Another week, another set of rankings. The big movers in this one: Hapless Chelsea down, steady Swansea up, surprising Leicester way up, and sorry Sunderland plummeting like Harry Potter diving for the golden snitch or an NBA team trying to get the number one pick in the draft. Just a head’s up for Sunderland, we’ve found the definition of “relegation,” and no draft picks are involved.
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Week 2 (Last Week) Trending
1 Man City (2) /\
Not only did City stun Chelsea with 3 goals, they dominated every aspect of the match, getting 18 shots, 8 on goal, and never really looking vulnerable at the back. With Sergio Agüero and Vincent Kompany on this kind of roll, City are England’s best club until proven otherwise. It seems that the plan on the blue half of Manchester is to win the league every other year (2011-12, 2013-14, 2015-16?).
2 Man United (3) –
United put in another solid yet uninspiring performance, dispatching an Aston Villa side that was stifled completely by United’s defense. United look to be slowly improving their creativity in the side with Adnan Januzaj showing flashes of his talent in his return to the starting eleven, and Memphis Depay beginning to live up to his hype with a brilliant display against Belgian side Brugge in a midweek Champions League qualifier. Once United’s attacking elements start clicking to go with the defensive solidity they have shown so far, we could see much more convincing results start to pile up for the team. Check out our live commentary on the Villa-United match here.
3 Chelsea (1) \/\/
As bad as a 3-0 defeat is to anybody, especially for defending champions who are trying to defend their title, we won’t know how bad Chelsea’s problems really are until this weekend when they have what should be a piece of cake match against West Brom. The Blues need more scoring and less complaining from Diego Costa and for John Terry and Branislav Ivanovich to shore up an abnormally porous back line. It may be the beginning of the end for José Mourinho at Chelsea, but it is more likely just early an season summer hangover for the champions. Look for a healthy blowout against the Baggies.
4 Swansea (5) /\/\
Swansea have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the EPL so far primarily due to the strength of their wing play. Montero and Ayew have been unplayable, embarrassing defenses as stingy (before this season) as Chelsea and as hapless as Newcastle. This exciting play should continue against the worst team in the EPL and already favorite to get relegated, Sunderland; I am predicting at least 4 goals for Swansea in what should be the most one-sided game of the season so far.
5 Liverpool (4) –
Two wins in two matches, but only two goals against the likes of Stoke and Bournemouth? While not technically “in trouble,” the Reds have major concerns going forward. On the bright side, summer signing Christian Benteke scored his first goal in a Liverpool kit and the Reds got 18 shots off against Bournemouth. But the glaring reality check is that only two of those were shots on goal, equaling the total shots on goal against them. Jordan Henderson scoring off of a cheeky quick free kick would have eased some nerves in Merseyside.
6 Arsenal (7) /\
Arsenal bounced back from a disappointing opening weekend, with a comfortable win over Crystal Palace that saw their star of last season, Alexis Sanchez return to the starting lineup. Arsenal were in control for most of the game as Sanchez’s pace and ability to lead counter attacks coupled with a strong performance from Mesut Ozil allowed the team to thoroughly outplay a decent Palace side. They face another tough test, with a match on Monday versus another top four contender in Liverpool, and will look to prove they can consistently beat EPL’s best teams and a make a real title run.
7 Everton (10) /\/\
A 2-2 draw to Prem newcomers Watford and a 3-0 victory over consistently solid Southampton are about as opposite of results as one can conjure in England’s top flight, but Everton have managed to do it and are now sitting pretty on the other side of a much-needed comprehensive win. Everton’s high variance persists, but if Ross (21) and Lukaku (22) keep scoring and finding each other like they did against Southampton, Everton will at least score many, many goals this season and for years to come. Things might be brewing at Goodison Park, big things.
8 Leicester (13) /\/\/\
A team many thought would be relegated this season has been one of the biggest surprises of the season as they continue their momentum from last season with two convincing wins. Riyad Mahrez has been a revelation this season with back-to-back impressive games, netting 3 goals in 2 games. Although manager Claudio Ranieri was simply hoping to avoid relegation, Leicester look good enough to be secure in the mid-table, backed up by a solid 2-1 win over a decent West Ham team.
9 Spurs (6) \/
Another match, another disappointment for North London’s perennially talented dark horse. A home draw to Stoke in which Spurs saw a 2-goal lead disappear after the 78th minute is a worse and much more gut-wrenching result than the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on the season’s opening day. It’s now gut check time as Spurs travel to undefeated Leicester on the weekend. Harry Kane will be hungry for his first goal of the season, and Tottenham will have to play aggressively from the start and find a way to finish the match robustly, using the let down against Stoke as a caution and motivation.
10 Crystal Palace (12) –
In an entertaining London derby, Crystal Palace showed some signs they have the talent and ambition to compete with EPL’s best teams, but in the end they didn’t have enough to overcome Arsenal. Palace couldn’t stifle Arsenal’s creative midfielders and were constantly vulnerable to counter attacks, which resulted in Giroud scoring the goal of the weekend. Despite the loss, Palace are in a good place with a great deal of young potential in their attack (Bamford and Zaha) and experience and solidity in the midfield/defense (Cabaye and Dann), and will look bounce back this weekend in a very winnable game against Aston Villa.
11 Aston Villa (11) –
Villa can’t feel too disappointed with the result, mirroring the effort Spurs put up against a solid if not dazzling Man U side. The squad is still figuring things out but has enough attacking options with Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jordan Amavi (who is an up-and-coming skilled defender), Jordan Ayew, and Rudy Gestede as well as solidity at the back with American keeper Brad Guzan and veteran back Micah Richards, to be a top-15 club this season. Check out our live feed of the Villa-United match here.
