Premier League Power Rankings: Who are the early pacesetters?

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The Premier League season is three weeks old. It’s time to see which squads have come flying out of the traps.

Already there have been plenty of shocks and surprises, as the young season promises to be yet another PL campaign chock full of excitement. That being said, we’ve missed our old pal the PL during the international week and at PST we are delighted the action will come back thick and fast this weekend. Hurrah! Some teams have punched well above their weight early on. Can they carry that on after the international break?

[Archive: Premier League Power Rankings]

Each week we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team, forget about the official league standings (here they are in case you actually do want them) that doesn’t mean squat.

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables. The W-D-L bracket shows each PL team’s current record and you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

Let’s get to it!

RANKING
Up/Down

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1 UP 1 Chelsea: The Blues demolished Everton 6-3 last time out and look sooo good going forward. Diego Costa is lethal with four goals in three, plus Cesc Fabregas is a man on a mission. Mourinho’s boys face in-form Swansea this weekend at Stamford Bridge. (3-0-0)
source:  2 UP 2  Swansea City: Swan. Swan. Swan. Sorry, got carried away there. But Swansea are up to second in our rankings and aside from Chelsea, they are they only side with a 100% record. They battered WBA 3-0 last time out. Can they stun Chelsea? (3-0-0)
source:  3  UP 3  Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers’ boys are back, with a bang. Mario Balotelli looked solid on his debut, Sterling and Sturridge are ripping teams apart, plus they smashed Spurs 3-0. Liverpool host high-flying Villa at Anfield on Saturday. (2-0-1)
source:  4 UP 5 Aston Villa: Talk of the devil… Villa fans, you’re getting a nose bleed. This is their highest ever position in our rankings and well deserved after going three games unbeaten. Enjoy it while it lasts though. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal coming up in the next three. Ouch. (2-1-0)

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5 Arsenal: The Gunners have had a slightly disjointed start to the season due to injuries and the UCL playoff. They are still unbeaten and with Welbeck on board, they will fancy their chances vs. Man City in the game of the weekend at the Emirates. (1-2-0)
source:  6 UP 4 Stoke City: Go on the Potters! Stoke recorded their first-ever win away in Manchester in the PL as they shocked City 1-0. Mama Diouf looks like a good buy up top and Mark Hughes’ men look solid as a rock. Leicester at home this week. Three more points? (1-1-1)
source:  7  DOWN 7 Manchester City: The Citizens suffered a shock defeat to Stoke City at home and looked a little sluggish going forward. Pellegrini’s men had some growing pains early on last season but they must shrug that off on Saturday away at Arsenal. Give David Silva the rock and let him roll. (2-0-1)
source:  8 UP 5 Southampton: Saints recorded their first win of the season in impressive fashion away at West Ham. Ronald Koeman’s men are looking stronger at the end of the window than they did at the start. Great wheeling and dealing. Next up: Newcastle at home. (1-1-1)
source:  9  DOWN 6 Tottenham: Pochettino’s revolution came shuddering to a halt last time out as they were outclassed by Liverpool at WHL. Sunderland away is a tricky place to go and will be a good test for this talented group of players. (2-0-1)
source:  10  DOWN 2 Sunderland: The Black Cats were pretty poor against QPR at Loftus Road. They lost 1-0 and Gus Poyet will look for a reaction at home vs. Spurs. He brought in some great buys on Deadline Day, Coates and Alvarez, so let’s see how they fit in. (0-2-1)
source:  11 Newcastle: Still without a win this season, but at least Alan Pardew’s men scored a few goals. A thrilling 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace saw them clawed back late on and Pardew’s new boys are starting too find their feet. They never seem to do well away at Southampton. (0-2-1)
source:  12 UP 2 Leicester CityThe Foxes are looking every bit a PL team after holding Arsenal to a 1-1 draw. Couple that with a bright display at Chelsea and a home draw to Everton, not bad at all. Away at Stoke provides them with a chance to nab all three points. (0-2-1)
source:  13 DOWN 6 Everton: Roberto Martinez’s men played their part in a truly stunning game vs. Chelsea. However, still no wins for the Toffees. Let’s not press the panic button just yet though, it’s early days. Some of the defending though… oof! West Brom away this weekend. (0-2-1)
source:  14  DOWN 2 Hull City: A real mixed bag so far for the Tigers who lost to Villa last time out. A strong Deadline Day means they got Gaston Ramirez, Abel Hernandez and Hatem Ben Arfa on board, but will that be enough? The clubs Egyptian owner could be selling up, too. (1-1-1)
source:  15  UP 2 Crystal Palace: The Eagles have had their wings clipped but showed plenty of spirit against Newcastle. Neil Warnock’s appointment is seen as the safe option, but does he have the pedigree to keep Palace up? A home game vs. Burnley simply has to be a win. (0-1-2)
source:  16 UP 4 QPR: Harry’s boys came up trumps as Charlie Austin bagged his first goal in the PL to beat Sunderland 1-0. QPR won’t be the prettiest team to watch but they will grind out results. They head to Old Trafford this Sunday… (1-0-2)
source:  17  DOWN 2 Manchester United: … Where United will be hoping to record their first win of Louis van Gaal’s reign. Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao could all make their Red Devils debuts as the new-look team starts to take shape. Only a win will do. (0-2-1)
source:  18 Burnley: The Clarets picked up their first point by drawing 0-0 vs. Man United last time out. A tough trip down to Palace awaits for Sean Dyche’s men but they will fancy their chances to pick up a W. (0-1-2)
 source:  19 DOWN 3 West Ham: The Hammers were, well, hammered by Saints before the break and even the acquisition of Alex Song may not improve their fortunes. Sam Allardyce’s side have a lot of issues and lack creativity. Massively. If they lose away at Hull on Monday… (1-0-2)
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20 DOWN 1
West Brom: Much of the same could be said for the Baggies, who were embarrassed by Swansea last time out. Alan Irvine’s new signings are taking a while to gel. Can they figure it out and get firing at home to Everton? (0-2-1)

