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Week 6 Power Rankings

29 September 2010

Those pants are coming undone like United away from home and sliding down like Liverpool.

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday it looked like Chelsea were set to leave the trailing pack in their dust, with the title chase seemingly down to three teams. But after a weekend where Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs lost games in which they were favored and United and Liverpool also dropped points as favorites, Manchester City are suddenly very much back in contention. Here’s how things are looking right now:

1. West Brom (3-1-2, 10 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 9th | Results: Won 2-1 v. Manchester City (Carling Cup); Won 3-2 at Arsenal
Following the disheartening 6-0 defeat in the opener at Stamford Bridge, West Brom have won five of their seven matches and would be undefeated if not for the extremely harsh defeat at Liverpool. Roberto Di Matteo has struck the perfect balance between pretty and utilitarian football, as shown by last week’s victories over two clubs who probably will be playing Champions League football next season.
Next up: Bolton (Saturday)

2. Manchester City (3-2-1, 11 points, +5 GD)
Last week: 6th | Results: Lost 2-1 at West Brom (Carling Cup); Won 1-0 v. Chelsea
Only crashing out of the Carling Cup mid-week at West Brom keeps City out of the top spot this week, following the statement of intent delivered on Saturday against Chelsea. After watching the three-man midfield strangle Chelsea for 90 minutes, one had to wonder why it wasn’t capable of doing the same against far lesser competition at times this season, especially in the poor second half at Sunderland.
Next up: Juventus (Europa League – Wednesday); Newcastle (Sunday)

3. Manchester United (3-3-0, 12 points, +6 GD)
Last week: 2nd | Results: Won 5-2 at Scunthorpe (Carling Cup); Drew 2-2 at Bolton
United’s title credentials should be under serious examination as Wayne Rooney is a mess and three away matches into the league campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson still is looking for his first away league win of the season. The only good news for United is that they should be favored to defend their Carling Cup triumph of last season after pretty much everyone but them and Arsenal is out of the competition now.
Next up: at Valencia (Champions League – Wednesday); at Sunderland (Saturday)

4. Chelsea (5-0-1, 15 points, +19 GD)
Last week: 1st | Results: Lost 4-3 v. Newcastle (Carling Cup); Lost 1-0 at Manchester City
We should have seen this coming after the way a relatively strong Chelsea side struggled at home against Newcastle en route to Wednesday’s shock Carling Cup exit, but it still was surprising the way Chelsea were stifled at Eastlands. It was quite a run they had with all the blowout victories against the lesser lights, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men failed miserably in their first significant test of the young season.
Next up: Marseille (Champions League – Tuesday); Arsenal (Sunday)

5. Arsenal (3-2-1, 11 points, +9 GD)
Last week: 3rd | Results: Won 4-1 AET at Tottenham (Carling Cup); Lost 3-2 v. West Brom
They naysayers are out in full force again after the truly poor performance in the home defeat to West Brom over the weekend, one week after the uninspiring performance at The Stadium of Light. One very bright spot, however, is the Carling Cup, where the Gunners find themselves facing a very weak field in the Fourth Round after pretty much everyone except United crashed out in the Third Round.
Next up: at Partizan Belgrade (Champions League – Tuesday); at Chelsea (Sunday)

6. Bolton (1-4-1, 7 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 5th | Results: Lost 1-0 at Burnley (Carling Cup); Drew 2-2 v. Manchester United
Bolton was the latest club ruing its missed opportunities after drawing at home with United, as Owen Coyle’s men would’ve been deserving winners had they been able to hold onto either lead. Johan Elmander is finally beginning to provide returns on the relatively large sum invested in him, as he’s scored three times this season and had an assist on Sunday, and he could’ve scored even more with better finishing.
Next up: at West Brom (Saturday)

7. Sunderland (1-4-1, 7 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 8th | Results: Lost 2-1 v. West Ham (Carling Cup); Drew 2-2 at Liverpool
Steve Bruce may have embellished a bit when describing the facts surrounding Liverpool’s controversial opener, but he was right in that allowing the goal wasn’t in the spirit of the game. Darren Bent just continues to score goals with seven in eight club appearances this season and 32 in 48 appearances since joining Sunderland, though both his penalties this season just managed to squeeze through under diving keepers.
Next up: Manchester United (Saturday)

8. Stoke City (2-1-3, 7 points, -2 GD)
Last week: 16th | Results: Won 2-0 v. Fulham (Carling Cup); Won 2-1 at Newcastle
Football purists’ hopes of relegation for Stoke City are looking unlikely to be realized again this season after the Potters’ resurgence following a dismal start to the season that saw them lose their first three matches. However, Tony Pulis was dealt a big blow in the win at Newcastle when Ricardo Fuller severely injured his right shoulder, with the Jamaican striker expected to miss a significant chunk of time.
Next up: Blackburn (Saturday)

9. Fulham (1-5-0, 8 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 4th | Results: Lost 2-0 at Stoke City (Carling Cup); Drew 0-0 v. Everton
Before anyone goes branding Mark Hughes a draw specialist, his teams drew only 31 times over the previous four seasons prior to last season’s Manchester City drawfest that cost him his job. Fulham fans are still trying to figure out what to make of their club this season, as each result has been somewhere in between “the minimum acceptable result” (draw at Blackpool) and “a pretty good result,” (the draw against United).
Next up: at West Ham (Saturday)

10. Aston Villa (3-1-2, 10 points -2 GD)
Last week: 18th | Results: Won 3-1 v. Blackburn (Carling Cup); Won 2-1 at Wolverhampton
They’ve been wildly inconsistent, but Villa finally managed to not lose away from home for the first time in the league this season, actually grabbing all three points at Wolves to go into a European spot. Always a streaky scorer, Emile Heskey appears to have rediscovered his scoring touch since re-joining forces with his former boss at Liverpool, as Gérard Houllier looks to build on a decent point haul to start the season.
Next up: at Tottenham (Saturday)

