After six weeks of play, there are some clear tiers emerging in the 2016-17 Premier League:
- Hull, Sunderland, and Swansea are probably objectively bad teams that also haven’t been managed particularly well so far.
- Stoke and West Ham have no business being in a relegation fight but could well find themselves in one if they don’t get their crap together.
- The Sky Six doesn’t appear to have any teams set to implode in the near future, unlike last season when half of the big six had arguably their worst ever Premier League seasons.
- Everton, Southampton, and Leicester look the likeliest teams to challenge for a place in the top six, but Everton is the only one whose chances of doing so I’d put higher than 33%
Here’s the funny thing though: So your Sky Six is Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Of the lot, three have not yet had an objectively bad result: City, Spurs, and Liverpool. Arsenal lost on opening weekend to Liverpool in a fairly shambolic match and then were extraordinarily lucky not to lose to Southampton. Chelsea has had the Swansea draw and now the Arsenal shellacking. United has lost to Watford. Liverpool, meanwhile, has managed to produce a fantastic start against a Murderer’s Row of an opening fixture list. City has managed to win every game despite some really derpy moments defensively.
That brings us to Spurs: We’ve taken 14 points from our opening 18. I don’t believe we’ve ever started a season that well in the Premier League era. And the most impressive thing is the way in which we’ve done it:
- We have played five of six games without Mousa Dembele.
- We have been without Eric Dier and Harry Kane for a match each.
- Danny Rose has missed multiple games and Kyle Walker missed 3⁄4 of a game due to injury.
- Hugo Lloris missed multiple games due to injury.
- Christian Eriksen was not great for the first several matches.
If someone had told me all this in early August, I would’ve been terrified. I would have imagined some scenario with us taking 7-9 points from our first six fixtures and already finding ourselves trailing United, Arsenal, and Liverpool by 4-6 points. Instead, despite all the things that have gone against us in the early days of this season, we’re second in the table heading into an intriguing meeting with Pep City next weekend. This is due in large part to surprisingly strong contributions from two key players: Heung-Min Son has been our best player so far while Victor Wanyama has settled in nicely. As a result, it’s late September and we’re second in the table despite Liverpool’s scorching start.
I can’t complain.
That said, let’s talk after tomorrow. If tomorrow goes badly, I may have some kvetching to do. But for now, this all looks very good so far.
On to the links:
Our trip to Moscow this week marks the first time an English team has played in Moscow since violence broke out between English and Russian fans at this past summer’s Euros.
These Football Times, a regular favorite of mine, have a really interesting post on the history of Villarreal, the perennial over-achievers of Spanish football.