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Premier League Power Rankings: Matchweek 1

Who’s looking good and bad after the opening round.

Liverpool FC v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

These power rankings take into account the strength of opponent, performance, score, table position, and personal opinion. They are only for Premier League matches; they don’t take into account cup competitions or European competitions, and relate only to on-field performance, not anything extra-curricular (unless it affects game play, obviously). With all that said, lets roll out the first edition of this year’s rankings.

1. Liverpool (4-0 W vs. West Ham Utd)

No question about it, but Liverpool definitely looked the most ruthless and ready of the top teams in the opening round of fixtures. The inclusion of Naby Keita in an already pretty mobile midfield with Georginio Wijnaldum only served to provide extra drive and attacking quality to a league-proven blitzkrieg. Liverpool’s vaunted attack looked in rare form already, with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah already on the scoresheet, while Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez looked strong at the back. As Jurgen Klopp said in the post-game, West Ham aren’t Man City, and the performance should be judged accordingly, but as far as opening games go, you can’t get much better.

2. Manchester City (2-0 W vs. Arsenal)

Maybe 10 Arsenal fans max expected Arsenal to win this game, and they were duly put to the sword by a Manchester City machine. While Arsenal had their moments, City’s ruthlessness and attacking flair was on full display, even without the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Gabriel Jesus. Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling provided hell for Bellerin and Maitland-Niles (Lichtsteiner fared a little better), and while Arsenal are recognised as being a team in transition, it was still a highly professional performance from the Citizens (Ederson near-catastrophe aside).

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

3. Chelsea (3-0 W vs. Huddersfield Town)

After a flat preseason where the team scored a total of three goals, expectations were cautiously set for a potentially tricky opening day away game at Huddersfield. While Chelsea huffed and puffed early, unable to find a way through the Terriers defence, once the goal did come, it was a different story. Chelsea exerted their dominance over an overmatched Huddersfield midfield, even without presumed starter Mateo Kovacic. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante both provided goals after questions were raised about the midfield’s attacking prowess, while both David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger were phenomenal in the second half, as was the special cameo of Eden Hazard. Also encouraging was the play of Alvaro Morata, and while he didn’t net a goal, was both mobile and sharp with his touches for most of the day, his best chance being taken away by an incorrect offside call.

4. Tottenham Hotspur (2-1 W vs. Newcastle Utd)

It was certainly an energetic start at St. James’ Park, with the scoring all done by the 18th minute. Tottenham certainly weren’t perfect, but they exhibited enough with the same squad as last year to show they’ll be contenders again. Fullback is a weakness with this squad, especially defensively, but Aurier and Davies both had meaningful contributions going forward. The Spurs midfield stood up, starving Newcastle of possession and completing nearly 200 more passes than the Toon. Alli and Eriksen both returned from the World Cup ready, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

5. Watford (2-0 W vs. Brighton & Hove Albion)

The first team that isn’t a part of the traditional power balance in the Premier League to appear in the rankings, but Watford absolutely belted Brighton on Saturday, led by a superb double to Roberto Pereyra. Watford amassed 19 shots at Mat Ryan, although only 5 of them were off target. Conversely, their defence held firm, only conceding 6 shots, all of which were wayward. There were concerns about how the attack would fare without Richarlison following his move to Merseyside, especially with their troubles last season, but game one was a positive step. Watford’s profligacy prevented this from being a bigger trouncing.

6. Crystal Palace (2-0 W vs. Fulham)

You can say that it was against a promoted team, but Crystal Palace’s win against Fulham was very impressive to me, considering the investment Fulham have made in the summer. Bringing in the likes of Jean Michael Seri, Andre Schurrle and Alfie Mawson, along with some serious talent in Ryan Sessegnon among others, means they’re a tough test, and Crystal Palace acquitted themselves admirably. Statistically, Fulham absolutely dominated the game, amassing 67% of possession and 15 shots, but Palace were very clinical in limited opportunities, keeping a clean sheet away from home while attacking well on the counter through Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend. Compared to last season, it’s a cracking start.

