EPL Power Rankings: Week 2
After week two of the Barclay’s Premier League the goals have continued to flow. Chelsea are off to the best start for any club in England’s top division since 1888 and there have already been four games with at least six goals scored. This seemed like a high time to debut EPL Talk’s official power rankings. Updated every Tuesday, these rankings will sort EPL clubs from 1-20. Feel free to leave your own lists/criticisms of this list in the comments section.
The departure of Joe Cole and Michael Ballack rose red flags around Stamford Bridge about whether or not Chelsea could match their torrid scoring pace of last season. Twelve goals in two games seems to have answered that question emphatically. Granted, West Brom and Wigan aren’t exactly the elite of the Premier League but the Blues dominance is difficult to overlook. But their John Terry and the rest of Chelsea’s defense needs to be tested by a quality side before their position at the top becomes permanent.
Welcome back Theo Walcott. A hat trick, albeit against Blackpool, is a good start on the road to realize the 21-year-olds vast potential. Arsenal is looking like a side without any glaring weaknesses, goalkeeping aside, but no real stars. If Walcott can build on this performance than Arsenal can make a legitimate challenge to Chelsea and Manchester United.
3. Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson will be disapointed not to have all six points after two games after a draw at Craven Cottage but the Red Devils are still a title contender. Giggs and Scholes are showing that age doesn’t have to be a detriment and Javier Hernandez, while still learning, is looking like a valuable addition at Old Trafford. Own goals continue to pour in but one has to wonder how long United can survive without Rooney contributing.
4. Manchester City
The big-spending Manchester City still needs awhile to gel but Joe Hart’s unbelievable form is keeping Manchester City afloat and dangerous. James Milner is already looking worthy of his hefty price tag and Carlos Tevez is picking up where he left off last season. Questions remain about Roberto Mancini’s managing and his relationship with his players but there’s simply too much talent at Eastlands for many teams to challenge them.
The results from Tottenham’s first two matches are exactly how one would want to start off an EPL campaign. A draw against free-spending Manchester City and a win against Stoke is a good start but they haven’t looked like a team ready to retain their top-four status. Garreth Bale is a very early candidate for player of the year but he can’t do it alone. As the season goes on we’ll see how Harry Redknapp’s team juggles Europe and their League duties but it’s par for the course so far.
Bolton were a mid-table side for nearly all of last season, never really threatened by relegation and never looking likely to make a charge towards the top of the table. Some key additions in the midfield have done a world of difference and don’t be surprised if Bolton are hovering around a European spot come May.
A decent performance against Arsenal was followed up by a total dismantling at the hands of Manchester City. Liverpool’s stars, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, are all out of form and Pepe Reina is looking like a liability in goal. Roy Hodgson has absolutely mad a positive impact on the club since his arrival but will the off-field turmoil have a detrimental effect on the team’s performance as we get deeper into the fall?
Fulham look like a side who know how to grind out results with two hard-fought draws. With no European competition to distract them this season, don’t look for Fulham to fade down the stretch like they did last year. They don’t look like a top-seven side as of yet but they should not be underestimated.
The surprise of the EPL last season is off to a fine start with a come from behind draw against Sunderland followed by a come from behind victory over Blackburn. Ben Foster, looking to fill the shoes left by Joe Hart, endured himself to the Birmingham fans with a superb penalty save against Blackburn.
10. Newcastle United
A 6-0 thrashing of Aston Villa probably said more about Villa’s turmoil than Newcastle’s talent but they still look like a team likely to stay out of the Championship for another year. Andy Carroll’s hat trick should boost his confidence and give the Magpies an attacking edge going forward, assuming they don’t sell him by next Tuesday.
11. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy drew a bit of criticism for saying that he would be happy with simply avoiding relegation and he’s off to a good start. Four points from two games is a fine start for Wolves who look to build on their survival last season.
Everton’s slow starts are becoming all too predictable and the sooner David Moyes’ side snap out of it the better. Everton are likely to retain Steven Pienaar which should help their cause but their tendency for one dire mistake per game is the difference between their one point from two games rather than four. Everton will inevitably find their form and become one of the top six or seven teams in the league but will it be before they fall into too deep a hole?
13. Aston Villa
Maybe it was James Milner’s departure or maybe it was Kevin MacDonald’s decided lack of enthusiasim for management but Villa’s 6-0 defeat to newcomers Newcastle was as ugly a performance as you’ll see in the Premier League. The inability to recover from a missed penalty raises major questions about this team’s mental state.
14. Blackburn Rovers
At times it’s difficult to remember that Blackburn is even in the Premier League. Not that they are bad, they’re just a incredibly average side. They are solid on all fronts but even some of the most devoted EPL fans would struggle to name their starting 11. They don’t look likely to mount a challenge to the elites but won’t drop points against inferior sides very often.
15. West Bromwich Albion
It’s hard to fault anyone for giving up six goals at Stamford Bridge and the newly-promoted West Brom successfully rebounded this weekend against Sunderland with a 1-0 victory.
Can Sunderland overcome their inconstancy this season? All of the early indicators point to, well, no. A stellar first half in their debut against Birmingham gave way to a diaspointing final 15 minutes and the consolation of a draw. A 1-0 defeat to West Brom leaves Sunderland with just one point from two games against very beatable opponents. Also, an early red card is a bad start to a side that led the league in dismissals last season.
Well so much for that. Blackpool’s surprising 4-0 thrashing of Wigan gave way to a 6-0 embarrassment at the hands of Arsenal. Whether or not the Tangerines can stay up this season depends on which side shows up more consistently. Playing most of the first half of the season away from home could end up being a blessing in disguise for Ian Holloway and his team. If they can avoid falling too far behind in the early stages they may pull of the impossible and surge to safety on the backs of their raucous supporters.
18. Stoke City
Despite being the latest team to reignite the instant replay debate Stoke City are still just a few players short of being a safe side. Their offense is dependent on set pieces and the long throws of Rory Delap and their defense can be a little porous at times. A opening-day defeat to Wolves is concerning but their performance against Tottenham was impressive, in spite of the late-game controversy but a 2-1 defeat gets you the same amount of points as a 4-0 route.
19. West Ham United
“Speaking of the Championship, let’s talk about West Ham.” That was how James Richardson started off the discussion of the Hammers 3-1 defeat of Bolton on the always entertaining Football Weekly from The Guardian and it’s hard to disagree with him at this point. West Ham look like a lost side, with no real direction and no real plan. Avrahm Grant needs to figure something out quickly before they’re season becomes a lost cause. There’s no Hull City or Burnley to save them from relegation this year.
They hold the record for worst start to an EPL season ever so how can they not hold the bottom spot? There’s little doubt that Wigan has been the worst side early in the season and the new favorites for relegation. Not only did they lose by a combined 10 goals to Chelsea and Blackpool but they did it at home, against two teams who don’t travel particularly well. The Wigan side that shocked Arsenal late last year is nowhere to be found and if they can’t find that form soon it will be a very, very long season for Roberto Martinez’s men.