11. Birmingham City (1-4-1, 7 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 10th | Results: Won 3-1 v. MK Dons (Carling Cup); Drew 0-0 v. Wigan
The year-long home unbeaten run is garnering a lot of attention, but Alex McLeish has to feel as though his team left points out on the pitch this weekend, drawing 0-0 with a lackluster Wigan side. We know the Blues can defend, but scoring just two goals from three home matches is a worrying sign, especially after the money spent on the likes of Alexander Hleb and Nikola Zigic this summer.
Next up: Everton (Saturday)

12. Blackburn (2-2-2, 8 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 11th | Result: Lost 3-1 at Aston Villa (Carling Cup); Won 2-1 at Blackpool
After just three away matches, Blackburn are over a quarter of the way to last season’s total of 16 points away from Ewood Park, following late heroics from Brett Emerton of all people in the Northwest derby. Paul Robinson deserves credit one again for keeping his side in the game, pulling off some more spectacular saves, as England’s would-be second-choice keeper retired from international play too soon.
Next up: at Stoke City (Saturday)

13. West Ham (1-1-4, 4 points, -7 GD)
Last week: 19th | Results: Won 2-1 at Sunderland (Carling Cup); Won 1-0 v. Tottenham
The rough start for the Irons was predictable given the tough early fixture list, and it was only a matter of time until things turned around for Avram Grant at West Ham, as the Israeli is simply too good a manager. The mid-week Carling Cup victory at Sunderland was impressive enough, but to follow that up with the victory over Spurs in the London derby undoubtedly changed quite a few supporters’ minds about their manager.
Next up: Fulham (Saturday)

14. Tottenham (2-2-2, 8 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 7th | Results: Lost 4-1 AET v. Arsenal (Carling Cup); Lost 1-0 at West Ham
Spurs are finding it very difficult to replicate last season’s success, with just three wins in their first 10 matches in all competitions this season, and now injuries are becoming a real issue for Harry Redknapp. Rafael van der Vaart was a great signing, but he and Luka Modrić seem too similar to play together and Aaron Lennon’s shocking loss of form leaves Spurs without a pacey threat on the right side.
Next up: FC Twente (Champions League – Wednesday); Aston Villa (Saturday)

15. Wigan (1-2-3, 5 points, -11 GD)
Last week: 17th | Results: Won 2-1 v. Preston North End (Carling Cup); Drew 0-0 at Birmingham City
It took a late, miraculous fightback to stay alive in the Carling Cup before Wigan went down to Birmingham City and escaped with a credible point, despite being outplayed on the day. Roberto Martínez’s trademark attractive passing game has failed miserably at producing goals so far, with the Latics’s two goals in league play ranking dead last in the Premier League — half the total of the next lowest-scoring side.
Next up: Wolverhampton (Saturday)

16. Newcastle (2-1-3, 7 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 12th | Results: Won 4-3 at Chelsea (Carling Cup); Lost 2-1 v. Stoke City
Newcastle were poised for a great week after a historic Carling Cup win at Stamford Bridge, leading 1-0 at half time following a dominant first-half performance against Stoke City. Unfortunately for the Magpies, they allowed the game to get away from them in the second half and James Perch’s own goal resulted in a second-straight league home loss against a less-than-imposing opponent.
Next up: at Manchester City (Sunday)

17. Blackpool (2-1-3, 7 points, -5 GD)
Last week: 15th | Result: Lost 2-1 v. Blackburn
Ian Holloway was charged by the FA for his behavior toward referee Mike Dean after Saturday’s loss to Blackburn, with the Blackpool boss taking issue with a missed foul and possible offside in the build-up to the eventual winner. The result was very disappointing for the Seasiders, who face a trio of challenging league fixtures in October and could find themselves quickly sliding down the table after the great start.
Next up: at Liverpool (Sunday)

18. Wolverhampton (1-2-3, 5 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 14th | Results: Won 4-2 v. Notts County (Carling Cup); Lost 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Mike McCarthy has seen his team scrap and claw to put themselves in a good position in each of their last three league matches, only to cancel out all that hard work by falling apart and allowing late winners. Adlene Guedioura’s broken leg is bad news for Wolves, who really need at least four points in their next two league fixtures at Wigan and at home to West Ham, because after that they play all four of the Big Four.
Next up: at Wigan (Saturday)

19. Liverpool (1-3-2, 6 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 13th | Results: Lost 2-2 (4-2 pens) v. Northampton Town (Carling Cup); Drew 2-2 v. Sunderland
If Roy Hodgson thought he was feeling the heat before, that’s nothing compared to the pressure on him following an embarrassing home Carling Cup defeat against League 2 minnows Northampton Town. Despite effectively being spotted a goal thanks to the crazy opener, the Reds couldn’t make the lead stand up and were fortunate the ball found Steven Gerrard’s head to rescue a point against Sunderland.
Next up: FC Utrecht (Europa League – Thursday) Blackpool (Sunday)

20. Everton (0-3-3, 3 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 20th | Results: L 1-1 (4-3 pen) at Brentford (Carling Cup); Drew 0-0 at Fulham
It’s just not happening right now for the Toffees, who crashed out of the Carling up at mighty Brentford during the week, then settled for a draw at Craven Cottage, despite carving out the lion’s share of the chances. The search for the first league win goes on, and up next is a trip to Birmingham City, where the hosts haven’t lost at home in over a year, followed by the home Merseyside derby.
Next up: at Birmingham City (Saturday)

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