Sorry for the absence folks, a bunch of life happened that distracted me from my writing about the Beautiful Game. The Premier League season is five games old, the first international break is behind us and the group stages of the big European club competitions kicked off this week. Already there are some surprises and compelling stories up and down the table. So to get back in the groove let’s do a quick check-in on every team starting from the top six today and the rest tomorrow.
The Top Six: The Suspect Usuals
- Liverpool 5-0-0, 15 GF 4 GA, 15 points
The Reds are once again the rabbit in this race. They have handled each challenger so far with almost casual disdain. The matchweek three dismantling of Arsenal was brutal to watch. They have however played a fairly soft schedule, the trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday is only their second real test of the season. And they may be missing their #1 Alisson more that they admit. While Adrián has been a capable replacement, he’s only one clean sheet to his name. Perhaps some complacency setting in explains the bumpy start to Liverpool’s Champions League defense, an 0-2 defeat at Napoli (although don’t sleep on Gli Azzurri, they are a team to watch this year.)
- Manchester City 3-1-1, 16GF 6 GA, 10 points
By this week last year Pep’s boys were coming off a 3-0 throttling of Fulham and had all but two of the 15 available points in their pocket. This weekend the Sky Blues will host Watford feeling a bit desperate. Injuries have ravaged the champions. Leroy Sané was lost to a knee injury in the last preseason match, followed by the lynchpin of the defense Aymeric Laporte, felled by a meniscus injury and out for up to three months. And his replacement John Stones will miss the next five weeks with a muscle injury. That depleted central defense was exposed by Norwich City in their amazing 3-2 upset of the champs last week.
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-2-1, 11 GL 6 GA, 8 points
Spurs have had a pretty “Spursy” start to the season. They’ve had big moments, like a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Manchester City in week 2. They’ve stepped on some rakes, like their 0-1 loss to then winless Newcastle the next week. They also let the Gunners off the hook in the North London Derby, allowing. Arsenal to level the game 2-2 in the 70th minute. They need to up their consistency to truly challenge for the title.
- Manchester United 2-2-1, 8 GF 4 GA, 8 points
The Premier Leagues favorite soap opera ended week five sandwiching two wins around three middling performances. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has had the roster reshuffled, sending Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez off to Italy, although Paul Pogba is still around surprisingly. Harry Macguire was brought in for the price of a small country and has stabilized the defense. Now if they can settle Marcus Rashford in as the main striker they may have something here.
- Leicester City 2-2-1, 6 GF 4 GA, 8 Points
The Foxes said goodbye to Harry and pocketed the £80million fee because they had the replacement ready in the young Turk Çaglar Söyüncü, brought over from the Bundesliga for a mere £19million. It’s the kind of business a mid-table team needs to do to bust into the top four. The stout defending is covering for a tepid attack so far, with only six tallies and only the Wonder Weasel Jamie Vardy with more than one.
- Chelsea 2-2-1, 11 GF 11 GA, 8 points
There’s been nothing boring about the Blues this year. With a two window ban on transfers Frank Lampard has had to rely on the first real youth movement at Stamford Bridge in recent memory. And the Blues academy has come through so far. Tammy Abraham seems to have emphatically ended Chelsea’s long hunt for a striker with seven goals so far, including a hat trick in the 5-2 dismantling of Wolves last weekend. And they have been pretty goals. Mason Mount has chipped in three and looks like a force as an attacking midfielder. The defense is a hot mess however and that probably will keep The Blues out of the top four for now.
The Mushy Middle Four
- Arsenal 2-2-1, 8 GF 8GA, 8 points
After watching his team surrender a two-goal lead to hapless Watford in match week five, Gunners chief Uled the nai Emery has to be feeling some heat on his handsome Spanish posterior. Despite featuring a fearsome attacking cadre in Aubameyang, Lacazette (missing until October with an ankle booboo,) and newcomer Nicolas Pépé, they have yet to blow the doors off anyone. Meanwhile, they essentially spent £8 million to spot the league a comical David Luiz misstep each week. Emery also needs to sort out what his best 11 are and where they should play. Loanee Dani Ceballos has been bounced all about the formation. Deploying a diamond formation against Liverpool and Watford left the teams flanks wide open. They need to figure this out fast or even their Europa League spot might be tenuous.
- West Ham United 2-2-1, 6 GF 7 GA
The Hammers sit atop the mid-table right now by taking care of business against the teams below them. They’ve been the only team to shut out Norwich City in week four 2-0, after handling Watford 3-1. Their 0-5 opener in front of the home fans against City probably tells us more about this team’s ceiling, but winning more than you lose is a good feeling. Sébastien Haller has been a steady replacement for the departed Marko Arnautović with three scores.
- Bournemouth 2-1-2, 8 GF 9 GA, 7 points
The Cherries did this last year, with a surprising start including a win against a team considered above them with last Saturday’s 3-1 walloping of Everton. They’ll need to keep it up to avoid the deflating second half of the year that saw them settle into 14th place. Callum Wilson’s brace against Everton gives him five goals on the year and makes the Englishman a fine attacking focus. Center back Nathan Aké, who at 24 only feels like he’s been around forever (he made his top-flight debut with Chelsea as a 16-year-old.) But the Dutchman is really starting to blossom on the south coast, as well as pushing for minutes on a revitalized national team.
- Southhampton 2-1-2, 5 GF 7 GA, 7 points
The Saints join their neighbors on the coast to round out the top 10. Southampton has played scrappy football in manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first full season at the helm. Like the Hammers they have done what was necessary against fellow middling teams, beating Brighton Hove Albion 2-0, and newly promoted Sheffield United 1-0. But it was a 1-1 draw with Man United that should give the home fans hope. They aren’t going to threaten for Europe anytime soon, but seven points in the bag is a big step up from almost getting relegated
That’s our top 10. Tune in tomorrow for the sadder half of the top flight.
“From our Haus to Yours”