21 Sep The winners and losers from part one of this thrilling Premier League series
With six or seven (depending on which team you support) games now completed in the Premier League, Rezzil takes a look at which sides have been the early surprise packages; who has made a disastrous start to their respective campaigns; which clubs need to work on their form and consistency, and who should be looking over their shoulders when club football returns after the international break.
The early front-runners: Manchester City (unsurprisingly), Tottenham, Arsenal
Manchester City’s inclusion in this particular category comes as no surprise. With the addition of Erling Haaland leading the line up-front and taking to English football effortlessly, the Cityzens have made another fantastic start and sit second in the table after seven games.
Pep’s men are favourites to retain their crown as English champions but face stiff competition from north London duo Arsenal and Spurs who’ve also made brilliant starts – with the former currently topping the pile after a 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday.
Both Tottenham and Arsenal find themselves in really strong positions at this early stage, but the true test will be if they can remain consistent enough to maintain pressure on City – who have proven countless times that they possess the relevant amount of endurance required to go the distance – until the season comes to its closure in May. That, is very much a task easier said than done.
The surprise packages: Brighton, Fulham
Many were tipping Fulham to struggle again this season following their performance the last time they were in the top-flight in 2020/21. However, the Cottagers seem a different beast under Marco Silva and Aleksandar Mitrovic looks unplayable as the club’s leading man alongside a hugely talented supporting cast.
There is a long way yet to go, but with three wins and two draws from their opening seven games, Fulham find themselves in a good position at this early stage of proceedings – already amassing just under half of their points-total from that disastrous campaign two seasons ago.
Brighton are another team who’ve impressed. Kicking off the campaign with a win away at Manchester United and beating the likes of West Ham, Leeds, Fulham and most recently Leicester, the Seagulls find themselves in fourth spot heading into the international break.
The loss of manager Graham Potter is a huge blow, although with a squad packed full of well-balanced, ultra-talented personnel, whoever takes over at the Amex – and you just know it’ll be someone really capable of continuing Potter’s fine work – will have the perfect opportunity to enjoy a very successful campaign this time out. A spot in Europe has to be the aim for the south coast club at this stage.
Need improvement: Chelsea, Liverpool
Sat in seventh and eighth place respectively, the starts Chelsea and Liverpool have made have been disappointing to say the least. The Blues have made steps to rectify their early pitfalls by replacing Thomas Tuchel with Graham Potter, but only time will tell if that is enough to catch up with Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham at the summit – an eight-point gap currently stands between them and the Gunners, although they do have the luxury of a game in hand.
Liverpool, meanwhile, sit nine points behind leaders Arsenal and seven behind Manchester City (also with a game in hand over both), but have been so far underwhelming, dropping points against the likes of Fulham, Crystal Palace and Everton who are, with the utmost of respect, all sides that title-gunning teams need to be beating if they are to stand a genuine chance of clinching the coveted trophy at the end of the campaign.
Panic stations: Leicester, West Ham
It turns out selling some of your best players and failing to replace them might prove to be an issue for a football team competing in the Premier League – who knew? Since that miraculous league win in 2016, Leicester have always been battling it out towards the upper echelons of the division but this season it does feel as though the 2020/21 FA Cup winners may have potentially reached the end of their cycle under Brendan Rodgers.
Rock-bottom and still awaiting their first win of the new campaign, the Foxes are in real trouble as things stand and have shipped 11 goals in their last two matches – highlighting just how much they miss former stalwart Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks. With only one solitary point on the board and five adrift of safety, the alarm bells should be ringing at the King Power. Failure to improve (and soon) could cost them their spot at England’s top table after a more-than-successful nine-year stay.
Similarly, but not quite as badly, West Ham seem to be struggling with pairing the rigours of Premier League football with an intense European campaign, all the while reliant on such a thin squad. The Hammers have been mainstays in the top half of the division in recent years but David Moyes’ men have just four points on the board so far and sit firmly in the bottom-three heading into this week’s international break.
With so much quality in their squad and a proven manager at the helm, the Hammers should be able to turn this around but, much like Leicester, things need to change sharply as this perilous position will only worsen as the months trundle on and the fixture list continues to congest.