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    Premier League Wishlist: Who's after something beyond Lynx Africa?

    Here’s hoping that everyone had a great day celebrating Christmas with family and friends and mostly got what you asked for! However, below are a few sides that wanted to get something a little different off Santa this year.

    Crystal Palace:
    2016 has been criticised on social media like it’s a living thing with genuine emotion and Palace’s wish list is simple: make 2017 better than this year. The Eagles have statistically been the worst team in the entire football league ninety two in 2016, an FA Cup final appearance has masked what has been an abysmal 12 months. Many felt that they had done good business in the summer transfer window, signing Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke but they’ve only won one out of their last eleven games and find themselves one place above the relegation places. In some ways, one of their prayers may have already been answered over the Christmas period. The sacking of Alan Pardew has seen Sam Allardyce take the reins at Selhurst Park and there are few better at keeping a team in the division. Allardyce has achieved this at struggling sides such as Sunderland, Bolton and West Ham in particular over his managerial career. He also crucially tightens up defences. His teams are rarely known for their attacking flair but are always difficult to play against and ship few goals. It would be hard to imagine a Sam Allardyce outfit concede five goals as poor as the ones that Crystal Palace did at Swansea or the three let in against Hull in recent games. The Christmas wish was probably as simple as survival and that may have been answered by their new manager.

    Is Sam Allardyce the man to turn around Crystal Palace's fortunes?

    When Ross Barkley is at his best, Everton are free flowing and a potent attacking side. The local boy burst onto the scene in 2013 after overcoming a serious leg break and loan spells at Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday. His debut season was a huge success, with particularly memorable goals against Manchester City, Norwich City and Newcastle United. His exploits that season earned him a place in England’s 2014 World Cup squad, but since then he has failed to consistently perform to the level he showed breaking onto the seen as a teenager. He shows glimpses of absolute brilliance, but at present they are too sparse for the liking of Evertonians. There’s no doubt that Everton’s current deficiencies don’t rest solely on his shoulders but, because of the nature of his position, if Barkley doesn’t perform well it’s noticed. It’s so easy for even a top class central attacking midfielder to become anonymous. Look at Mesut Özil against Manchester City. I know at times the German makes Dimitar Berbatov look like N’Golo Kanté, but he was completely shut out of the game with little that he could do in that formation. There’s plenty of areas that Everton need to improve in, but their top priority this Christmas must be for their enigmatic midfielder to find some consistent form once again.

    Can Ross Barkley start showing his obvious talent more consistently?

    Hull City:
    Hull have conceded a whopping thirty six goals so far this season (the most in the league) but recently this has been less of an issue with thirteen let in over a three game period in September/October. What is key for the Tigers is to address the fact that they are the lowest scorers in the division with only fourteen goals in seventeen games. Hull have already lost 1-0 on four occasions and if half of those were turned into 2-1 wins, they’d have a three point cushion on the relegation zone. Dieumerci Mbokani, Adama Diomandé and Abel Hernandez have all shown glimpses of being capable at this level but have not been anywhere near consistent enough to offer a proper threat to oppositions. It isn’t just the strikers of course, the entire team needs to start chipping in with more goals and providing more chances for the strikers to finish. With Ryan Mason, Jake Livermore and Shaun Maloney in the side, there’s certainly players who can offer that service, it’s just a case of getting them to actually do it week in week out. Top of Hull’s Christmas list will be, regardless of what the solution is, more goals. I’m sure most Tigers fans will hope that the “solution” isn’t Emmanuel Adebayor on a free transfer though.

    Can Dieumerci Mbokani start hitting the net regularly?

    Liverpool have been impressive so far this season, with goals coming from all over the pitch and impressive wins gained over Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal. More recently as well they seem to have shored up the defence by keeping four clean sheets in the last six premier league games, although one of the other two games involved conceding four at Bournemouth. With Chelsea seemingly running away with the title at the moment, Liverpool may be wishing for a similar run of form to that they enjoyed over the festive period in 2013. From New Year’s Day 2014, Liverpool won four of their next sixteen matches. They went on an eleven game winning streak which included 4-0 wins against Everton and Tottenham, a 5-1 demolition of Arsenal (4-0 after twenty minutes) and a 3-2 win over eventual champions Manchester City. In that sixteen game run, Liverpool scored a staggering fifty two goals and were in pole position until THAT game against Chelsea. When they began the purple patch this time two years ago Liverpool were six points behind league leaders Arsenal. This time around, you guessed it, they’re six behind Chelsea. Could history repeat itself? If it does, Liverpool will be hoping for a less heart-breaking end this time around.

    Liverpool's winning run will live long in the memory

    The Saints’ Christmas wish list is most likely going to be more to do with who they want to KEEP rather than bring in. In particular, Virgil Van Dijk has shown this season that he is capable of playing at the highest level. Mobile, disciplined and a real threat at set pieces, the Dutchman would be the perfect fit for any title challenger this year let alone European hopefuls. It’s therefore no surprise that he has featured in most pundits’ team of the season so far. If he is sold, Van Dijk will be yet another example of brilliant business by Southampton. Bought for around £13m in 2015, if he were to leave it would most likely involve a fee around the £30-40m mark. Beyond Van Dijk, there are players that seem to have gone under the radar for years at Southampton like Dušan Tadić, Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s situation is more understandable given the lengthy injuries he’s had but all three of these players are some of the most underrated in the Premier League at the moment. Time and time again Southampton have to grit their teeth while the “heavyweights” come in and plunder their squad so if they can hold on to Van Dijk, fans will be hopeful of a post-Christmas European push.

    Virgil Van Dijk is quickly establishing himself as a top Premier League defender

    West Ham:
    West Ham’s main priority is to keep their strikers off the treatment table. Andy Carroll is always a constant threat in the air but this is only the case if he’s fit. He’s only managed over twenty appearances in two of his five seasons at West Ham and hasn’t played more than thirty Premier League games since 2011/12. If he was fully fit, the likes of Michail Antonio may have had less of a burden to chip in with goals this season. Another striker that has been unlucky with injuries is Diafra Sakho. He may not top the scoring charts but the Senegalese has proven that he can cut it at this level. Sakho has only featured twice so far this season and he’s now also reported to be out for a further eight weeks with a back injury. Andre Ayew was signed for £20m, but picked up a thigh injury on the opening day, ruling him out for around four months. His time at Swansea and previously in France has shown that he definitely has what it takes to be a success in East London. With Simone Zaza’s loan spell nothing short of a disaster, West Ham are in desperate need of some fit strikers to aid the talented but inexperienced Ashley Fletcher. Carroll and Ayew have just returned to the side, so there’s a dim light at the end of the tunnel.

    This wasn't the start to the season West Ham and Andre Ayew were hoping for

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
    George Kelsey

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    Item Reviewed: Premier League Wishlist: Who's after something beyond Lynx Africa? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: George Kelsey
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