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Week 8 Power Rankings

20 October 2010

It was a remarkable weekend in the Premier League, that saw further tightening of the title race after a suddenly mortal Chelsea slipped up again. Here’s where we stand after eight league matches:

1. Manchester City (5-2-1, 17 points, +7 GD)
Last week: 2nd | Result: Won 3-2 at Blackpool
Just like their last outing prior to the international break, on Sunday we saw City grind out a somewhat fortunate victory despite a less-than-convincing performance against a newly promoted club in which Roberto Mancini’s men were outplayed for significant stretches of the game. We’ll find out just how overreliant the Sky Blues are on Carlos Tévez when the Premier League’s top scorer is given the night off on Thursday against Lech Poznań in the Europa League.
Next up: Lech Poznań (Thursday, Europa League); Arsenal (Sunday)

2. Chelsea (6-1-1, 19 points, +21 GD)
Last week: 1st | Result: Drew 0-0 at Aston Villa
After looking like they were going to run away with the league, injuries and some tougher league fixtures have brought Chelsea back down to earth, as they clearly missed Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard in the scoreless draw at Villa Park. After seeing their lead cut to just two points, Carlo Ancelotti will rue the missed chances, but the reality is that Aston Villa will feel the same after both sides squandered their fair share of goal scoring opportunities.
Next up: at Spartak Moscow (Tuesday, Champions League); Wolverhampton (Saturday)

3. West Brom (3-3-2, 12 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 3rd | Result: Drew 2-2 v. Manchester United
It’s been a great month for Roberto Di Matteo, who has seen his side get results against Manchester City and at Arsenal and now Manchester United, following the shocking comeback from a two-goal deficit at Old Trafford on Saturday. The most impressive thing about the draw might be that it came without injured striker Peter Odemwingie, who is still suffering from the knee injury suffered back on October 2 and is in a fitness race to be available this weekend.
Next up: Fulham (Saturday)

4. Arsenal (4-2-2, 14 points, +8 GD)
Last week: 5th | Result: Won 2-1 v. Birmingham City
Arsène Wenge is hoping the return of Cesc Fàbregas proves to be the tonic for his side’s recent loss of form, as the Gunners dropped two of their three league matches while their Catalan captain was sidelined with a hamstring injury. In the win over Birmingham City, Marouane Chamakh had his own Maradona Lite game, blatantly cheating with his dive for the equalizing penalty, then finishing off an exquisite Arsenal move with amazing control for the eventual winner.
Next up: Shakhtar Donetsk (Tuesday, Champions League); at Manchester City (Sunday)

5. Bolton (2-5-1, 11 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 6th | Result: Won 2-1 v. Stoke City
Lee Chung-Yong continued to impress, scoring a nice opening goal against Stoke, but it was looking like another draw for Bolton until Ivan Klasnić’s very classy winner gave Wanderers their first win since the August 21 victory at West Ham. Between Klasnić, recent England call-up Kevin Davies, and the in-form Johan Elmander up top and Lee and Martin Petrov in the midfield, Owen Coyle has a very nice group of attacking players at his disposal, as evidenced by the 12 goals.
Next up: at Wigan (Saturday)

6. Sunderland (1-6-1, 9 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 7th | Result: Drew 0-0 at Blackburn
Ewood Park is a tough place to win, but Steve Bruce was disappointed to not come away with all three points after playing the entire second half against a determined Blackburn side reduced to 10 men in stoppage time of the first half. Worryingly for the Black Cats, only Wigan and West Ham have scored fewer goals in the league this season than their seven — of which Darren Bent had contributed five, leaving Asamoah Gyan as the only other Sunderland player to score in the league.
Next up: Aston Villa (Saturday)

