1. MANCHESTER CITY (37 pts, GD + 34)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W at Huddersfield
NEXT GAME: vs. Southampton
Wasn’t easy and wasn’t pretty, but City got all three points at John Smith’s Stadium. The Terriers are a good and well-disciplined side, so this was never going to be an easy game for City. Two second-half goals from Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling gave City the come from behind victory.
Manchester City was dominant for almost the entire game, but the organized Huddersfield defense kept City at bay for the entire first half. Nicolas Otamendi’s own goal was a little unlucky, but it was a powerful and driven corner from Christopher Schindler. Agüero converted from the spot a minute into the second half as Sterling was brought down in the box. The foul on Sterling may not have been the hardest foul, but it was a foul. Sterling got the winner, even though it was a lot of luck with six minutes left in the game.
Sterling is finally turning into the player he was always capable of being. Though he was brought in under Manuel Pellegrini, Sterling is the first player in the Pep Guardiola era. Before Guardiola was even at City, he was crafting his team and Sterling was the first piece of the puzzle. Sterling already has 13 goals this season and he only had nine all of last season. Not only has his finishing improved, his playmaking and decision-making have improved. Check out this tweet showing Guardiola working one-on-one with Sterling in training, then Sterling doing the exact same thing in last Wednesday’s Champions League game.
Here are some more club records City have been setting this season:
– 18 straight wins in all competitions.
– 11 straight away wins in all competitions.
– 8 straight PL away wins.
– 26 straight games unbeaten in all competitions.
– 11 straight league wins.
– 21 straight PL games unbeaten.
Look, people can look at the Huddersfield game and say that City might be as good as people think if they struggled against Huddersfield. The Terriers deserve more respect, but City is going to face a lot of teams that are going to sit back and try to stifle that attack. It doesn’t matter how good a team is in attack or how many creative players they have, it’s so tough to create space when there are seven, eight or nine defenders between you and the goal. For as much attacking power and grace City have, you don’t win trophies because of grace or elegance. It takes points and City got the maximum amount when teams around them were dropping points.
2. MANCHESTER UNITED (29 pts, GD +22)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W vs. Brighton
NEXT GAME: at Watford
Brighton and United haven’t faced each other in a league game since 1983. Saturday’s game was the first time United and Brighton played each other since an FA Cup match in 1993. I wasn’t even born the last time these two teams played. As for the game itself, United squeaked by with a 1-0 win to stay unbeaten at Old Trafford in their last 39 games. That streak of 39 unbeaten beats the record that stood for 51 years.
There was plenty of controversy surrounding United’s goal. The corner that led to the goal looked to have come off Lukaku, meaning that it should have been a goal kick. However, the referee awarded the corner, which found itself to Ashley Young outside of the box. Young ripped the shot and it took a deflection of Lewis Dunk and went into the net. On the replay, Lukaku was kicking out at a Brighton defender Gaetan Bong and it should have disallowed the goal. The referee didn’t see it and the goal stood. Luckily for United, Lukaku will not be suspended.
With Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham all dropping points this weekend, all three points were vital for United.
3. CHELSEA (26 PTS, GD +13)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T at Liverpool
NEXT GAME: vs. Swansea
A deserved point for both teams. Willian’s goal, which came three minutes after he came onto the field, was coming for Chelsea. Liverpool started the better of the two teams, but the honors were shared.
But with every top team, besides United and City, dropping points, the two Manchester teams are the real winners of this draw.
4. ARSENAL (25 PTS, GD +7)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W at Burnley
NEXT GAME: vs. Huddersfield
I said last week that this Arsenal/Burnley game would be the game of the week and it did not disappoint. Alexis Sanchez’s penalty gave Arsenal a massive three points for Arsenal with Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea all dropping points. Tarkowski had his arms out and pushed Ramsey to the ground. If Burnley fans want to argue that Ramsey dove, Tarkowski had his arms out and refs are always going to call that.
Arsenal is now in a familiar spot, fourth place. The Gunners are quietly working themselves back up the tables.
5. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (24 PTS, GD +11)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T vs. West Brom
NEXT GAME: at Leicester
Massive points dropped by Tottenham. Playing at home against a team fourth from the bottom and without a manager needs to be a win. Luckily for Spurs fans, Chelsea and Liverpool also dropped points.
West Brom sat back and defended the entire game and that is hard to break down. With his goal Saturday, Harry Kane scored his 87th goal for Tottenham in his 128th game. With that goal, Kane became the ninth-fastest player in PL history to be involved in 100 PL goals (G 87 A 13).
6. LIVERPOOL (23 PTS, GD +7)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T vs. Chelsea
NEXT GAME: at Stoke
LFC Cincinnati members are probably waiting for me to say that Mohamed Salah is the signing of the summer. Salah’s goal on Saturday was his 10th in 13 league games. Salah had two goals in 13 Premier League games for Chelsea. His goal also gives him 15 in his first 19 games for Liverpool.
Liverpool started the game the better of the two teams, but that was to be expected. The biggest surprise was that Jurgen Klopp left Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench to start the game. I understand that this is a busy time of year, but you want your best and most creative players playing in the biggest games. Who knows what would have happened if those two would have started.
In the end, it was a deserved point for both teams.
7. BURNLEY (22 PTS, GD +2)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L vs. Arsenal
NEXT GAME: at Bournemouth
I said last week that this Arsenal/Burnley game would be the game of the week and it did not disappoint. The Clarets came into this game having never won against Arsenal in the league and were only minutes away from their second ever point against Arsenal until James Tarkowski fouled Aaron Ramsey in the box in the 91st minute. Burnley can argue that Ramsey may have dove, but Tarkowski had his arms out and that is always going to be called.
Burnley deserved a point and it will be hard to swallow that they didn’t get anything from this game. However, Burnley is still sitting pretty and only four points away from third place.
8. WATFORD (21 PTS, GD +1)
LAST GAME: 3-0 W at Newcastle
NEXT GAME: vs. Man. United
Marvin Zeegelaar was the man for the Hornets on Saturday. He blitzed Newcastle all day on the left side of the field. His cross set up Watford’s first goal and his cross was deflected off DeAndre Yedlin for Yedlin’s own goal. That’s back-to-back wins and clean sheets for Watford after three straight losses.
Everton is desperately trying to steal Marco Silva away from Watford, but for the time being, Silva is continuing to strut his stuff on the outskirts of London.
9. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (16 PTS, GD -1)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L at Manchester United
NEXT GAME: vs. Palace
A tough loss for Brighton. Lewis Dunk, who was credited with the own goal after a wicked deflection, said after the game that the referee rightly awarded the corner that led to the goal. There is nothing you can do when the ball takes a deflection like that. The Seagulls still sit in the top 10 and take on last place Palace on Tuesday.
10. SOUTHAMPTON (16 PTS, GD -2)
LAST GAME: 4-1 W vs. Everton
NEXT GAME: at Manchester City
Southampton has been lacking goals all season, but in his first start of the season, Charlie Austin scored a brace in six minutes to lift the Saints over a hapless Everton side. Gylfi Sigurdsson equalized right before halftime, but the Saints blew Everton away in the second half.
The only category Southampton didn’t dominate Everton in was clearances, and that’s only because Southampton was always on the front foot. For Saints fans that have been missing goals, seeing 17 shots will be a welcoming sight.
The Saints will need that type of game on Wednesday when they travel north to take on Manchester City.
11. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (15 PTS, GD -10)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L vs. Man. City
NEXT GAME: at Arsenal
Huddersfield should hold their heads up high. The Terriers took the lead against arguably the best team in Europe right now and frustrated City all day long. Sterling’s late goal was the result of City’s constant pressure finally paying off, even if there was some luck with it.
David Wagner and his side will take solace knowing that they almost unraveled the almost unbothered City team, but this is in no way a bad loss for Huddersfield.
