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Week 1 Power Rankings

18 August 2010

The season kicked off with the usual mix of predictable results and shock scorelines. Here’s how I rate the 20 Premier League clubs after the their season debuts:

1. Chelsea (1-0-0, 3 points, +6 GD) | Last week: Won 6-0 v. West Brom | Next up: at Wigan
The title holders picked up right where they left off on the final day of last season, demolishing an overmatched opponent at Stamford Bridge. Last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s men demonstrated an ability to pour it on and push for goals late in one-sided matches, and they’re right back to padding their goal difference again this season.

2. Manchester United (1-0-0, 3 points, +3 GD) | Last week: Won 3-0 v. Newcastle | Next up: at Fulham
Probably due in large part to Wayne Rooney’s continued bizarre loss of form, United didn’t manage impress like Chelsea in their opener. Part of that was Newcastle putting up a much stiffer resistance than West Brom did at the Bridge, but there’s no denying that right now Chelsea look much closer to mid-season form.

3. Blackpool (1-0-0, 3 points, +4 GD) | Last week: Won 4-0 at Wigan | Next up: at Arsenal
If you polled Tangerine fans for predictions for the season opener, not even the biggest homer would’ve come up with 0-4. The club many people figured would make a run at Derby County’s record for Premier League futility finds itself second in the table after one match, and Marlon Harewood looks like an inspired signing.

4. Aston Villa (1-0-0, 3 points +3 GD) | Last week: Won 3-0 v. West Ham | Next up: at Newcastle
Pretty much the polar opposite of last season’s opener, which saw Villa get embarrassed 3-0 at home by Wigan, interim manager Kevin MacDonald made a strong case for Randy Lerner to give him the job full-time. Perhaps predictions of decline at Villa Park are premature — though James Milner will be missed in the Villa attack.

5. Blackburn (1-0-0, 3 points, +1 GD) | Last week: Won 1-0 v. Everton | Next up: at Birmingham City
Ewood Park was one of the stealth fortresses in league play last season, and Rovers continued that trend by winning one of just three fixtures they dropped at home in 2009-2010. The goal was an unexpected gift, but credit the Blackburn defense for effectively neutralizing the Everton attack and making the goal stand up.

6. Wolverhampton (1-0-0, 3 points, +1 GD) | Last week: Won 2-1 v. Stoke City | Next up: at Everton
After seeing their club score just 13 goals at home last season, the crowd at Molineux had to feel as though it was raining goals when Wolves put two past Stoke City on Saturday. The real cause for optimism for Mick McCarthy might be the fact his team managed to score a pair of goals without the services of the injured Kevin Doyle.

7. Arsenal (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 1-1 at Liverpool | Next up: Blackpool
It was a familiar story for Arsène Wenger, who watched his men once again control a match, but fail to make an impact in the final third. Things picked up when Theo Walcott entered the fray, but it still took a shocking own goal in the dying minutes from the normally stellar Pepe Reina to avoid a costly loss at Anfield.

8. Liverpool (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 1-1 v. Arsenal | Next up: at Manchester City
Joe Cole’s sending off actually seemed to fire up the Reds, as it looked like Arsenal were the side playing down a man for most of the second half. It was very nearly a storybook beginning to the Roy Hodgson Era until the goalkeeping howler, and we may not know the full impact of those two lost points until the end of the season.

9. Tottenham (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 0-0 v. Manchester City | Next up: at Stoke City
It’s tough to know what to think of Spurs right now, after watching them play an utterly dominant 30-minute stretch in the middle of the first half, then proceed to get outplayed the rest of the way. Harry Redknapp’s men played a pretty good game, but got stonewalled by an incredibly hot keeper and dropped points at home.

10. Manchester City (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 0-0 at Tottenham | Next up: Liverpool
It looked like City weren’t quite ready for full speed Premier League action and didn’t seem at east with each other on the pitch, as we saw them caught in possession countless times. A much better second half performance provided some encouraged, and Joe Hart’s heroics did manage to secure a decent point away from home.

