FST's Premier League Power Rankings - Gameweek 4

FST's Premier League Power Rankings - Gameweek 4
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
September 4, 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 four of the 2018/19 Premier League season has come and gone, and now we head into the annual drudgery of the early season international break. The September international break is always the most disdained one, leaving us with a brief taster of top flight action before (usually) throwing us head first into a set of uninspiring international fixtures. Fortunately, the upcoming international breaks might not be quite so dull, with the beginning of the brand new UEFA Nations League hopefully providing us with some level of excitement.

Read more: FST’s UEFA Nations League Guide

Back to the Premier League now, though. Every week we will be ranking each top flight team from best to worst to come up with a definite 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 overall performance of the teams. You can see FST’s Premier League Power Rankings from last week here.

1. Liverpool (up 1 place)

Before a ball was even kicked this season Liverpool were touted as the most likely challengers to the seemingly unstoppable Manchester City, and four games into the new campaign that prediction hasn’t changed. Liverpool beat Leicester away from home on Saturday afternoon, and once again it was the character they showed to claim those three points that took the spotlight.

Last season they regularly demolished teams with their emphatic attacking trident, but needlessly dropped points saw any hope of a Premier League title challenge disappear very early into the season. It’s still early days, but Liverpool look like they have changed in this regard. Just like their home meeting with Brighton last time out, this is a game they could have very easily dropped points in. In fact, last season it’s almost guaranteed that the dreadful blunder from Alisson that saw The Foxes come back into the game would have been a precursor to a Leicester equaliser. Not this season though.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have demolished West Ham, strolled to a comfortable victory over Crystal Palace, and now ground out two wins against Brighton and Leicester. The hosts’ goal on Saturday was the first that Liverpool have conceded this season as well, hinting at a surprising defensive stability on the pitch.

2. Chelsea (up 2 places)

It’s strange to think that under a month ago everybody was doubting the appointment of new manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian oversaw some phenomenal football at Napoli last season, but remains without a major trophy to his name. The Blues poor pre-season and tired looking display in the Community Shield hinted that he might not be the right man for the job.

Now, four games into the league season, Chelsea find themselves with a perfect record of four wins from four. Bournemouth held firm for much of the match, but eventually Chelsea deservedly found a breakthrough thanks to Pedro. The talismanic Eden Hazard followed up with a second, and while the expected goals do show a fairly even contest it was undoubtedly Chelsea’s game to lose. Bournemouth missed a couple of glaring chances, but in reality they were on the back foot for the vast majority of the game.

This is a new look Chelsea side who seem to be improving with every passing week, and they are certainly looking like genuine title challengers at the moment.

3. Manchester City (down 1 place)

This is definitely not the same Manchester City side as last season, but in all fairness that was always going to be a tough ask. They managed to bounce back from a shock stalemate at Molineux last weekend with a deserved victory over Newcastle, but these showings do raise some valid concerns at this early stage in the season.

Despite the gulf in quality between the teamsheets, and Manchester City’s home advantage, they only beat The Magpies 2-1 at the Etihad. Once again they lapsed at the back and conceded a goal, but that could be forgiven if they were devastating at the other end of the pitch. Simply put – They weren’t. The Citizens were undoubtedly and unsurprisingly on top for most of the game, but their star-laden squad of attackers missed a host of chances and it fell to Kyle Walker to clinch the winner with a stunning 30-yard strike.

Manchester City are still one of the best teams in the Premier League, but the early signs this season suggest that they aren’t going to have it quite to easy this year.

4. Watford (up 2 places)

If the Watford hierarchy thought that Marco Silva did a good job in the early stages of last season, they will be absolutely thrilled with Javi Gracia. The Spaniard has stunningly started the season with four consecutive victories, and the most recent was the best of the lot.

The Hornets hosted a Tottenham side who also came into the game with a perfect record to defend. Despite going a goal down to Abdoulaye Doucoure’s unfortunate own goal in the second half, they showed tremendous spirit to fight back against their illustrious opponents. Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart scored within seven minutes of each other to turn the game on it’s head and secure an excellent three points for Watford.

Until now, the quality of Watford’s opposition had kept them lower in our Power Rankings, but their dispatching of such a huge club warrant a move into the top four at this early stage of the campaign.

Read More: Javi Gracia and Watford’s Perfect Start

5. Tottenham Hotspur (down 4 places)

Watford’s rise into our top four was partly at the expense of Tottenham’s fall from the top spot, but it was largely their own doing in all honesty. Their 3-0 win at Old Trafford last weekend was a very impressive feat, but their display at Vicarage Road on Sunday was pretty dour to be honest.

Their attacking stars were thwarted by Gracia’s excellent tactics, and the omnipotent Harry Kane cut a frustrated figure at the forefront of Spurs’ attack. It’s by no means a cause for panic at the moment, but it was a really poor performance from Tottenham and is definitely something for Mauricio Pocchettino to think about over the international break.

