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Week 7 Power Rankings

08 October 2010

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. Chelsea (6-0-1, 18 points, +21 GD)
Last week: 4th | Results: Won 2-0 v. Marseille (Champions League); Won 2-0 v. Arsenal
The defending champions bounced back nicely from their first dropped points of the season at Manchester City with pair of 2-0 results at home. The win over Marseille was a strange one in that Chelsea were outplayed, yet also hit the woodwork three times in the second half, and they can feel fortunate to have beaten Arsenal after it was the visitors who carved out the better chances.
Next up: at Aston Villa (Saturday, October 16)

2. Manchester City (4-2-1, 14 points, +6 GD)
Last week: 2nd | Results: Drew 1-1 v. Juventus (Europa League); Won 2-1 v. Newcastle
Roberto Mancini had to be frustrated by his team’s inability to build on the big win over Chelsea, as he watched a very poor start against Juventus doom them to dropping points in their Europa League group. A somewhat fortunate win over Newcastle on the weekend did push City up to second in the table, but while they can be happy with that positioning, they’re yet to truly impress.
Next up: at Blackpool (Sunday, October 17)

3. West Brom (3-2-2, 11 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 1st | Results: Drew 1-1 v. Bolton
Roberto Di Matteo’s men will be disappointed about settling for a point at home against Bolton after outplaying their guests for the majority of the match, but they can feel good about coming back from a goal down to earn the draw. With 11 points already through seven league matches and a five-match unbeaten streak, West Brom rapidly are approaching the point where they’re no longer focusing on merely surviving but eyeing a very respectable mid-table finish.
Next up: at Manchester United (Saturday, October 16)

4. Manchester United (3-4-0, 13 points, +6 GD)
Last week: 4th | Results: Drew 0-0 at Sunderland
The road is proving to be very unkind to United, who frankly were fortunate to earn even a share of the points at Sunderland after being outplayed for long stretches and owe Edwin van der Sar a pint or two after his match-saving display in goal. It’s upsetting enough to see Chelsea now five points ahead of them, but now “noisy neighbors” Manchester City have pulled ahead of Sir Alex’s men in the league table and Wayne Rooney wasn’t even named to the bench for the trip to the Northeast.
Next up: West Brom (Saturday, October 16)

5. Arsenal (3-2-2, 11 points, +7 GD)
Last week: 5th | Results: Won 3-1 at Partizan Belgrade (Champions League), Lost 2-0 at Chelsea
Arsène Wenger has to be feeling frustrated after seeing his men pegged back by Chelsea in their first real attempt to inject themselves in the title race this season, despite looking the more dangerous at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal no longer are the youthful side we’ve been hearing about for so long now, as it’s time for them start winning things and fulfilling that promise, but unfortunately it’s looking like the Carling Cup will be their best chance at ending their silverware drought.
Next up: Birmingham City (Saturday, October 16)

6. Bolton (1-5-1, 8 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 6th | Result: Drew 1-1 at West Brom
It was a tough pill to swallow for Bolton, who felt West Brom’s equalizer should have been disallowed for offside, but still it was yet another decent result for Owen Coyle’s men, as Johan Elmander’s stunning resurrection continued with another goal at the Hawthorns. With three of their next four — and five of their next eight — at home, Wanderers are entering a stretch of the season where they can build on their solid start and possibly make a push for a European spot.
Next up: Stoke City (Saturday, October 16)

7. Sunderland (1-5-1, 8 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 8th | Results: Drew 0-0 v. Manchester United
Steve Bruce may not have registered his first victory against former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, but his side did turn in a very impressive performance against United and no one would have begrudged them three points had they managed to find a winner. Sunderland have fared well in their tougher fixtures early on, earning five points from the three home matches against Big Four sides so far this season and providing a nice platform from which they can challenge for a European spot.
Next up: at Blackburn (Monday, October 18)

8. Stoke City (3-1-3, 10 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 8th | Result: Won 1-0 v. Blackburn
A well deserved win over Blackburn continued the Potters’ resurgence, as they’re now unbeaten in their last four, with an impressive three wins in that span to pour water on hopes of ridding the Premier League of their distinctive form of Anti-Football. In an encouraging sign for Stoke fans, Tony Pulis’s men kept their first Premier League clean sheet of the season against Blackburn, while managing to score in all but one of their nine matches in all competitions.
Next up: at Bolton (Saturday, October 16)

9. Fulham (1-6-0, 9 points, +1 GD)
Last week: 9th | Result: Drew 1-1 at West Ham
Fulham looked like they might be set to snap their long away winless streak after going on top at Upton Park, but the Cottagers couldn’t make Clint Dempsey’s goal stand up and failed to win for the 22nd straight time away from home. Mark Hughes desperately needs Moussa Dembélé or Andy Johnson back, as he’s stuck playing an out-of-his-depth Eddie Johnson in his injury-depleted strikeforce in the meantime, which is not going to help bring about the needed wins.
Next up: Tottenham (Saturday, October 16)

10. Tottenham (3-2-2, 11 points, +2 GD)
Last week: 14th | Results: Won 4-1 v. FC Twente (Champions League); Won 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Just when it appeared that Spurs’ season was going down the tubes, Rafael van der Vaart rescued his new club with a crucial brace to snatch all three points at home against Aston Villa, as Harry Redknapp has to feel as though he got away with one, considering the back four he started. If Spurs can survive the defensive injury crunch, they should be right back in the hunt for another top four finish and will be lurking should United or Arsenal continue to slip up.
Next up: at Fulham (Saturday, October 16)

