Every Premier League club starts the new season with an individual set of hopes and dreams and a managed expectation of how they will get on. Whether these views are optimistic, pessimistic, or just realistic, the first three games can set a precedent for how the coming season will unfold – we have ranked how we believe each club has fared so far. (Disclaimer – each rating is relative based on expectations and opponents, not just results.)
Arsenal – A+
Arsenal are the only club with a perfect record after the first three games. Their new signings have taken like ducks to water, with Gabriel Jesus a particular shining light, and the feeling around the club is very high at the moment. Expectations have to be tempered somewhat, as the three opponents they’ve faced haven’t put up the strongest of fights – with their trip to Selhurst Park on the opening day proving the toughest test – but the Gunners can only beat what’s put in front of them, and they’ve done that with ease.
Aston Villa – C
Villa has had a poor start to the season, with only one win coming away at Goodison Park over an Everton side who are facing their own struggles. A win is a win, however, so the start for Villa hasn’t quite been disastrous, although fans would certainly be hoping for more. Having been tipped by fans and neutrals for a top-half finish this season, things will have to pick up at Villa after losing to both Crystal Palace and newly promoted Bournemouth has some sections of the fanbase calling for the manager’s head.
Bournemouth – C+
Bournemouth was handed a very difficult start to the season, having to face the champions, Manchester City, as well as top-four hopefuls, Arsenal, both within the first three games as a newly promoted side is an almost impossible task. An opening day 2-0 victory over Aston Villa gave them somewhat of a cushion going into these games, but the performances in 4-0 and 3-0 dismantlings to City and Arsenal respectively leave a lot to be desired. It’s too early to think about relegation battles, but the Cherries will have to put up more of a fight if they want to stay up come the end of the season.
Brentford – B
Brentford has been tipped by many to suffer from ‘second-season syndrome’ this year, having seen a successful first year in the Premier League, but the start of the season has shown promising signs amongst some not-so-promising results. A 4-0 humbling of Manchester United is, of course, the highlight, with the Bees looking unstoppable that day, but with this result sandwiched in between a 2-2 draw with struggling Leicester, and a 3-2 loss to West London rivals, Fulham, it’s been a real mixed bag. Four points from three games, including such an inspiring win, is always a positive.
Brighton – A
Having lost key players in Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, it would’ve been easy for Brighton’s early season aspirations to derail, but Graham Potter’s side looks as good, if not better than ever. Beating Manchester United and West Ham, who finished last season in 6th and 7th respectively, is definitely a positive start with regard to the Seagulls’ aspirations of a second consecutive top-half finish. The only game Brighton has failed to win came at the hand of Newcastle United, and given their own aspirations, a draw is still a good result.
Chelsea – C
Chelsea has had a poor start to the season by their lofty standards. Succumbing to a draw with virtually the last kick of the game against rivals Tottenham, before facing an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Leeds United, seemingly has the Blues in a downwards spiral. An opening day victory over Everton got them off to a good start, but with the way things have gone since, Thomas Tuchel may be facing some very serious questions in the near future.
Crystal Palace – B+
Crystal Palace faced one of the toughest starts to the season out of any club in the league, coming up against a resurgent Arsenal side on the opening day, before travelling to Anfield to play the Champions League finalists in week two and then hotly-tipped Aston Villa in week three. Emerging from those three games with four points is probably the most Eagles fans could’ve hoped for, and with that convincing 3-1 victory over Aston Villa fresh in the memory, and talisman Wilfried Zaha in top form – with three goals from three games – Palace can afford to be optimistic for the season ahead.
Everton – D
Everton’s beginning to the season was derailed before it had even started, with a serious injury to star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin leaving the Toffees without a proper striker, opting to start with a front three of Anthony Gordon, Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil in their opening day defeat to Chelsea. They have then gone on to pick up only one point so far this season, at home against newly promoted Nottingham Forest, as the relegation threat from last season still looms large over Goodison Park.
Fulham – A
Upon their promotion, Fulham couldn’t possibly have been given a more difficult opening game as they faced Champions League finalists Liverpool at Craven Cottage. However, they defied expectations by earning a well-deserved point, followed by another draw away to Wolves, and rounded off with a last-minute win over their rivals Brentford in the third game – leaving The Cottagers unbeaten after their opening three games. A fantastic start for the newly promoted side.
Leeds – A
Leeds has provided a real sense of surprise with their flying start to the season. Having struggled last season, many predicted their misfortunes to continue, but with some stellar recruitment over the summer and Jesse Marsch conveying his tactical ideas perfectly, Leeds has earned two wins and a draw from their opening three games. A historic 3-0 dismantling of Chelsea will live long in the memories and could be the type of result to kickstart a huge season for the Yorkshire club. Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams have typified the new approach and recruitment style, and have been real stars of the show so far.
Leicester – D
Leicester City appears to be a club in all kinds of trouble at the moment. Constant transfer speculation surrounding their best players, the likes of Wesley Fofana and James Maddison, as well as the departure of club captain Kasper Schmeichel has had a disruptive influence on the pitch as well as off it. Their only point this season came in an opening day draw with Brentford, and the foxes have since conceded six goals in two games to Arsenal and Southampton. There are some really worrying signs for Leicester, even this early on. One positive, though, is the form of James Maddison, who has scored two in the opening three games.