7. Manchester United (3-5-0, 14 points, +6 GD)
Last week: 4th | Result: Drew 2-2 v. West Brom
The road woes that have afflicted United this season now have appeared at Old Trafford, as two of the uglier goals you’ll see this season cost the hosts a two-goal lead and two points, condemning them to their second-worst start in the club’s Premier League history. The timing of this Wayne Rooney drama couldn’t be worse, with a must-win mid-week Champions League game and the trip to the Stoke City dentist looming on Sunday, as United suddenly look like a club in turmoil.
Next up: Bursaspor (Wednesday, Champions League); at Stoke City (Sunday)

8. Tottenham (4-2-2, 14 points, +3 GD)
Last week: 10th | Result: Won 2-1 at Fulham
Spurs have ridden their luck this season, and both goals on Saturday owed a sizable debt to good fortune, with Rafael van der Vaart’s chip hitting the crossbar before finding Roman Pavlyuchenko’s feet, and referee Mike Dean overruling his linesman and his original offside call to award Huddlestone’s a very controversial goal. Harry Redknapp seems to be weathering the injury storm, as the club’s first win at Fulham since 2002 pulled them level on points with Arsenal and United.
Next up: at Inter Milan (Wednesday, Champions League); Everton (Saturday)

9. Aston Villa (3-2-3, 11 points -3 GD)
Last week: 11th | Result: Drew 0-0 v. Chelsea
Eight league matches into the season, it’s tough to know what to make of Aston Villa, who look like a different side from week to week and even half to half, though a result against Chelsea is a big mark in the Pro column. However, it could’ve been even better for the home side, as Gérard Houllier will rue his team’s missed chances, with Stephen Ireland, John Carew, Ciaran Clark, and Nigel Reo-Coker all wasting goal-scoring opportunities they undoubtedly would like to have back.
Next up: at Sunderland (Saturday)

10. Fulham (1-6-1, 9 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 9th | Result: Lost 2-1 v. Tottenham
No longer unbeaten after the very debatable decision by disappearing referee Mike Dean to award Spurs the eventual winner, Fulham need to start picking up some victories during this easier portion of the league fixture list. Unfortunately, injuries to Moussa Dembélé, Kelvin Etuhu, and now Danny Murphy are causing a selection headache for Mark Hughes, who will be desperate to avoid being caught anywhere near what promises to be a crowded relegation battle this season.
Next up: at West Brom (Saturday)

11. Blackpool (3-1-4, 10 points, -5 GD)
Last week: 12th | Result: Lost 3-2 v. Manchester City
The referee’s assistant may have gotten it wrong on the offside call that possibly cost Blackpool a goal on Sunday, but Ian Holloway isn’t garner much sympathy for his underdog club by railing about the officials in hyperbolic fashion after every match. His side’s performances have made them a cause celébrè of English football fans, with the Seasiders’ entertaining approach of going for three points much preferred to the more conventional survival approach of grinding out draws.
Next up: at Birmingham City (Saturday)

12. Everton (2-3-3, 9 points, 1 GD)
Last week: 16th | Result: Won 2-0 v. Liverpool
Everton finally seem to be out of the gates following another awful start to the season, as David Moyes’s men have won two on the bounce now after a surprisingly comfortable victory in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. Seamus Coleman looks to be a very promising talent, setting up Tim Cahill’s opening goal that got the Toffees off and running, and Mikel Arteta continues to impress, locking up all three points with his excellent goal early in the second half.
Next up: at Tottenham (Saturday)

13. Stoke City (3-1-4, 10 points, -2 GD)
Last week: 8th | Result: Lost 2-1 at Bolton
There was some very rich irony in Bolton’s stoppage time winner coming on a long throw-in into the box, as Stoke were given a dose of their own medicine — but the strangeness didn’t stop there, as Rory Delap actually scored a goal earlier in the match. It’s still relatively early in the season, but the Potters are taking on the look of a side who are tough at home, but struggle to get results on the road, with losses in three of their four away matches in the league already.
Next up: Manchester United (Sunday)