11. Aston Villa (3-1-2, 10 points -2 GD)
Last week: 10th | Results: Lost 2-1 at Tottenham
A poor second half at White Hart Lane doomed Villa to their first loss under Gérard Houllier — a result that will be deeply disappointing to the visitors, given the very makeshift pair Spurs started in central defense. Marc Albrighton’s emergence has made up for a very slow start to the Aston Villa career of Stephen Ireland, who has made just four starts and one substitute appearance since his move from City — and Villa are just 0-2-3 in those matches.
Next up: Chelsea (Saturday, October 16)

12. Blackpool (3-1-3, 10 points, -4 GD)
Last week: 17th | Result: Won 2-1 at Liverpool
The Seasiders’ storybook first season in the Premier League continued with the historic win at Anfield, as the club everyone predicted would drop back down to the Championship next season suddenly are looking like they could survive  at the top level. Ian Holloway’s teams are the sort of scrappy underdog playing the right way that every football fan can can behind — as long as it’s not your club that are tasked with figure out a way to stem their relentless attack.
Next up: Manchester City (Sunday, October 17)

13. Wigan (2-2-3, 8 points, -9 GD)
Last week: 15th | Result: Won 2-0 v. Wolverhampton
Since the disastrous start to the season that saw Wigan lose its first two while scoring none and conceding 10, the Latics have responded with just one loss in the next seven games in all competitions, including four wins in that span. The much-maligned defense that was so exposed in this two ugly losses has found its feet, recording clean sheets in those four victories, as on-loan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi has been very impressive between the pipes during that run.
Next up: at Newcastle (Saturday, October 16)

14. West Ham (1-2-4, 5 points, -7 GD)
Last week: 13th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. Fulham
Avram Grant found himself the subject of intense speculation about his job security after his side dropped their first four league matches of the season, so the Hammers’ three-match unbeaten run since will have relieved the pressure on their boss. As they look to dig themselves out of that early hole, Grant’s men are showing plenty of fight — though Fulham might argue it is a little too much fight after they were the victims of a whopping 24 fouls by their London rivals.
Next up: at Wolves (Saturday, October 16)

15. Blackburn (2-2-2, 8 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 12th | Result: Lost 1-0 at Stoke City
It’s been a stop/start season for Blackburn, who have failed to figure out how to get any real momentum going by building on good results, following up their thrilling last-minute win at Blackpool with a dull 1-0 loss at Stoke City in which they mustered just a single shot on goal. The good news is that Paul Robinson may be in the best form of his career, as the much maligned former England keeper turned in another strong performance to keep his side in the game at the Britannia.
Next up: Sunderland (Monday, October 18)

16. Everton (1-3-3, 6 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 20th | Result: Won 2-0 at Birmingham City
You wouldn’t have liked Everton’s chances of recording their first league win of the season at St. Andrew’s, but the Toffees went in and did exactly that, becoming the first visiting side to record three points there since Bolton on September 26 of last season. Preventing the hosts from recording a single shot on goal might be the most impressive thing about that peformance, as David Moyes now can turn his attention toward a hugely important Merseyside derby after the international break.
Next up: Liverpool (Sunday, October 17)

17. Birmingham City (1-4-2, 7 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 11th | Result: Lost 2-0 v. Everton
Following the bright start, it certainly looks like the dreaded second-year slump has set in at Birmingham City, who suddenly have lost two of three and haven’t won in the league since August 21 after seeing their unbeaten streak at home snapped by struggling Everton. The defense isn’t nearly as air-tight as last season (10 goals allowed so far), and with just seven goals scored from their seven league games, the Alex McLeish has to figure out a way to get his Blues turned around.
Next up: at Arsenal (Saturday, October 16)

18. Newcastle (2-1-4, 7 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 16th | Results: Lost 2-1 at Manchester City
Chris Hughton had reason to feel aggrieved after Martin Atkinson missed the foul on Shola Ameobi in the box that would’ve given Newcastle a chance to equalize from the spot, though the Toon boss definitely overstated his case against the Tévez penalty. It was another impressive performance from the Magpies in what has been a wildly inconsistent season, which means we can probably expect them to turn in a poor performance at home against Wigan next weekend.
Next up: Wigan (Saturday, October 16)

19. Wolverhampton (1-2-3, 5 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 18th | Results: Lost 2-0 at Wigan
The chickens are coming home to roost for Karl Henry after he committed the worst foul of the weekend with his kamikaze tackle on Jordi Gomez in the loss at Wigan. Mick McCarthy’s men have been villified this season for their physical approach to football — sometimes for very good reason (Newcastle) and other times it’s been overblown (at Fulham) — but it’s looking increasingly like we won’t have punchless wolves to complain about in the Premier League next season.
Next up: West Ham (Saturday, October 16)

20. Liverpool (1-3-3, 6 points, -4 GD)
Last week: 19th | Results: Drew 0-0 at Utrecht (Europa League); Lost 2-1 to Blackpool
Calling Liverpool “a club in crisis” might actually be an understatement at this point, with the ownership saga, financial uncertainty, and a squad underachieving under a new manager to the extent they’re nearly propping up the table. The idea of little Blackpool going into Anfield and beating the English giants might strike you as crazy, but the amazing part is that the defeat wasn’t even that surprising if you look at the two sides’ respective form this season.
Next up: at Everton (Sunday, October 17)

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