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Premier League half-term report: Southampton, Tottenham, Watford, West Ham and Wolves

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 final instalment of this four-part series.

Premier League half-term report

As the second-half of the Premier League season begins in earnest, BTSport.com provides its half-term report on Southampton, Tottenham, Watford, West Ham and Wolves.

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Southampton

League position: 18th

Record: P21 W3 D7 L11 F21 A38 Pts 16

Top scorer: Danny Ings (7)

Most assists: Cedric Soares (2)

Star man: Danny Ings

Hampshire-born Ings has hit the ground running at St Mary’s since his summer transfer from Liverpool.

The diminutive forward who was released by Southampton as a schoolboy has scored eight goals in all competitions for the Saints and has looked to have secured a starting berth ahead of compatriot Charlie Austin under new boss Ralph Hasenhüttl.

Unsung hero: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Assured in possession, metronomic Danish midfielder Hojbjerg arrived on the South Coast with some fanfare having been on the books of German giants Bayern Munich.

He has made 16 appearances this season, contributing three assists, and looks to be a favourite of new boss Hasenhüttl – a key cog in Saints’ battle against the drop.

Season to date rating: 3/10

A disastrous start under erstwhile boss Mark Hughes has been offset somewhat by the arrival of the ‘Alpine Klopp’, but the former RB Leipzig manager still has a lot of work to do to preserve Southampton’s Premier League status.

Despite winning his opening two matches in charge, including a 3-2 victory over then-unbeaten Arsenal, Southampton remain in the relegation zone, two points adrift of safety with 17 games to play.

The Austrian seems to have injected some life into a squad devoid of confidence, but the fabled ‘bounce’ appears to be on the wane after the Saints picked up only one point from a possible nine in the last three Premier League fixtures.

Profligacy in front of goal has been a point of contention for the St Mary’s faithful in recent seasons, an issue that has been addressed to an extent by the arrival of Ings and Austin, but Hasenhüttl must rediscover the attacking verve that characterised Southampton’s formative Premier League years to avoid a relegation dog-fight.

January transfer window wish list: With Steven Davis and Manolo Gabbiadini both departing, arrivals look likely given Southampton’s perilous position in the Premier League.

Hasenhüttl has stressed the importance introducing pace and Liverpool’s Divock Origi has been touted as a possible replacement for former Napoli hitman Gabbiadini.

Bundesliga imports look likely given Hasenhüttl’s links with the German league, with Monchengladbach midfielder Patrick Hermann another mooted target.

A good second half of the season would be: Retaining Premier League status.

Southampton’s seven-year stint in the Premier League is facing its gravest threat since their promotion to the top table under Nigel Adkins in 2012.

Shoots of recovery have been evident, but Hasenhüttl must ensure that his squad are ready for what looks set to be one of the tightest relegation scraps in recent memory.

Tottenham Hotspur

League position: 3rd

Record: P21 W16 D0 L5 F46 A21 Pts 48

Top scorer: Harry Kane (14)

Most assists: Christian Eriksen (7)

Star man: Heung-Min Son

South Korean forward Son has proved to be one of Mauricio Pochettino’s shrewdest acquisitions during the Argentine’s premiership in North London.

The former Leverkusen man, who has scored over 50 goals in a Spurs shirt, has bagged 12 goals and provided seven assists in all competitions this season and has become an integral member of Tottenham’s counter-attacking philosophy.

Unsung hero: Lucas Moura

Premier League’s August Player of the Month Moura has started his first full season in North London in imperious form.

His most significant contribution arguably came in the Champions League when he netted Spurs’ equaliser at the Nou Camp to secure their passage through to the knockout stage, but the paceman has also scored six goals in 19 appearances in the league.

Often overshadowed by the goal scoring exploits of Kane and Son, Moura’s impact cannot be overstated.

Season to date rating: 8/10

Despite enjoying their best ever start to a Premier League season, Spurs sit third in the table, six points adrift of pacesetters Liverpool.

Taken in isolation, their points haul is beyond impressive, but Pochettino will be frustrated by blights on their record against Watford and Wolves – victories over both and Spurs would be sitting pretty at the top of the league.

Their only other blemishes came against Liverpool, Manchester City and North London rivals Arsenal, who inflicted a 4-2 defeat on Pochettino’s men to extend their unbeaten run to 19 games at the Emirates in December.

In spite of these defeats, Spurs remain in touching distance of the top of the league and look certain to secure an automatic qualifying position for next season’s Champions League – an impressive feat given the dearth of summer signings.

Pochettino’s credentials have been enhanced further by the return to form of Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko who have both benefitted from playing regular football.

