopes and aspirations for the remainder of the campaign. Here is the second instalment of this four-part series.

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As the second-half of the Premier League season begins in earnest, BTSport.com provides its half-time report on Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham and Huddersfield.

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League position: 4th

Record: P21 W13 D5 L3 F38 A16 Pts 44

Top scorer: Eden Hazard (10)

Most assists: Eden Hazard (9)

Star man: Eden Hazard.

The Belgian has single-handedly carried Chelsea's attack so far this season, scoring the most goals and providing the most assists.

Rumours suggest the 28-year-old is considering a summer move to Real Madrid and he will be almost irreplaceable if he does decide to end his six-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

The arrival of Christian Pulisic for £57m earlier this month could be a strong clue that the forward's future lies away from west London. La Liga's gain will certainly be the Premier League's loss.

Unsung hero: David Luiz.

Restored to the heart of Chelsea's defence by Maurizio Sarri after being frozen out by Antonio Conte at the end of last season, the Brazilian has more than re-paid his new manager's show of faith.

The 31-year-old has forged a formidable centre-back partnership with Antonio Rudiger, starting all but one of Chelsea's 21 league games.

Often criticised for being too flamboyant to be considered a reliable defender, this season Luiz has proved he can be trusted to keep things simple when required, and has looked markedly assured since Sarri's arrival, contributing to 10 clean sheets so far this season - the second most in the Premier League.

Season to date rating: 8/10. 

Following the appointment of the enigmatic Sarri at the start of the season, many people thought that Chelsea were facing a period of re-building after two seasons under Antonio Conte's stern stewardship.

But despite the change in management, Chelsea made a lightning-fast start to the season that caught most by surprise.

In fact, the Blues embarked on an 18-game unbeaten run in the league that only came to an end when they were soundly beaten by Tottenham in late November.

Since that defeat Chelsea's season has sagged slightly as Sarri tries to juggle the rigors of the Premier League with Europa League football, but fans will be optimistic that Sarri is not far away from creating a team that can challenge for the title in the coming years.

January transfer window wish list: A striker.

While they head into 2019 well placed in fourth position, their need for a marquee striker is patently obvious.

Their reliance on top-goalscorer Hazard is even more concerning given the Belgian's ongoing reluctance to commit his future to the club amid interest from Real Madrid.

Sarri has frequently opted to employ Hazard as a false number nine this season in a clear message to chairman Roman Abramovich that he is not satisfied with the other options at his disposal.

2017 summer signing Alvaro Morata still manages to cut a perpetually despondent figure on the pitch while Sarri does not seem to view Olivier Giroud as a credible starting option.

Gonzalo Higuain and Bournemouth's Callum Wilson have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge and both would be strong options to bolster Chelsea's attacking firepower going into the business end of the season.

A good second half of the season would be: Champions League football.

A top-four finish appeared out of reach for Chelsea at the start of the season but Sarri has got his side well in the hunt for a place in next year's competition.

Whether they can maitain their current position will depend heavily on how deep they go into the latter stages of the Europa League and how well Sarri is able to keep his squad fresh going into the spring. 

Crystal Palace

League position: 14th

Record: P21 W6 D4 L11 F19 A26 Pts 22

Top scorer: Luke Milijovecic (6)

Most assists: James McArthur (2)

Star man: Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The 21-year-old right back has been a revelation since being thrown into first-team action towards the end of last season.

Initially brought in as emergency cover for Joel Ward and Martin Kelly, Wan-Bissaka has made the position his own with a series of assured performances which belie his relative lack of Premier League experience.

His man of the match performance in Crystal Palace's shock win over Manchester City last month demonstrated just how far he has come in such a short period of time, while only two players have made more successful tackles this season.

Unsung hero: James Tomkins

The former West Ham man has been a consistent figure in defence since Roy Hodgson helped steer Crystal Palace to safety last season.

In the absence of Scott Dann, Tomkins has formed a strong partnership with Mamadou Sakho, providing a level-headed calm to compliment the Frenchman's appetite for adventure.

Season to date rating: 5/10. 

An opening day win over Fulham gave Palace fans hope their side was ready to put last season's relegation fears behind them and make a long-awaited push for a top-half finish. Instead, victory over the newly-promoted Cottagers was followed by just one win in 12.

Since then the Eagles have discovered some semblance of form, picking up to help put some distance between themselves and the bottom three and restore optimism going into the new year.

