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Week 4 Power Rankings

14 September 2010

It was a good weekend for the pair of London clubs with designs on the title, while their chief competitors from Manchester both dropped points in heartbreaking fashion to fall farther off the pace. It’s sometimes tough to know what to make of everything this early on — especially with a single point separating eighth and 17th places in the table — but here’s an attempt to make sense of it all:

1. Chelsea (4-0-0, 12 points, +16GD)
Last week: 1st | Result: Won 3-1 at West Ham
Last weekend saw Chelsea register another fairly comfortable win, but the gap between them and their opponents may be shrinking following the pair of 6-0 wins to start the league campaign. Perhaps that’s to be expected, as Frank Lampard was sitting in the stands while recovering from his hernia operation and no team is going to steamroll through one of the toughest leagues on the planet like that.
Next up: Blackpool (Sunday, September 19 – 11:00 am ET)

2. Arsenal (3-1-0, 10 points, +10 GD)
Last week: 2nd | Result: Won 4-1 v. Bolton
Arsène Wenger can breathe a sigh of relief after finishing the stretch of the fixture list that saw his Gunners play possibly his two least favorite sides, Blackburn and Bolton, back to back. It maybe have been aided by the referee, but the most impressive thing about Saturday’s win was the fact it came despite missing three of Arsenal’s best attacking options in Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, and Nicklas Bendtner.
Next up: at Sunderland (Saturday, September 18 – 12:30 pm ET)

3. Manchester United (2-2-0, 8 points, +5 GD)
Last week: 3rd | Result: Drew 3-3 at Everton
United stay third essentially by default, as they blew a late lead away from home yet again to draw 3-3 with Everton and remain winless on the road this season, but it could have been worse without Martin Atkinson blowing for full time prematurely. In the end, Wayne Rooney’s absence wasn’t a huge deal, as the three goals scored indicate the attack wasn’t the problem, but now United are in danger of losing sight of Chelsea.
Next up: Liverpool (Sunday, September 19 – 8:30 am ET)

4. Birmingham City (1-3-0, 6 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 6th | Results: Drew 0-0 v. Liverpool
Had the Blues been a little more ruthless with some open headers on Saturday, they would have recorded a lopsided win over Liverpool instead of what felt like points dropped. Even if the opposition weren’t up to their historical standards, it was still a very nice showing by Alex McLeish’s men, whose aggressive, pressing defending is very impressive to watch over a 90-minute game.
Next up: at West Brom (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

5. Fulham (1-3-0, 6 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 10th | Result: Won 2-1 v. Wolverhampton
The last-minute victory took some of the sting out Bobby Zamora’s horrific injury, but once that euphoria quickly wears off, the impact of losing the one player they couldn’t afford to lose will hit home. Moussa Dembélé gave Fulham fans some amount of hope with his brace against Wolves, but Zamora brings so much more to the table beyond his goal scoring, with his hold-up play being particularly difficult to replace.
Next up: at Blackburn (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

6. Bolton (1-2-1, 5 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 5th | Result: Lost 4-1 at Arsenal
Owen Coyle had every right to feel aggrieved with Stuart Attwell’s refereeing on Saturday at The Emirates, after a clear foul on Lee Chong-Yong on the edge of the Arsenal box went uncalled, then seconds later Gary Cahill was very harshly sent off on what was at worst a bookable offense. It was 2-1 at the time, but with Bolton down a man, they found themselves on the wrong end of a rather lopsided scoreline.
Next up: at Aston Villa (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

7. Wolverhampton (1-2-1, 5 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 4th | Lost 2-1 at Fulham
When Match of the Day singles you out for the type of cynical, physical football we saw out of the Dutch in the World Cup finals, it’s generally not a good idea to follow that up with a performance in which you amass seven bookings and a sending off while breaking the leg of your opponent’s best player. Not only did Wolves lose their first game of the season on Saturday, but they’ve lost a lot of respect from fans around the league.
Next up: at Tottenham (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

8. Blackburn (1-1-2, 4 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 12th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Manchester City
Sam Allardyce won’t care very much that the goal that allowed his side to grab a result at Eastlands was a gift, as his side bounced back from a pair of tough defeats with an impressive share of the points. Prior to the start of the season, the Blackburn boss probably would’ve signed on for four points from his opening four league fixtures, and now the schedule is about to get considerably easier.
Next up: Fulham (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

9. Tottenham (1-2-1, 5 points, +0 GD)
Last week: 9th | Result: Drew 1-1 at West Brom
Rafael van der Vaart had an impressive debut in a Spurs shirt, but if not for the ball falling very fortunately to Luka Modrić for their lone goal and West Brom’s inability to find the back of the net despite a slew of late chances, this would have been another loss for the North Londoners. Harry Redknapp may suddenly be singing the praises of playing with a single striker, but Roman Pavlyuchenko isn’t that man.
Next up: Wolverhampton (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

10. Blackpool (2-1-1, 7 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 16th | Result: Won 2-0 at Newcastle
The Seasiders’ dream start continued with an impressive, professional display in Saturday’s win at St. James’ Park, putting them in the rarefied air of a Champions League position — much like Hull City two seasons ago. Ian Holloway’s side continues to earn admirers with their attractive, attacking football, but they’ve quietly kept a pair of clean sheets away from home now, suggesting they’re not all about scoring goals.
Next up: at Chelsea (Sunday, September 19 – 11:00 am ET)

