We’re now almost a third of the way through the 2019/20 Premier League season – but how is each side performing compared to pre-season expectations?
Our October Premier League report card is in as we grade all 20 sides after the first 11 games.
Part 2 looks at Manchester City through to Wolves…
Premier League Review – October 2019 Report Card
Current position: 2ND
Verdict: City are in the unfamiliar position of playing the hunter rather than hunted so far this season. However, Pep’s reigning champs look bang up for the fight after bouncing back strongly in recent weeks following their surprise 0-2 home reverse to Wolves. With the gap at six points, they head to Liverpool this weekend knowing a win would help to flip the title race on its head. With the Reds showing small signs of vulnerability in recent weeks, expect City to apply some pressure on Sunday against an expectant Anfield crowd.
Current position: 10TH
Verdict: Just when things looked back on track, Utd turned in another forgettable away day at Bournemouth to slip to a first defeat in four games. That lack of consistency has to be a worry, although they haven’t been helped by a lengthy injury list. Utd have been performing as a more coherent unit over the last month, but still look short of the killer instinct needed to make a genuine push towards the European places. November could be the clincher in assessing where this squad stands with games against Brighton and Sheffield Utd. Both games would have looked bankers in August. For a Utd side prone to underperforming when it really matters – does that still hold?
Current position: 15TH
Verdict: After a stormy pre-season at St James’ Park, the weather seems surprisingly calm on Tyneside. It might be a little too early to relax just yet, but Steve Bruce can be quietly satisfied with his first three months in charge after riding out the initial criticism. Newcastle still look a side that will be hovering there or thereabouts in the fight against relegation, but Bruce has successfully fought back against the charge he’s a man who can no longer organise a competent Premier League side.
Current position: 19TH
Verdict: Circumstances have conspired against them. However, Norwich currently look the most likely candidates to play this season’s ‘Fulham role’ as the promoted side that nosedive towards the Championship before the Christmas tree is up. Daniel Farke’s side won plenty of praise for their attack-minded approach to games at the start of the season. Now the goals have dried up, they look badly in need of a Plan B. Away form remains a real concern with only one away goal all season. That was a consolation against Liverpool on the opening day. Watford at Carrow Road on Friday night now looks massive.
Current position: 6TH
Verdict: Undisputedly top of the class. Sheffield United have no intention of simply making up the numbers this season with a refreshingly fearless attitude to their first Premier League campaign in 12 years. Much has been said about United’s impressive tactical shape under Chris Wilder, but their overlapping defenders are deft at keeping the ball out as well. United have conceded only eight goals this season – the lowest total in the league. One word of warning. The away days get harder from here – with trips to Wolves, Spurs and Man City in the pipeline.
Current position: 18TH
Verdict: Southampton’s survival chances this season surely rest on how quickly they can shake off the scars of their record 9-0 home loss to Leicester City. On that front, they made a punchy start with a gutsy display in their narrow defeat away at Manchester City. That suggests for all Saints’ problems, Ralph Hasenhüttl still has the dressing room on side. Taking out the Leicester game as a one-off, it’s home form in general that looks set to sink Saints if the atmosphere remains edgy at an impatient St Mary’s. Travel-sick Everton are their next opponents – can Southampton finally bring their fans some home cheer?
Current position: 11TH
Verdict: Try as he might, nothing seems to be working at the moment for Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian continues to cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines as he tries to breathe new life into a Spurs squad that looks past its best before date. That said, with the league looking a lot tighter beyond the top two than in previous seasons, only a small uplift in form could see Spurs bring themselves back into contention. Games against Sheffield Utd and West Ham will be a marker to Pochettino’s powers of recovery. At the moment, however, it looks like being a season of revised expectations in North London.
Current position: 20TH
Verdict: 11 games, and desperate times are already calling for desperate measures at Vicarage Road. Starting with Norwich on Friday, Watford need a win – and it doesn’t really matter how it arrives. Since being parachuted back into the hotseat in September, Quique Sanchez Flores has made the Hornets far harder to beat. However, they still look a team lacking a clear identity in this campaign after arguably overperforming last season. November looks critical with three six-pointers. Less than a point per game against Norwich, Burnley and Southampton would spell serious trouble.
WEST HAM UTD
Current position: 13TH
Verdict: A season that started with so much promise is danger of fizzling out badly. West Ham’s 2-3 reverse at home to shot-shy Newcastle was arguably Manuel Pellegrini’s lowest ebb so far in his impressive turnaround job in East London. After five games without a win, there’s a danger of complacency creeping in at West Ham. One side always seems to sink like a stone from nowhere every Premier League season. Pellegrini now needs to bang a few heads together to avoid the Hammers falling into that trap. Two London derbies against Spurs and Chelsea should help fire them up this November.
Current position: 12TH
Verdict: Wolves – victims of their own success? Their stellar maiden season in the Premier League has ramped up the expectation game amongst fans and pundits, and that means a credible follow-up campaign isn’t attracting as much attention with Wolves yet to quite fully scale the heights of 2018/19. The potential is there to kick on once again – as shown by their clinical 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium. With the exception of Leicester, they still look the team most likely to trouble the ‘Big Six’ in a one-off setting. If they fail to match last season’s expectations, draws will be their downfall. Seven of their 11 games have ended all-square.
Do you agree with our Premier League report card?
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