An American's Premier League Power Rankings: Week 5
Hey. I am a nice ol' midwestern boy from the heartland of America. I like soccer. I love soccer actually or football as you know...the rest of the world calls it. For my entire life, from when I was a tiny little kid waddling around the fields outside my house kicking a ball around to now, I have loved the sport, the goals, the style, and the players. Yet, one league, one nations elite race for the title has always captivated me the most, The Premier League.
I also really love rankings. The arbitrary, totally subjective listing of things for no real reason other to start a great debate, a conversation about how right, or more often wrong you are. The Premier League has a sad absence of power rankings on the webs, prolly you know because the table is already ranked for you. Regardless, that wasn't good enough for me, I needed more, the internet needed more, so without further ado I present to you LeftyLoggy.com's power rankings for the 20 teams of the Premier League for Week 5 of the season. Enjoy.
20. Crystal Palace.
So, let's get the bad news out of the way first shall we. Five straight losses to open a season is rough, there is no way around that. Setting a Premier League record for longest goalless drought to open a season is rough. Being the first team in the history of English football to open with five straight goalless losses is well...awful.
That said, there is definitely something to Palace, both of the last two games they have shown so much fight, so much attacking energy that I am honestly surprised they didn't win at least one of the games, let alone fail to score a goal. I don't believe that Palace is doomed and that they might as well pack it in for the season, there is something in this team. That said, the next three matches for the squad are brutal to the max. There is a very real possibility they start the year with eight consecutive losses, hopefully not eight scoreless losses.
The first difference between the actual standings and power rankings. Everton is in bad shape right now y'all. It's not just that they've lost three games in a row now, it's how they are losing them. 2-0, 3-0, and 4-0 is a bad trend line, the team who entered the season with real discussion about whether they could compete for the top four are now in the relegation zone and in danger of having things spiral away. They also own a share of the worst goal differential in the league.
The team put up a solid and at times impressive showing against Manchester United on Sunday and Rooney in particular almost seemed re-engerized by his return to Old Trafford, firing up the entire squad and showing just how important he is. The issue is that Rooney is just a half step slower then in his prime and that once he departed the game all hell broke lose as Man U smashed home three goals in the final ten minutes. Next weeks game against Bournemouth is a big match for a squad in desperate need of stopping the bleeding. If they can't win against lowly Bournemouth then some serious thinking about the future of the team needs to occur, a point at the very least is a requirement.
Bournemouth picked up it's first win of the season. While it may have come against Brighton, not exactly a heavyweight, a win is a win and it represents the first crucial points of the season for Bournemouth. Looking ahead to next week the team has a matchup against Everton that suddenly has increased stakes. That and the match against Leicester City the following week represent the squad's best chance for wins before matches against Tottenham and Chelsea. Not spectacular by any means, but at least they've won a game and scored some goals of late(cough Crystal Palace cough).
Brighton's loss to Bournemouth is hardly the end of the world but the fact that a match with red hot Newcastle awaits them next, means they were important points left on the table that come the end of the year could prove crucial in the fight to avoid relegation.
16. West Ham
The battle of the west's. West Ham's fixture against West Brom offered up much potential for the squad to get an all-important win but Ham just couldn't quite seal the deal. Now they are forced into a match with Tottenham at home that seems unlikely to offer up much in the way of points. Still, they are currently out of the relegation zone and that should offer up a slight cheer for the London club.
What a mess. What a total mess. It's not that Leicester City is out and out terrible, if that was the case it would be far far more simple. Instead, the flashes of brilliance that Leicester carried with them two years ago can be seen every now and again, but it's so fleeting, so blink and you miss it, that instead we are left with one of the most disappointing sides. Simply put they should be better then they are. With a showdown against Liverpool this weekend things aren't going to be getting any easier for the Foxes.
14. Swansea City
A draw against Tottenham is nice for the club. Still a loss and a draw in it's last two games is hardly good enough for Swansea and this weeks matchup against Watford will go a long way in showing just what kind of squad this side is.
Need to start scoring more goals and quick though, two in five games won't cut it.
13. Stoke City.
A tale of two teams. From the high of standing toe to toe with Manchester United two weeks ago going shot for shot and showcasing that the Red Devils weren't quite invincible, to a lackluster and forgettable loss against Newcastle this week, Stoke and Mark Hughes need to decide just what kind of team it is. I was wowed coming off their game two weeks ago, now I'm not sure how high this teams ambitions should be. Things don't get any easier with a home match against Chelsea this week.
