1. Manchester City
Tied for first with Chelsea and Liverpool, Manchester City have been flying high this year on the back of their record-smashing 2017 title-winning campaign, during which they became the first Premier League team to amass 100+ points in one season, losing only 2 games in the process. This year has been more of the same, as Pep Guardiola’s side is yet to lose a game and boasts the best goal difference in the league.
Maurizio Sarri’s much-heralded arrival at Chelsea has been marked with successes, as the West London side have displayed both a new-found passing tempo as well as a ruthless sharpness in front of goal. In particular, winger Eden Hazard has bloomed under Sarri, with the Blue’s star man both leading the league in goals and cracking the top ten in assists.
While Arsenal are currently 4th in the league, they move up a spot due to their torrid hot form heading into the break. New coach Unai Emery has the team playing defined attacking football again, and the Gunners will go into the international break with 9 wins on the trot. Players like Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi have showed marked improvement under new management, and this change for Arsenal has propelled them to one of their best starts in recent memory.
In another pick based upon form, Liverpool falls behind Arsenal in the power rankings due their recent cold streak, which includes a loss to Napoli, a draw with Manchester City, and a loss and draw to Chelsea. Jurgen Klopp’s side has looked strong outside last two weeks, however, and their high-energy, attacking play combined with a dangerous squad will likely make the Reds heavy favorites to finally make it to the top of the league come the end of the year.
The fifth side contending for the title as of now, Tottenham have enjoyed a solid start to the season on the domestic front (although their Champions League campaign is a different story). England captain Harry Kane continues to show why he is one of the best strikers in the world, racking up 5 goals despite immense fatigue. Fitness issues have plagued the North London side, however, and whether the very depth-thin team can continue to compete down the stretch will be a big story line heading into the busy winter periods.
The Cherries are beginning to set the model for an overachieving small club, with Eddie Howe again leading a team that makes up for their lack of skill with immense passion and drive. The south coast side have built on their two consecutive mid-table finishes and have come out firing this year, amassing the most points of any non-top 6 side thus far. Whether Bournemouth can continue this early success, however, remains to be seen.
The West-Midlands club made headlines this year by making several high-profile signings, including Rui Patricio as well as Adama Traore. Couple those additions with the extending of star midfielder Ruben Neves’ contract, Wolves were always a contender for a dark horse club heading into the season. They haven’t let down yet either, playing attacking soccer and scaring quite a few large clubs. Manager Nuno Espírito Santo will look to keep his side in contention for a Europa League spot as the congested fixtures approach.
8. Leicester City
Now far removed from their magical title run in 2015, the Foxes have more or less settled into the Premiership standings as a consistent mid-table club. Players like Jamie Vardy continue to power Leicester through tough fixtures, and they’ve shown no difficulty in their 3rd term following their incredible triumph. Harry Maguire has proved why Manchester United were inquiring about him in the summer with several rock-hard performances at the back, and while the loss of N’golo Kante continues to hurt, Wilfred Ndidi has begun to show flashes of why Leicester splashed so much money on the Nigerian.
Watford got off to a blistering start early on in the season, but have since regressed to the mean and have only recently broke a several-week winless streak. Despite looking impressive in August and early September, the Hornets have continued to slide down the table since the international break, looking off tempo in losses and draws to decidedly worse teams such as Bournemouth and Fulham.
In recent years, Everton has always seemed to be “the best of the rest” of the teams outside of the Big 6, and while last year was a disappointment for the Toffees, this year seems to be looking up. Attackers Theo Walcott and Richarlison have created a potent duo upfront and summer signing Yerry Mina’s return from injury should provide a big boost for Everton’s defensive corps.
11. Manchester United
The ability is certainly there for United. From a talent perspective, the Red Devils are likely one of the top three teams in the leagues, however, nothing has clicked this year for Mourinho’s side. Last year’s runner-ups have languished in a mid-table spot for the majority of this year, and big earners like Alexis Sanchez have been entirely off the pace. The stories behind the scenes have been more entertaining than the play on the pitch, and while that may be fun for neutral fans, it all adds up to a disaster start to the season for Manchester United.
Over the years Brighton have slowly morphed themselves from an upper-tier Championship club to a scrappy mid-table Premiership side, and this year seems to promise a similar league position for the Seagulls. Chris Hughton has piloted the southern side to a decent start of the season, aided by standout seasons by Matt Ryan (3rd in the league in saves) and Glenn Murray (tied for 3rd in the league in goals).
After a surprisingly strong 2017 campaign, Burnley rolled into 2018 with momentum levels off the charts. The Clarets qualified for the initial rounds of their first European competition since 1966 and made a pair of signings that bolstered their squad quality and depth in tandem. However, their season started off poorly, and Sean Dyche was unable to chalk up a point in League play until late September. However, in recent weeks Burnley have righted the ship, grabbing a pair of convincing wins vs. Cardiff and Bournemouth.
14. Crystal Palace
The Croydon team have continued their struggle to break out of the bottom half of the table this year but have been largely unsuccessful, despite getting a boost due to Wilfried Zaha signing a brand new contract at the start of the season. Roy Hodgson is still far from the hot seat, but the Eagles certainly need to step up their form if they want to avoid becoming relegation fodder.
15. West Ham
The Hammers made a lot of noise over the summer window, bringing in Premier League Champion manager Manuel Pellegrini, as well as highly rated players like Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, Jack Wilshere, and Felipe Anderson. However, West Ham have only amassed 7 points in three months and injuries continue to mount in West London. West Ham will look to claw their way back up the table as the most fixture-congested period of the year approaches.
Southampton have regressed since their 6th place finish in 2016, and this year they have only continued the slide down the table, currently resting in 16th with 6 points. The Saints lack firepower, having only scored 6 total goals this year, and seem to lack creativity up front. A huge game for the coastal side will come this Saturday when they take on fellow relegation-fighters Newcastle at home.
A chronic lack of funds has doomed Newcastle to a brutal relegation fight each of the last few times they’ve been in the Premier League, and this year appears to be no exception. Manager Rafa Benitez has been limited to only a few improvements to his side each year, and his side’s financial deficiencies appear to be catching up to the club. The teams that the Magpies have been battling continue to get better, but they are stagnating at the worst time possible.
Manager David Wagner had a decent debut season in the Premier League; he kept the Terriers out of arm’s reach from the relegation zone for the majority of last year. However, the top flight honeymoon has worn off this season, and the West Yorkshire side have yet to win a game. They’ve also scored the fewest goals. Some early season draws have kept Huddersfield out of last place, but they still remain in a awful spot, currently sitting one point off the bottom of the table.
19. Cardiff City
Cardiff have had an interesting season thus far, with a lot of bad spots, though a few positives are available to give the supporters hope as well. They have conceded the second most goals of any team and are tied for 16th in goals scored as well. However, Neil Warnock has proven himself capable of getting the job done when needed, as Cardiff’s only strong results have come against Huddersfield, Newcastle, and Fulham, the sides they are battling against in the relegation fight.
Everything has gone wrong this year for the London club, as they have conceded the most goals of any team. They are the only side yet to preserve a clean sheet. Even worse for the Cottagers, they were recently battered 4-2 by fellow bottom club Cardiff City. The talent is there, evidenced by big money signings such as Aleksandar Mitrovic, Andre Schurrle, and Calum Chambers, but the team has struggled with a consistent lack of structure, particularly in defense.