by Daisy Cutter

Four months in and we can officially file the 2014/15 season under ‘strange’. While Chelsea and Manchester City have fulfilled their obligation to pull away into a two-horse title chase the clubs who were expected to fight for the remaining Champion’s League spots have suffered a loss of identity so dramatic as to make Jason Bourne shudder.

Only Manchester United have reached an acceptable footing in the table and that after their worst start since 1986. Liverpool meanwhile are confounding their supporters with a series of underwhelming performances that are unrecognisable from the free-flowing displays of brilliance that led to many declaring them champions back in May. A similarly unexplainable lull seems to have carried across Stanley Park with the vitality introduced by Roberto Martinez at Goodison evaporating into thin air. Last term’s fifth place finishers currently languish in mid-table and look a shadow of their former selves.

The same curious circumstance can be found in north London with Arsenal already hopelessly adrift of title aspirations while new incumbent into the White Hart Lane hot-seat Mauricio Pochettino struggles to implement his saintly ways at a struggling Spurs.

Along with City and Chelsea these four clubs made up the top six last year yet are currently 6th, 9th, 10th, and 12th with each labouring to string together consecutive wins. Accumulatively they’re responsible for more bile, exasperation, and self-loathing on Twitter than if One Direction released a single entitled “All Young Girls Are Gullible Bedwetters” and the only ‘plaudit’ they’re seemingly in contention for is the managerial sack race.

Even by the most reasonable estimation each are enduring something of a crisis right now – even if it’s only one of confidence – but which club is heading for meltdown?

The Cutter looked at five key areas and marked each out of ten to discover, in this strange topsy-turvy season, which club is experiencing a crisis with a capital C.


Liverpool – Ill-judged recruitment in the summer has resulted in half the team struggling to find their feet and Rodgers now looking at familiar mainstays to rescue him. Suarez’ departure and the persistent absence of Sturridge certainly haven’t helped but where is the mentality of last term nevermind the execution of it? 9/10

Arsenal – Sanchez has proven to be a cracking buy – oh Liverpool, see what you missed out on – but elsewhere it’s the same old, tired story for Wenger’s soft-centred outfit. Opting to not go all-out for a centre-back and combative midfielder has cost the Gunners dear yet again. 7

Tottenham – It will take time for Poch to introduce his high-energy pressing football to the Lane but supporters can only be expected to show patience if they’re witnessing signs for optimism. A series of disjointed displays and the inability to break down inferior opposition is fast turning the hope to concern. 8

Everton – The most perplexing of all the declines due to astute strengthening in the summer and retaining their core stars. The woeful form of Tim Howard is baffling considering he was a superhero for the USA during the World Cup while Jagielka and Baines – two outstanding Goodison stalwarts – have drastically dropped their levels. Lukaku is misfiring and Martinez must shoulder some blame for Barkley’s ineffectual half-term. Talking up his prodigy has only placed more pressure on the lad. 7


Liverpool – Last summer you’d be hard pressed to find a Red who didn’t refer to their manager as Brendan. Now, to a man, it’s Rodgers which may seem a minor details but hints at the disconnect in the Liverpool ‘family’.

Lofty quotes from last season have come back to bite the Irishman on the backside and he is increasingly looking more David Brent than Messiah.

Shouldering some responsibility in post-match interviews would help his cause significantly but is he now too arrogant after his recent near-success. 9

Arsenal – Gooners have long held conflicting views on their wily Prof. On the one hand he is perceived to be frugal to the point of being a board’s wet dream. On the other he is quite simply legend. The former means Wenger is unsackable barring a sustained crisis where all hope is gone. The latter affords him leeway with the crowd who largely react to missed signings and poor results with exasperation rather than spite. 7

Tottenham – The Argentinian should be grateful for the shortcomings of them lot down the road, Liverpool’s disintegration, and Van Gaal’s early woes because they have certainly spared him an acre or two in negative headlines. 6

Everton – Evertonians deserve a great deal of credit for concentrating their frustrations on the deserved targets namely that of the underperforming players. The lack of media heat on Martinez can presumably be attributed to snobbery – it’s been nine years since the Toffees have finished outside the top eight yet still they are patronisingly portrayed as the plucky underdogs. 4


Liverpool – This time last year the Reds were five points off the top with a game in hand and exuding an attacking spirit that had the league running scared. In fact they were just three days away from battering Spurs 5-0 at the Lane with a comprehensive display of wanton destruction.

Now they languish in mid-table with a porous defence having scored fifteen goals less. From champions-elect to crisis in twelve months is some achievement. 9

Arsenal – The Gunners have 12 points less than at this stage of 2013/14 but more pointedly back then they were top and playing the kind of adventurous, stylish football that seemed to vindicate Wenger’s decision to put his transfer eggs in one Ozil-shaped basket. A similar philosophy to headhunt a single galactico has patently backfired this term. 8

Tottenham – This time last season Spurs were three places for the better with six more points yet were just three days away from dispensing with Villas-Boas. As omens go that’s enough to make Pochettino grumpier still.

Of a more pressing concern is Spurs’ inability to string consecutive performances and results together. Every victory at present is another false dawn.

The saving grace for the gaffer appears to be the aforementioned transitional period and Daniel Levy’s reluctance to become known as a hire-and-fire merchant 7

Everton – Free from the shackles of Moyes’ dour restrictions the Everton players seemed to revel in their liberation to play open, attractive football last term. It took them to fourth last December whereas this Christmas they could conceivably be fending off premature whispers of a relegation dogfight and that hoary old cliché of being ‘too good to go down’.

Monday’s home game to QPR has become a must-win 8


Liverpool – Favoured with one of the easier groups the excitement of being back at the top table soon turned to reasonable hopes of reaching the knockout stages. Defeat to Basel last week completed a lacklustre showing that has only heightened the doom and gloom. 9

Arsenal – The bizarre capitulation to Anderlecht aside Arsenal have saved some of their best displays for the Champion’s League besting Galatasaray 8-2 on aggregate and completing an impressive double on Dortmund. The last 16 has become familiar territory for Wenger’s men but if they are still adrift of the top four come March they may need to progress further to stave off crisis talk. 2

Tottenham – Comfortably securing passage to the knock-outs in the Europa League has taken some of the lead off Pochettino’s shoulders with further encouragement coming from the development of youngsters such as Harry Kane. The tournament has been both the part cause and part salvation of their present woes. 3

Everton – The fans have enjoyed their forays across the continent and topping their group has certainly acted as a fillip. If they can just switch their form against Lille and Wolfsburg for some passionate performances domestically the Toffees can yet make something from a largely disappointing campaign. 2

Supporter unrest

Liverpool – Disgruntlement on social media has now reached epic proportions with a Twitter meltdown imminent should they lose without fight to United. Expect to see the name Klopp pop up more than once 9

Arsenal – Familiarity is supposed to breed contempt. With Gooners witnessing the same old mistakes being committed by Wenger and the teams he puts out it merely produces weary frustration. Yes there are calls for his head but it’s with the same manner an aging janitor is prompted into retirement. 6

Tottenham – Spurs fans have been here before. They say it’s the hope that kills you. In which case the graveyards must be brimming in north London. 6

Everton – You have to feel some sympathy for Evertonians in that their bete noire Kenwright can no longer be blamed. Instead the potential scapegoats are incredibly popular figures in Martinez, Jagielka, and Howard leaving Blues to simply curse their club’s name through gritted teeth. 5


Liverpool 45

Arsenal 30

Tottenham 30

Everton 26