Oh for a return to the gloom of being bored by top-four finishes and regular trophies. It’s not just all those fans who filed out at half-time against Man City who are far too entitled: it seems that from top to bottom our club is populated by working stiffs who expect to be rewarded for showing up. Under the ownership of our absentee landlord the heart of our club has been eviscerated, replaced by an infectious apathy. It’s not just the poor results in our worst start to a season since the 70s, it’s the pitiful lack of spirit. 2/10
Stars/flops The unbridled enthusiasm of Gabby Martinelli has been just about the only highlight. Sadly the rest seem to have adopted the same uncommitted attitudes of David Luiz and Xhaka.
Happy with the manager? I’m really not sure if Mikel Arteta is capable of commanding the levels of fear and respect needed to turn this sinking ship round. More’s the point, after Emery’s failure, I’m not sure if the suits who appointed Unai are suitable custodians of our club. I can’t ever envisage them appointing the sort of confrontational character we really need, for fear of rocking the business boat. 5/10
Favourite moment of 2019? In a year where there’s been a dearth of gloating opportunities, seeing the former Gunner Serge Gnabry bag a four-goal haul in Spurs’ 2-7 humiliation against Bayern at White Hart Lane was special.
It’s been as tough as expected. Some wonderful moments, but what we’ve seen has just confirmed that 17th would be a great outcome. Villa Park has been vibrant but the next few games are seminal. A poor Christmas could make it a sleepless early 2020, a good one would have us dreaming about cup finals. We’ll see. By the way, you get treated much worse as an away fan in the Premier League than in the Championship: no pubs for miles let you in and the “second class citizen” vibe is real. 7/10
Stars/flops Grealish has been superb, adding goals to his general wizardry. The only concern now is that we’re too reliant on him: if he gets injured we’re down. El Ghazi has exceeded hopes and McGinn started well but has been overplayed and has faded. I’m not in the “Wesley is useless” camp – he’s barely had a decent pass in a month. Mings is clearly a great bloke but his England debut went to his head. Grealish beware.
Happy with the manager? 8/10. You gotta have faith. The last few weeks have been tough but we have to remember he is inexperienced. I’d follow him over a cliff but if we have a bad next six games he’s going to be under pressure. I’d definitely let him loose with the January chequebook, though.
Moment of 2019? By a mile, Jack Grealish’s winner at St Andrew’s last March, and his “best day of my life” interview afterwards. The lad is a legend, living out most Brummies’ dreams.
• Jonathan Pritchard
We’ve been, at best, mediocre. We started out with plenty of promise, but here we are in December, via a devastating injury crisis, in a relegation fight. The Carabao Cup defeat to Burton Albion set the tone and the team just haven’t defended well against long balls played over the top. 3/10
Stars/flops Jefferson Lerma, Aaron Ramsdale and on-loan Harry Wilson have impressed. Unfortunately, three players in good form isn’t enough to win games. The goalkeeping has been the biggest positive: Ramsdale has been outstanding. Less impressive have been Philip Billing, Dominic Solanke and Ryan Fraser: they need to give Callum Wilson service and they just haven’t been creating. We’ve always been among the top scorers but the attacking players are struggling now.
Happy with the manager? Howe’s been making a few poor choices. Fans don’t understand why Simon Francis is getting games when his best years are behind him. Eddie has been unlucky – Lloyd Kelly injured before the start of the season, and David Brooks out until March – but the performances still haven’t been good enough. He’s pulled us out of stickier situations before, though, and we trust him to do it again. 5/10
Moment of 2019? Beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge just tops our win at Southampton. Waiting for the VAR goal decision was nervy – but highly enjoyable when it went our way.
