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Premier League Half-Term Report, part 4

January 9, 2010

The final part of our Premier League half-term report focuses on those sides currently in the bottom 5. Will they continue to struggle for form, or is their position only temporary?

Wigan Athletic

Wigan boss, Roberto Martinez is looking to bolster his attacking options with a move for Glasgow Celtic striker, Scott McDonald. The Latic’s supremo watched from the stands as McDonald scored in the 1-1 draw against Rangers at Celtic Park. Wigan have already ventured into the transfer market with the capture of Serbian shot-stopper, Vladimir Stojkovic on a season-long loan from Portuguese giants, Sporting Lisbon. The 26 year-old provides cover for the injured Chris Kirkland who will be cursing his luck in the run up to the World Cup in South Africa. Martinez is desperate to bring to an end a baron run of six league games without a win and believes it is time for a major shake-up after his first 6-months in charge at the DW Stadium.

Hugoal: Rodallega celebrates a Wigan goal

Wigan last tasted victory back in November courtesy of a solitary Hugo Rodallega strike. Rodallega is the club’s leading goalscorer with seven to his name and the Colombian has endeared himself as a fans favourite in the northwest. Since Martinez’ arrival, the former Necaxa poacher has become an integral part of the squad. Chairman Dave Whelan will be desperate to keep his phone on the blink as Premier League clubs come calling for the 24-year-old.

Current position: 16th
Videprinter prediction: 14th

West Ham

Italian striker, Alessandro Diamanti has eased the pressure on Hammer’s boss, Gianfranco Zola with a succession of dazzling performances over the festive period. Diamanti netted in the solid 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea and against basement club, Portsmouth in a 2-0 win to ensure Zola’s men move out of the relegation-zone at the expense of Bolton. A run of two wins in 17 league games left the Upton Park faithful staring down the barrel of relegation. Assistant manager, Steve Clarke’s comments in Novemeber may have done little to help the cause after he said he should take responsibility for the teams poor performances. The duo who are former team-mates at Stamford Bridge may have exchanged “pleasantries” with one another prior to the club’s recent upturn in fortunes. 

Results business: Zola and Clarke await news of take-over

Well-documented problems off the field have disillusioned fans in the east-end and will be optimistic about the club’s fortunes in 2010. A number of interested parties are believed to be interested in buying the club with current owner, CB Holding’s tight-lipped over the situation. Reports suggest that publishing moguls and former owners of Birmingham City, David Gold and David Sullivan are launching a take-over bid which will enable Zola to foray into the transfer market. Once the financial burden is rectified at Upton Park, the “little Italian” will eye his targets for the season finale.

Current position: 17th
Videprinter prediction: 17th

Bolton Wanderers

Out with the old: Megson failed to create an impression at the Reebok Stadium

In with the new: Coyle aims to bring the good times back to Bolton

Megson out, Coyle in, the trotters fans have finally got their wish. Following a succession of poor performances and a campaign led by the fans to oust Gary Megson from his post, chairman, Phil Gartside has drafted in former Wanderer, Owen Coyle to take on the mantle of saving the club from relegation. The 43-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at the Reebok after the club agreed a compensation package with Burnley. Coyle has been Bolton’s prime target since Megson’s departure, and inevitably the fall-out between the two clubs is sure to spill out in the coming days. Coyle insisted that the only clubs he would leave Turf Moor for were Celtic and Bolton. With the away trip to Sunderland called-off, Coyle’s first game in charge will be at home to high-fliers, Arsenal next Sunday before hosting Sheffield United in the FA Cup fourth round the following week. And the former Clarets boss will not have long to wait to face his old club as the two lock horns at the Reebok on Tuesday 26th January.

Current position: 18th
Videprinter prediction: 15th

Hull City

Joker in the pack: Bullard is vital to the dressing-room at the KC Stadium

Tigers’ chief, Phil Brown’s position was under intense scrutiny in October following a disastrous dip in form which saw the club pick up just 5 points out of a possible 24. After Seyi Olifinjana’s exquisite goal in a 2-1 victory against Stoke City at the KC Stadium, Phil Brown’s men gave themselves a real boost in their bid to beat the drop. Recent results at home to Manchester United and a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates brought to an end a run of one defeat in six games. Last season’s remarkable start to their Premier League campaign has increased the fan’s expectations on Humberside, but Brown is under no illusions with the task in hand and would undoubtedly take a 17th placed finish. Goals have been hard to come by for the relegation candidates. Summer signing, Stephen Hunt leads the goal-scoring charts at the KC netting five goals this season but the lack of goals from their front-men is surly going to be their undoing. News that prized asset, Jimmy Bullard will be out for up to eight-weeks with a knee injury sustained in a 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa, is a major blow. The £5m signing from Fulham has been injury ravaged since his move north last year but the 31-year-old is certainly a character to have around the club as the fight for survival continues.

Current position:19th
Videprinter prediction:16th

Portsmouth

Fight for survival: Avram Grant faces bleak winter at Fratton Park

Rock-bottom and financial ruin, Pompey look doomed to the Coca-Cola Championship. Despite a magnificent 2-0 win at home to Liverpool under the guidance of newly-appointed, Avram Grant, battles off-the-field have been more of a talking point than Michael Brown’s battles on it. Grant will need to inject some of the Harry Redknapp spirit of three seasons ago which saved the club from relegation and earned Redknapp the rather appropriate title, “Harry Hudini.” That seaon the club had experience and proven goal-scorers to call upon to escape the drop. With youngsters, Frederic Piquionne and Aruna Dindane relied on for goals this campaign, the 2008 FA Cup winners have a tough future ahead of them. If the monetary situation is addressed and money is made available to Avram Grant, experience is certainly needed at Fratton Park. Portsmouth have two crucial home league games in quick succession starting next-week against in-form Birmingham City followed by West Ham.

Current position: 20th
Videprinter prediction: 20th

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