FST's Premier League Power Rankings - Gameweek 3

FST's Premier League Power Rankings - Gameweek 3
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
August 27, 2018
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

Gameweek three of the 2018/19 Premier League calendar saw FST enjoy a bumper weekend, correctly predicting four scorelines and on the way landing a huge 153/1 Correct Score Double on Saturday afternoon. But how did the weekend results affect our weekly Premier League Power Rankings?

Every week we will be ranking the teams from best to worst to come up with a definitive answer to how each team is actually performing. This will take into account the overall squad strength, actual results, strength of opponent, expected goals (xG), and the performances of a team. You can see FST’s Premier League Power Rankings from last week here.

Read More: Interesting stats from the Premier League 2018/19 season so far

1. Tottenham Hotspur (up 2 places)

We have a new leader in town, at least for the time being. A lot was made of the potential for weary legs among the Tottenham squad this season. They had more players than any other club in the world involved in the World Cup, with many of them going all the way to the semi-finals or further. They may have looked shaky at times against Newcastle in gameweek 1, but they showed none of their fatigue on Monday night.

Mauricio Pocchettino masterminded a rare win at Old Trafford for Spurs, and it was emphatically done in the end. They took advantage of an obviously disjointed and injury hit Manchester United side with a quickfire double from Harry Kane and Lucas Moura in two second half minutes, with Moura doubling his tally six minutes from time to round off a very impressive victory.

They made no summer signings and were expected to struggle to overcome the World Cup hangover, but while alarm bells are ringing at Old Trafford there are wild cheers of celebration in North London.

2. Liverpool

Liverpool may have continued their winning start to the season, but Spurs’ performance on Monday night kept Jurgen Klopp’s men off the top spot here. Manchester City saw their efforts at Molineux thwarted, and while Liverpool were far from their best on Sunday they still managed to fight through and claim a potentially crucial three points against Brighton.

Despite Brighton harbouring the worst away record in the top flight last season, the visitors held firm for long periods of the game at Anfield. The talismanic Mohamed Salah made the difference though with a finely taken goal, and it’s hard to argue that Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t deserve the three points. They generated 1.83 expected goals to Brighton’s 0.54, and following on from their comfortable victories over Crystal Palace and West Ham they remain the only team in the Premier League yet to concede a goal.

Their newfound defensive stability will be welcomed with open arms, and you get the feeling that the scrappy and hard fought manner of their victory will actually come as a bit of a relief at Anfield. So often last season Liverpool would have ended up drawing or losing in these sorts of games, but their dogged determination could show a new side to the Premier League challengers.

3. Manchester City (down 2 places)

The mask of invincibility may have fallen at Molineux on Saturday, but nobody is under any illusion that this is the downfall of the Premier League champions. Manchester City came up against a Wolves team ready for battle, and while it could act as a blueprint for how to set up against The Citizens it’s unlikely that it’s going to yield the same results for everybody.

Wolves were saved by the post a number of times, although few could argue that they didn’t deserve the point. They managed 1.24 xG against Pep Guardiola’s men, and even limited their visitors to a relatively meagre 1.79 xG. It’s clear that when facing a team who are willing to press high and put the back line under pressure that Manchester City struggle to find their usual creative charm, and if more teams employ this approach they could well fail to reach the lofty heights of last season.

However, they remain the most likely candidates for the Premier League trophy this season.

Read More: Wolves show that bravery can be rewarded against Manchester City

4. Chelsea

Chelsea Premier League

For the third week running, Chelsea find themselves sitting in 4th position in our Premier League Power Rankings. A late flurry of activity at St James’ Park saw Maurizio Sarri’s side maintain their winning start to the Premier League season, but the manner of their victory kept them from leapfrogging some of the teams above them.

The three points is largely what matters of course, and the fact that they generated 1.51 xG compared to Newcastle’s 0.21 indicates that they deserved to win. Indeed, that was the most important thing coming into a game against a side with an excellent recent record against them. However, Newcastle held them at bay for the vast majority of the match and will consider themselves unfortunate to lose the game, especially after a rather soft penalty award.