11. Birmingham City (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 2-2 at Sunderland | Next up: Blackburn
For all the predictions of Second-Season Syndrome being hurled at Brum, they began the season with a fairly impressive result, fighting back from a two-goal deficit to grab a share of the spoils at The Stadium of Light. Stephen Carr, however, will not look back fondly on the day after conceding a penalty and scoring an own goal.

12. Fulham (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 0-0 at Bolton | Next up: Manchester United
Shocking news here, as the Premier League’s scoreless draw specialists go on the road and do exactly that. The most encouraging thing about the point at Bolton would be the solid performance of young David Stockdale in goal — and the fact Mark Hughes’s men caused a potential mid-table rival to drop points at home.

13. Bolton (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 0-0 v. Fulham | Next up: at West Ham
Bolton fans leaving the Reebok will feel their heroes easily could have come away with more than point on Saturday after getting the lion’s share of chances, only to be denied a win by David Stockdale and the post. Meanwhile Martin Petrov’s fierce crosses provided the home fans with a sample of what he brings to the table.

14. Sunderland (0-1-0, 1 point, 0 GD) | Last week: Drew 2-2 v. Birmingham City | Next up: at West Brom
A promising season opener unraveled into a disappointing dropping of points at home, with the hammer blow being the 88th-minute equalizer. One major worry for Steve Bruce has to be the fact his side failed to score a goal during open play — the opening goal came on a Darren Bent penalty and the second was an own goal.

15. Everton (0-0-1, 0 points, -1 GD) | Last week: Lost 1-0 at Blackburn | Next up: Wolverhampton
A trendy top-four pick by the anti-City crowd, Everton’s season again began with a thud thanks to Tim Howard’s boneheaded mishandling of the ball that led directly to the lone goal. There’s certainly no shame in losing at Blackburn, but David Moyes’s men hardly looked like a European side on the afternoon.

16. Newcastle (0-0-1, 0 points, -3 GD) | Last week: Lost 3-0 at Manchester United | Next up: Aston Villa
Manchester United played well and their 3-0 win wasn’t undeserved, but Newcastle turned in a composed performance at Old Trafford and a three-goal loss seemed harsh. It could have been a very different return to the Premier League for the Magpies if Andy Carroll had finished his easy headed chance early on.

17. Stoke City (0-0-1, 0 points, -1 GD) | Last week: Lost 2-1 at Wolverhampton | Next up: Tottenham
A truly inauspicious debut for the Potters, who not only conceded twice to punchless Wolves, but lost the club’s record signing, Kenwyne Jones, to a potentially serious injury. Tony Pulis can be pleased with the fight his team showed after halftime, but Rory Delap’s botched throw-in in the final minutes was a fitting ending.

18. West Ham (0-0-1, 0 points, -3 GD) | Last week: Lost 3-0 at Aston Villa | Next up: Bolton
Avram Grant is a very underrated manager, but his West Ham side looked ill-prepared and unmotivated while getting put to the sword by an opponent who most of us expected to be in chaos. .

19. West Brom (0-0-1, 0 points, -6 GD) | Last week: Lost 6-0 at Chelsea | Next up: Sunderland
The walls the Baggies constructed to defend Chelsea free kicks were among the worst you’ll ever see, parting like the Red Sea to allow Drogba’s free kick to find its way into the back of the net. I know West Brom aren’t expecting to get anything from their first four away fixtures, but they folded far too easily in the second half.

20. Wigan (0-0-1, 0 points, -4 GD) | Last week: Lost 4-0 v. Blackpool | Next up: Chelsea
Oof. That lopsided home defeat — and that 4-0 scoreline actually flattered Wigan a bit, believe it or not — is up there with Everton’s season opener last year in terms of awful beginnings. Blackpool at home should prove to be the easiest league fixture this season, and Wigan already not only lost it, but their goal difference took a beating.

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