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Week 5 Power Rankings

20 September 2010

This week's Power Rankings apparently are brought to you by Diet Coke.

Now it feels like football season, with mid-week European matches last week and Carling Cup ties this Tuesday and Wednesday sandwiched in between league fixtures. Normally a Northwest derby would be huge news, but when Fergie is sympathizing with Liverpool in his column in the match program, you know the derby has lost its luster. It’s worth nothing that Chelsea are the only club to win each of the past two weekends and Wolves are the only ones to lose twice, making this all the more difficult:

1. Chelsea (5-0-0, 15 points, +20 GD)
Last week: 1st | Results: Won 4-1 at MSK Zilinia (Champions League); Won 4-0 v. Blackpool
After taking their foot off the accelerator in their previous two league matches, Chelsea were back to their punishing ways on Sunday, putting four past Blackpool in the first half. They aced the first section of their title test this season, amassing a +20 goal difference in their easy first five league matches, and now they face their first real challenges in the form of a trip to Eastlands and a home date against Arsenal.
Next up: Newcastle (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45pm ET); at Manchester City (Saturday, September 25 – 7:45 am ET)

2. Manchester United (3-2-0, 11 points, +6 GD)
Last week: 3rd | Results: Drew 0-0 v. Rangers (Champions League); Won 3-2 v. Liverpool
It took a hat trick from the unfairly maligned Dimitar Berbatov to bail out United from their latest failure to protect a lead, this time managing to somehow throw away a two-goal lead against a moribund Liverpool team. A side with true championship ambitions can’t be starting John O’Shea and Johnny Evans regularly in defense, as the pair simply aren’t up to the standard of title-caliber defenders.
Next up: at Scunthorpe (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45pm ET); at Bolton (Sunday, September 26 – 7:00 am ET)

3. Arsenal (3-2-0, 11 points, +10 GD)
Last week: 2nd | Results: Won 6-0 v. Braga (Champions League); Drew 1-1 at Sunderland
Everyone is saying Arsenal couldn’t make the flukish gift goal at Sunderland stand up, but given how the Gunners were played off the pitch for large portions of Saturday’s game and Alex Song’s sending off, getting a point out of it was a bonus. If Arsène Wenger’s men are to emerge as true title contenders this season, they need to dramatically step up their game away from home, where they have won just once.
Next up: at Tottenham (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); West Brom (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

4. Fulham (1-4-0, 7 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 5th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Blackburn
Emerging with a point from the trip to the sadistic dentist that is facing Blackburn’s midfield-bypassing, boot-it-into-the-box gameplan at Ewood Park was a fine result for the Cottagers, though they’ll understandably be disappointed that Blackburn’s goal stood despite the unsporting foul on Mark Schwarzer. Fulham are one of just four undefeated clubs left in the league, and they could stay that way for a while.
Next up: at Stoke City (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); Everton (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

5. Bolton (1-3-1, 6 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 6th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Aston Villa
The impressive start to the season under Owen Coyle continued with a result at Villa Park, where Bolton became the first side to come away with anything this season — and they could’ve claimed all three points if not for Brad Friedel’s heroics in goal for the home side. Still, the fightback after conceding the early goal helped wash out the lingering bitter taste from their defeat at the Emirates the previous weekend.
Next up: at Burnley (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); Manchester United (Sunday, September 26 – 7:00 am ET)

6. Manchester City (2-2-1, 8 points, +4 GD)
Last week: 12th | Results: Won 2-0 at Red Bull Salzburg (Europa League); Won 2-0 at Wigan
It wasn’t a dominating performance by any stretch of the imagination and City were the beneficiaries instead of the victims of a lucky break for once, but the relatively comfortable 2-0 win at Wigan was just what was needed. Suddenly Roberto Macini’s side sit in a Champions League place, though more due to poor showings by their assumed competitors for fourth place than anything else.
Next up: at West Brom (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 3:00 pm ET); Chelsea (Saturday, September 25 – 7:45 am ET)

7. Tottenham (2-2-1, 8 points, +2 GD)
Last week: 9th | Results: Drew 2-2 at Werder Bremen (Champions League); Won 3-1 v. Wolverhampton
Spurs fans can tell you that when things are going your way, they’re going your way, as was clearly evident again on Saturday when they took advantage of a late meltdown by Wolves to grab their first league home win of the season. The three late goals papered over the glaring absence of Jermain Defoe, as Tottenham struggled for most of the match to translate territorial domination into create clear-cut chances.
Next up: Arsenal (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); at West Ham (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

8. Sunderland (1-3-1, 6 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 13th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Arsenal
There was a bizarre feel to Saturday’s home contest against Arsenal, with one of the flukiest goals you’ll ever see putting Arsenal in front early, the Gunners struggling to get their passing game going, and then a sending-off for Sunderland’s opponents for once. One wonders how close Phil Dowd came to blowing for full time when the ball came out into the middle third of the pitch after the late corner.
Next up: West Ham (Carling Cup – Tuesday September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); at Liverpool (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

9. West Brom (2-1-2, 7 points, -4 GD)
Last week: 14th | Result: Won 3-1 v. Birmingham City
Roberto Di Matteo’s half time speeches seem to be doing the trick, as one week after the really impressive second half against Spurs, West Brom came out and put three past stingy Birmingham City to rally from a goal down for the home win. The Baggies have seven points from three home matches, and that type of stellar home form may end up proving essential to their top-flight survival this season.
Next up: Manchester City (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 3:00 pm ET); at Arsenal (Saturday, September