14. Wigan (2-3-3, 9 points, -9 GD)
Last week: 13th | Result: Drew 2-2 at Newcastle
It had to be sweet for Charles N’zogbia to get a brace at St. James’ Park and silence the boisterous boos of his former supporters, but Wigan threw away that two-goal lead, conceding the equalizer at the death, for a loss of two points that they could regret come May. Still, with just one loss in their last six league matches, Roberto Martínez definitely seems to have the Latics headed in the right direction, with the exception of Mauro Boselli, who is still stuck in the reserves after his £6.5m move this summer.
Next up: Bolton (Saturday)

15. West Ham (1-3-4, 6 points, -7 GD)
Last week: 14th | Result: Drew 1-1 at Wolverhampton
Robert Green’s weak punch led to Wolves’ goal, but he made amends with a series of nice saves after that to keep his team in the match, before Mark Noble’s well struck penalty leveled things up at Molineux, as the Hammers improved dramatically after half time. Frédéric Piquionne twice thought he had put West Ham in front, only to be denied by the crossbar and then an incorrect handball ruling from the referee, as the visitors had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Next up: Newcastle (Saturday)

16. Blackburn (2-3-3, 9 points, -1 GD)
Last week: 15th | Result: Drew 0-0 v. Sunderland
Given how big a part Christopher Samba plays in the Blackburn gameplan as both a central defender and a heading danger in the opposition box, Sam Allardyce had a lot of work to do at half time after his big man was sent off in first-half stoppage time. Credit shorthanded Rovers for determined defending in the second half, as they held on for what ended up being a good point — though now they’ve already dropped seven points at home, compared to 21 all of last season.
Next up: at Liverpool (Sunday)

17. Birmingham City (1-4-3, 7 points, -4 GD)
Last week: 17th | Result: Lost 2-1 at Arsenal
The Blues turned in a good performance at the Emirates, but Alex McLeish felt hard done by the refereeing decisions that saw Arsenal awarded a bogus penalty on a dive and Emmanuel Eboue somehow avoid a red card for a blatant scissors tackle. The good news for Birmingham City is that Sebastian Larsson continues to display impressive form and Nikola Žigić got the start and found the back of the net for the first time for his new club with a perfectly placed header.
Next up: Blackpool (Saturday)

18. Newcastle (2-2-4, 8 points, 0 GD)
Last week: 18th | Result: Drew 2-2 v. Wigan
The Magpies sent the fans home relatively contented after fighting back from two goals down to equalize at the death, drawing at home can’t be viewed as anything other than a disappointing result for a side with designs on staying up. It’s been an up-and-down season for Andy Carroll, with highs of his hat trick against Aston Villa and his being dropped for the match at Manchester City, and the signing of a new five-year contract and then charges of assaulting a teenage girl.
Next up: at West Ham (Saturday)

19. Wolverhampton (1-3-3, 6 points, -3 GD)
Last week: 19th | Result: Drew 1-1 v. West Ham
If Mick McCarthy thinks one point from the last four league fixtures is rough, he’s not going to want to look at the next four league fixtures, which include trips to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford and visits from Manchester City and Arsenal. Right now you have to look at Wolves as possibly the favorites for relegation this season, with their punchless attack and a defense that has failed to keep a clean sheet through 10 matches in all competitions so far this season.
Next up: at Chelsea (Saturday)

20. Liverpool (1-3-4, 6 points, -6 GD)
Last week: 20th | Result: Lost 2-0 at Everton
If this were a Hollywood movie, Liverpool would have vanquished their local rivals in the Merseyside derby with their new owners looking on, heralding the arrival of a triumphant new era at Anfield. But this is reality, and the woefully out-of-form Reds looked every bit like a relegation candidate while being put to the sword at Goodison Park, as John Henry and Tom Werner saw firsthand just how much work is required to restore England’s most successful club.
Next up: at Napoli (Thursday, Europa League); Blackburn (Sunday)

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