MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 02: Zach Merrett of the Bombers leads the team out during the round 11 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 02, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
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Essendon (5-6, 10th)

What’s gone right: The Bombers have been able to show that when at the top of their game, they can be an impressive outfit. Star recruit Dylan Shiel has added energy and excitement to the Essendon midfield, while Jake Stringer has been a consistent performer for the red and black this season. Youngsters Mason Redman and Aaron Francis have shown further promising signs, while Darcy Parish looks to have come into his own in recent weeks; averaging 29 disposals and featuring on the scoreboard over his last three matches. Dylan Clarke is another who looks to have cemented his spot in the side after nullifying Patrick Cripps on the weekend.

What’s gone wrong: The Dons have appeared to stagnate in 2019 thus far, having only one more win than they did at the same time last year. The Bombers have often been far too predictable with their style of play (as noted by Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd), and their entry into their forward fifty has been lacklustre at many times this season. Plagued with injuries to notable players such as Joe Daniher, Devon Smith and Orazio Fantasia certainly hasn’t helped, either.

Best and fairest: While there have certainly been many critics of his ball use this year, Dylan Shiel would still remain a hot contender to take out his first best & fairest at the Bombers. Jake Stringer will be in for a good chance if he continues to show consistent effort and work rate, while the usual customers of Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett and Dyson Heppell would all fancy their chances as well.

Season grade: E

Sadly for Essendon, it’s been a season all too familiar, with a mediocre spate of performances seeing the club where they are right now. The first 11 rounds have quelled expectations for the Bomber faithful, who no doubt would have had heightened expectations over the pre-season thanks to a strong finish to 2018 and the attaining of Dylan Shiel. All is not lost and of course, the season can still be salvaged, but the first half of their season leaves a lot to be desired.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 10: Bombers players huddle during the round eight AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Essendon Bombers at Sydney Cricket Ground on May 10, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
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