An American's Premier League Power Rankings Week 8
Impossible is nothing. The catchphrase of athletes, idealists, and hopeless optimists the world over has inspired humanity to incredible feats, breathtaking acts of heroism and courage, and beautiful reflections on the sheer willpower of man. I am of course speaking of Crystal Palaces 2-1 victory over Chelsea this past week. Belief and a little break are a mighty strong tonic. So let's go.
20. Bournemouth. (-1)
If the point of a power rankings is to reflect the quality and state of each team in a given week it is impossible for me to not have Bournemouth at the bottom of the table. They just look bad. They look really bad. Palace may have gotten off to a historically bad start and couldn't seem to find the back of the net, but they at least duked it out with some sides and very easily should have at least drawn one of their games against either Burnly or Southhampton.
Bournemouth has just played poorly almost from the start. They've managed four points not because of exciting and impressive football but more because of the poor quality of their opposition those days. They take on a Stoke City side coming off their 2-7 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City this weekend. Bournemouth better ready themselves.
19. Crystal Palace. (+1)
They did it. They bloody did it. Palace not only managed to (finally) find the back of the net, but did so two times in the first half. They then locked it down for the second half to withstand the punches of the defending champion Chelsea and emerge not just with their first point of the season but their first, rather impressive, win.
The crucible of Man United, City, and Chelsea was supposed to be a humiliating and despondent one for Palace. Winless and goalless heading in they were ravaged by United and City as expected. But, with the extra week off from the international break and with a breathtaking sense of purpose Palace went toe to toe with Chelsea and delivered quite the blow.
Palace takes on Newcastle next in the first game after that brutal run. Newcastle is looking rather sharp of late so expectations should perhaps be tempered but for now Palace fans, celebrate the incredible.
18. Leicester City. (-2)
A draw against West Brom a top ten team at this moment is hardly a discouraging moment for Leicester. Yet, you just get the feeling that this team is squandering all of their best chances to pick up points. It's hard to explain the Foxes inability to finish the deal. They actually have the second best goal differential of any team in the bottom half of the league, yet here they currently sit in the relegation zone. Quite simply they are not playing as well as they should be. The sacking of their manager is hardly a spectacular sign for the squad.
They take on Swansea this weekend and yet again I will say that is a winnable game or one at the very least that should see Leicester snag a point on the road.
17. Everton. (No Change)
Oh Everton. A 1-1 road draw against Brighton isn't a bad result necessarily, yet it's the way Everton played yet again that is so discouraging. Something is deeply troubled with this Everton side and unluckily for them a matchup against an Arsenal side still stinging from the loss to Watford is unlikely to help much.
16. Stoke City. (-5)
Stoke's title as the most Jekyll and Hyde team continues. Taking on Manchester City was always going to be daunting for Mark Hughes boys but the stunning 7-2 beatdown they suffered was simply shocking.
Stoke seems incapable of going on any good run at all. They'll do well and immediately squandered the momentum the next game. Since their impressive showcase against Untied earlier in the season, Stoke has lost three of four games and been outscored 5 to 14. They are so impressive at times, offering up flashes of brilliance. More often though, Stoke appears to be floundering. They take on lowly Bournemouth at home at the bet365 stadium this Saturday, anything other then a win should be inexcusable.
15. Brighton. (No Change)
A respectable 1-1 draw against Everton is enough to keep Brighton trending in the right direction for now. A big matchup against fellow 8 point club West Ham awaits Friday in what could be a major showdown between two sides fighting to stave off being anywhere near the relegation zone. It's an important match for Brighton to showcase just what quality of a side they are.
14. Swansea City. (+4)
Swanseas 2-0 victory over Huddersfield leaves quite the mark behind. Swansea has always had a great defense, they've allowed the fifth fewest goals of any Premier League side, yet it was their inability to score that needed immediate fixing. Two goals and a key win later Swansea appears to be heading in the right direction. They take on the underperforming Leicester City side in a matchup that could see Swansea push itself further from the relegation zone.
13. West Ham. (+1)
I believe in West Ham y'all, I really do. In the previous power rankings before the international break I mentioned how West Ham was in the midst of quite a run and how their match against Burnly would be a good test of character for the squad.
An impressive 1-1 result later, one that could have turned out even better for West Ham if not for Andy Carrol's ejection, and now the Hammers are looking increasingly like the real deal and an impressive mid table side. Two wins, two draws, and a loss in their last five games is a run West Ham can and should be proud of. They take on Brighton at home next in a matchup that has both sides eyeing the full three points in this early season battle. West Ham made a statement against Burnly, now they should make yet another.
12. Huddersfield. (No Change)
Huddersfield continues it's disappointing form as it loses yet another match. The Terriers have now garnered just three points from their last six games during which they have scored exactly one goal.
The once impressive start to the season has been lost and now Huddersfield seems on the edge of a crisis. The match against Swansea was supposed to be an opportunity to break out of their scoring drought, but instead became an embarrassment for the club. Without a win now since August 20th, Huddersfield will now be tasked with playing host to Manchester United, a squad currently featuring the most impressive defensive end in the league at the moment. Things hardly look better with a match to Anfield to take on Liverpool the week after.
Goals must be scored soon.
