There has been a flurry of big transfers plus a load of Premier League matches since anyone made their 2020-21 Premier League table predictions in August.
Manchester United is off to a terrible start and Everton looks like world-beaters. Aston Villa and Liverpool were both unbeaten until they met but it was Villa that didn’t just beat the Reds, they hung seven on ’em.
[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings ]
Liverpool was without some players and Man City has been without a lot of players and joined Manchester United in starting the season with very little training due to European runs.
So how do you feel about your table? In our case, Andy Edwards has been needling Joe Prince-Wright and Nick Mendola on ProSoccerTalk’s new “Unfiltered” video series about not pegging Liverpool to repeat, both men selecting Man City to reclaim its Premier League title.
What would we all do with a do over. Heck, what would you do with a do-over?
The good news is that right now, everyone is wrong. Even if Everton fans thought Carlo Ancelotti was draw up a 4-0 start heading into the Merseyside Derby, they certainly didn’t have Villa nipping at their heels as the only other perfect team in the PL.
First we’ll decide the classes of teams.
Slaven Bilic’s West Bromwich Albion are going to scrap for safety and they’ll be a hassle at times but right now there’s no proven scorer unless they buy a guy like Joshua King or — and this isn’t impossible — Matheus Cunha’s playmaking puts a lot of balls on a lot of platters. Burnley needed reinforcements. Everyone knew it. But the Clarets must believe than Sean Dyche’s army of fist-fighters can continue to out-perform both the eye test and all statistical metrics. Fulham will get its goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and ex-PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was very good this weekend, but any hope of surviving the drop requires all four of its deadline day buys to work out to at least a B-plus level.
Not relegation favorites but not safe
Newcastle United has the horses to collect points but finding consistency in form and the a next level in tactical acumen to surprise enough opponents is a big ask. Sheffield United‘s has last season’s track record to lean on and Chris Wilder’s system, but teams have a year’s worth of that system on video and few dynamic players aside from Sander Berge and maybe — they’ll have to hope — Rhian Brewster. They’ll hope their defenders deliver and their youth hits, but so far it’s zero points, one goal, against Wolves, Villa, Leeds, and Arsenal.
Won’t go down
Southampton has savvy players and a smart manager. Lack of defensive standouts might cost them a move too high up the table. Brighton and Hove Albion still needs to find its way to getting the points their performance suggests but is way too well-managed and talented too be a bottom three side. West Ham United has beaten Wolves and Leicester by a combined score of 7-0 after out-performing Arsenal in xG but not Dani Ceballos’ magic wand in a slim loss. All of that is enough for us to believe that the Irons won’t be
Moyesing moseying back into the relegation scrap. Crystal Palace seems too thin to punch above its weight and into the European discussion but don’t sleep on a team that came out of a really difficult first four matches with six points.
Europa League long shots
Aston Villa promised to be better this season after an often-unlucky 2019-20 but their 3-0 start now including a 7-2 romp over a Liverpool team that allowed 33 goals over their PL title season keeps them out of the “middle” group for now. Wolves are off to another slow start but once they find their footing — and they will — they’ll find a schedule unencumbered by Europe will have Nuno Espirito Santo’s options in a wonderful place. Leeds United simply looks too good to ignore right now. Many of us thought they’d comfortably survive the drop under Marcelo Bielsa but those who projected Leeds to quickly deliver are looking prophetic.
Manchester United is living off the reputations of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial plus the power of Marcus Rashford and the genius of Bruno Fernandes, because the schedule ahead is brutal. The club’s season may hinge on how Ed Woodward and the board deal with continued struggles under Ole Gunnarr Solskjaer (and perhaps, how a new powerful manager takes control of the transfers in January). It seems unlikely that Leicester City has depth enough to weather a prolonged campaign in Europe but the Foxes are also too good to be bounced at the group stage. That spells trouble for a top four challenge. Arsenal is the wild card here, only below the line because Mikel Arteta has a lot of young or youngish players to turn from good to great, several like Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhaes still adapting to a new country. Bernd Leno’s good enough to boost them higher, though.
There are still questions about Chelsea’s defense — don’t be surprised to see Antonio Rudiger revive his Blues fortunes even if he’s desperate to leave — but the Blues are 2-1-1 and we’ve not just seen an unlucky Timo Werner but we haven’t seen Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic either. Tottenham Hotspur is now two-deep pretty much everywhere and has added Jose Mourinho types at left back and defensive mid. And he may no longer be in his Special One prime, but he’s still a football master. Everton needs to be just inside this category if only for one reason — They have no European commitments like Leicester City last year. Liverpool is the defending champion and is averaging a league-best 18.8 shots per game through four weeks despite playing two, three, wait, no apparently four pretty darn good teams in Chelsea, Arsenal, Leeds, and Villa. Oh, and they have a new best midfielder in Thiago Alcantara. Manchester City is still really good but has to ride out long-term absences to Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus while embedding a bevy of new players and weathering some other injuries.
Revised Premier League table
(Preseason table predictions from our three writers in parentheses)
1. Liverpool (2, 2, 1)
2. Manchester City (1, 1, 2)
3. Tottenham (6, 5, 5)
4. Chelsea (4, 3, 3)
5. Everton (9, 7, 8)
6. Arsenal (5, 6, 7)
7. Manchester United (3, 4, 4)
8. Leicester City (7, 9, 9)
9. Wolves (8, 8, 6)
10. Leeds United (13, 17, 18)
11. Aston Villa (16, 15, 15)
12. West Ham (17, 13, 12)
13. Brighton (15, 10, 16)
14. Southampton (10, 11, 10)
15. Crystal Palace (18, 14, 19)
16. Newcastle United (14, 12, 13)
17. Sheffield United (11, 15, 11)
18. Burnley (12, 19, 14)
19. Fulham (19, 20, 17)
20. West Brom (20, 18, 20)