A solid first-half of the season. We’re not winning enough, even though we’re so often the better team, but our new style is utterly convincing and we’re confident the results will come. We’ve just got to be patient. After 17 games last season we had one point more, but this term we’ve already met four of the top six away, and we played Palace off the park last time out. Just wish Zaha was on our team, not theirs. 7/10
Stars/flops Our midfield of Aaron Mooy – he gets everywhere – Davy Pröpper and Dale Stephens has been excellent, as have most of our summer signings: Trossard, Maupay and Webster. And Pascal Gross is thriving on our more positive approach. Flops are £5m Florin Andone, £15m Jürgen Locadia (both have gone out on loan) and £17m Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who will go on loan next month.
Happy with the manager? Yes. Graham Potter has got us playing expansive, fun and exuberant football. He has instilled confidence in the players and the transformation has been staggering. We’re the Barça of the south coast. We achieved so much under Chris Hughton, but played to a tighter system. 8/10
Moment of 2019? Given that totally unwarranted equaliser at Selhurst Park, I’ll go for a combined moment: beating the north London clubs: Tottenham at home, and Arsenal and Watford away.
• Steph Fincham
It’s been mixed. One real positive has been keeping six clean sheets, and we’ve had some good performances – but we seem further away than ever from getting to grips with the big clubs. We’ve had some big defeats against them, none more so than conceding five at Tottenham. 7/10
Stars/flops It’s always a team game with Burnley and that makes it hard to single people out. That said, the Ashley Barnes/Chris Wood partnership up front is special: they’ve continued where they left off last season and have already bagged 13 in the league between them. The emergence of Dwight McNeil has been a delight to watch. He’s started all but one of our league games since last Christmas. There’s nothing better than seeing one of your young players come through to establish his place. As for negatives – some players have struggled, but I wouldn’t label any of them flops.
Happy with the manager? I fail to see how anyone can be anything but happy with a manager who has taken us into the Premier League twice and is now overseeing a fourth consecutive season there. That’s remarkable for a club like ours and the one fear we have is someone snatching him from us. 8/10
Moment of 2019? That massively enjoyable week back in April when we beat Bournemouth and Cardiff to just about confirm our place in the top flight for this season.
Fourth place, last 16 of the Champions League, academy players established in the starting XI – it’s been a cracking start to a new chapter. Yes, we’ve had a mini-slump lately but it’s a big learning curve. We all need to hang on tight through this period, but there’s plenty to be pleased about. 8/10
Stars/flops? Tammy Abraham has proved wrong all those who doubted his Premier League quality; Mason Mount has been excellent – green at times, but that’s to be expected; and Mateo Kovacic has been a revelation to me. He’s started to hit the net, too, which is a much-needed bonus. Reece James has been superb when he’s started and he’ll make the right-back spot his own. As for the biggest flop: it has to be anyone who’s been picked to play at left‑back. Azpilicueta, Alonso and Emerson have all been woeful at times.
Happy with the manager? Very happy. He’s made mistakes, still isn’t on top of our defensive issues and seems a bit naive at times, but he’s new at this level. Unless we want to go back to a new manager every other season then we need to back him. His honesty in post-match interviews, win or lose, is refreshing. It’ll be very interesting to see who comes in to the squad in the next two windows, and how much input Lampard has in that process. 7.5/10
Moment of 2019? Ajax away. Low expectations before the game, but we took it to them. Just brilliant.
• Paul Baker In memory of Trizia Fiorellino
To be in the top 10 in the run-up to Christmas is a great achievement for a small squad. We gambled on having only one senior left- and right-back in the squad, and that’s come off the rails with the injuries in recent weeks, but we’ve kept on picking up results. Wins at Manchester United and West Ham, and beating Bournemouth at home despite having 10 men for most of the match have been the highlights. 7/10
Stars/flops Vicente Guaita has been superb between the sticks – a model of brilliant consistency. Wilfried Zaha has grown into the campaign, Gary Cahill slotted in seamlessly, Martin Kelly has been good all season, and Jordan Ayew has surprised everyone with his goals, dribbling, and energy. Max Meyer hasn’t established himself as fans expected him to, though made a big impact off the bench against Brighton, and it’s impossible to judge Victor Camarasa, as Roy Hodgson just hasn’t played him.
