With the busy festive period fast approaching, we grade each Premier League side on their season so far.
We are now more than a quarter of the way through the Premier League season and the deficiencies of some teams are being exposed.
After 11 top flight games, four managers have lost their jobs. Frank De Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after just 77 days while Craig Shakespeare, Ronald Koeman and Slaven Bilic have all been fired since.
At the other end of the spectrum, Pep Guardiola has finally got Manchester City playing the way Sheikh Mansour hoped he would, with the league leaders yet to lose game.
Elsewhere, Burnley’s performances have drawn praise while Brighton have put together a winning run that has propelled them into the top eight.
With the busy festive period fast approaching, we have graded each Premier League team on their season so far.
Arsenal – C
Arsene Wenger was outraged at the refereeing at the weekend (Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 6th
Best performance so far: Everton 2-5 Arsenal
Worst performance so far: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal
Arsenal have been unimpressive this season, but not surprisingly so. A smooth start to domestic football — unlikely at the best of times — was never going to materialise after the Gunner’s tumultuous summer. The failure to land their top two transfer targets combined with the absence of contract resolutions for Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil has created a pessimistic atmosphere in north London — and the team has met the low expectations. Record signing Alexandre Lacazette is still finding his feet while there has only been one strong team performance, and that was against a woeful Everton team.
Bournemouth – D
Jermain Defoe has failed to impress for Bournemouth (Image: AFP)
Current position: 17th
Best performance so far: Newcastle 0-1Bournemouth
Worst performance so far:Bournemouth 0-2 Watford
After a top half finish last season, Eddie Howe will have been expecting at least the same this time around, especially after beating numerous other clubs to the signature of Jermain Defoe. The Cherries handed the striker, 35, a three-year contract but he has struggled to reproduce his form from 16/17. Defoe has just one goal to his name and Bournemouth have just 11 points to theirs. Bournemouth deserve a bit of slack as they have not had the easiest start (opponents so far include Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City) but this is not the position fans expected them to be in at this stage if the season.
Brighton and Hove Albion – A
Glenn Murray celebrates his fourth goal in three games (Image: Michael Steele)
Current position: 8th
Best performance so far: West Ham 0-3 Brighton
Worst performance so far: Leicester 2-0 Brighton
After picking up just one point from their first three league games you could have forgiven fans for fearing the worst from this season, but Chris Hughton’s top flight experience has kicked in and the Seagulls’ surge up the table has been hugely impressive. They are now unbeaten in their last four matches and Glenn Murray has hit a rich vein of form.
Burnley – A
Burnley manager Sean Dyche applauds the fans (Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 7th
Best performance so far: Chelsea 2-3 Burnley
Worst performance so far: Burnley 0-1 West Brom
This is Sean Dyche’s third season in the Premier League with Burnley and he has improved them every time. Beating champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend was impressive and what followed has been just as good. The Clarets lost star striker Andre Gray and key defender Michael Keane during the summer but somehow find themselves seventh in the table, level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool.
Chelsea – B
Cesar Azpilicueta and Alvaro Morata celebrate the latter’s winner against Man Utd (Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 4th
Best performance so far: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
Worst performance so far: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea
Back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Crystal Palace did little for morale among the reigning champions but in truth their season has not been as poor as depicted. The Blues are one point behind Spurs (3rd) and Manchester United (2nd) and their recent win against the latter proved Antonio Conte still has enough fire in the belly to get something out of this season.
Crystal Palace – F
Will Roy Hodgson prove to be a miracle worker? (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Current position: 20th
Best performance so far: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea
Worst performance so far: Crystal Palace 0-3
It is hard to imagine a more shambolic start to the season than the one witnessed by Palace fans. Five games into the season — having lost all five matches and conceded eight goals without reply — manager Frank De Boer was sacked. Five days later they were demolished at the Etihad and the weekend after that they conceded a further four to Manchester United. An unlikely first win came at home to Chelsea but there has been little to celebrate since. Palace need a miracle to survive, and 70 year-old Roy Hodgson does not exactly look like the messiah.
