Much as I suspected heading into last week’s slate of games, playing twice shook up the rankings. We’ll talk about the minutiae after the actual rankings, but only four clubs stayed in the same spot from last week’s Power Rankings, and we also have a new club at the top of the rankings: Liverpool, the only club remaining without a loss in league play.
As always, these rankings reflect performance in Premier League matches only, and are more about the week-to-week trends instead of the whole season picture. A club is rewarded more for victories against teams there weren’t expected to defeat and vice versa, with draws treated fairly neutral unless there is a massive ranking disparity.
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
Results as of matches played through 10 December 2018
|Rank||Team||Record||Last Week||Change||Table Pos|
|9||West Ham United||6-3-7||12||3↑||11|
|12||Brighton & Hove Albion||6-3-7||9||3↓||13|
Behind the Rankings
At the Top
And then there was one.
Liverpool is now the only club to be undefeated on the season after winning twice this week, and they weren’t bottom-table opponents. After defeating Burnley during the week, they utterly destroyed Bournemouth on Saturday, pushing their goal differential to +28. Obviously they’ve had similar strong weeks all season long, but they have had Manchester City in front of them for most of the season.
City took quite a tumble despite winning one of their two games this week. It was the loss that caused them to move down, losing 2-0 to a Chelsea club that was coming off a loss of their own in the middle of the week. I couldn’t justify keeping City above Chelsea, while at the same time, Chelsea needed to pay the price for that loss the Wolverhampton Wanderers. That is probably the biggest reason why our top five clubs from last week are all in different spots this week.
The Muddled Middle
An undefeated week was responsible for the biggest moves from the middle of the rankings. The aforementioned Wolves followed up the victory against Chelsea with a win against Newcastle United on the road. Meanwhile, West Ham United took advantage of hosting two games during the double match week, easily defeating Cardiff City and holding on against Crystal Palace.
The Wolves have been two different clubs at times this year. They started the season 4-3-1, looking like a club that everyone expected to do well after blitzing the Championship last season. That opening stretch was followed by a six-match winless streak (0-1-5), during which the Wolves looked like a recently-promoted Championship club. But with these two victories in a row, they might have returned to that earlier winning pace.
West Ham, on the other hand, started the season slowly, losing their first four matches and falling to the bottom of the league table (and our Power Rankings at the time). Since that start, however, they’ve only lost three more matches – to Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City – and have returned to the top 10. With most of the top clubs behind them, at least until the New Year, they should be able to maintain their current position, if not slightly improve on it.
The Bottom of the Rankings
The biggest gain from the bottom quarter of the league was from Burnley, who lost midweek to Liverpool, but salvaged the week by defeating Brighton & Hove Albion. They remain just barely out of the relegation zone – only two points ahead of Huddersfield Town in 17th place – but the win against Brighton was their first victory since September! I don’t think they’ll be able to start a winning streak; they travel to London to play Tottenham this weekend, but they should at least be the best of the worst at least for this week.
Until next time…