Still, they haven't lost at home yet this year and three of their next four games lay at the awfully named bet365 Stadium. If they can hang on against Chelsea things look promising.
If you had asked me last week I would have had Watford quite a bit higher. The team was riding high with no losses attached to their record. Under closer examination though they were largely fighting against paperweights and a draw against Brighton should have signaled a larger problem. Enter Manchester City.
The devastating 6-0 loss to City was simply stunning to watch unfold. Watford put up nothing to counter City and in a great irony, in what could have been a showcase for how good this Watford team was, instead became a thundering exclamation point in City's case that they are the most dangerous squad in the league. Watford got smacked in the opening seconds and never recovered. This weekends game against Swansea City now looms far larger then a week ago. How does Watford respond? What do they have in them after that humbling and humiliating game? We will find out Saturday.
11. West Brom
Two early wins in the season seem long ago for West Brom, particularly after a scoreless draw against West Ham. The four goals scored is going to have to start to rise, particularly in Mondays match against Arsenal. Still, West Brom is only currently sitting on one loss for the year and if they can survive Mondays match at Emirates Stadium, a HUGE if, they will have made quite the statement and shown that their early fast start wasn't a fluke.
Southhampton picked up three points against a lowly Crystal Palace side that saw them jump to eight points and into a seven way tie in the standings. Yet, for much of the Palace game they didn't look the better side. Regardless, as Denis Green beautifully said you play to win the game and win the game they did. I haven't been wowed by the team and they now face a dangerous and ruthless, as Everton can attest, Manchester United side. Any points at home against the Red Devils would be nice for Southhampton and help to solidify that they are for real, a big loss and the questions about their depth and caliber continue.
What a crazy few weeks for the Gunners. At the start of the month all talk seem centered on what Arsene Wenger's future was and if he needed to make a quick exit. Things were looking downright bleak and early expectations for Arsenal seemed lost. Fastforward to today and coming off a dominant showing against Bournemouth and an impressive draw at Stamford Bridge, where they were the superior side for large swaths of the game, Arsenal is once again a force to be reckoned with and one with it's eye on the top four. A match against West Brom at the Emirates is all that keeps Arsenal from three big points.
What in god's name is going on with Jurgen Klopps side? Before this week the crushing loss against Man City could have been written off due to Mane's red card ejection in the first half. Now though, after a 1-1 draw against Burnly the questions about Liverpool's defense have surged. The nine goals allowed is by far the most of any team in the top ten and the vaunted Liverpool attack has scored exactly once since returning from the international break. They seem to have taken Arsenal's place as the team in crisis and this weeks' game against Leicester seems far more important then anyone could have guessed two weeks ago. A decisive performance is required and the backline best remember to show up for this game.
Coming off the 1-1 draw against Leicester City this past week and with a loss to West Ham before that, Huddersfield is suddenly finding itself lacking points after two winnable games. Matchups against Burnly and then Liverpool next could show just how valuable those points were, as Huddersfield could see itself go further without picking up three points. A good showing against a suddenly imposing Burnly would stem the slide and offer a nice boast for Huddersfield. A loss and well...things could spiral away.
Burnly certainly should be one of the squads riding the highest right now. After two quality draws against Tottenham at Wembly and Liverpool at Anfield, with a win against sorry Crystal Palace tossed in for good measure, Burnly suddenly finds itself looking sharp, quick, and with a defense that has allowed only two goals in those three games. Taking on the mighty firepower of Jurgen Klopps side and the guns of Harry Kane and company and walking away with a road point in each is very good news for Burnly. While for large stretches of the game against Palace they just withstood punches and didn't do much else, they won that game and showed the worth of their keeper.
Burnly and Huddersfield battle each other this week in a game that can help to set the tempo for which non-power five club will be the pacesetter for the league.
Burnly does need to start turning some of those draws into wins though.
