EPL Early Report Card | Who’s happy?
We’re a month into the new Premier League season and already it’s clear who will be competing for the title. But the title is not what most clubs realistically aspire to and the brilliance of the EPL is that there is so much more to compete for.
Places in the Champions League and the Europa League, the ‘Everton Cup’ or even just avoiding relegation. We’ve taken the International Break as a chance to take stock and assess which clubs would be happy with their start to the season.
(And don’t worry – the fun of looking at which clubs definitely won’t be happy is still to come.)
We may only be a month into what is a very long season, but already it’s plainly obvious the title will be fought between just two clubs. Liverpool (1st) and Manchester City (2nd) are off to the strong starts everyone expected. Both have faced one main test each, with Liverpool the ones to come through completely unscathed.
The boys from Merseyside can have few complaints with a perfect start so far. Their front three are firing as predicted with Sadio Mane’s frustrations at Mo Salah holding the ball too much merely a potential kink. Alisson’s ongoing calf injury would be Jurgen Klopp’s only main concern although Adrian has been a very capable fill in so far.
Many have said that Manchester City have looked the better side based off their style of football but a stubborn Tottenham side took first points from them. With French centre back Aymeric Laporte out injured for the next 3 months, Pep now only has two recognised centre backs which is cause for concern considering the Champions League group stages are about to begin.
Leicester City (3rd) and Crystal Palace (4th) will both be thrilled with their first month of the season. Leicester remain unbeaten with Brendan Rodgers showing exactly why he was the man that got Liverpool so close to the title in 2014. Whilst the Fox’s results haven’t been emphatic, hard fought draws against Wolves and Chelsea will be looked back on as vital points gained.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson is living up to his reputation of producing dogged defensive machines, near impossible to break down with only two goals scored against them so far. A lack of goals scored (3) is an issue although not that unexpected considering how star forward Wilfried Zaha was reportedly pushing heavily for a move away from Selhurst Park during the recent transfer window.
Everton (6th) and West Ham (7th) are two clubs who will feel, so far at least, that they are finally back where they’ve believed they should be for some time. With Everton having spent roughly $800 million in the last four years and West Ham around the $520 million mark, fans would expect these sides to be two of the main challengers to the big six clubs. Everton are yet to face one of these bigger sides and have arguably had the easiest opening month of fixtures out of anyone.
Sheffield (10th) and Burnley (12th) are the best placed of the smaller clubs with Sheffield in particular doing very well for a newly promoted side. A valuable win against Crystal Palace and a brilliant come-from-behind draw away to Chelsea have been the highlights for the Blades so far who will be aiming to stay in the top half of the table for as long as possible.
Burnley are relishing the start of a season where they don’t have to juggle Europa league qualifiers like last year. Ashley Barnes has been the star for the Clarets with four goals so far and Sean Dyche will be encouraged by the fact his side’s only losses have come against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Arsenal (5th) have had a tricky month of opening fixtures facing up against both Liverpool and Tottenham. A 3-1 loss at Anfield would worry Unai Emery little but he’ll feel his side let an opportunity slip against an unsettled Tottenham drawing 2-2 at the Emirates. Taking full points from their other two games is what matters though and the Gunners still have some important players to return from injury.
Southampton (13th) just scrape into this list after making significant improvements from a very poor opening week loss to Burnley. A strong win against Brighton and a draw against Manchester United that they had chances to win will have the Saints feeling confident heading into their next clash against Sheffield.
View this post on Instagram