What's this then? We have a new #2 as Manchester City rise above their close neighbours for the first time I can remember. United, now embroiled in turmoil over the impending departure of Wayne Rooney, have been slipping up on the field too as of late - their 2-2 home draw with West Bromwich Albion certainly did the team no favours at all. Manchester aren't the only city whose teams did a switcharoo, though - Liverpool fell behind Everton after being comprehensively beaten in the Merseyside derby.
Figure 1: Premier League Power Rankings, Week Eight
The above table is based on a Bayesian combination of my preseason projections and the current table with a strength of schedule adjustment. More detail after the jump.
- Chelsea. Although the Blues dropped points at Aston Villa, they're still clearly the class of the Premier League. Four points from the list three games has seen the teams behind them start to narrow the gap, but it's now just a slightly-less-vast chasm between the Blues and the rest of the league.
- Manchester City. Well well well. It's second spot for the blue half of Manchester, who survived some frightening moments against Blackpool, failing to impress against their newly-promoted opponents. A win's a win, though, and a close 3-2 draw away to a recently elevated side is certainly a better result than a 2-2 draw at home...
- Manchester United. ... which is what Manchester United managed to accomplished against West Brom, throwing away a 2-0 lead established in the 25th minute. Ridiculous errors by the defensive line have become something of a habit for Sir Alex Ferguson's team, but whatever's wrong with Nemanja Vidic and company may well be contagious - now Edwin van der Saar has caught it too. Oh, and something happened involving Wayne Rooney. I wasn't really paying attention.
- Arsenal. The Gunner rebound after a disappointing loss at Stamford Bridge with a rather assured win over out-of-form Birmingham. Their most impressive player? Young Jack Wilshere - until the midfielder was rightly shown a straight red in injury time for an incredibly poor 'tackle' on an unsuspecting Nikola Zigic.
- Tottenham Hotspur. Went to Craven Cottage and won, a feat not too many teams manage. That they then went to the San Siro, had Gareth Bale score a hattrick, and lost anyway in no way diminishes... who am I kidding, that was hilarious.
- Aston Villa. Villa looked very strong against Chelsea, but most impressive was Houllier's tinkering with the team shape to neutralise the champions. Would the 0-0 draw have happened with Martin O'Neill at the helm? Probably not.
- Everton. A few weeks ago, I said that Everton had the ability to win but they needed to start actually getting results. Two wins on the trot have elevated the Toffees to seventh - and beating Liverpool certainly helped out their cause.
- Liverpool. Would going into administration have been an improvement? The way Liverpool are playing -9 points seems like something they'll need to strive for. Torres leaving in January looks like a lock.
- Fulham. Fulham are an intrinsically boring team that still seem out of place in the Premier League*. Therefore, I have nothing interesting to say. But ninth? Good for Fulham.
- Newcastle. The Magpies bounce back thanks to a late comeback at home against Wigan. Losing 2-0 at home versus the league's equivalent of the Seattle Mariners would have been a major embarrassment, but Fabricio Coloccini spared them the ignominy.
- Stoke City. Want to know a good way to drop in the power rankings? Lose to Bolton. Ouch.
- West Bromwich Albion. If he can keep the team in the European slots, Roberto di Matteo has to be Manager of the Year, right? His latest scalp is Manchester United at Old Trafford, something he's familiar with from his playing days.
- Sunderland. Apparently you can bore my rankings algorithm to death at well.
- Blackburn Rovers. People complain about Jose Mourinho playing anti-football, but Sam Allardyce is a master of both ruining the sport as a spectacle while simultaneously failing to win.
- Bolton Wanderers. Beating Stoke at home means another good week for Bolton, but Owen Coyle's men are going to need to keep up their reasonable start to the season - and I don't think they have the talent to do it.
- Birmingham City. I'm struggling to recall a Birmingham performance where they've looked the least bit impressive going forward. Weren't Jean Beasajour and Alexander Hleb supposed to have helped out? Their attack is just dire right now.
- West Ham United. Robert Green is singlehandedly (nonehandedly? Butterhandedly?) keeping this team in the relegation zone. But they deserve it for having fired Gianfranco Zola.
- Wolverhampton. A 1-1 draw against West Ham isn't going to convince anyone of anything. Some three-pointers would probably be helpful for Wolves, because a handful of draws and losses isn't going to keeper them in the Premier League.
- Blackpool. Blackpool have developed a nasty habit of conceding right after scoring important goals. Carlos Tevez gave them a lesson on the importance of focus last weekend, putting City in front just seconds after Marlon Harewood's equaliser.
- Wigan Athletic. A brace from Charles N'Zogbia was cancelled out by goals from Shola Ameobi and Fabricio Coloccini. Their away form will keep them up if only they can learn to stop losing by ridiculous quantities at home.
*Note to self: Do not take pub breaks while writing posts.