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What to look for in the new year


Loss a reminder of Hull's long road

Hull City

Burnley show character in comeback


Stoke to unsettle United

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 By Ian Darke

Assessing the Premier League so far: Ian Darke's midterm report cards

As Manchester United opened up their 'war chest' in the summer with the signings of Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Radamel Falcao and Marcos Rojo, will United do the same again this January?

At the half way point of the Premier League campaign the picture is starting to fall into sharper focus. The January transfer window may change the prospects of some teams but this is what the teacher's report card might say so far:

Chelsea: Top of the class at Christmas and deservedly so. Hard to find fault with a team that has the perfect blend of silk and steel as well as the Mourinho factor, though you would worry about how any long-term injury to Diego Costa, Eden Hazard or Cesc Fabregas...

Santi Cazorla and a case for the Arsenal defence ahead of 2015

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged his side to remain consistent after the Gunners moved into fifth spot with a 2-1 win at West Ham on Sunday.

In the wake of two 2-1 victories inside 48 hours and ahead of a New Year's Day trip to Southampton, here are three talking points for Arsenal fans ...

Santi Cazorla

The Spaniard has been outstanding in recent games for the Gunners, scoring four times in the past five matches; a feat made all the more impressive by the different roles he has fulfilled.

Because of the paucity of midfield options, Arsene Wenger has been playing Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Cazorla at the tip of...

Home loss to Leicester a reminder of Hull's long road

Hull City boss Steve Bruce reviewed his side's losing performance against Leicester City and cited that, during his 18 months in the Premier League, he cannot remember a time when his side has created that many chances and lost.

Alex Bruce best summed up Hull City's Christmas campaign: "On cloud nine and then lower than a snake's belly," the central defender said ruefully.

Forty-eight hours after claiming an excellent Boxing Day victory at Sunderland, the Tigers crashed back down to earth with a demoralising defeat at home to Leicester City. No sooner had one fixture breathed life into the season that the next sucked it straight back out.

City deserved more from the visit of former boss Nigel Pearson and his struggling...

 By Jamie Smith

Burnley show great character in Manchester City fightback

As Sunday's action of Week 19 in the Premier League comes to a close it was the bottom-dwellers of the table who will be most satisfied with their valuable points.

Being relentless has been one of Burnley manager Sean Dyche's key mantras since he took over at Turf Moor, and Sunday's draw at defending champions Manchester City epitomised that phrase superbly.

With the hosts 2-0 up at halftime and looking comfortable, many supporters wondered if it might be a case of damage limitation after the break. City have dished out some heavy hammerings to Burnley in recent years, and it looked for all the world as though another was on the cards.

Dean Marney and...

 By Chris Wright

Mexican paper fools Queretaro fans with hoax Ronaldinho story

Queretaro shocked the masses by signing Brazilian star Ronaldinho midway through the season.
Ronaldinho would surely have loved to have lived in a house like that.

What with Dec. 28 being the Spanish equivalent of April Fools' Day, one Mexican newspaper decided to get in on the act by running with a phoney story about Liga MX's biggest star attraction, Ronaldinho.

Ronaldinho has reportedly gone AWOL from his club, Queretaro, over the Christmas period, with rumours circulating that the famously hedonistic Brazilian forward had returned to his homeland in order to ring in the New Year in style.

With that tittle-tattle in mind, Mexican paper Record ran with a...

 By Chris Wright

Brazil star Neymar stars in strange Japanese TV advertisement

Neymar is a valuable asset around the world, including his appearance in a new Japanese TV ad.

Slightly less unfathomable than Cristiano Ronaldo's bizarre "facial fitness" commercial, which aired on Japanese television last year, Neymar has followed suit by starring in a weird and wonderful advertisement for an "oily skin shampoo" brand.

The advertisement features Neymar, scalp suitably oiled, preening and pouting at the camera while two Gerard Pique look-alikes in suspenders prance and writhe behind him in a fairly unsettling manner.

Indeed, Neymar isn't the only Barcelona star to have...