Everton – D-
Everton’s season has not gone as hoped(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Current position: 15th
Best performance so far: Everton 3-2 Watford
Worst performance so far: Everton 0-1 Burnley
So much was expected of Everton after what appeared an impressive summer, but this season has been nothing short of disastrous. Ronald Koeman paid the price with his major signings, besides Jordan Pickford, failing to impress. They have won just three matches, though Sunday’s dramatic comeback against Watford could prove a watershed moment. Make no mistake, Koeman’s permanent successor — whoever it is — has a big job on their hands.
Huddersfield Town – A
David Wagner and Aaron Mooy (Image: Getty)
Current position: 10th
Best performance so far:Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United
Worst performance so far:Huddersfield Town 0-4 Tottenham
Many people’s favourite for relegation, David Wagner is proving Huddersfield’s promotion was no fluke. An opening day win at Palace set the scene while their victory over Manchester United will live long in the memory. They have suffered heavy defeats against Spurs and Liverpool but that is to be expected when adjusting to the top flight.
Leicester City – B-
Leicester have improved since Claude Puel took charge (Image: Plumb Images)
Current position: 12th
Best performance so far: Leicester City 2-0 Everton
Worst performance so far:Huddersfield Town 1-1 Leicester City
Craig Shakespeare’s tenure at Leicester always looked destined to be short and indeed he has already been sacked by the Foxes following a poor start to the season. They had a tough run in August and September but the performances were as worrying as the results, he had to go. Claude Puel’s arrival, greeted with apathy by most, has proven shrewd and they look a vastly improved side under the Frenchman.
Liverpool – C
Jurgen Klopp embraces Mohamed Salah(Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 5th
Best performance so far: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal
Worst performance so far:Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool
Liverpool’s heaviest defeat of the season came after their best performance and that pretty much sums up their campaign so far. Flashes of brilliance have been pockmarked with atrocious defending and no objective fan would have them competing for the title, which was certainly their aim in August. Liverpool spent a lot of money over the summer yet failed to address their biggest weakness — their defence — and it is hard not to think they only have themselves to blame.
Manchester City – A
Manchester City took another step towards the title against Arsenal (Image: PA)
Current position: 1st
Best performance so far: Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool
Worst performance so far:Manchester City 1-1 Everton
Man City are eight points clear at the top of the table after 11 games and are yet to lose. In fact, they’ve only failed to win one match. This is the most successful start to a season by a Pep Guardiola team ever. Never has one of his sides been this dominant, this early. Their four matches in September yielded four wins and 17 goals without reply. It is hard to see anybody stopping them.
Manchester United – B
Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United in action (Image: Getty)
Current position: 2nd
Best performance so far: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham
Worst performance so far:Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United
Manchester United began this season at a blistering pace with Romelu Lukaku netting a remarkable 11 goals in his first 10 appearances for the club. United were playing expansive football but without sacrificing defensive solidity. Problems have arisen, however, with the disappearance of Lukaku’s form. Since the Belgian stopped scoring, they have won just one of their three Premier League games. To make matters worse, Jose Mourinho has begun criticising the fans and moaning in press conferences. Just when the team need to really focus on their performances, Mourinho seems keen to create havok.
Newcastle United – B
Rafa Benitez is back in the Premier League (Image: PA Wire)
Current position: 11th
Best performance so far: Newcastle 3-0 West Ham
Worst performance so far:Huddersfield Town 1-0 Newcastle
The aim for Newcastle’s hierarchy this season is avoiding relegation and most fans would also be happy with that. Rafa Benitez needs to establish this club as a top flight presence before thinking about loftier ambitions and he is doing a solid job so far. The Spaniard did not get many of his summer transfer targets but is making do with an average squad.
