Every round this season, we will rank the English Premier League teams based upon form, recent performances, and table standing. New signings and injuries will be taken into account.
1. Manchester City – They are the champions and until they are knocked off, they have to be number 1. Beyond that, they still have the most attractive squad on paper despite the lack of many summer signings.
2. Manchester United – Adding Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa has given United even more firepower to an already potent attack. Finishing second last year only based on goal difference and 19 points ahead of third place Arsenal, means the Manchester clubs are a class ahead of the rest.
3. Chelsea – They may have only finished 6th in the league last term, but Chelsea won Champions League and the FA Cup, finishing the season on a tear. They had the best offseason, adding Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, and Oscar (and they probably aren’t done yet) which clearly makes them the 3rd most attractive squad on paper when Torres is in form. The question will be, will Torres be in form?
4. Newcastle United – The Magpies held on to all their breakout talents last year which has to be viewed as a coup to Alan Pardew. Expect them to hover just below the true title contenders, flirting with making a run all year.
5. Arsenal – Losing RVP and now Song continues the Gunners run of losing top tier talent. To an attack that relied so heavily on van Persie, that could prove to be deadly. They added nice players over the summer in Podolski, Giroud, and Cazorla, but will they all pan out and can they all gel together in time to make a real run?
6. Tottenham – Modric is gone. It’s just a matter of time. But they held onto Gareth Bale, of which the importance cannot be understated. The key will be how this team progresses under Andre Villas-Boas.
7. Liverpool – It isn’t going to show right away, but Liverpool will do better this year, and progress under Brendan Rodgers. This will take time though, and fans shouldn’t get caught up in early results, especially with a tough schedule in their first 10 games. Adding Joe Allen will be huge and Fabio Borini could be the finisher this team needs. They need more players though, and they need to offload some that don’t fit the new system. (i.e. Carroll and Adam)
8. Everton – Same old story for Everton. If they can get off to a better start this campaign, they could be higher. This is the year to do it with Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool all in transition.
9. Fulham – I love what Fulham has done in the transfer window. However, if Clint Dempsey leaves, this team could either fall or stay stagnant. I wouldn’t think they would improve in his absense.
10. Swansea City – New manager, same ideas. Allen and Sigurdsson’s absence will be felt, but Dyer is a quality winger and they have had a good transfer window, replacing those players with similar ones. (i.e. Michu in for Sigurdsson)
11. Sunderland – Oh, if they could only land a true striker, this would be a very decent team. They could move up a few spots if the deal with Wolves for Steven Fletcher goes through.
12. Stoke City – The team no one wants to play. More of the same this year. Defense, crunching tackles, cards, and injuries to opponents. American Geoff Cameron will fit right in with Stoke’s physical philosophy.
13. Norwich City – How will the loss of their manager effect this team? That will be the question early on, but it was critical that they hold onto Grant Holt and they did.
14. West Ham United – Everybody’s pick of the newly promoted sides to stay up next year. The fans will demand it, but can Sam Allerdyce’s direct approach cut it in the Premier League? We will find out.
15. Queens Park Rangers – It won’t be pretty from the start, but all the signings will prove to be too much talent for this team to drop out this year. It will be close, but not as close as last campaign.
16. Southampton – This year’s Norwich City. If the rumors are true about signing Gaston Ramirez, this ranking could be higher than this.
17. West Bromwich Albion – Roy Hodgson is managing England now. Can West Brom survive without him? They should display the same ultra defensive tactics, we will see if they execute as well. That is going to be key.
18. Aston Villa – Paul Lambert will try to get this team back comfortably mid-table this year. I’m not sure he will succeed. On paper, this doesn’t look to be much better a team. It will all depend on Lambert. If he gets them to where Norwich was last year, he is a candidate for Manager of the Year.
19. Reading – Cut from the same cloth as Stoke, this will be a defensive, tough to play against bunch. I don’t think it is enough to keep them in the Premier League.
20. Wigan Athletic – Losing Hugo Rodallega, Mohamed Diame, and possibly soon Victor Moses is a giant blow to Wigan. I think they have pulled their last great escape and will fall out of the Prem this year.