Osterberger: Ranking Premier League teams
Wally Osterberger | Friday, October 11, 2019
After eight Matchdays, the Premier League has produced some particularly interesting storylines. Although it is still early in the season, this current international break presents an opportunity to reflect on what we have seen so far. Some teams have overachieved to start the season, while others have been underwhelming, to say the least. So, let’s take a look at what is happening across the Premier League, from the top to the relegation battle.
Best Team: Liverpool
After eight wins out of eight games, things could not be much better on the red side of Liverpool. Even when they do not seem to be at their best, like against Sheffield United and Leicester, the Reds are grinding out wins one way or another. Backup goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo has filled in for the injured Alisson Becker admirably, only conceding six goals despite the defense looking more fragile than last year. Becker, Virgil van Dijk, and Jürgen Klopp have been picking awards for their performances last season. If there is one blip on Liverpool’s season so far, it would be their 2-0 opening loss in the Champions League to Napoli. This season could see the stars finally align and the title come to Merseyside.
Most Disappointing Team: Manchester United
Where to even begin on the red side of Manchester. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is still at the wheel, but for how long, one has to ask? After beating Chelsea 4-0 to start the season, Man United have gone on to only win one other game — a 1-0 win against Leicester. The Red Devils have lost to the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham, and, most recently, my beloved Newcastle United. Most important players are, or have been, injured, but unfortunately, when they all play they have not looked that good. One bright spot has been the new signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka (AWB), who has been magnificent when healthy. AWB has recorded 31 tackles in five games, along with 49 won duels and nine interceptions. The Paul Pogba stay-or-go saga persists, which is a problem, as a team who has only scored five goals after the first game of the season can ill-afford to lose their best creator. The problems are deep at the Manchester-based club, who now shockingly sit only two points above the relegation zone. Things need to change.
Honorable Mentions: Tottenham, Everton
Best Signing: Sébastien Haller
An argument could easily be made for Wan-Bissaka, but I have chosen West Ham’s new French striker Sébastien Haller. With four goals and an assist after seven games, West Ham might have finally found a consistent, solid solution to their center forward problems. The 6’3” striker, bought for 45 million pounds from Eintracht Frankfurt, has impressed for the London club. His performances have helped the Irons to eighth place in the table. Underlooked by many as a potential signing of the season, Chilean football manager Manuel Pellegrini might have done some of the best business of anyone.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Rodrigo Hernández Cascante, Adrián San Miguel del Castillo
Best Player: Kevin De Bruyne (KDB)
Every time KDB plays for Manchester City, it is must-see TV. De Bruyne’s uncanny ability to put a soccer ball on a dime from a mile away has led to him bagging eight assists so far, double the next closest player. He has also pitched in with a pair of goals, as well as numerous masterclasses for City. Despite his squad’s strange start to the season, he has been undeniably brilliant. At this rate, this could be a record-setting season for the Belgian maestro.
Honorable Mentions: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mané
Biggest Surprise: Teemu Pukki
It’s been a Pukki party for Norwich City to start the season. The Finnish striker, with clever movement and clinical finishing, has struck six times, including a hat trick against, once again, my beloved Newcastle United. A late bloomer, Pukki’s talents have been crucial in Norwich’s efforts so far. If his defense stops shipping goals at terrifying rates, he might be able to keep the Canaries up with his goals. Let’s hope he can do so and join the likes of Michu and Roque Santa Cruz as Premier League players that everyone loves.
Honorable Mentions: Sheffield United, Chelsea’s youngsters