11. Liverpool (1-2-1, 5 points, -2 GD)
Last week: 8th | Result: Drew 0-0 at Birmingham City
Pepe Reina cost his side two points his his blunder in the season opener, but he gained back one of those points on Saturday with a sublime performance in goal, including a wonder save on Cameron Jerome’s bouncing header. The defense is looking shaky, and it is impossible to overstate how flaccid the Liverpool attack looks with Fernando Torres struggling mightily to rediscover his form.
Next up: at Manchester United (Sunday, September 19 – 8:30 am ET)

12. Manchester City (1-2-1, 5 points, +2 GD)
Last week: 7th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Blackburn
After talking title contention this preseason, City find themselves stuck in reverse as Chelsea speed off out of view with the gap between the two sides already a whopping seven points. While the storm clouds gather around Eastlands, Roberto Mancini’s men have only themselves to blame, as Carlos Tévez’s shocking miss at Sunderland and Joe Hart’s cock-up on Saturday have shown City to be their own worst enemy.
Next up: at Wigan (Sunday, September 19 – 10:00 am ET)

13. Sunderland (1-2-1, 5 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 15th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Wigan
Despite four points in their last two matches, Steve Bruce finds himself with a problem on his hands after his captain, Lee Cattermole, got himself sent off yet again at Wigan, actually drawing criticism from the manager this time. Full credit to the Black Cats, however, who went on to take the lead with 10 men and would’ve held on for all three points if not for a rather fortunate late equalizer for the home side.
Next up: Arsenal (Saturday, September 18 – 12:30 pm ET)

14. West Brom (1-1-2, 4 points, -6 GD)
Last week: 17th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Tottenham
Another week, another harsh result for the Baggies, who will feel they should have snatched all three points on Saturday after outplaying Spurs by a fairly wide margin in the second half and creating a lot of good chances. They can partially point the finger of blame at themselves after their defense failed to clear the ball properly from their own box, leading to the visitors’ only goal of the match.
Next up: Birmingham City (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

15. Everton (0-2-2, 2 points, -2 GD)
Last week: 18th | Result: Drew 3-3 v. Manchester United
The pair of stoppage time goals that gave Everton a share of the spoils against United on Saturday were exactly what the club needed after a dismal start to the season. David Moyes and Steve Round were owed an apology by the FA — not a charge — after Martin Atkinson inexplicably added 30 seconds of stoppage time for the two late goals, then blew for full-time with Everton charging downfield for the winner.
Next up: Newcastle (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

16. Stoke City (1-0-3, 3 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 19th | Result: Won 2-1 v. Aston Villa
It’s an easy, lazy lede, but the Potters really did appear to rally around their manager when Tony Pulis dramatically appeared on the touchline following the death of his mother earlier in the day. Fighting back from a first-half deficit to earn their first points of the season and winning on a late goal could be the kind of thing that overshadows their earlier struggles and propels Stoke City upward to another mid-table finish.
Next up: West Ham (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

17. Wigan (1-1-2, 4 points, -9 GD)
Last week: 14th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Sunderland
The “crowd” at the DW Stadium were preparing to digest another maddening loss as the hosts appeared headed to a home loss against 10-man Sunderland until defender Antolin Alcaraz atoned for his Miss of the Season at White Hart Lane, using his head to deflect in a wayward Tom Cleverly volley. The single point from three home league matches so far this season is bad news for Wigan’s chances of staying up.
Next up: Manchester City (Sunday, September 19 – 10:00 am ET)

18. Aston Villa (2-0-2, 6 points -3 GD)
Last week: 13th | Result: Lost 2-1 at Stoke City
Four games into the young season and Villa are looking every bit the possum of the league — dying on the road with nothing but a pair of defeats to show for their two league matches away from Villa Park. It’s not clear why exactly Gérard Houllier was back in his native France instead of watching his new club — especially when the opposing manager managed to make an appearance hours after the death of his mother.
Next up: Bolton (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

19. Newcastle (1-1-2, 4 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 11th | Result: Lost 2-0 v. Blackpool
Chris Hughton was circumspect after his side were upset at home by Blackpool, correctly pointing out that they created roughly the same number of chances as they had in their 6-0 romp over Villa, but this time they were much less ruthless. It had to be a big blow to their eternally optimistic supporters, who may now be coming to grips with the battle for Premier League survival looming this season on Tyneside.
Next up: at Everton (Saturday, September 18 – 10:00 am ET)

20. West Ham (0-0-4, 0 points, -8 GD)
Last week: 20th | Result: Lost 3-1 v. Chelsea
The Hammers are ruing their luck after two flukes in Saturday’s London derby went Chelsea’s way: the freakish deflection for the second goal after another horrific Robert Green miscue, then Frédéric Piquionne’s easier-to-score-than-miss crossbar special. The result may not have gone their way, but Irons fans leaving Upton Park can feel like an impressive second half was a step in the right direction.
Next up: at Stoke City (Saturday, September 18 – 7:45 am ET)

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