6. Arsenal (down 1 place)

Arsenal Manager Unai Emery

Arsenal may have taken the three points away from their newly promoted hosts on Sunday, but they didn’t half make hard work of it. Unai Emery’s start to the season was particularly difficult, and defeats to both Manchester City and Chelsea weren’t ideal ways to begin a new era at The Emirates. However, a victory over West Ham gave them their first win, and their trip to Cardiff was expected to be a one sided affair and a fairly easy three points.

Cardiff hadn’t scored a single Premier League goal heading into gameweek four, but that all changed when they came up against an Arsenal side who seem intent on letting all of their opponents score. Cardiff even managed to waste a few opportunities and still put two past Petr Cech, with Camarasa cancelling out Mustafi’s early opener and Ward then equalising in the second half after Aubameyang put the Gunners in front again. It was a good display of character for The Gunners as they kept pushing and got a third through Lacazette, but conceding two against a side as offensively challenges as Cardiff is a real cause for concern.

7. Bournemouth

The Cherries fell to their first defeat of the season on Saturday, but it’s definitely not all doom and gloom for Eddie Howe’s side. Bournemouth came up against the perfect record of Chelsea away from home, so it was always likely to see their undefeated start to the campaign come to an end.

Still, there is plenty for Howe to look at in a positive light. They defended resolutely for most of the match, displaying a defensive stability that most thought they didn’t possess. On the rare occasions they ventured forward they looked threatening to the Chelsea back line, and perhaps should have taken the lead twice as Callum Wilson and Nathan Ake missed gilt-edged chances.

It may have ended in defeat, but Bournemouth are a force to be reckoned with in that mid-table battle this season.

8. Wolves (up 2 places)

The newly promoted Wolves finally ended their wait for a first Premier League win on Saturday as summer signing Adama Traore came off the bench to score a last gasp winner at the London Stadium.

Prior to this they had picked up just two points from their opening three games, but in terms of performances they were clearly far better than the points tally suggested. They came from behind twice at Everton to take a draw, and were very unfortunate to lose to Leicester in gameweek two. Their 1-1 draw at home against Manchester City was a fantastic performance, and their efforts were finally rewarded as they heaped the misery on top of West Ham fans.

Admittedly it wasn’t the best match in terms of quality, but Wolves were the better side throughout and fully deserved the late winner that came their way.

9. Manchester United (up 2 places)

Manchester United Jose Mourinho

The pressure on Jose Mourinho coming into Sunday’s trip to Burnley was clear for everybody to see, but despite the ongoing speculation surrounding his future he will have been pleased to see his side finally show some of their potential against the struggling Clarets.

Romelu Lukaku, who has cut a rather forlorn figure at the spearhead of The Red Devils’ faltering attack this season, was back to his best. An excellent first half showing saw him put two past Joe Hart, and he should have completed his hat-trick later in the game. Paul Pogba’s missed penalty and Marcus Rashford’s second half red card turned out to be inconsequential as Manchester United’s changed back line managed their first clean sheet of the season. It was a promising performance from a team who looked on the brink of meltdown last week.

Read More: FST’s Premier League Team of the Week 

10. Leicester (down 2 places)

Leicester may have lost to Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, but once again it was a performance that Claude Puel can take plenty of positives from. They largely managed to contain Liverpool despite the visitors’ blistering start, pushing Jurgen Klopp’s men into a more subdued style of play.

Just like their trip to Old Trafford on the opening day of the season, this was a performance of real determination from Leicester. The Foxes kept going even when 2-0 down and were rewarded by an horrendous error from Alisson, and although they couldn’t make the final breakthrough Leicester will take confidence from performances such as these.

11. Fulham (up 2 places)

Fulham picked up their first win of the season last weekend as they put the struggling Burnley to the sword with a 4-2 victory, and they should have had another three points in the bag this weekend.

It wasn’t to be though. They took a 2-0 lead through the excellent Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle, but the positives in their attacking play were eventually outweighed by their defensive issues. Glenn Murray bossed The Cottagers’ back line around, scoring twice in the final 25 minutes to inspire Brighton’s comeback. For all the negatives, Fulham are still looking a very decent outfit. Their expensive new collection of players are growing with every week that passes, and it’s clear that they will be a really difficult side to beat later in the season.

12. Everton (down 3 places)

The Marco Silva effect seems to be slowly wearing off at Goodison Park, and while Everton’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season continued on Saturday their 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield was a very disappointing result in the circumstances.

Huddersfield are one of the worst away sides in the top flight, and a side as laden with talent as Everton should have had no issues in taking the three points on Saturday. However, without Richarlison The Toffees looked subdued and lacking in penetration, and it wasn’t undeserved as they went a goal down to Philip Billing in the first half. The lead didn’t last long as Dominic Calvert-Lewin nodded the equaliser in, but that didn’t seem to provide any inspiration to the Everton players.