12. LEICESTER CITY (14 PTS, GD -2)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T at West Ham
NEXT GAME: vs Spurs
Marc Albrighton got this game going early with his goal in the fourth minute. Jamie Vardy almost made it 2-0 later in the first half but his curling effort was denied. Other than those two shots, Leicester didn’t manage another shot a target. Not a great day for the Foxes, but they were still able to get a point.
13. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (14 PTS, GD -3)
LAST GAME: 0-0 T at Swansea
NEXT GAME: vs. Burnley
Bournemouth would have wanted all three points against table bottom-dwellers Swansea, but a point will work. The Cherries have kept three straight clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time ever. Bournemouth was able to get nine shots off with five on target, but never found the back of the net.
14. NEWCASTLE (14 PTS, GD -6)
LAST GAME: 3-0 L vs. Watford
NEXT GAME: at West Brom
Something is wrong on Tyneside. The Magpies got blitzed by Watford on Saturday. All three of Watford’s goals came from the Hornets’ left side. DeAndre Yedlin was unlucky that his deflection went into the back of the net, but Newcastle didn’t offer anything going forward. Newcastle only mustered two shots on target.
Newcastle hasn’t won in their last four games and has only earned eight points out of a possible 30 in the league in the last 10 games.
15. STOKE CITY (13 PTS, GD -10)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L at Palace
NEXT GAME: vs. Liverpool
Another loss and more pressure on Mark Hughes’ shoulders. The Potters only have one win in their last six games. With all of the talent this team has, Stoke needs to be playing much better. Even though they lost because of a late winner, Stoke was only able to get three shots on target.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s goal was the goal of the weekend. He showed everything that he can bring to the table with his solo effort.
16. EVERTON (12 PTS, GD -15)
LAST GAME: 4-1 L at Southampton
NEXT GAME: vs. West Ham
Southampton and Everton started the day a point apart, but by the end of the game, it felt like a chasm. Any chance that Everton had when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored right before halftime, quickly evaporated in the second half.
Everton was flat-out bad on Sunday. The Toffees only had 33 percent of the possession and only got five shots off and only two of those were on target. Everton is only two points above the relegation zone and desperately need a player to step-up and lead this team until a manager can.
17. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (11 PTS, GD -9)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T at Spurs
NEXT GAME: vs. Newcastle
Wow, what a point for the Baggies. Without a manager, West Brom went to title contenders Tottenham and earned a very difficult point. When Solomon Rondon scored four minutes into the game, everyone at Wembley was shocked—even West Brom fans. With the early goal, the Baggies sat back and defended their lead the rest of the game. Tottenham’s goal came off a wonderful passing move, but WBA will be happy to pick-up point with teams below them dropping points.
18. WEST HAM UNITED (10 PTS, GD -14)
LAST GAME: 1-1 T vs. Leicester
NEXT GAME: at Everton
West Ham looked more comfortable under David Moyes on Friday. Andre Ayew almost had a spectacular winning goal, but his overhead kick went just over the bar. Cheikhou Kouyate scored the first goal for the Hammers under Moyes in the final minute of the first half. Aside from Ayew’s chance, there wasn’t a whole lot of action in the second half. A good point for Moyes, but he will need to start beating the teams around him if West Ham wants to survive in the PL.
19. SWANSEA CITY (9 PTS, GD -8)
LAST GAME: 0-0 T vs. Bournemouth
NEXT GAME: at Chelsea
Swansea breaks their four-game losing streak, but the Swans were not able to score at home and had to settle for a draw. Wilfried Bony finally found the back of the net since returning to Swansea right before halftime, but the goal was disallowed. With Palace winning, the bottom of the table is very congested and Swansea are at the bottom of it.
20. CRYSTAL PALACE (8 PTS, GD -17)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W vs. Stoke
NEXT GAME: at Brighton
Mamadou Sakho, the man who was in the right place at the right time. His winner in the 92nd minute gave Palace a massive win over Stoke. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Chelsea-loanee, and arguably Palace’s best player this season equalized three minutes after Stoke took the lead. I said last week that Palace’s tie against Everton could be the start of their great escape, and now they are only three points from safety. Three points away after losing their first seven games of the season. The PL is wild and unpredictable.