Nevertheless, Chelsea keep pace with the frontrunners of the Premier League in both the actual results table and our Power Rankings.

5. Arsenal (up 1 place)

Unai Emery didn’t have the easiest of starts to life in the Premier League. He had to face Manchester City and Chelsea in his first two outings with Arsenal, and while they failed miserably on both of those fronts they finally put some points on the board on Saturday.

The Gunners showed some fighting spirit as they came from a goal behind to beat West Ham 3-1, and while the scoreline did flatter them somewhat it was a very welcome three points. They marginally outdid the Hammers on expected goals, generating 1.82 to West Ham’s 1.38. Once again they looked defensively frail, but the attacking qualities of Nacho Monreal came to the fore again as he equalised. An unfortunate own goal for Diop put Arsenal ahead before Welbeck’s late finish put the result beyond doubt.

There is still a need for improvement for Arsenal, but they are slowly heading in the right direction. Still, they remain some way off the top four in our Power Rankings.

6. Watford (up 2 places)

We could be witnessing yet another upward trend in a Watford season that will come crashing down, but for the time being it’s hard to ignore how well they’re playing. They made it three wins from three on Sunday as they beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Vicarage Road, further illustrating the shrewdness of Javi Gracia’s appointment last season.

Many Hornets fans were concerned about their future, but the Spaniard seems to have retained the attacking spirit that impressed under Marco Silva last season, but have massively improved at the other end of the pitch. They sit 4th in the table at the moment, and while their results will undoubtedly head downhill as they face tougher opposition things are looking bright for Watford right now.

7. Bournemouth (up 4 places)

As always, the goal for Bournemouth this season was always just a fight for survival. It’s that way every year, but slowly and surely Eddie Howe is turning them into true Premier League regulars.

They may have dropped two points at home to Everton this weekend, but in all honesty they probably deserved a win. Even the draw will be a huge result considering they found themselves 2-0 down with 25 minutes left to play, before Joshua King and Nathan Ake scored a goal apiece in a four minute window to bring the scores level. Both teams ended the game with ten men, but it was generally The Cherries who looked the most dangerous. They generated an impressive 2.59 xG compared to Everton’s measly 0.54, so it’s clear that they were fairly unfortunate to only get the one point.

8. Leicester (up 1 place)

Leicester predictions, betting tips and match preview

Leicester began the season on a downward trajectory as they fell to defeat at Old Trafford, but since then their spirits will have improved dramatically. They beat Wolves in gameweek two and followed that up with another three points this weekend.

Claude Puel visited former club Southampton to find them in turmoil since he was sacked, and The Foxes took full advantage of that by claiming a rather fortunate three points at St Mary’s. There were concerns over the absence of Jamie Vardy after his red card, and admittedly Leicester looked lacking in forward momentum for most of the match. However, going a goal down to Ryan Bertrand’s thrashing strike brought them out of their slumber, with Demarai Gray quickly netting an equaliser before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s red card put Leicester in control of the game. A Harry Maguire goal in stoppage time wrapped up a dramatic three points for Leicester, who have now shown they can do it without Vardy as well.

9. Everton (down 4 places)

Everton take a big hit in the Power Rankings, although it’s more related to the excellent performances of some other teams rather than their own inadequacies. However, their own inadequacies certainly have played a part.

Marco Silva remains unbeaten as Everton boss, but there are very concerning signs emerging. The opening weekend of the season saw them throw away the lead twice against Wolves and reduced to ten men, and Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth unfurled in a similar fashion. They were reduced to ten men in the latter stages of the first half again, but Theo Walcott and Michael Keane gave The Toffees a surprise 2-0 lead. Once again their defensive frailty was exposed though, with the now ten men of Bournemouth mounting a dramatic comeback and taking a well deserved point. The Toffees were outdone on expected goals again, and you get the feeling that the tightrope they are walking with this defensive setup isn’t far from snapping.