January transfer window wishlist: A striker. Any striker.

It's a sad indictment of Crystal Palace's strike-power that their top scorer this season is holding midfielder, Luka Milivojevic, while current strikers Christian Benteke, Alexander Sortloth and Connor Wickham are yet to score a single goal between them.

The dearth of attacking options has forced Hodgson to employ Wilfried Zaha through the middle, but the move has shackled Palace's most important player, who prefers the space afforded to him a in a wider position.

Chairman Steve Parish must invest in an out-and-out goalscorer this January or risk seeing the Eagles dragged into another relegation battle. 

A good second half of the season would be: Top-half finish.

Premier League survival is, and will always be, the primary objective for a club of Crystal Palace's size, but a top-half finish is not beyond them if they acquire smartly in the winter transfer window.

The problem is, recruitment has not been Palace's strong suit in recent seasons, as buys like Sorloth and Jairo Riedewald demonstrate.

A lot will depend on the form of Zaha - who has looked jaded and disinterested in recent weeks - and how well he can block out the inevitable noise linking him with a summer move away from Selhurst Park.


League position: 11th

Record: P21 W7 D6 L8 F31 A31 Pts 27

Top scorer: Richarlison (9)

Most assists: Bernard (3)

Star man: Richarlison

The Brazilian forward has hit the ground running since his £35m summer move to Goodison Park, reuniting him with Marco Silva, who he worked under at Watford.

Silva believes the Brazilian has the quality to score 20 goals a season, not too ludicrous a claim given how effective the 21-year-old has been since arriving in the Premier League.

He is joint-fourth in the race for the Golden Boot, a position made all the more impressive given the fact he missed three games through suspension after being sent off for a headbutt against Bournemouth. 

Unsung hero: Idrissa Gueye

The player Everton fans fear losing the most. With a combination of discipline, stamina and all-action enthusiasm, the Senegalese international has become an indispensable part of the Toffees' midfield since joining from relegated Aston Villa in 2016.

Only Leicester City's Idrissa Gueye has made more tackles in the Premier League this season but so much of the 29-year-old's best work - breaking up play and linking defence and attack - goes unnoticed.

Season to date rating: 5/10. 

With a new manager and six new players - all under the age of 26 - this has to be viewed as a transitional season for Everton.

Silva was brought in to overhaul a playing style that had become stale and predictable under Sam Allardyce, but the challenge of implementing his philosophy has proved more difficult than many anticipated.

Currently sat 11th in the table, the Toffees have won just one of their last eight games - but Everton fans are starting to see signs that this new-look side are slowly starting to find their feet.

Summer arrivals like Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Bernard and Andre Gomes are finally bedding in, offering fans hope that the club's 2019 will be brighter than 2018.

January transfer window wishlist: A number nine.

A new striker feels imperative for Everton, who have relied heavily on the goals of Richarlison.

The Brazilian has done his best to fill the goal-shaped void left by Romelu Lukaku's departure, but to ask a 21-year-old winger to shoulder Everton's goalscoring burden on his own seems unsustainable - the Toffees need another out-and-out no 9.

Callum Wilson has been linked with a move to Goodison Park but Bournemouth's asking price - rumoured to be close to £40m - could be a stumbling block, with Chelsea also interested in the 26-year-old.

A good second half of the season would be: Top eight.

The Premier League top six, more impenetrable than ever, remains beyond Everton's reach without significant investment.

The hope is that Silva can build for the future, much like Pochettino has done with Spurs, and establish Everton as genuine contenders for European football and a top-six finish. Until then, anywhere in the top half of the table would be about par.


League position: 19th

Record: P21 W3 D5 L13 F19 A47 Pts 14

Top scorer: Aleksandar Mitrovic (8)

Most assists: Ryan Sessegnon (5)

Star man: Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Serbian international has been the one shining light in an otherwise traumatic return to the Premier League.

His current tally of eight goals is the joint-fifth highest in the Premier League - three more than his nearest club teammate.

Goals aside, Mitrovic has earned cult status at Craven Cottage for his tireless work in defence and attack - while no other Fulham player has amassed for Premier League minutes. 

Unsung hero: Calum Chambers

The Arsenal loanee is enjoying a rich vein of form as a makeshift defensive midfielder.

