Manchester United are leading the way in the Premier League, Liverpool’s slump has surprised many and Aston Villa are battling for a European place.
It has been a typically eventful first half of the Premier League season, but who is exceeding expectations and who is underachieving?
Here’s my half-term Premier League report.
The optimism of last season’s FA Cup triumph turned sour so quickly for Mikel Arteta in his first full campaign, as poor form prompted searching questions, and even talk of a relegation fight, after the 2-1 defeat at Everton in December left them 15th and four places off the relegation spots after their worst start since 1974-75.
There were some signs of the tide starting to turn but the awful FA Cup fourth-round loss at Southampton, when the Spanish manager inexplicably picked a weakened team, has restored much of the gloom.
Big weeks ahead for Arteta and Arsenal. Must do much better.
The most improved team in the Premier League.
Villa escaped relegation on the final day of last season but a summer of smart recruitment, plus retaining the inspirational Jack Grealish, means they have been transformed into one of the most exciting and entertaining teams in the division.
The highlight was the sensational 7-2 home win against champions Liverpool. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been outstanding while Grealish’s class has stood out in a season that holds rich promise for the months ahead.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Struggles for the Seagulls mainly centre around goals – 22 in 19 games – and three wins in the Premier League is a very poor return.
The victory at Leeds United in their last league match could be just the catalyst they need and in Tariq Lamptey they possess an outstanding young right-back, while midfielder Yves Bissouma has admirers.
It is at the other end where they need more action, so heavy responsibility lies with seven-goal Neal Maupay – no other player has more than two goals – to finish off their attractive football.
The Clarets were struggling and lacking goals, still only 10 in the league so far, but spirits will have soared with one of the results of the season when they ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home league record on Thursday.
And Burnley, under new ownership, have the confidence of a manager in Sean Dyche who knows his way around the Premier League and knows what it takes to maintain that status. He will need to find an answer to the lack of goals but what a boost that Anfield win will give the whole club.