All given, Spurs deserve credit for a record-breaking start to the season, but an overriding sense of what could have been will encapsulate the collective psyche of Spurs supporters should the curtain be drawn on the Wembley era without a trophy to show for it.

January transfer window wish list: Pochettino has voiced his pessimism over Tottenham’s prospects of recruitment in January, despite the rumoured departure of fringe players Vincent Janssen, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and Fernando Llorente.

Belgian international Mousa Dembele is also on the brink of a move to the Chinese Super League.

Replacing Dembele will be high on Pochettino’s list of priorities and Spurs could renew their interest in Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish if the Belgian’s departure is confirmed.

Tottenham’s decision to trigger a contract extension on Toby Alderweireld’s contract until 2020 should defer the need to bring in a centre-back until the summer at the earliest.

A good second half of the season would be: Securing automatic Champions League qualification and winning a trophy.

Pochettino’s side are still competing on four fronts and while a legitimate title charge seems unlikely given the standard of competition, a top four finish and a trophy will be enough to satisfy a supporter base starved of silverware.

Watford

League position: 8th

Record: P21 W8 D5 L8 F30 A31 Pts 29

Top scorer: Roberto Pereyra (6)

Most assists: Abdoulaye Doucouré (5)

Star man: Roberto Pereyra

Former Juventus forward Pereyra has been a revelation for the Hornets since his arrival from the Italian giants in 2016.

The tricky Argentine started the season in blistering form, scoring twice on the opening day against Brighton in a brilliant display of technical ability.

An ever-present under new boss Javi Gracia, Pereyra has scored six goals and provided one assist in the first half of the season.

Unsung hero: Jose Holebas

German-born Greek left back Holebas is one of Watford’s longest-serving players despite only arriving at Vicarage Road in 2015.

The marauding full-back has scored three goals and contributed five assists this term and his influence in Gracia’s cosmopolitan squad is considerable.

Holebas’ stunning strike against Cardiff in December speaks to the defender’s penchant for the spectacular, and his eye for a pass from deep allows the Hornets to spring quick counter-attacks.

Season to date rating: 7/10

Watford’s blistering start to the season which saw them win their first four Premier League fixtures was tempered by a dramatic downturn in form in November and December when they picked up eight points from a possible 24.

However, Gracia appears to have re-energised his squad after their end-of-year lapse and the Hornets sit eighth in the table with 29 points – only 12 points shy of their tally for the whole of last season.

Highlights of the first half of the season were the 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham in September, a victory that maintained their 100 per cent start to the campaign and a 2-0 victory at the London Stadium over West Ham thanks to another inspired display from Pereyra.

However, their 4-0 humbling at home to Bournemouth in October speaks to their predisposition to spells of inconsistency.

Gracia, who penned a four-and-a-half-year contract after Watford’s superb start to the season, will be content with the Hornet’s promising start to the season, but acutely aware that his side’s form in the New Year will define his tenure at Vicarage Road.

January transfer window wish list: A central defender will be at the top of Gracia’s wish list.

Watford shipped three goals in their last league game against Bournemouth when veteran centre-backs Adrian Mariappa and Craig Cathcart assumed the mantle, and the Hornet’s boss will be desperate to ease the burden on his ageing back-line, which also features Sebastian Prodl and Christian Kabasele.

They are also open to a proven goal scorer, given Pereyra and Troy Deeney are joint leading scorers with six goals. However, Gracia may not be granted the luxury of funds to spend by the club’s Italian benefactors.

A good second half of the season would be: Winning the Premier League’s ‘second league’ and finishing seventh.

The league has fragmented into three component parts: the top six, the relegation battle, and the fight for seventh. Success for Gracia and Watford this season would be finishing seventh, fending off the likes of Leicester, Wolves, West Ham and Everton.

West Ham

League position: 10th

Record: P21 W8 D4 L9 F29 A32 Pts 28

Top scorer: Felipe Anderson (8)

Most assists: Michail Antonio (3)

Star man: Marko Arnautovic

The Austrian maverick has seized his opportunity as West Ham’s focal point under new boss Manuel Pellegrini.

The former Stoke City forward, who has been guilty of flattering to deceive on occasions, has impressed for the new-look Hammers, scoring seven Premier League goals, including a brace last time out against Brighton.

Arnautovic has contributed two assists, too, and has struck up a promising partnership with big money signing Felipe Anderson.

Unsung hero: Lukasz Fabianski

Polish goalkeeper Fabianski has made the Hammers’ number one shirt his own since his £7million move from relegated Swansea.

