Four matches are in the books, and with the top two flights of English football returning from an international break, we felt it was a great time for our first monthly update of our Premier League Power Rankings. And with 34 matches remaining… we weren’t that far off from where we thought the clubs would finish heading into the season in our preseason power rankings.
These rankings are updated as of the matches played through 1 September, and every club has played four matches. At this early point in the season, they are pretty close to where the clubs fall in the table, though we expect that to change as more matches are played. They are also based on our preseason expectations for the clubs, so it was a bit harder for clubs that we had low expectations climb (and vice versa). I’m also assuming that this will work itself out as we get further into the season.
We’ll cover a couple of clubs after the rankings, but here’s where we have the league after one month of play:
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
|6||West Ham United||2-1-1||10||4↑||7|
|19||Brighton & Hove Albion||1-1-2||17||2↓||16|
Two clubs have vastly overperformed our midtable expectations at this early point of the season. Leicester City, the last club outside the “Big Six” to win a Premier League title, have started this season the same way they did during that magical season, albeit against different clubs. Thus far, they are winning against clubs they are expected to beat – their two wins are against Sheffield United and AFC Bournemouth – and have drawn above two clubs expected to finish above them – Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea. The next two weeks, with matches at Manchester United and home against Tottenham Hotspur – will go a long way to show if another special season is in the making or if it is simply early season results that will start to shift as the top clubs round into form.
Right behind the Foxes on the table is Crystal Palace, whose best season in the top flight came a few seasons before the Premier League existed. While they have been a mainstay in the league for the past seven season, they have yet to finish above tenth during that stretch, and their average finish has been 12th. They’ve started off the season with two wins, including a surprising win in added time at Old Trafford, but a loss at Sheffield United stings at this early stage. Still, it is a marked improvement over last season’s slow start (1-0-3), but a loss to League Two club Colchester United in the second round of the EFL Cup is probably a better reflection of how the season will go for the Eagles before too long. I would expect that they will fall off this pace soon, perhaps as early as our October rankings in a month.
Two Winless Clubs on Different Paths
The aforementioned Wolves have yet to win in the Premier League this season, and many have suspected it’s because of their play in Europe. The Wolves have utterly dominated in six matches in Europa League, winning all six matches with a +15 goal differential. Granted, four of those matches were against clubs from “low” UEFA associations, but a defeat of Torino of Italy in the play-off round was impressive nonetheless. They’ll be playing in Europe at least through December, so it could greatly impact their performance in the league. Their upcoming schedule through October is relatively easy, however, though a 6 October visit to Etihad Stadium looms against Manchester City. I expect them to enter that match with at least two wins and off the bottom of the table.
Speaking of bottom of the table, one of the Wolves September matches is against the current cellar dweller Watford. The Hornets have already sacked their manager, making Javi Garcia the first casualty of this Premier League season. Three opening losses – to Brighton & Hove Albion, Everton, and West Ham United – was enough for ownership to move on, and it will be up to Quique Sánchez Flores to right the ship for a club that finished 11th last season. September is a rough stretch, however, with matches against Arsenal, Manchester City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers, the last two on the road. I wouldn’t expect a win in the Premier League until October at the earliest.
Until next time…