7. Manchester United (2-1 W vs. Leicester City)

Call it bias, whatever, but for me, Manchester United were very average against a team that had just lost it’s best player. United played well enough in patches to secure what was ultimately a comfortable victory, despite the late hope Leicester were afforded by Jamie Vardy, but for most of the game it was Leicester doing the attacking. It’s very rare for Manchester United to not dominate possession at Old Trafford, but that’s what happened, as Mourinho’s men only had 46% of the possession, and were out shot by the Foxes 13 to 8. United’s class in the end ultimately shone through, and Paul Pogba, after an eventful summer of rumour mongering, performed well as captain alongside new signing Fred, but some serious improvement will need to be made. The return full-time of Romelu Lukaku, who missed a golden chance in his cameo, should help.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

8. Bournemouth (2-0 W vs. Cardiff City)

It was never really a contest for Bournemouth as they cruised to a fairly routine victory over the newly promoted Welsh side. Dominating possession, Bournemouth absolutely controlled the game and allowed no influence for Cardiff’s midfield, with Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson being the standout performers. Two key stats that highlight Bournemouth’s dominance is the fact that they completed 502 passes to Cardiff’s meagre 287, and that they hit their passes at a 79% success rate, dwarfing Cardiff’s 60% rate. Sterner tests will come, but for a side now establishing themselves as Premier League regulars, it was a solid start for the Cherries.

T-9. Everton (2-2 D vs. Wolves)

The Richarlison era is well and truly underway on the blue side of Merseyside, as the young Brazilian netted a double in his debut for his new club. Being away from home, however, the rest of the performance from Everton was a little concerning. For starters, they squandered a lead twice to a Wolves team feeding off the energy of returning from a 6 year EPL absence. They were also frozen out of the game for large stretches by Wolverhampton’s possession game, and Phil Jagielka continues to somehow be in the side despite his lack of speed, as evidenced by being pickpocketed of the ball, making a rash challenge and being sent off. If the defence can’t catch up to the attack, it may be another season of mid-table obscurity for Everton.

T-9. Wolves (2-2 D vs. Everton)

The problems that emerged with Everton are similar with Wolverhampton. Wolves allowed Richarlison to slice through their defence on a number of occasions, although for the most part they did control the pace of the game with their 58% possession and 82% passing accuracy. Wolves were able to create numerous chances throughout the game, but did have to rely from some individual brilliance from Ruben Neves to pull one of the goals back. Still, for the most part, they looked very good in their Premier League return, but they can’t play Phil Jagielka every game.

11. Leicester City (1-2 L vs. Manchester United)

Yes I realise I have placed Leicester above two teams that drew in Burnley and Southampton, but I was mostly impressed with their performance at Old Trafford. The result aside, Leicester played some really good attacking football at a ground known for forcing mid table opponents into deep defensive tactics and counter attacking. James Maddison in particular looked good for periods in his Premier League debut, finding space well, although lacking some end product. Leicester will be disappointed with the manner in which they conceded both their goals, though, with a sloppy penalty conceded by Daniel Amartey for an obvious handball coupled with a fortuitous ricochet falling to Luke Shaw to give United a 2-0 lead, although Leicester themselves were extremely lucky with their goal.

12. Burnley (0-0 D vs. Southampton)

Burnley struggled with their end product, but they can take comfort in the fact that they didn’t have any difficulty in creating chances against Southampton, pelting 16 shots at Alex McCarthy. Other than that, however, it was a fairly vanilla performance from Burnley, especially defensively, as they allowed 18 shots back at Joe Hart, despite shading the possession count 53-47. It was a solid outing for the Clarets, but they will need to tighten up their defence if they want to avoid a relegation battle, it was only Southampton’s wastefulness that kept it scoreless.

13. Arsenal (0-2 L vs. Manchester City)

Arsenal, for the most part, were very much second class to Manchester City all game, but what was encouraging for them against the defending champions was how they kept themselves in the game and didn’t allow themselves to get too overrun, even creating some havoc for City themselves. I’m not sure how effective the midfield trio of Ramsey-Xhaka-Guendouzi can be, especially with Lucas Torreira sitting on the bench with Bernardo Silva and later Kevin De Bruyne running at you, but it lacked creativity and poise defensively. Guendouzi, in particular, showed his inexperience, getting beaten far too easily for Sterling’s goal, while Xhaka was slow at times. Also, for the style Emery is implementing, Petr Cech probably isn’t the man to have in goal, as shown by his hilarious near-own-goal. Much to improve before Chelsea at the Bridge next weekend.

