With the turn of the year coinciding almost perfectly with the halfway point of the domestic season, we wanted to hand out some half term awards to the clubs and players who have put in the most encouraging performances so far.
We’ve crunched the numbers across the Premier League and EFL – up to 31st December 2018 – to reward those who have caught our eye.
They may be struggling to defend their title, but Manchester City have spent over 19 hours leading in the Premier League – a full 90 minutes more than current leaders Liverpool. Arsenal’s participation in the race for Champions League football next season has hinged on their ability to recover after falling behind, with the Gunners already having claimed 12 points from losing positions.
Alan Hansen’s infamous proclamation that you’ll win nothing with kids may not have proven true for Manchester United’s class of ‘92, but it looks to be holding true for Fulham’s 2018 crop. The Cottagers are the only club in the top flight this season to have named starting line-ups with an average age of below 26 but, along with the next most useful side Southampton, it’s not exactly been paying dividends.
Aston Villa have already dispensed with one manager this season, but no Championship side spent more time in the lead up until the end of December. West Brom have been leading for just five minutes fewer than the Villans and Birmingham edge third, making it a strong showing from the Midlands so far this term.
Brentford are notable in two categories: firstly they have named the youngest starting line-ups of any club across the top four English divisions with an average of just over 24 years and five months. Secondly in Neal Maupay, they have the player who has been the most central to his side’s attacking output, with 21 of the Bees’ 34 goals having either been scored or assisted by the young Frenchman.
Leaders Portsmouth have been the most dominant team in League 1 so far, having spent almost 17 hours in the lead prior to January. Promotion rivals Sunderland are sustaining their own challenge in a similar manner to Arsenal, having recovered an impressive 17 points from matches in which they’ve fallen behind. Spare a thought for Bradford and Fleetwood, who didn’t manage to salvage anything from the games they trailed in during the first half of the season.
It’s hard to look past MK Dons or Lincoln for the title this year, but neither has impressed as much as Colchester when it comes to dominating matches. John McGreal’s side have led for almost 16 and a half hours up until the end of December, which is over an hour more than either of the current top two. Meanwhile, the recently-departed Jayden Stockley will be tough to replace at Exeter, as no player had contributed to a higher share of their club’s goals in League 2.
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