The former Arsenal stopper hasn’t missed a minute all season courtesy of a string of assured displays between the sticks.

His positional sense, bravery and shot-stopping have all impressed in the first-half of the season.

Season to date rating: 7/10

West Ham showed their powers of recovery to bounce back from a calamitous start which saw them lose their opening four Premier League fixtures – forgivable, perhaps, due to the raft of summer imports.

Since then, they have notched up some impressive results, most notably against Manchester United and Everton.

The form of Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic has been a particular cause for optimism.

Anderson, a £40m signing from Lazio has thrilled with his technical ability and goal scoring exploits.

The Brazilian has scored eight goals and provided two assists already, and has fans hoping that he can fill the void left by Dmitri Payet after he returned to France in 2017.

The enigmatic Arnautovic has also bagged eight times and has impressed in the centre-forward role.

The pair have been ably assisted by new recruits Andriy Yarmolenko (before he picked up a long-term injury), centre-half Isa Diop and Fabianski.

Pellegrini has restored unity at the London Stadium after a fractious transition period thanks to an impressive summer of recruitment.

He will now be pushing for a top-half finish ahead of a crossroads summer for West Ham.

January transfer window wish list: Samir Nasri has already teamed up with the squad after a six-month loan deal for the former Arsenal midfielder was confirmed.

Pellegrini has been looking to acquire a defensive midfielder and Chilean Gary Medel looks most likely given Besiktas’ relatively meagre asking price.   

Blackburn marksman Bradley Dack has also been linked with a move to the London Stadium after Tony Mowbray admitted that the forward possesses the capabilities to flourish in the Premier League.

Grealish and Danny Drinkwater have also been rumoured but Pellegrini will be wary of introducing too many new faces into what is already a relatively new look squad.

A good second half of the season would be: Seventh would represent success for West Ham given their horror start to the season.

After a 13th place finish last season, a top-half finish would denote progress, but Pellegrini and the London Stadium faithful will be hoping for more.

Wolves

League position: 9th

Record: P21 W8 D5 L8 F23 A25 Pts 29

Top scorer: Raul Jimenez (6)

Most assists: Matt Doherty (4)

Star man: Matt Doherty – The form of unheralded Ireland defender Doherty has turned heads for the Premier League new boys this season.

The 22-year-old right back, who has made over 200 appearances for Wolves, has made a habit of scoring crucial goals for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, namely his winning goals away at Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

He is an integral member of a watertight defence which has conceded only 25 goals – the sixth best in the division.

Unsung hero: Ryan Bennett – A pivotal player in Wolves’ Championship-winning campaign, Bennett has continued to impress in the Premier League, featuring in all but one of their games this season.

The former England U21 international who joined on a free transfer from Norwich City in 2017 hasn’t received the plaudits that some of his teammates have enjoyed, but he has contributed in no small part to Wolves’ imposing defensive record.

Season to date rating: 8/10

Wolves have looked at home in the Premier League – an impressive feat for a side who have been outside of the top flight for six years.

The Black Country side have been stimulated by the theatre of the big occasion, securing stunning victories over Spurs and Chelsea and earning draws against Arsenal and Manchester City.

They also dumped seven-time FA Cup winners Liverpool out of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 victory at Molineux.

Their Championship winning squad was augmented during the summer transfer window, and the Portuguese influence continued with the arrival of experienced pair Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho, as well as Diogo Jota, Ruben Vinagre and Raul Jimenez.

Former Benfica and Atletico Madrid man Jimenez has been a particular standout for the Premier League newcomers, scoring six goals and providing four assists.

Defensive resolve has been integral in Wolves’ impressive start. Bennett, Conor Coady and Doherty have all impressed for a side that have conceded only 25 goals in 21 games.

Lapses against sides in the bottom half of the league will be a sticking point for Espirito Santo – defeats to Cardiff, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace prime examples, but Wolves fans have little to complain about as the second half of the season begins in earnest.

January transfer window wish list: Wolves will be looking to bring in a striker to provide competition for Raul Jimenez and Leo Bonatini. Despite their impressive start to the season, they have scored 23 goals in 21 matches – an average of 1.10 goals per match.

Their defensive record has kept them in games, but Espirito Santo will be desperate to secure an out-and-out goal scorer to ensure that they put weaker opposition to the sword.

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

A pipe-dream before the season began, but so impressive have Espirito Santo’s side been, that a top ten finish is a realistic ambition.

They have proved that they are not fazed by the prospect of facing the biggest clubs, but they must improve against bottom-half sides to turn the ambition into a reality.

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