Southampton and Newcastle got into an exciting 2-2 match that saw Southampton break out of their scoring drought and put up an exciting showing. This Southampton side is one that has had it’s fair share of rocky performances but this showing against Newcastle could prove to be a good place to build off of.
A match at home against West Brom in a few days proves a good mid-table matchup for the club.
10. West Brom. (No Change)
West Brom continues it’s remarkably conseisent run of form with a 1-1 draw against Leicester. West Brom may not be the most exciting squad, yet they are one that has emerged as a solid top half team just sucking up points wherever it can find them.
They take on Southampton on Saturday and yet again I find myself saying West Brom must be expected to find a point somewhere within the game.
9. Newcastle.(No Change)
A solid 2-2 draw against Southampton sees Newcastle pick up another point as the newly promoted side continues to impress with it's early promising start to the season.
Newcastle hasn't always been pretty but virtually no one would have expected to see the Saints this high up the table after the first eight weeks. It is a testament to the quality of this side and Rafa Benitez leadership that they are. They take on Crystal Palace at St. James Park next. Things are looking up in Newcastle.
8. Liverpool. (-1)
Even when Liverpool is the decidedly superior side for virtually the entirety of the ninety minutes they can't seem to find the result they want. Liverpool outclassed, out attacked, and largely outplayed Man United in Saturdays match yet they could just never find the back of the net and thus wasted yet another opportunity.
Jurgen Klopps side is hardly in crisis, as their stunning Champions League performance this week showed, yet clearly something has to change if the Reds are truly going to make a run at the top four. Things hardly get easier next week as Liverpool travels to Tottenham to face off against a second straight opponent in the top three.
7. Arsenal. (-3)
Oh Arsenal. Right as everyone is beginning to believe you've turned a corner and are playing like the clubs of yesteryear you've got to go and muck it up. Arsenal's lost to Watford is simply stupefying. It's not that Watford isn't a good team, they are. Yet, Arsenal simply seemed to turn it on and off throughout the match and by the end had no place winning that game.
A match against an awful Everton side awaits the Gunners now and you have to imagine they are going to be mad and ready to fight after the humiliation they've had to endure for the past week.
Then again it's near pointless trying to predict what's going on at Arsenal.
6. Burnly. (No Change)
Burnly is now in the midst of a six game unbeaten streak and is tied on points with Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. It also features one of the best defenses in the entire league and is a wonderful story. Nobody could've predicated the fantastic story of Burnly after these first eight weeks of the season. They have impressed, surpassed expectations, and proved over and over that they are the real deal.
All of that said, Burnly now faces by far it's stiffest test of the entire season thus far with a visit to Manchester to take on Pep's staggeringly ruthless City side. A win seems ludicrous to dream for, even a draw is perhaps too optimistic, but a close competitive result is well within reason.
5. Chelsea. (No Change)
Wow. So that happened. Being the team that loses to a squad in the midst of a historically terrible opening was always going to hurt no matter who it happened to, but for the defending champions to lose in the fashion they did is particularly rough.
Chelsea has largely under impressed me throughout this season thus far truthfully. This clearly is not the same team that ran off to the title last year. Chelsea hosts Watford next in a matchup that is extra intriguing due to Watford's current place above Chelsea in the table.
4. Watford. (+4)
Watford is currently a Champions League team. That surreal and absurdist statement has come true given Watford's 2-1 win over Arsenal over the weekend. Watford is currently flying high right now, a matchup against the reigning champs and recently humbled Chelsea this Saturday though will give tiny Watford it's stiffest test of it's aspirations yet.
3. Tottenham. (No Change)
Tottenham dispatched Bournemouth with relative ease and continued it's run as seemingly the only serious title challenger to the Manchester giants. Tottenham has surged since it's August 20th lost to Chelsea. Embarking on a six match unbeaten run in the Premier League and a 10 match unbeaten run across all competitions, that includes a win over Dortmund and a road draw against Real Madrid. Spurs have easily established themselves as a lethal squad.
This Sundays matchup against Liverpool will give them a showcase for their lethal skills. I expect an exciting and intense match between the two.
2. Manchester United. (No Change)
United's boring, safe, defensive gameplay against Liverpool secured the desired result. United snagged the point and remains unbeaten on the season, yet lingering questions about the style and quality of Jose Mourinho's side will persist.
United hasn't faced the stiffest challenge yet and as they turn towards the hardest part of their schedule thus far we may finally truly get a sense of the true mettle and depth of the team. When they want to though few teams are as fast and explosive as Man United. This weekends road match to Huddersfield affords them a good opportunity to show this.
1. Manchester City. (No Change)
Manchester City looks dominant. Historically so. City have lit up the league with their thrilling, attacking, and high scoring displays of football. Fast, ruthless, and with the belief that they are superior to any team they play, City has dominated Premier League action.
In particular City's current run of play since that September 9th match against Liverpool has been electric and utterly flawless. Including that 5-0 thrashing of the Reds five games have ended at least 4-0 for City, only two games have managed to be decided by a single goal and City currently sits atop a ten game WINNING streak. No draws or losses allowed. They have outscored their competition across all play by a margin of 34-5 and two of those goals conceded came in their 7-2 romp over Stoke. City has been dominant in a way that hasn't been seen in the league in some time. They are not just a threat to win the title, but one to be crowned champions of Europe. They take on Burnly this Saturday.