Liverpool – D
Liverpool’s start to this season has been a disaster. Drawing with Fulham on the opening day was a shock result, but was just seen as a blip – the type of game that can just happen on the opening day – but to follow that by drawing to Crystal Palace at Anfield, and then a loss to a Manchester United side who were coming off the back of a 4-0 defeat to Brentford is shocking. For Liverpool, last year’s Champions League finalists, to be without a win in the first three games, is something that leaves questions that need answering. The Reds have faced some injury problems which have no doubt contributed to this, so once everyone returns to fitness it will be interesting to see if there is a stark turnaround in form.
Manchester City – B+
For any other team in the league, Manchester City’s start to the season would definitely be ranked higher than this. They’ve not lost a game, winning two and drawing one, and have scored nine goals in this time. Because it is Manchester City, though, a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United just isn’t quite good enough. However, easing to a 2-0 win over West Ham, and a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, show that City certainly hasn’t lost their magic touch. Kevin de Bruyne has impressed as always, scoring a spectacular goal with the outside of his foot against Bournemouth, and notching a typically beautiful assist against Newcastle.
Manchester United – C
Erik Ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager has had a start completely typical of this club over the last few years. A terrible start by any means, with a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton kicking it off, followed by an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the Brentford Community Stadium, eventually culminated in a 2-1 win over bitter rivals Liverpool – swings and roundabouts, I suppose. The recent victory has painted a silver lining around United’s awful start, with optimism growing, but that start and those defeats cannot, and should not be ignored – they are still a sign of what can happen and an indicator of the level this team could really be at as they enter a new transitional state this season.
Newcastle United – B
Newcastle is a club with very high aspirations for the coming season. Eddie Howe has got them playing some fantastic football, and they have very much picked up where they left off last season. Scoring three in a 3-3 draw with Manchester City was a real show of what this Newcastle side is about, going toe-to-toe with the champions, and although their only win so far has come against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, the Magpies lofty goals and top-half ambitions look well within reach. A long new contract for Eddie Howe is already being justified, and the first full season under new ownership could prove fruitful.
Nottingham Forest – B
Nottingham Forest began their most recent Premier League venture with an uninspiring loss away to Newcastle but quickly picked up form, earning a 1-0 at home to last year’s seventh-placed team, West Ham. This was followed by a point away at Everton. A total of four points from their opening three games is always an impressive tally for a newly promoted side, and the signings Forest has made are starting to have an impact, with a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Dean Henderson against West Ham, and new striker Taiwo Awoniyi scoring the winner against West Ham.
Southampton – B
Southampton was tipped by many in pre-season to struggle, and began the season in that style, conceding four in a defeat to Tottenham which led to post-match rumours of discontent with the manager in the changing room. These doubts have now been brushed away, with a draw against in-form Leeds and a win away at Leicester City giving the Saints four points from their opening three games – a strong start with room to improve. Che Adams impressed against Leicester, scoring a brace which has put him on two goals in two games this season. If he can keep up this scoring form, he’ll easily improve upon his tally of seven from 30 last season, which would spell good things for Southampton’s league campaign.
Tottenham – A
Much like their North London counterparts, Spurs have had a fantastic start to the season. An opening-day demolition of Southampton set the tone for where Antonino Conte’s side wants to be this season, and a last-minute equaliser at Stamford Bridge showed that, despite playing poorly, this Tottenham side has a desire and fight that they have so lacked in previous years. Dejan Kulusevski and Harry Kane have continued where they left off last season, each putting in impressive performances and with the latter scoring twice in his three games. Spurs aim to stay in the top four has started strongly, and they will continue to push and improve under Conte.
West Ham – D
West Ham has spent their last couple of seasons battling for European places, sitting pretty near the top end of the table with a fair distance between them and their closest competitors below. Based on the start of this season, though, it’s going to be a lot more difficult. West Ham is the only side in the league who are yet to score a goal after three games, and although one performance in particular against Nottingham Forest could be considered unlucky, they seem to lack the venom they’ve previously carried. Fans have begun to question the abilities of former fan-favourites Thomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, while last season’s shining light Jarrod Bowen is yet to get firing. They’ll need to improve all over the pitch if they want to be playing in Europe again next year.
Wolves – D
Much like West Ham, Wolves have become used to being cemented in the top half of the season in previous years. However, so far this season it appears that last season’s deficiencies still linger, as they struggle to score goals, with their only one this season coming in a defeat to Leeds United. Their performance against Tottenham offered a bit of hope, but typically they couldn’t capitalise and folded to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Harry Kane. If they can bring in a reliable forward to replace or cover for Jiminez when he is unavailable, they should be able to pick up more points – but that’s a relatively big if.
We are, of course, only three games into the new season. Each of these is only based on those three games and a lot can change over the course of the season – and it will. All predictions made are to be taken with a pinch of salt and with the perception that every single one of them could be wrong as the season unfolds before us.