With another international break at the top of the English Football League, we figured it was as good a time as any to do our monthly update of our Premier League Power Rankings.
With eight matches complete, there has been some minor shifting among the clubs, and one club has been able to distance themselves from the rest. Liverpool remains undefeated (and untied) on the season, coasting into this break with an eight-point advantage over defending champion Manchester City. Nine other clubs have at least ten points, and only one club, winless Watford, has less than five points.
These rankings are updated as of the matches played through 6 October, and league play will resume on 19 October. There remains little discrepancy between where clubs fall in our rankings and where they are currently on the league table, especially among the clubs at the bottom of the rankings/table. However, examining blocks of matches instead of one at a time like last season has enabled us to monitor trends a little closer as we go along, which helps to differentiate a bit.
We’ll cover a few clubs after the rankings, but here is where we have the league after two months of play:
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
|8||West Ham United||3-3-2||6||2↓||8|
|13||Brighton & Hove Albion||2-3-3||19||6↑||14|
Big Falls and Poor Stretches
The two clubs that have fallen the most this month have had very different profiles over the past month.
Defending champions Manchester City is still alone in second place on the league table, but bookend losses since our September Power Rankings has caused a tumble. They went 2-0-2 over the past four matches, including an 8-0 shellacking of Watford, which helped them climb to the top of both the goals scored and goal differential lists. However, the two losses – a 3-2 loss at Norwich City to open the evaluation period and a 2-0 loss at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers just before the break – have moved them out of the top five.
The Norwich loss was a remarkable win for the recently promoted club. They jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first thirty minutes, though City got one back just before the halftime break. But Teemu Pukki scored what would end up being the winner just after the break, with a late goal from City accounting for the final score. Pukki has relished his re-arrival back in the Premier League, scoring (6) or assisting (2) on eight of the Canaries 10 goals on the season. If the rest of the club was a bit stronger around him, I imagine they’d be a bit higher in the standings.
The match against the Wolves was a little closer for most of the match, with the teams playing towards a scoreless draw for 80 minutes. Adama Traoré opened the scoring in that 80th minute, and then added the exclamation point in added time to help the visiting club leave town with a win. That the match came after a hard-fought Wolves victory in Europa League a few days earlier was icing on the cake for a club that had struggled in the first few weeks of the season.
Everton, on the other hand, would have been pleased to pick up a win over the past month, let alone a point. Instead, they were the only Premier League club to be pointless over the past four matches, losing to AFC Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Manchester City, and Burnley to fall into the relegation zone at this early point in the season. I don’t expect them to wallow at the bottom that long, and we had them pegged to finish in the top ten this season. On paper, their schedule through the end of November is fairly easy, so they should enter their 4 December match against Liverpool a bit higher up the table (we would expect). If not, I imagine the next break in a month might mean a new manager instead leading the Toffees at Goodison Park against Norwich City on 23 November.
So High to Climb…
The biggest climb of the month belongs to the aforementioned Burnley, who haven’t lost (2-2-0) since they closed August with a loss to Liverpool. They haven’t been terribly dominant over their four matches – wins against Everton and Norwich City and road draws against Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa – but they have started this season much better than last season – they were 2-2-4 and in 12th place after eight matches last season – and are only a season removed from playing in Europa League. We are a long way to knowing if they can repeat that feat, but supporters of the Clarets have to be pleased thus far.
Elsewhere, if not for a loss to Liverpool, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea squad would find themselves a bit higher than third in our rankings. Looking ahead, it is not unreasonable to assume that they pick up at least nine points heading into the November break, and will face Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on 23 November. They’ll have some non-league matches along the way as well, like trying to climb back to the top of their Champions League group, but the club has a better chance of going up than down, as long as they can solve some of their issues along the back line; they’ve allowed 14 goals on the season, which is fourth-worse in the league, ahead of only Watford, Norwich City, and Southampton, who aren’t exactly competing for a spot in Champions League next season.
Until next time…