Four games into the 2019/20 Premier League season and the top of the table is already settling into a familiar pattern, with last season’s title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City pulling clear from the chasing pack.
We’ve graded each team’s performances for the month of August.
Who’s top of the class?
Part 2 looks at Manchester City through to Wolverhampton Wanderers…
Premier League August 2019 Report Card – Grading Every Team on Their Performances So Far
Current position: 2nd
Verdict: A controversial VAR call denied City the perfect start – but Pep Guardiola has plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Despite his obvious frustration at dropping points at home to top four rivals Spurs, Guardiola will be encouraged that his side have shown no signs of complacency as the reigning champions push for that all-too-rare Premier League feat – three Premier League titles in a row.
His immediate concerns will be plugging the defensive gap left by Aymeric Laporte’s long term injury lay-off and ensuring his side keep the pressure up on early pacesetters Liverpool. City will be ready to pounce the moment the Reds show any signs of slipping up.
Current position: 8th
Verdict: A season that already looks in danger of going off the rails for Ole Gunnar Solskjær, particularly given some banana skin fixtures to come after the international break. The new signings all look capable of helping United move up a gear, but United’s summer overhaul simply hasn’t been extensive enough to transform the Red Devils into convincing top four contenders on current evidence.
Dan James has been the bright spot in an otherwise frustrating start, but question marks remain over whether club legend is Solskjær really the long-term answer to Utd’s problems.
Current position: 14th
Verdict: For a club always seemingly on the brink of crisis, it’s been a surprisingly middle-of-the-road start for Steve Bruce following all the controversy surrounding his summer appointment. Bruce answered the critics questioning his suitability to organise a modern-day top-flight team as the Magpies snatched all three points with an impressively disciplined performance away at Spurs.
A humbling defeat to Norwich City suggests Bruce can ill-afford to get carried away about where this Newcastle squad currently stands in the Premier League pecking order, but it’s not been the car crash some of the more outspoken pundits had been anticipating.
Current position: 19th
Verdict: Better value for the Premier League than their current position suggests. That’s with the caveat that Norwich continue to press ahead with an ‘attack is the best form of defence’ strategy’, as early indications point to a Canaries side that will ship plenty of goals this season.
Nevertheless, if they can keep Teemu Pukki firing all season, the Canaries have enough attacking talent in their ranks to outscore the cluster of clubs likely to be in and around the relegation places. Many pundits questioned the wisdom of Norwich’s safety-first approach to last summer’s transfer window. However, Farke’s decision to stick with the ‘Band of Brothers’ that gained Championship promotion could – just about – pay off.
Current position: 10th
Verdict: It’s been an impressive start to life back in the Premier League for the Blades – with their manager’s never-say-die attitude rubbing off on his players. Utd have made a mockery of many pre-season pundits by showing they can mix it with supposedly superior opponents in stylistic terms as well as through hard graft.
From the early evidence, they look to have the most coherent strategy of the three promoted clubs to avoid an immediate return to the Championship. Chris Wilder is not a man simply happy to admire the view at this level. Expect the Blades to fight all the way to the finish.
Current position: 13th
Verdict: The Saints have a point per game for their efforts so far this season, putting them on a par with a clutch of clubs in the bottom half. That initial points return could be deceiving however, with the Saints arguably unlucky not to have at least a couple more on the board after running Liverpool close at St Mary’s and a spirited display against Man Utd.
The 3-0 opening day defeat at Burnley was mostly down to an abject 15 minutes rather than any underlying problems, and while Southampton weren’t at their best as they beat Brighton at the Amex, they were ruthless in dispatching the 10-man Seagulls when opportunities presented themselves. It’s those kind of games Ralph Hasenhüttl will need to win to steer the Saints away from a third successive season of struggle.
Current position: 9th
Verdict: A state-of-the-art new ground, a first-ever Champions League final appearance and finally a summer with transfer activity. On the face of it, there’s plenty for Spurs fans to appreciate in the calendar year to date.
However, there’s a sense all is not well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after a notable drop-off in league form aligned with Mauricio Pochettino airing his frustrations publicly in recent months. Can he bite his tongue and help Spurs rediscover the feelgood factor that has helped shape much of his time in north London? Spurs’ relative success or failure this season surely rests on how much heart Poch has left in pursuing his five-year project.
WEST HAM UTD
Current position: 7th
Verdict: The Hammers had the thankless task of hosting reigning champions Man City on the opening day but rallied well from that opening day thrashing with enough encouraging signs to suggest they will continue to be upwardly mobile under Manuel Pellegrini.
The £45m outlay on Sébastien Haller raised plenty of eyebrows but he could be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps move West Ham up from top-half also-rans into the Europa League places.
Current position: 20th
*Verdict: It’s been an unusually calm 18 months or so at Vicarage Road, which probably means a managerial change is well overdue. Javi Gracia is currently skating on thin ice with the Hornets’ slump in form in the latter half of last season continuing into this one.
Nevertheless, his Watford players showed signs they still have their manager’s back after a spirited display against Newcastle just before the international break. With Arsenal and Man City to come, will that still be the case in October with Watford still seeking their first win? Things may get worse before they get better for a side that arguably overachieved last season.
Current position: 17th
Verdict: So far, Wolves are suffering from ‘difficult second album’ syndrome. After such a stellar opening Premier League campaign, Nuno’s side were always going to find it hard to match those levels in consistency in 2019/20 and at times have looked leggy as a result of the added pressure of a Europa League qualifying campaign.
They have a chance to recover some ground after the international break with home games against a vulnerable Chelsea and a struggling Watford side. Seventh place yet again for Wolves might be a bridge too far given their extra distractions this campaign but expect them to still be circling the top half come May.
Who are you backing to win the 2019/20 Premier League?
Browse our Premier League odds.
Follow us and tweet @Marathonbet