Transfer news: Gabriel to Arsenal; Lewis to Liverpool

Gabriel to Arsenal
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In the latest transfer news Gabriel Magalhaes has been linked with a move to Arsenal, while Jamal Lewis to Liverpool is a surprising transfer rumor.

[ MORE: Predicting 2020-21 PL table ]

Starting in north London, Arsenal appear to be kicking on with their pursuit of Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes who has also been linked with Manchester United, Everton and Napoli.

The Lille center back, 22, is certainly a wanted man and Gabriel will cost $35 million. According to France Bleu, Arsenal are now at the front of the queue for Gabriel.

Arsenal want to strengthen their defensive unit and big changes are expected at the back with Pablo Mari, William Saliba and now Gabriel expected to be the new wave of talent at center back. That said, with David Luiz and Rob Holding playing really well in recent weeks, plus Shkodran Mustafi turning things around too and Sokratis and Calum Chambers around, why do Arsenal need so many center backs?

If Mikel Arteta could move on plenty of these defensive players then he should be good to bring in Gabriel. Expect plenty of outs at Arsenal this summer as the north London club continue to battle through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jamal Lewis to Liverpool
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Moving up to Liverpool and a slightly surprising report, as Norwich’s Jamal Lewis to Liverpool is not a move many expected this summer.

Multiple reports claim that Liverpool value Lewis at $13 million but Norwich want closer to $26 million, so there’s some negotiating that needs to happen here.

Lewis, 22, is a rising star at left back but with Andy Robertson around at Liverpool, he will be an understudy for many years to come. The Northern Ireland international had a very solid first season in the Premier League with Norwich as he and Max Aarons stood out as attacking full backs for the Canaries.

Robertson has no cover at left back and when he has been out injured, Jurgen Klopp has used James Milner as an emergency left back and in a pinch Trent Alexander-Arnold can switch over to the left.

Predicting the 2020-21 Premier League standings

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The 20 teams for the 2020-21 Premier League season are now set and we are releasing a prediction for the standings.

That’s right.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With Fulham only sealing their spot in the Premier League on Tuesday via the playoffs, usually we would say this is very early to be releasing this standings prediction. But with the 2020-21 season kicking off in 40 days from now due to all of the schedule changes, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to have a crack at this.

Of course, transfers in and out will heat up between now and Sept. 12 when the new season kicks off and the transfer window open until Oct. 5, a lot can change with all 20 teams.

That said, Leeds United, West Brom and Fulham will all add something slightly different to the Premier League as the newly-promoted teams and it will be intriguing to see if teams who finished the 2019-20 season in red-hot form can carry that into the start of next season given the short break over the summer.

Champions Liverpool and Manchester City will be the favorites to win the Premier League title, while Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will battle it out for the remaining two Champions League spots as they are rebuilding and nowhere near being title contenders, although Man United are closer than the other three.

[ PHOTOS: Ranking the Premier League kits for 2020-21 ]

At the bottom, it’s tough to see how the three newly-promoted teams can prosper given the short turnaround between the 2019-20 season and the 2020-21 campaign but Leeds seem the most prepared to solidify their spot in the Premier League.

In the fight for Europe, Wolves, Leicester and Everton look like the best bets of challenging the established top six but watch out for Southampton. Other surprise packages could be Brighton and West Ham, while you worry for Burnley and Crystal Palace given a lack of squad depth, plus Sheffield United and Newcastle United limped to the finishing line in 2019-20.

