In a week that saw two of the top five clubs lose, our Power Rankings didn’t shift that much, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur maintaining the top spot. This week, the clubs will officially reach the half-way point of the season, with traditional Boxing Day matches scheduled for the majority of the league today – Southampton and West Ham United close out midweek action tomorrow night. Will two matches lead to some strange results this weekend?
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 23 December 2018
|Rank||Team||Record||Last Week||Change||Table Pos|
|11||West Ham United||7-3-8||8||3↓||12|
|14||Brighton & Hove Albion||6-3-9||13||1↓||13|
The Tiers of the Premier League
The “Group of Five”
I introduced the idea of the tiers last week, and the results in the league this week didn’t disrupt the groups this week. The “Group of Five” remain the top five clubs in the league table, and remain clear of the rest of the league by eight points.
Arsenal, the bottom “Group of Five” club in the league table, moved up our Power Rankings this week, but it was mostly because of a couple of results elsewhere. Chelsea lost at home to Leicester City, but even more surprising was Manchester City’s loss to Crystal Palace. Regardless of those individual results, the five clubs at the top of the league have been head and shoulders above the rest of the league thus far this season, and it’s going to take a lot to change that down the stretch.
The Muddled Middle
Four of our muddled middle clubs won this week, including the aforementioned Leicester City, who went into Stamford Bridge and hung a loss on Chelsea. The match was scoreless for the first 50 minutes before Jamie Vardy sent the winning goal home past Kepa Arrizabalaga. It was Chelsea’s first loss at home in Premier League play this season, yet the Blues remained in 4th position. The Foxes, however, climbed back into the top 10 after the win, in what was probably their best performance of the season.
Entering the weekend, Bournemouth had lost six of its seven prior matches, tumbling to 11th in the league in the process. However, a match against an up-and-down Brighton & Hove Albion seemed to be exactly what was needed for the Cherries, and the resulting 2-0 win moved them back into the top 10 as well. They close out the first half of the season with a trip to London and a match against Tottenham Hotspur, with hopes that they can earn at least a point after struggling on the road all season (3-0-5, -3 goal differential) to start the second half of the season on a two-match unbeaten streak.
The Bottom Seven
Crystal Palace traveled to Etihad Stadium and won a match that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. They led at halftime after what could be the goal of the month from Andros Townsend:
💥 Absolutely out of this world from @andros_townsend! 🤯
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) December 25, 2018
After going ahead early in the second half on a penalty conversion, they held the highest-scoring club in the Premier League goalless for nearly 35 minutes, and by the time Kevin de Bruyne got City within one in the 85th minute, it appeared too late for them to get an equalizer, let alone to take all three points.
Nevertheless, the win only moved the Eagles to 14th in the league, and they have yet to break 20 points in a season where they’ve lost 10 of their first 18 matches. They finish up the first half of the season at home versus Cardiff City, and a win would allow them to enter the second half on a three-match winning streak.
Until next time…