They managed just a single shot on target in the entire game, and even against one of the lowest scoring sides in the top flight they looked rather shaky at the back.

13. Brighton (up 1 place)

Yes, Brighton did go 2-0 down at home to a newly promoted club, but the comeback they mounted late in the second half deserves a lot of praise. The Seagulls harboured an excellent home record last season so it will be disappointing for them to drop points at The Amex Stadium, but the manner of their 2-2 draw with Fulham will give almost as much of a morale boost as a win would have done.

Glenn Murray was phenomenal as he bullied the Fulham defence around, scoring both of Brighton’s goals to continue his impressive season. He is Brighton’s talisman, and at the age of 34 he actually seems to be improving rather than declining.

14. Southampton (up 2 places)

Finally rising through the ranks of our Power Rankings is Southampton, who built on their improving displays with their first win of the season on Saturday. It was no less than they deserved either, as is evident from their expected goals tally of 3.08 to Crystal Palace’s 1.37.

It was Danny Ings who found the net first as he continued to answer the ongoing problem of Southampton’s attacking woes, and they had a chance to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot, but for Charlie Austin’s poor attempt. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg gave them a deserved cushion in injury time though, and a victory away to a Crystal Palace side will do wonders for their confidence.

15. Crystal Palace (down 3 places)

Premier League Crystal Palace Zaha

Saturday’s hosting of Southampton saw Crystal Palace fall to their third consecutive Premier League defeat, and once again their almost absolute reliance on Wilfried Zaha was the main talking point. The Ivorian was ruled out late on with a strained muscle, and with that the odds for a Palace win tumbled.

The Eagles have lost all ten of the Premier League games in which Zaha has not featured since the start of last season, and this is undoubtedly a concern for Roy Hodgson. Crystal Palace deserved to lose, and despite showing some efforts at fighting back after Southampton’s opener they simply couldn’t find a way through without their talisman to guide them.

16. Newcastle (down 1 place)

The fans at St James’ Park are getting decidedly edgy at the moment, and with their transfer policy under siege and results not going their way on the pitch it’s unsurprising, especially with their ever-present issue with Mike Ashley constantly bubbling to the surface.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Rafa Benitez’ team. They may only have one point to their name, but the fixture computer has been anything but kind to them. In the first four weeks of the season they have had to face Spurs, Chelsea, and Manchester City, and in each one of those games they have actually shown a decent level of performance. Each one of those three ended 2-1 to the bigger club, but it was their goalless draw at Cardiff which is the real worry.

It’s far too early to say yet, but if Newcastle can take their level of performance against the big six clubs into their games against the less illustrious opponents, their fortunes could turn around sooner rather than later.

17. Cardiff (up 2 places)

This weekend Cardiff showed us all that they can actually find the back of the net. It took almost the full first half for The Bluebirds to punish a lackadaisical Arsenal back line, but Victor Camarasa’s rifled shot ended that wait in stoppage time as they equalised against Arsenal. This attacking spirit did mean that their performance at the other end of the pitch suffered, but despite going a goal down again they still managed to push through and force a second equaliser past Petr Cech.

It may have pushed Cardiff into another defeat, but a 3-2 loss to Arsenal will at least give the players and fans some level of confidence as they prepare for a long and arduous season.

18. Huddersfield (up 2 places)

Huddersfield won just three away games in the Premier League last season, so not many gave them a chance of getting something against the big spending Everton on Saturday. Despite their underdog status they surprisingly took the lead against the subdued Toffees, and while that lead lasted about the same as the blink of an eye they still managed to hold their own at Goodison Park. It was a deserved point for The Terriers, and they have shown clear signs of improvement since they opened the season by conceding nine goals in two games.

19. Burnley (down 1 place)

The Clarets fall from grace continued on Sunday as they were put to the sword by a resurgent Manchester United, and while that defeat on it’s own is nothing to worry about their performances so far this season have been very poor indeed.

Burnley have already conceded nine goals this season and have averaged 2.25 goals per game against them. Considering their shock 7th place finish last season was built on a solid foundation at the back, this is a real worry for Sean Dyche’s men. Many will point at the fixture congestion caused by their Europa League qualification campaign, and that could be the case, but it puts them on the back foot from a very early stage.

20. West Ham (down 3 places)

Another weekend of football, and another chorus of boos ringing around the London Stadium as the West Ham fans voice their discontent. You can’t blame them either – They have seen their side fall to four consecutive defeats in the Premier League, and despite their summer spending spree they find themselves rock bottom of the table.

Defeats away to Liverpool and Arsenal are understandable, but both of their home games have been winnable fixtures against Bournemouth and Wolves. However, their seeming lack of passion and determination continues to haunt them, and a 1-0 defeat to Wolves was no less than they deserved on Saturday. The Hammers were embarrassing to be honest, losing almost every 50-50 and constantly being robbed of the ball by opposition players who clearly wanted the win more than them.

It’s going to be a long and painful season for the London Stadium faithful.

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