Happy with the manager? Given the squad at his disposal, Roy has had a superb season. He’s even begun to make more positive substitutions. He’s spoken a lot about the need to strengthen in January if we are to compete for a top-10 finish and he deserves the chance to do so. 8/10
Moment of 2019? In the final game of last season, Bournemouth fans were relentlessly baiting Zaha whenever he was near them. It made him so angry he promptly dribbled the entire length of the field to cross for Andros Townsend to finish. Perfect.
What a disaster. Yes, we’ve been unlucky with a catastrophic injury list, but Marco Silva and the players were appalling. There’s a long-term stench of mediocrity around Goodison, with board and owners (past and present) having been prepared to accept second best for way too long. 3/10
Stars/flops There have been few obvious stars. Calvert-Lewin has grown in stature although isn’t proven as a natural scorer just yet. Mina has looked more comfortable and Holgate has proved adaptable. But Richarlison is the only player to deliver fully so far: he’s our outstanding player. Iwobi, meanwhile, needs to play as a No 10 otherwise he looks a poor buy. The rest have continually failed to show up.
Happy with the manager? Silva (2/10) seemed a genuine guy and hard working, but was just hopelessly out of his depth in terms of his ability to focus players, instil passion and impose tactics and game management. Duncan Ferguson (6.5/10) gave us a welcome shot of passion, and reverted to a tried and tested 4-4-2, but was never a long-term fix due to his lack of experience. After that adrenaline rush we needed a cool head and some nous. Maybe Carlo Ancelotti can bring us that.
Moment of 2019? Two moments from the Chelsea game: Duncan embracing the ballboy, and footage of the owner, chairman and CEO failing to clap in synchrony. Everton in a nutshell.
We’re more than happy. I’d have snapped your hand off for a top-six place at the beginning of August and now we’re the only realistic challengers to Liverpool in the title race, if there is a title race to be had. On top of that we’re in a cup semi‑final, too. So it’s a very solid 10/10.
Stars/flops Ricardo Pereira really doesn’t get the praise he deserves: he’s comfortably the best right-back in the Premier League. Jamie Vardy is putting his 2015‑16 form to shame, with 16 goals going into this weekend, and Wilfred Ndidi has made N’Golo Kanté look amateurish. On the flipside, Ayoze Pérez has had a frustrating start to his City career since he signed from Newcastle in July – he’s got quality but is really lacking consistency so far.
Happy with the manager? Fans have adopted Wham’s festive classic, singing about giving their heart to Brendan Rodgers this Christmas. But even that doesn’t feel like enough, somehow. 10/10.
Moment of 2019? Every single time opposing fans have sung about Rebekah Vardy, Jamie has avenged his wife with a goal. Honestly, it’s like clockwork. Beautiful, hilarious, poetic clockwork.
9.5/10. We’ve won every league game apart from one – a draw at Old Trafford – and are top by a distance with a game in hand. We negotiated a tricky start to the Champions League to finish top of the group and head back to Madrid in February. We’ve got a few injuries in defence, which is worrying, but even with Henderson as centre-back, in for Van Dijk, we still managed to win.
Stars/flops The star has to be VAR – that’s the reason we’re top, right? Other than that, the whole team, but if I have to single anyone out, Mané has been phenomenal. Also Adrián. He signed probably expecting to warm the bench plus an odd appearance in the cup but was called into action in the very first game when Alisson was injured. He has played 10 league games up to now – including a win over Everton. As for flops: all those pundits who insist we’re not playing that well. I’m looking forward to when we are. Oh and VAR, a truly dreadful introduction to the game.
Happy with the manager? Completely, and thrilled he’s signed an extension to stay for years to come. Entertaining on the touchline, too: see his set-to with Monterrey’s Antonio Mohamed. 10/10
Moment of 2019? Winning the Champions League in Madrid. Followed by the triumphant bus tour around Liverpool the following day that saw Klopp on the swally being looked after by 19-year-old Rhian Brewster as he almost fell off the top deck.
• Steph Jones
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