Who passed with flying colours and who should be in detention?

Who’s the teacher’s pet? Who’s bottom of the class? We grade this season’s squad

Michail Antonio (WHU), behind post, scores the first goal for West Ham 1-0, at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

Another academic year draws to a close, but this one has been different. The games have come thick and fast, there have been no crowds to encourage. But the class has excelled as a team and individually.

We have to give a special collective mention to the players, the management and the staff – the team morale has been fantastic this year and the benefits have been reaped on the field. If we were giving an overall class grade, it would be an ‘A’!

Lukasz Fabianski: B+

Despite a couple of memorable errors this season, Lukasz hasn’t let the class down. He’s kept a clean sheet in almost 30% of appearances, which has helped the team achieve great things. It’s also a 10% improvement on last season. He’s now signed on for an extra term, which we’re really pleased about. We wouldn’t complain about another season of the same, Fab.

Darren Randolph: C 

Darren has been called on a few times this season in the league and managed one clean sheet. In fairness, he only let in two goals against Manchester City and helped us to an important victory over West Brom, which was a good effort. Darren is reliable and can always be called upon to help out when needed. 

Aaron Cresswell: A- 

There are so many good things we can say about Aaron this term. Last year we asked him to have less ‘off-days’ and he certainly listened. With seven assists (compared to zero last season) and 10 clean sheets (five last season) his credentials have improved incredibly. Keep going Aaron.

Fabián Balbuena: C 

Statistically, Fabián hasn’t been as successful as he was last term. However, his calming influence over his class-mates is his real strength. He never lost his cool, even when faced with a wrongful red card, which stands to his personality. Competition is high though and there may be others who outshine him, If he chooses to stay.

Vladimir Coufal: A-

Gold star. Vladimir has settled in perfectly as one of the newest in the class. He’s cool, calm and collected, but still strikes fear in his opposition. He’s been immense at the back and influential going forward. We really hope this star pupil can keep up the good work.

Craig Dawson: B+

Craig has been an exemplary pupil this season and we’re so glad that he’ll return for the next term. With clean sheets in almost a third of his games, he’s a solid performer in defence. He’s also chipped in with goals, which is an added bonus. He made a couple of errors, so if he can work on small elements of his game over the summer, he’ll be even better next season.

Angelo Ogbonna: A

Angelo is verging on a star pupil accolade this season. He’s been a solid performer at the back and has made such a difference to his classmates’ confidence. When he’s defending, he’s cool and calm, which is exactly what we need. With more clean sheets and less goals conceded than last season, it’s been a great term for Ogbonna.

Issa Diop: C

Issa hasn’t had as many opportunities to play this season but has still chipped in with a couple of goals. Last term we asked for more confidence but sadly we didn’t feel he really asserted himself when given a chance to play. We need to see him be more reliable as a defender. 

Ryan Fredericks: C

Even with limited opportunities, Ryan chipped in with a goal and an assist this term. Competition is high for Ryan and he needs to make more of an impact when given his chances. His discipline has improved, which is good for his overall game though. 

Arthur Masuaku: C in midfield, D+ in defence

Another hit and miss year for Arthur. He has so much potential but makes too many mistakes. He has a great attacking flair but sadly we’re left frustrated after defensive errors. He didn’t concede any goals in four games out of 12, which is still worthy of praise. 

Ben Johnson: C+

As the youngest in the class, Ben has done a good job to make his way into the squad and is a team member that can be relied upon when needed. He’s not necessarily the strongest and has many things to learn, but he will gain confidence with experience. 

Manuel Lanzini: B-

Our little gem has contributed to one of the moments of the season, for which we have to give him a gold star. His fantastic goal against the school rivals gave him the confidence he needed after a really tough year gone by. We still feel he has more to give but he’s shown improvements, which is what we ask for. 

Jesse Lingard: A

What can we say about Jesse that hasn’t already been said. He came into the class late but didn’t waste any time in making friends and was keen to impress from the start. As the most accurate player when it came to shots on goal, he’s another pupil who has earnt a gold star and we’d love to see him stick around for another term. 

Mark Noble: B

The head boy still has a major role to play in this class. We’ll only get one more year out of him but he has so much to give. He’s come in for some criticism but has covered well for class mate Declan Rice and has shown he’s keeping himself fit and using his experience to manage his game. 

Pablo Fornals: B+

With his infectious smile, he’s such a loved class member. He’s played his part in some key moments this year and has improved his goal tally. He also makes more passes per game than last term and it shows. He’s grown into this team very well. 

Tomas Soucek: A+

We’ve put Tomas at the top of the class this year. His achievements here and also in his international extra-curricular activities have been an example to all. Hard work, modesty and talent come naturally to Tomas. With the second highest passes per game in the class, he’s also a committed team player. If he continues his form into next term, he’ll be head pupil again.

Declan Rice: A

Declan proved yet again that he’s a wise head on young shoulders. He showed his classmates that he is fully ready to take on the role of a leader. He continues to gain praise from fellow footballers and the media, and we’re so proud he’s learnt his lessons from the best, Mark Noble. 

Andriy Yarmolenko: D+

We’re so disappointed for Andriy that it hasn’t worked out for him this season. His season has been limited due to injury and isolation. The FA Cup tie against Man United summed things up for him – he tried, but nothing good really happened for him. It looks as though he won’t be around to grade next term. 

Said Benrahma: B-

Said has endless amounts of energy and has really been keen to prove himself. He’s brought a new dimension to the class, but we feel he needs to relax into it a little more. If he concentrated more on his options on the field, he could seriously improve his grades next term. 

Jarrod Bowen: B+

Jarrod continues to work hard and be a credit to the team. We were concerned half way through the year that he was getting a little quiet, but even still he’s been a team player week-in, week-out. He’s made a big step up to the Premier League look easy and without him the team wouldn’t be where it is today. 

Michail Antonio: B+

Michail keeps doing what he does best and we love him for it. He’s not the most technically talented player in the class and he does miss opportunities. But he’s had one of the most impressive journeys throughout his career and we continue to be proud of his dedication. Fitness has been an issue this term and unfortunately, he’s going to have to work sensibly to keep fit next term. 

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