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

14. Southampton (0-0 D vs. Burnley)

Southampton were all over the place against Burnley is what ultimately amounted to a scoreless waste of everyone’s time. Southampton, like Burnley, had absolutely no issue in chance creation, but of their 18 shots, only a paltry 3 were on target, and they were relying on some seriously impressive shot stopping from Alex McCarthy to keep them in the contest, as his goal was subjected to various raids. Southampton’s defence hasn’t been the same since the departure of Virgil Van Dijk, and they’ll need to rely on their attack to outscore the opposition, especially with such attack minded fullbacks like Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares.

15. Fulham (0-2 L vs. Crystal Palace)

It was a highly disappointing return to the Premier League for Fulham, as they bossed the game but got nothing out of it, falling to Crystal Palace. Very rarely will you dominate the possession to the tune of 67%, have 15 shots to your opponents 12, and still lose 2-0. Aleksandr Mitrovic was busy up front for the Cottagers, as was new signing and reported Chelsea target Jean Michael Seri through the midfield, but Fulham ultimately proved very wasteful in front of goal, and never really testing Wayne Hennessey, outside of a couple of sharp saves. I’d expect them to bounce back and get a positive result if they duplicate this performance next weekend if it wasn’t against Tottenham, but they should still be a tough test regardless.

16. Newcastle United (1-2 L vs. Tottenham Hotspur)

Newcastle had their moments against Tottenham, but were ultimately disappointing overall, only having 2 of their 15 shots on target and having an appalling pass accuracy of 68%, all while still being in with a chance of getting something from the game due to Tottenham’s own inability to kill the game off. Newcastle attacked well but their defence was about as protective as an umbrella would be against a tsunami. Newcastle were constantly caught out, and having to turn and chase, and were probably lucky not to lose by more.

17. Brighton & Hove Albion (0-2 L vs. Watford)

Brighton definitely had the chance to get something from this game, but their performance for the most part was meek bordering on narcoleptic. Without a single shot on target, they allowed Watford to comfortably defend for the whole game, despite having a decent share of the possession away from home. For the most part, however, it was Watford poring down into Brighton’s defensive third, and while they did do well to keep it to 2 goals, it was still a disappointing effort that they couldn’t muster any sort of attacking coherence. I fear it could be a very long season for the Seagulls if this attacking fragility keeps up.

18. West Ham United (0-4 L vs. Liverpool)

Yes they were battered 4-0 by Liverpool and conceded the most goals, but I liked more from what I saw with West Ham than either Huddersfield or Cardiff. They happened to run into an offensive buzzsaw in the Reds, but I doubt most teams wouldn’t have caved. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a highly disappointing result, as conceding 4 goals, especially on opening day, is never nice. West Ham struggled to get past halfway for most of the game, with the majority of play being inside their own half, and they only had 2 shots on target, while the midfield pairing of Declan Rice and Mark Noble was absolutely no match for Keita, Milner and Wijnaldum.

19. Huddersfield Town (0-3 L vs. Chelsea)

Huddersfield actually had some promising attacks in the first half, especially before going down 1-0 to Kante’s scuffed strike. Even after, they managed to hit the post with a header, but as the game wore on, it became evident that Chelsea had too much class. Despite providing a threat with Alex Pritchard, he was subbed at halftime for Depoitre, who didn’t make an impact and allowed Chelsea’s central defenders to step up and dominate proceedings. The midfield was absolutely dictated by Chelsea’s trio, while Eden Hazard make a mockery of the defence when introduced. The second half was highly disappointing from the Terriers, barely getting past halfway save for a couple of desperate counters at the end of the game.

20. Cardiff City (0-2 L vs. Bournemouth)

I know it’s literally the first game, but I’ll be highly surprised if Cardiff is little more than relegation fodder this season. The fact they struggled against Bournemouth, who are, with no disrespect intended, a mid table team at best, doesn’t bode well. Cardiff created a few chances, but were horrifically wasteful in front of goal, with only 1 of their 10 attempts on target. That profligacy leaked into the midfield, with a 60% pass accuracy rate the worst of any team on opening weekend. Cardiff were dictated to by a solid Bournemouth team, and starved of possession, so I fear what will happen to them against the likes of Liverpool and Man City.

AFC Bournemouth v Cardiff City - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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