At the top today is forward Rachel Williams.
Ramble of the Day
I didn’t intend to start a ramble about the latest edition of the Premier League Expectation-Embarrassment Index writing about COVID-19, but it is a defining feature of this month’s rankings. It comes a bit earlier than usual because the pandemic’s disregard for schedules means we get an extra international break this year, and the Premier League’s January schedule ends a week early.
COVID-19 also wreaked havoc on schedules beforehand, because teams played anywhere from two to six games in January. It added an extra step to the calculations this time — for recent form, everyone still got a score out of 15 but for many, it came through an equation. It was still a pretty weird month for some teams, regardless of how many matches they played.
Now, for the good stuff. Here’s your reminder of the rubric, and below are the rankings:
- Wolverhampton Wanderers, 46 points (+12 places)
- Liverpool, 41 points (+8 places)
- Manchester City, 40 points (-2 places)
- Norwich City, 36 points (+16 places)
- Chelsea, 34 points (no change)
- Manchester United, 33 points (-3 places)
- Southampton, 30 points (+7 places)
- West Ham United, 30 points (+4 places)
- Brighton and Hove Albion, 30 points (-3 places)
- Aston Villa, 26 points (-1 place)
- Leicester City, 25 points (-4 places)
- Crystal Palace, 25 points (-4 places)
- Newcastle United, 23 points (+4 places)
- Tottenham Hotspur, 23 points (-10 places)
- Leeds United, 18 points (no change)
- Brentford, 18 points (-5 places)
- Everton, 16 points (-1 place)
- Arsenal, 16 points (-16 places)
- Burnley 13 points (-1 place)
- Watford, 11 points (-1 place)
The only team that had a perfect record since the last edition of the Index, but no one had a more improved stretch of games than Norwich. (Yes, I’m pretty surprised to see them up there at fourth.) Norwich won three out of its four games to crack the top four here, though I’m sure the real reward is not being in the Premier League relegation zone. Conversely, but just as appropriately, the bottom three teams are the ones that did not win any matches since the last Index.
As for Tottenham, playing Chelsea three times in five games makes for a very weird assessment. Losing all of those games is unsurprising, but the scheduling is clearly unlucky. I try not to penalize teams too much for a schedule that was cruel to them, but it is undeniable that Spurs had an average month — winning the only other games on the schedule, against Morecambe and Leicester, keeps things from going off the rails.
tl;dr: Another round of the Expectation-Embarrassment Index, in which Norwich impressed, Arsenal did not, and Tottenham was average.
Stay informed, read this: Jane Coaston on the differing records the NFL and NBA have on hiring Black coaches for The New York Times
Links of the Day
Several players on Tunisia and Comoros’ men’s national teams and India’s women’s national team tested positive for COVID-19.
India is now out of the Asian Cup because the team does not have enough available players to complete its group stage matches.
The NWSL approved changes to the ownership structure of the Washington Spirit, putting Y. Michele Kang in position to become the club’s new majority owner.
A longer read: Caitlin Murray on USWNT veteran Michelle Akers, who ended her time working outside of the sport to become the Orlando Pride’s new assistant coach for ESPN