Southampton – C
Mauricio Pellegrino throws the ball to Virgil van Dijk (Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 13th
Best performance so far:Southampton 3-2 West Ham
Worst performance so far:Southampton 1-0 Burnley
Southampton fought hard to keep hold of Virgil van Dijk over the summer but their lack of quality signings is hurting them.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side are yet to deliver back-to-back wins and they currently look more like going on a losing run that they do a winning one. They have won just one of their last six games and are sinking slowly down the table. Shane Long, Manolo Gabbiadini and Charlie Austin have just four goals between them this season, and therein lies the problem.
Stoke City – C-
Stoke conceded seven against Manchester City (Image: PA Wire)
Current position: 14th
Best performance so far: Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal
Worst performance so far:Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City
A win and a clean sheet against Arsenal in the second game of the season has proven a false dawn for a Stoke side that seem to be going backwards if anything. The Potters did some decent business in the summer window but that has not been reflected on the pitch. There have been some shocking performances from Mark Hughes’ side this season but four points from their last two games has shown a glimmer of light at the end of a murky tunnel.
Swansea City – D
Paul Clement’s position at Swansea is far from certain (Image: 2017 Getty Images)
Current position: 19th
Best performance so far: Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea City
Worst performance so far: Swansea City 0-4 Manchester United
Sanctioning the sale of Gylfi Sigurdsson looked a terrible decision in the summer and little has changed at the Liberty Stadium to alter that perception. They looked a good bet to go down before the start of the season, threatened to prove their critics wrong after a steady start but then reverted to type in the following eight games. They have now lost five of their last six games and could see a change of manager in the new year.
Tottenham – B
Tottenham are settling into their temporary home at Wembley (Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Current position: 3rd
Best performance so far: Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool
Worst performance so far: Tottenham 0-0 Swansea City
Mauricio Pochettino rode out a rocky spell over the end of August and beginning of September and Spurs now look like a team on the up. Harry Kane overcame his August dry spell and now has eight goals in seven league appearances since then. If Pochettino can help Dele Alli find his form they could yet put up a fight against Manchester City.
Watford – B
Watford manager Marco Silva (Image: Stuart MacFarlane)
Current position: 9th
Best performance so far: Watford 2-1 Arsenal
Worst performance so far: Everton 3-2 Watford
Marco Silva impressed at Hull last season and was treated with similar reverence at the beginning of the current campaign as his Watford side raced up the table. The Hornets’ impressive spell culminated in a 2-1 win over Arsenal but they have lost every game since. They are still in the top half but their latest defeat, in which they blew two-goal lead, is a cause for concern. Silva, if he is to prove he really does belong at this level, must do what so many other Watford managers have failed to do and maintain the team’s form throughout the entire season.
West Bromwich Albion – D-
Is Tony Pulis past it? (Image: PA Wire)
Current position: 16th
Best performance so far: Burnley 0-1 West Brom
Worst performance so far: Brighton 3-1 West Brom
West Brom finished 10th last season and it is not unreasonable to think they were targeting a similar result in 2017/18, especially considering a strong summer of business that included the likes of Grzegorz Krychowiak, Kieran Gibbs, Oliver Burke, Gareth Barry and Jay Rodriguez. The Baggies have found it tough going, however, and currently sit just one point above the relegation places. Worryingly, this side don’t even seem to possess the defensive organisation that has become Tony Pulis’s hallmark. They are now without a win in their last nine league games and have lost their last three.
West Ham – E
West Ham are on to their second manager if the season (Image: REUTERS)
Current position: 18th
Best performance so far: West Ham 2-0 Huddersfield
Worst performance so far: West Ham 0-3 Brighton
After another summer of bizarre transfer business, West Ham yet again find themselves in turmoil. Under Slaven Bilic, who looked as though was desperate to be put out of his misery, they seemed to lack any plan — either in offence or defence. David Moyes has stepped into his shoes but the Scot’s time at Sunderland will leave many fans concerned about relegation.