Another international break has us almost a third of the way through the season, with a quarter of the original managers now sacked. The outcome of the season will likely be decided over the next three months, let’s review where we are now as we approach that crucial period.

  1. Manchester City (second, 23 points) – no move

Palace always seem to beat them, regardless of form. The following performance at Old Trafford was one of the most comprehensive victories I have ever seen. One shot on target at home might be ok for some sides, but Manchester United should be better than that.

  1. Liverpool (fourth, 22 points) – no move

The game against Brighton and surrendering a two-goal lead and then not managing to get through a game against West Ham without defending a set piece correctly. Very nearly dropped to third this week, after looking soft defensively for the first time in a long time.

  1. Chelsea (first, 22 points) – no move

Beat us in twenty-five minutes and could easily have ran riot once they realised midfield could not run, or track. The Havertz goal against Burnley showed they had learnt from playing against us, the equalizer showed that they can sometimes be undone still by a lack of a clinical edge.

  1. West Ham (third, 23 points) – up one

David Moyes was mocked on his arrival when he said, “winning is what I do”. Was almost sacked whilst absent with covid after two defeats to start last season, but nearly made it into the Champions League places by the end, could well stay there this year.

  1. Arsenal (fifth, 17 points) – up four

Unbeaten in five, winning the last three consecutive games. Even without Aubameyang and Lacazette firing on all cylinders the team looks to have clicked, Saka and Smith Rowe are bringing youthful energy and Ben White does look to have brought some solidity to their back line.

  1. Wolves(eighth, 16 points) – up eight

Look like they are adapting to their new manager with a pacy counter attacking style. They have quality players in midfield and need to find a way to utilise them. Look more like the first two seasons under Nuno rather than the last fifteen months.

  1. Crystal Palace (tenth, 15 points) – up six

Vieira seems to have got them to click and they have had a really good few weeks, Edouard looks like he could be a great player for them and they just need to be more clinical. Wins over Arsenal and us would have seen them rise up much quicker.

  1. Brighton (seventh, 17 points) – down four

Hanging on here after four draws in five, the season does seem to hinge for them on getting another good run together. Had them as top half in my head but falling quickly.

  1. Manchester United (sixth, 17 points) – down two

Passed off the park the last two home games and without any coherent structure in place. Roy Keane’s stinging criticism of Fred was pointed and the lack of defence now for the manager and his plan from pundits would normally be matched by the board. The Glazers don’t seem worried.

  1. Tottenham (ninth, 16 points) – down two

Difficult to judge now, but mid-table is where they are. Conte will likely improve them but for now they stay here.

  1. Southampton (currently twelfth, 12 points) – up five

Not been beaten by nine goals yet this season, beating Villa was not convincing but they knew they didn’t have to work too hard. Be interesting to see if this run continues.

  1. Leicester (twelfth, 15 points) – down two

Form picked up over the last few weeks, but Tielemans was playing by himself for a while. The next step has to be getting people fit and a settled side. Barnes limping off the park at Elland Road was not a sight that helps there.

  1. Leeds (fifteenth, 11 points) – up two

Picking up points but still not playing great, though injuries (particularly to Bamford) are playing a big part in this. May move between tenth and twentieth on these rankings all season.

  1. Everton (eleventh, 13 points) – down eight

Suffer the most over the past five games for their fall down the table, form has been awful. Two draws and three defeats mean that the absence of Calvert Lewin is brought into even greater focus. Rafa can normally rely on defensive solidity, not at present.

  1. Burnley (eighteenth, 8 points) – up three

Currently playing better, not beating Norwich looked like it would be a real problem for them but since then they’ve shown a real desire to get out of trouble. A draw from Stamford Bridge is classic Dyche with his structure and plan still seeming likely to keep them up again.

  1. Brentford (fourteenth, 12 points)–down five

Can’t seem to react after going behind, though the next game at St James’ Park might prove me wrong. Ivan Toney hasn’t scored in six, put some money on it in the same game then and their free-flowing style so heralded to start the season is now not keeping things tight.

  1. Watford (seventeenth, 10 points) – no move

Sacked their manager after two poor games, Ranieri may not be there much longer. He has a track record of improving sides but Watford seem to have lost the fulcrum of players bar Sarr and started buying Premier League players past their best (hello Danny Rose).

  1. Aston Villa (sixteenth, 10 points) – down six

Though it might seem harsh, the sacking of Smith does make sense. Brilliant against Manchester United, awful against Spurs and not really improving. Their transfer business post Grealish was sound, but injuries have meant that it hasn’t clicked. Ings and Watkins is also yet to work.

  1. Norwich City (twentieth, 5 points) – no move

They’ve finally won and have already played all of the top three in the rankings. Previously said they would get twelve points, might now raise it to fifteen. Still don’t think they will stay up, sacking the manager was based on mauling from Chelsea and defeat to Leeds.

  1. Newcastle United (nineteenth, 5 points) – no move

We still haven’t won. The positivity around the appointment of Howe is excellent but we have only played Chelsea and West Ham in the top five. After a friendly run of home fixtures the rest look very challenging. Need to beat Brentford to take that new manager bounce forward.

STEPHEN ORD