12 West Ham (8) \/
West Ham failed to build on the surprise opening weekend victory over Arsenal, as they lost 2-1 to an in-form Leicester side. West Ham were dismal in the first half, having no answers for Leicester’s attack and even as they looked to get back into the game and equalize, they went down to 10 men as goalkeeper Adrian tried to integrate MMA into soccer. The return of new signing Pedro Obiang to the squad should help settle the midfield, but West Ham will still struggle for goals with the injured Enner Valencia out and a lack of new strikers coming in.
13 Southampton (9) \/\/
In getting their revenge for their 3-0 loss at St. Mary’s last season, Everton made the Saints look silly in Week 2, handing Southampton their worst defeat since a drubbing of the same score to Manchester City last November. Southampton has questions all over the pitch and could have easily given up 2 or 3 more goals to the Toffees, but fans should listen to manager Ronald Koeman when he says that the many new faces at the squad will take time to gel. Think about the players they’ve lost in the last two seasons: Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, and Calum Chambers just to name a few. Look for Italian forward Graziano Pellè to get back on the score sheet in a perhaps now must-win match against Watford on Sunday.
14 West Brom (14) \/
The baggies played a pretty dismal 0-0 draw, the first of the EPL season, with Watford this past weekend making it back to back disappointing performances without a goal. Manager Tony Pulis will hope that new forward signing Salomon Rondon can help alleviate the offensive issues in the side, but with the sale of young English star forward Saido Berahinio to Tottenham looming, their scoring drought might continue. West Brom face a difficult task this weekend, as they take on Chelsea, a team with a lot to prove after their 3-0 beatdown versus Man City.
15 Watford (16) –
Two draws in two matches can make for good results against certain teams, especially for a newly promoted club like Watford, and the strength of now-flexing Everton makes that first tie look fairly impressive. A similar result against West Brom, not so much. Still, with consistently gritty defense and an improving attack led by the linkup play of French midfielder Etienne Capoue and Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo, Watford is looking more and more like a team determined not to yo-yo back to the Championship. The season is long though, and the battle for survival is just getting underway.
16 Stoke (17) /\
Down 2-0 late vs. Tottenham, Stoke looked to be facing yet another disappointing defeat, when substitute midfielder Stephen Ireland sparked an emphatic comeback and provided the assist to Mame Biram Diouf’s 83rd minute equalizer. Stoke looked a much better side with Ireland’s introduction as he provided the vision and creative passing in the final third needed to unlock defenses. Ireland’s promising performance combined with the impending debut of new star, Xherdan Shaqiri, should see Stoke finally start to reach their attacking potential, and they will having plenty of chances to do so this weekend against a suspect Norwich defense.
17 Newcastle (15) \/
Sometimes you get unlucky and drive straight into a storm. That’s what happened when Newcastle took on Swansea City on Saturday. Swansea’s goals were beautiful. Newcastle were nowhere to be found. This is still a good side with the creative spark of Moussa Sissoko–who suffered a minor injury against Swansea and left the match after 45 minutes–and veteran Steven Taylor giving the side solid minutes off the bench. It’s always difficult to get a win or even salvage a draw down a man, and Geordies will expect their players–looking at you, Daryl Janmaat–to deal with opponents’ attacks more effectively and responsibly in the future. Away to Manchester United will not be easy, but United are more vulnerable than their 2-0 record indicates, and Newcastle have to be sniffing an early opportunity to turn a mediocre start around and set a new tone for the season.
18 Norwich (20) /\/\
Norwich pulled out an impressive (although fairly straightforward) 3-1 victory in an important match against another team that will surely be in the relegation battle, Sunderland. Attacking midfielder, Nathan Redmond has looked lively in the attack with 2 goals in 2 games, as Norwich already look to be much better offensively than their last stint in the Premier League when they were ranked bottom in goals scored (28).
19 Bournemouth (19) –
Bournemouth put up a decent fight against Liverpool, allowing only 2 shots on goal and equaling that, albeit small, total themselves. However, the Reds dominated all over the pitch, making it seem as though a weak Bournemouth side might have to focus all of their energy on getting points from weaker opponents like Norwich City in two weeks’ time. Between now and them, matches against West Ham and Leicester City would have seemed at least drawable at the start of the campaign, but both clubs are playing above their preseason ranking. Tommy Elphick almost scored on a header for the side and led a back line that put in a robust effort given the circumstances.
20 Sunderland (18) \/ \/ \/
Not much positive can be said about this Sunderland team who continued their poor form with another blowout defeat, this time versus newly promoted Norwich, in which the home Sunderland fans left the stadium nearly half empty after being down 3-0 early in the 2nd half. “Blunderland” don’t really look like a team that deserves to be in the top division of English Soccer, as they have been listless in defense and completely lacked inspiration going forward. Dick Advocaat is a shoe-in to be the first manager fired and could be in line for another rout this weekend, as his side takes on a thrilling Swansea team.
Best XI of Week 2 (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Asmir Begovic (Chelsea)
Defenders: Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea), Ross Barkley (Everton), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)
Week 3 Matches to Watch
Saturday: Norwich City v. Stoke City (10:00 AM ET), Leicester City v. Tottenham (10:00 AM ET)
Sunday: Everton v. Manchester City (11:00 AM ET)
Monday: Arsenal v. Liverpool (3:00 PM ET)*
*Match of the Week