The Spurs Premier League Wembley woes continue. After Tottenham's impressive Champions League midweek fixture against Dortmund there was hope that the Wembley curse was broken, but alas it appears not. Tottenham have yet to win a game at home this year and a bunch of draws don't make you a top four team. It's such a bizarre thing to watch unfold truthfully. To see Tottenham and Harry Kane go from a 1-1 home draw to Burnly, to a emphatic 3-0 win over Everton that honestly could have been even worse, to then a middling scoreless draw against Swansea City, Tottenham's mighty guns seem to stop working quite often. Harry Kanes magical foot is no less potent but it's aim seems to be just slightly off at Wembley and this then trickles down to the entire team. Tottenham is breaking teams down and getting shots out, but they are poor shots or ones that any other day would find the back of the net.
Still, Tottenham has the best goal differential outside of the Manchester cousins and they find themselves playing a road game against West Ham this weekend, so I expect big things. They aren't playing bad, they just also aren't living up to their potential.
4. Newcastle United.
Truthfully, this far into the season I am shocked to be writing Newcastle's name here. The only two loss team in the entire top ten of the League, Newcastle is also one of only four teams with at least three wins, this is a team that plays for keeps.
After a dispiriting start to the season that saw the Magpies open with losses to Tottenham and Huddersfield, Newcastle has surged to life. Winners of three straight matches and outscoring their foes 6-1 Newcastle has found new life and finds itself looking at an upcoming schedule nicely in it's favor. Only their game against Liverpool in two weeks should be a real threat, otherwise Newcastle should continue to rack up the points and build off it's momentum. A road match against Brighton this Sunday is all that's standing between them and a fourth straight win.
What a strange season thus far for Chelsea. After an opening day loss to Burnly, Chelsea quickly rattled off three increasingly impressive wins against Tottenham, Everton, and Leicester City culminating in their devastating 6-0 Champions League romp that made the Blues look like perhaps the leagues most dynamic and energized team.
Enter Arsenal. A draw against the Gunners isn't a terrible result. It's hardly the end of the world. Yet, for much of the match Arsene Wenger's side controlled the tempo, pace, and attacking sprint. Where was the dynamic Chelsea we had seen earlier in the week? Where was the high-flying Chelsea who seemed a legitimate contender with it's Manchester neighbors?
Chelsea has an away match at a Stoke City squad looking impressive at home and wanting to get the taste of the loss to Newcastle out of their mouth. Mark Hughes side should be hungry and ready to fight. So, Chelsea won't have a cakewalk on it's hands. Which isn't music to the ears of Stamford Bridge supporters considering they have a huge match against Man City the following week.
2. Manchester United.
Honestly, I believe that Man U could be the best squad in the entire country. Ruthless, unforgiving, and with an unblinking mission to return the crown back to Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho's boys are fired up. Or perhaps I should say when they want to be fired up they are. As a supporter of Man U I have watched every second of their season and the one lingering worry I'm left with is that the Red Devils seem to turn it off at times, seem to coast for stretches of the game. They at times seem content to just ride out the game for long periods confident in the fact that in the last ten minutes they can turn it on, to blistering effect as Everton can attest. Yet, it doesn't always work out, on the road against Stoke they weren't able to break through and were forced to leave points on the table for the first time.
United looked thoroughly impressive against Everton, spoiling their former captains return and bouncing back quite nicely after both the Stoke game and losing Paul Pogba to a hamstring injury. Pogba represents a key player for the side and how Mourinho and company handle his absence over the next few weeks will be key to continuing their campaign for the crown. With games against Southhampton and Crystal Palace they should be more then fine and with the international break following afterwards Pogba may be healed enough to factor into their first big game of the season against Liverpool on October 14th.
Regardless 16 goals scored and only two conceded with 13 points after just five games is massive warning to all that this United side is very real and very dangerous.
1. Manchester City.
It pains me to have City at the top. Still, they are riding higher then anybody right now, just blitzing all sides that have come before them of late.
At first their 5-0 win over Liverpool could be written off as being largely due to Mane's red card, but a similar result in the Champions League against Feyenoord and then a stunning 6-0 beatdown of Watford has showcased the true power and force of City's attack like nothing else. There are roughly six or seven players on this side who at any moment can take over the game and unleash devastating strikes. Outscoring their opponents 15-0 in their last three games across all competitions City is very much for real and clearly eager to make an emphatic mark on the league this season. A home game against goalless Crystal Palace should provide amble opportunity to mark yet another decisive example of their strength.