All in all, a lot will change in the coming weeks before the 2020-21 season kicks off, so we will do another one of these predictions post before the season starts.

For now, here’s my 2020-21 Premier League standings prediction and how I think the table will look when the final whistle blows on May 16, 2021.

Prediction for the 2020-21 Premier League standings

1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Manchester United
4. Chelsea
5. Arsenal
6. Tottenham
7. Leicester City
8. Wolves
9. Everton
10. Southampton
11. West Ham
12. Brighton
13. Burnley
14. Sheffield United
15. Leeds United
16. Aston Villa
17. Newcastle United
18. Crystal Palace
19. Fulham
20. West Brom

Do Man United need to sign Jadon Sancho?

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Jadon Sancho to Manchester United is set to be the transfer saga of the summer/fall and the big question is this: do Man United really need Sancho?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Sancho, 20, is no doubt one of the top young players on the planet. So, in theory, every club needs Sancho.

Dortmund want $140 million for him and want a deal soon, while Man United are playing it cool despite talks of them already agreeing personal terms with Sancho and a breakthrough in negotiations being made with Dortmund.

Our partners at Sky Sports in the UK have the latest update, as they say Man United are determined not to be bullied over a deal for Sancho and will not agree to a Aug. 10 deadline.

It is believed United want to spend a lot less than $140 million for Sancho, especially given the current financial situation. I keep thinking ‘is their money better spent elsewhere on their squad?’ Perhaps on a center half or a holding midfielder?

The answer is somewhere between yes and no.

In their current front four they have a wonderful mixture of pace, trickery and creativity. Marcus Rashford flying off the left. Anthony Martial holding the ball up and running in-behind up top. Bruno Fernandes pulling all the strings just behind. Then there’s Mason Greenwood on the right, the prodigious talent who has burst onto the scene at the age of 18.

Greenwood’s emergence is the main reason we can question this deal for Sancho.

There’s no doubt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to sign the former Man City academy star but Sancho is more of a luxury signing for Man United at this point. Nobody expected Greenwood to burst onto the scene the way he has this season and not allowing him to be a regular starter next season and beyond would be a harsh, and damaging move for Solskjaer.

Rashford and Martial are guaranteed starters at this point and the only other way Sancho would fit into this team is if Martial dropped to the bench and Rashford played centrally with Greenwood and Sancho on the wings.

Rashford, Martial and Greenwood are similar players and combine well but we saw how United’s attack stuttered a little against teams who defended deep and Sancho’s trickery would give them something slightly different.

Aside from United’s current front four they have Odion Ighalo (on loan until January 2021), Jesse Lingard, Daniel James and Juan Mata. That’s quite a drop off in terms of quality but those are also players who are happy enough to play 15-20 games a season and play supporting roles. Sancho is not and if he arrives he will obviously start most games.

Jadon Sancho to Manchester United will rumble on but he’s a luxury signing. Man United will be fine without him but better with him, even though it could cause a few headaches for Solskjaer.

Scott Parker’s first season as a manager ends in Fulham promotion

Fulham promotion
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Fulham are headed back to the Premier League after just one season in the EFL Championship, and that means Scott Parker has worked something of a minor miracle in west London.

[ MORE: Promoted! Fulham back in PL after 1 season in Championship ]

Parker took on a hefty challenge when he accepted his first senior managerial job last year. Fulham were a virtual lock to be relegated from the Premier League when he was named interim boss in February, and their place in the second division had long since been confirmed by the time he was named Claudio Ranieri’s permanent successor in May. The squad was expensive, bloated and full of players who had no intention of sticking around after relegation.

Given the club’s wealth of resources relative to the rest of the Championship, promotion at the first time of asking was more an expectation than a hope at Craven Cottage. Fast-forward 15 months, and the 39-year-old has quickly proven himself the right man for the job after doing just that — taking Fulham back to the PL by way of Tuesday’s Championship promotion playoff final.

Promotion may have been sealed on Tuesday, but Parker believes it was earned over a long period of transition and self-reflection by the players, beginning when he first took the job — quotes from the BBC:

“We’ve done what we’ve done tonight, but there’s still improvement, and that’s what makes me so proud and happy.

“For all of the good players and everything you see, what makes me so happy is I see a group of players who only a year ago were struggling psychologically, didn’t have a mindset or mentality.

“I’ve driven this team every single day and what makes me proud is I stood on the touchline tonight and seen a team that represents what I’ve been saying over the last 12 months.”

Now comes the the truly difficult challenge for Parker: after winning Fulham promotion he must assemble a squad of players not only good enough to stay in the PL, but also one full of individuals who want to be at his club and not simply any club that just so happens to be in England’s top division.