With pretty much a third of the 2019/20 Premier League season gone, we can start to analyze the forward motion – or otherwise – that the teams are making.
This report on the action so far makes for positive reading for some, and much less so for others, and while league positions are of course subject to change it can be difficult to right the wrongs of early season torment.
Here’s our club-by-club guide to the Premier League campaign so far:
The Big Boys
There’s no denying it, Liverpool are romping away with the title.
After the 3-1 demolition of nearest rivals Manchester City, the Reds are odds-on favorites with the sportsbooks in their English Premier League betting odds to win a first ever top-flight crown since the change in branding.
They are streets ahead of City at the moment, whose defensive woes mean they are having to resort to playing their best defensive midfielder – Fernandinho – at centre back. Pep Guardiola, distrusting of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, has a huge job on his hands if his side are to retain their title.
Chelsea are blossoming under Frank Lampard’s management. He has shown faith in his youngsters and has been rewarded ten-fold: Mason Mount is now an England regular, Fikayo Tomori looks to be one of the most accomplished defenders around and Tammy Abraham is scoring goals for fun. The sky is the limit for this exciting young team.
Excitement is not a word that can be used to describe the starts of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, however.
United have scored just 16 goals so far – compare that to the tally of 35 plundered by their city rivals, and the glory days of ‘attack, attack, attack’ under Sir Alex Ferguson are now a long and distant memory.
Arsenal have a similar bluntness in attack that is exacerbated hugely by their inability to defend: no team in the top-eight of the division has conceded more than the Gunners.
As for Tottenham, well, this is a mini crisis. Just 14 points have been won from 12 games, with key players showcasing a woeful lack of form and rumors of off-field tensions between them refusing to go away.
Harry Kane is averaging 2.5 shots per 90 and 0.6 shots assisted per 90. He hasn’t been below 3 shots per 90 in a season his entire career. That’s also his worst shot assists number as Premier League regular, so he’s not making it up with creativity.
(xG/xA tells ~the same story)
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) November 9, 2019
Unless something changes drastically, this could be an annus horribilis for this trio of former footballing giants.
The last team to break the monopoly of the big guns on the Premier League title was Leicester City, and they are going very nicely in 2019/20 too.
Only Manchester City have a better goal difference than the Foxes, who have lost just twice all-season long. Wins over Tottenham, Arsenal and that record-breaking 9-0 triumph over Southampton signal their intent, and if Leicester can keep hold of key figures in the January transfer window a top-four finish beckons.
Huge respect must go to Sheffield United. The pre-season relegation candidates sit in fifth place, having avoided defeat in 9/12 games so far. Their manager, Chris Wilder, has built something truly special in Yorkshire.
Kind words must also be reserved for Burnley and Bournemouth, who continue to overachieve despite meagre financial means. The Clarets make life hell for their opponents, while on the south coast Eddie Howe is building something truly impressive with a young squad of largely British talents.
And finally Wolves, having to cope with the demands of a Europa League campaign, are sitting pretty in eighth. The slowly, slowly approach to growth is paying dividends for the Midlanders.
The Must Improvers
There is a clutch of teams in mid-table who, based on their financial spending and resources, probably deserve to be there and are comfortable with that: Brighton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and co.
But there’s no denying that Everton and West Ham, with their lowly league positions, have to be disappointed.
The Toffees spent more than $133 million on new players in the summer, and while they have been unlucky with injuries four wins from twelve does not represent good value. The Expected Goals stats suggest they have been unlucky at times, but that can only carry you so far and Marco Silva needs to start getting points on the board pronto.
As for the Hammers, there are no caveats or reasons to be cheerful. Their $100 million summer spend has yielded a points return of just 1.08 per game, coupled with one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League. This proud London club is in serious danger of relegation this term unless changes are made….and fast.
The Relegation Candidates
It’s perennially difficult for the promoted teams to make great strides in their first season in the top-flight, and while Sheffield United are bucking that trend Norwich City and Aston Villa are not.
Norwich, after a bright start, have now lost six of their last seven games, and while they too have been unlucky with a crippling injury list, excuses are only worth so much come the end of the season.
Aston Villa are down in the depths too, but they seem to have plenty about them under Dean Smith. His enterprising style has delivered 17 goals so far – more than Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves, and that firepower might just be enough to see them clear of the dreaded dropzone.
The last word goes to Southampton, or ‘poor old Southampton’ as they have been rechristened. Just two wins all season long have been compounded by an abject defensive record – they have conceded two or more goals in 8/12 this term. The writing appears to be on the wall for the Saints.
There is still plenty of time in this Premier League season of course, and twists and turns from here are almost guaranteed.