10. Birmingham City (1-3-1, 6 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 4th | Result: Lost 3-1 at West Brom
The week he signed a new deal that will keep him at Birmingham City, Alex McLeish can’t be pleased with how his side squandered a lead and lost control of a West Midlands derby they appeared to have by the scruff of the neck after a dominating first half. In a worrying sign for the manager, his normally stout defense now has been punctured seven times in three away matches this season.
Next up: MK Dons (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); Wigan (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

11. Blackburn (1-2-2, 5 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 8th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Fulham
In addition to being too good for his current job, Sam Allardyce also felt his side were hard done by referee Anthony Taylor’s failure to spot Mark Schwarzer stopping a shot with his hands outside the area. Big Same would do well to remember that Blackburn’s lone goal owed a massive debt of gratitude to the referee’s vision problems after El-Hadji Diouf’s intentional foul on Schwarzer went unpunished.
Next up: at Aston Villa (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45 pm ET); at Blackpool (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

12. Newcastle (2-1-2, 7 points, +2 GD)
Last week: 19th | Result: Won 1-0 at Everton
The Magpies’ rollercoaster season continued when they followed up their disconcerting home loss to Blackpool with an impressive win at Goodison Park, thanks to Hatem Ben Arfa’s strike from outside the box. Joey Barton is earning rave reviews for both his footballing displays and an apparent new-found maturity, though Chris Hughton is facing a headache in goal after Steve Harper’s serious shoulder injury.
Next up: at Chelsea (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45 pm ET); Stoke City (Sunday, September 26 – 11:10 am ET)

13. Liverpool (1-2-2, 5 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 11th | Results: Won 4-1 v. Steaua Bucuresti (Europa League); Lost 3-2 at Manchester United
Seemingly bereft of ideas and trailing by two goals at Old Trafford, Liverpool somehow clawed their way back to level footing thanks to a pair of mistakes by fill-in United defenders that gifted the visitors a penalty and a free kick. After such a miraculous fightback, Roy Hodgson will be disappointed that they went on to concede a third to their hated rivals, leaving the Reds just a point above the drop zone.
Next up: Northampton Town (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22, 3:00 pm ET); Sunderland (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

14. Wolverhampton (1-2-2, 5 points, -2 GD)
Last week: 7th | Lost 3-1 at Tottenham
Wolves managed to throw away 75 minutes of hard work when they somehow allowed Alan Hutton to dribble 65 yards and then fouled him in the box to gift Spurs an equalizer from the spot. As if that weren’t bad enough, failure to deal with a ball in the box resulted in a winner for Spurs, before they allowed Hutton to score his first goal in Engalnd for the pièce de résistance in what was a complete meltdown.
Next up: Notts County (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); Aston Villa (Sunday, September 26 – 9:05 am ET)

15. Blackpool (2-1-2, 7 points, -4 GD)
Last week: 10th | Result: Lost 4-0 at Chelsea
Five matches in, Blackpool have looked sensational against sides expected to be in relegation battles, mediocre against a projected mid-table side, and out of their depth against the big boys. Unlike the 19 other clubs in the Premier League, Ian Holloway’s men will be fully rested this weekend as a result of their Second Round exit from the Carling Cup at the hands of MK Dons last month.
Next up: Blackburn (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

16. Stoke City (1-1-3, 4 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 16th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. West Ham
The Potters couldn’t follow up their first points of the season with another win, requiring a strong second half showing just to grab a home draw with formerly point-less West Ham. Tony Pulis will be very pleased with how Kenwyne Jones is bedding down at his new club, scoring second-half equalizers in both of his appearances since returning from what was originally feared to be a serious knee injury.
Next up: Fulham (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); at Newcastle (Sunday, September 26 – 11:10 am ET)

17. Wigan (1-1-3, 4 points, -11 GD)
Last week: 17th | Result: Lost 2-0 v. Manchester City
The Wigan team we’ve seen in their last three league outings is a dramatic improvement over the shambolic one from the first two matches, as Roberto Martínez appears to have tightened up the defense in a major way. After doggedly playing City relatively evenly for 42 minutes, the Latics were more than a little unfortunate to go behind as they did, and from that point on it was an uphill battle.
Next up: Preston North End (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45 pm ET); at Birmingham City (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

18. Aston Villa (2-1-2, 7 points -3 GD)
Last week: 18th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Bolton
Gérard Houllier arrives in the nick of time, as Kevin MacDonald’s pixie dust appears to have worn off since the inspiring performance in the season opener, with a rub-of-the-green home draw in his final game in charge making it just four points from their last four league fixtures. Houllier is tasked with restoring the club’s home form while getting them going away from Villa Park, where they’ve yet to earn a point this season.
Next up: Blackburn (Carling Cup – Wednesday, September 22 – 2:45 pm ET); at Wolverhampton (Sunday, September 26 – 9:05 am ET)

19. West Ham (0-1-4, 1 points, -8 GD)
Last week: 20th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Stoke City
The Hammers finally got off the mark in their fifth attempt, and though they’re still propping up the table with their solitary point, it does bear mention that of West ham’s five league results, the loss to Bolton at home is the only disappointing one. The difficult beginning to the league continues with London rival Spurs visiting Upton Park this weekend, though Avram Grant will be back on the sidelines for that one.
Next up: at Sunderland (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); Tottenham (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

20. Everton (0-2-3, 2 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 15th | Result: Lost 1-0 v. Newcastle
Just when it seemed as though David Moyes’s men were poised to pull out of another early season slump, they went and lost at home to Newcastle, leaving the pitch to a shower of boos from their disappointed supporters. You can’t win if you don’t score, and aside from the three goals scored last week against United, Everton have just a single goal in their other four league fixtures combined.
Next up: at Brentford (Carling Cup – Tuesday, September 21 – 2:45 pm ET); at Fulham (Saturday, September 25 – 10:00 am ET)

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