The former Southampton youngster revealed he has been leaning on the experience of first-team coach Scott Parker, who is helping Chambers re-invent himself to provide some much-needed steel in Fulham's brittle midfield.

The 23-year-old has proved a revelation in midfield after failing to hold down a place in a Fulham back four that was shipping goals at the start of the season.

"I need to keep working on it, but I'm enjoying it in there," said Chambers on his new role. "Most importantly, this position allows me to help the team out defensively and try and get a bit more solidarity in the middle of the park.That's my first role in there - to help out the boys at the back, break up play and build from there."

Season to date rating: 2/10. 

When Fulham beat Aston Villa in the play-off final to book their return to the top flight, the consensus was that Slaviša Jokanović's side had the quality to become one of the best newly-promoted teams in recent memory.

Optimism remained high as the Cottagers splashed over £100m on summer signings in the hope of consolidating their position, but Fulham have found the transition from the Championship to the Premier League more difficult than expected.

After taking just five points from their first 12 games, Jokanovic was sacked and replaced by Claudio Ranieri in a bid to lift the Cottagers out of the relegation zone.

With 17 games left to play they remain second bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety.

January transfer window wishlist: Striker and centre-back.

The question is: will chairman Shahid Khan be willing to bankroll another outlay after backing Jokanovic's summer spending spree?

But Ranieri is confident he will get funds to improve his squad. "The January transfer window is one month and if there is the opportunity to buy somebody, I think the chairman is ready," said Ranieri.

Recent reports have linked the Cottagers with a move for Bournemouth's France U21 international striker, Lys Mousset, while a deal for out-of-favour Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is thought to be more likely.

A good second half of the season would be: Survival.

Three draws and a win over fellow strugglers Huddersfield in December has lifted Fulham up to 19th in the table but they remain four points adrift of 17th-placed Cardiff City.

The concern for Ranieri will be that - Huddersfield aside - teams around them like Southampton, Cardiff and Burnley are all showing signs of life as we head towards the business end of the season - and the Cottagers remain odds-on to make an instant return to the Championship.

If Ranieri can keep Fulham from the drop it will be the second time in four years that the Italian a upset the bookmakers.


League position: 20th

Record: P21 W2 D4 L15 F13 A37 Pts 10

Top scorer: Mathias Jorgensen (3)

Most assists: Steve Mounie (3)

Star man: Aaron Mooy

Slim pickings, here, but Mooy gets the nod for his contribution during a crucial November period that saw the Terriers pick up seven points from a possible nine to move away from the relegation zone - albeit briefly. Two goals in three games earned the Australian international a nomination for the PFA Fans' Player of the Month.

Unsung hero: Philip Billing

Only Christopher Schindler has played more Premier League minutes than the 22-year-old, who has become manager David Wagner's midfield general this season.

The Dane has managed to catch the eye in an otherwise sub-par Huddersfield side, winning 62.64% of his 273 duels for the ball, by far the best of any midfielder to have had 200 or more 50-50 battles for the ball.

Season to date rating: 2/10. 

Huddersfield secured survival by the skin of their teeth last season, but their frailties are being laid bare once again this term.

Wagner performed miracles to keep the Terriers in the division with minimal investment and he once again faces an uphill task to save Huddersfield from the drop.

The Yorkshire club sit rock bottom of the table following a diabolical run that has seen them go eight games without a win. 

If Wagner does manage to somehow keep them from the drop-zone it would undoubtedly be one of the greatest achievements in Premier League history.

January transfer window wishlist: Help for Mooy.

Huddersfield owner Dean Hoyle has insisted he will be 'active' during the January window, but the Terriers need significant investment to turn their season around.

It's no secret they need a striker - Danish defender Jorgensen is the club's top scorer - but genuine goalscorers seem in short supply - especially for the bargain-basement price Huddersfield will be hoping to pay. Aaron Mooy aside, Wagner's side lack craft and guile and the addition of a creative midfielder-cum-forward could provide some much-needed subtlety.

Limited funds means they might have to rely on loan deals to bolster their first-team squad.

A good second half of the season would be: Survival.

The Terriers have been installed as 1/15 favourites to be relegated with most bookmakers and it's hard to argue with that price when you consider the predicament they find themselves in. 

Even with significant investment in January, Wagner's side look destined to be battling it out at the bottom of the table once again this season and it will be a minor miracle if they don't end up slipping back into the Championship after a two-year stay in the Premier League. 

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