10. Wolves (up 3 places)

The newly promoted Wolves are still without a win in this eagerly awaited return to the top flight, but to say they weren’t impressive on Saturday afternoon would be an insult to football itself. They were barely even given a chance against the all-conquering Manchester City, but they executed a high pressing gameplan with determination and doggedness, putting constant pressure on the Manchester City back line and eventually reaping the rewards.

They may have been saved by the post a number of times, but few could argue that they didn’t deserve the point they were rewarded with. Wolves almost matched their illustrious opponents on expected goals, managing 1.24 to The Citizens’ 1.79, and showed that it is possible for a lower table club to have a go at Pep Guardiola’s men.

They remain in the limbo of mid-table purely because they are yet to win a match, but the early signs are promising for them.

11. Manchester United (down 4 places)

Manchester United Premier League

Just when Jose Mourinho thought it couldn’t get much worse for his club, they go and get thrashed by Tottenham. In fairness to him the scoreline definitely flattered the visitors, but in fairness to Tottenham the visitors well and truly deserved the win.

Manchester United once again looked devoid of ideas going forward for long periods of the match, although they should have gone ahead when Romelu Lukaku fluffed his lines in front of an almost empty net. Tottenham showed their ruthless streak though, scoring with three of their five shots on target at Old Trafford and plunging Manchester United into an ever darkening pool of misery.

The pressure is ramped up on Mourinho now, and him surviving until the Christmas bells start to chime is looking increasingly slim.

12. Crystal Palace (down 2 places)

Crystal Palace began the season on a high note as they took three points off the newly promoted Fulham on the opening round of fixtures, but their defeat last weekend to Liverpool brought them crashing back down the earth. In all honesty it was an expected defeat against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but their capitulation against Watford was a more worrying result.

In fairness they tallied up almost equal on the expected goals front, trailing Watford’s 1.18 xG by the microscopic margin of just 0.02 xG. Still, they lost that game and saw just how heavy the burden that lies on Wilfried Zaha’s shoulders is. The Ivorian is the pivotal element of The Eagles’ attack and is always likely to come under special scrutiny from the opposition. However, even with a few of the Watford players preoccupied with stopping Zaha the rest of the Palace squad simply failed to make use of the space that distraction created.

For the moment it looks like Crystal Palace have a lot to be positive about, but an injury to Zaha could be absolutely cataclysmic to their chances.

13. Fulham (up 2 places)

Slowly but surely, Fulham’s summer spending spree is starting to bear the fruit it was expected to. They were lacking in the final ball department on the opening weekend, and while they did improve when they visited Spurs last weekend they still came away on the end of a defeat.

This weekend they put their first points on the board though, and the opening goal came inside five minutes via a stunning strike from Jean Michael Seri. Burnley equalised shortly after, but The Cottagers continued to press forward and were rewarded for their efforts as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a quickfire brace before the break. Once again Burnley pulled a goal back, but the hosts held firm after the break, rounding off the victory with another goal from a summer signing, this time Andre Schurrle pouncing on a rebound to make it 4-2.

14. Brighton (down 2 places)

Brighton may have pulled off a miraculous feat when they beat Manchester United at the Amex last weekend, but not many of their faithful support believed another shock victory was on the cards when they visited Anfield.

The Seagulls had the worst away record in the Premier League last season, and while they did lose 1-0 to Liverpool you certainly wouldn’t have thought they struggled on the road by how they played. The south coast club saw their attacking opportunities severely limited, but they defended admirably against the terrifying attacking force that Jurgen Klopp has constructed. Keeping Liverpool limited to a single goal at Anfield is a feat that deserves praise, so you won’t find many Brighton fans concerned about their performances so far.

15. Newcastle (up 2 places)

Newcastle Kenedy

Another weekend passed without a win for Rafa Benitez’ Newcastle on Sunday, and that is definitely a concern. They have lost two of their three matches, but with those 2-1 losses coming against Spurs and Chelsea respectively you have to say that their goalless draw at Cardiff is more of a worry than either of those defeats.

In fairness to The Magpies, they were rather unfortunate to come away from St James’ Park with nothing on Sunday. They defended resolutely against Maurizio Sarri’s possession based build up, and it was only thanks to a soft looking penalty that Chelsea were able to open the scoring 14 minutes from time. Newcastle showed some fight as Joselu equalised for them, but an 87th minute own goal from DeAndre Yedlin confirmed that it wasn’t their afternoon.

As a side note, that right back position does look cursed for Newcastle. So far they have suffered two injuries and one sending off at right back this season, and Yedlin’s own goal added a new metric to the fold for the superstitious among you.

16. Southampton

Unchanged from last week’s Premier League Power Rankings, Southampton remain in limbo as they hover above the bottom three. Mark Hughes was appointed on a permanent basis over the summer, and while there are faint glimmers of hope at St Mary’s the overwhelming feeling is one of fear as the prospect of another relegation battle dawns on them.

The Saints opened the season with a fortuitous draw at home to Burnley, and while they did improve in gameweek two they still found themselves on the end of a 2-1 loss at Everton. Their most recent foray saw Claude Puel return to the club which sacked him after finishing 8th in the Premier League, and it was their old employee that went home smiling. Southampton lost 2-1 to The Foxes, and while they can bemoan a bit of bad luck again here, the fact remains that they have picked up one point in three games and still look like a side who will never score enough goals to stave off a relegation battle.

17. West Ham (up 1 place)

So, West Ham lose 3-1 at Arsenal to make it three defeats on the bounce and yet move up a place in the Power Rankings. Admittedly it seems strange, but The Hammers have had to face trips away to Arsenal and Liverpool already this season, and while their defeat at home to Bournemouth is a genuine concern you still feel that their squad has more to give.

The London Stadium is amok with change at the moment, with many new summer signings getting acclimatised under a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini. The 3-1 scoreline against Arsenal flattered the victors, and on another day it could have easily ended all square. That being said, they have shipped nine goals in three games now and have an awful lot of work to do if they want to make any form of respectable showing this season.

18. Burnley (down 4 places)

The wheels are well and truly falling off at Turf Moor after Burnley’s phenomenal season last year. They were touted as relegation candidates a year ago, and while they defied the odds last term it’s looking increasingly likely that they’ll plummet back down the table this time around.

They were beaten 4-2 away to the newly promoted Fulham on Sunday, just a few days after a 3-1 loss away to Olympiakos. Their Europa League campaign could well be coming to a premature end this week, and while that will be hugely disappointing the least that Sean Dyche can hope for is that it recalls some of their domestic form.

The usually defensively sound Clarets have shipped seven goals in their last two Premier League matches, with a three goal concession to Olympiakos breaking those two defeats up. Considering they were one of the lowest scoring sides in the league last season, having a leaky back line is a major concern.

Read More: Burnley’s Europa and Premier League juggling act

19. Cardiff (up 1 place)

Gameweek three and Cardiff have managed to budge themselves off the bottom of our Premier League Power Rankings, but the concerns about their future are still all consuming.

Neil Warnock’s men stuttered their way to another goalless draw on Saturday to make it two points from their first three games. This puts them 15th in the table, but they are the only side in the Premier League yet to score a goal. In fact, they are the only club in English professional football yet to score a goal this season, and while it’s clear that they know how to hold a team at bay there is absolutely no chance of survival for them if they don’t hit the back of the net.

In fairness to The Bluebirds they did generate 1.06 xG compared to Huddersfield’s 0.24 on Saturday, but three weeks in and they still find themselves goalless and winless, and considering they have only had to face Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Huddersfield you would expect it to get worse before it gets better.

20. Huddersfield (down 1 place)

Swapping positions with their opponents on Saturday is Huddersfield, if only for the fact that they generated fewer expected goals and failed to win on home soil against their out of form opposition.

The Terriers have endured a tough start to the season with a hosting of Chelsea preceding a trip to The Etihad, but even so their results are worrying. They have won none, scored one, and conceded nine goals so far. The fixtures will get easier for them, but the goalless draw against Cardiff showed that even against so-called lesser opposition at home they can still struggle.

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