With two weeks of games in the books, we unveil this season's inaugural Premier League power rankings. Everton and Swansea have benefited from their fantastic starts, while most voters seem to be believers in Chelsea's perfect start, even if their win over Reading was aided by some poor officiating.
The rankings were calculated by taking the average position of each team on the ballots of our participating voters. A total of 12 SB Nation team bloggers and three other SB Nation Soccer contributors elected to vote in this week's poll.
1. Chelsea (Average ranking - 1.33): A great start to the season, including a decisive victory against Newcastle, but not quite convincing at home to newly-promoted Reading. Eden Hazard's been a revelation, but what happens when he hits a dry spell? (Graham MacAree, We Ain't Got No History and SB Nation Soccer).
2. Manchester City (2.13): Still very early days, but City have picked up four points which I think is par looking at the fixtures they had. True, there are sides with 100 percent records ahead of them in the rankings, but I back City to beat them and they still have plenty of credit being Champions. (Danny Pugsley, Bitter and Blue)
3. Manchester United (2.66): Sir Alex Ferguson's side has certainly looked shaky in the back but I don't anticipate that to be a long-term problem because the club has five terrific central-defenders. Not long ago, a dip in form or an injury to Wayne Rooney would be hugely concerning but Shinji Kagawa has shined as United's No.10 while Robin van Persie is obviously an excellent No.9. Once the attacks gels, it should be breathtaking to watch. (Gene Um, The Busby Babe)
4. Everton (4.47): Evertonians cannot ask for more after two wins from two so far. A battling win against United was followed up with a superb display against Aston Villa, with the only negative point perhaps being the fact they didn't win by more than two goals.However, that would be being very picky. There is genuine optimism though as to what the team can achieve this season, provided we get lucky with injuries. (Thomas Mallows, Royal Blue Mersey)
The benefit of the doubt
5. Arsenal (6.06): Perpetual "club in crisis" Arsenal have looked a little feckless against two very stout defensive teams, and the call of the crisis brigade seems to be "RvP woulda buried that!" this week. This ignores a couple of salient points, namely that 1) Arsenal didn't score in their first two matches With RvP in the XI last year, and 2) that the primary problem for Arsenal's offense so far hasn't been finishing, but rather creativity and service. Two clean sheets show that the defensive side of the Gunners is moving in a good direction, and if the attackers can learn not to run into one another soon, Arsenal should be up and running just fine. Depth at striker is a potential issue. (Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse).
6. Swansea City (6.27): Michael Laudrup has been underrated as a manager for half a decade. He finally found a great situation at Swansea, and he's making the most of it. Michu has been an absolute revelation, Danny Graham picked up where he left off last season and Jonathan De Guzman looks like a great signing. Swansea are unlikely to finish this high at the end of the year, but they look like a legitimate top-half side. (Kevin McCauley, Cartilage Free Captain and SB Nation Soccer)
Still clawing for fourth
7. Newcastle United (8.07): The Magpies followed up their great performance against Tottenham in the first week of the season with a dull and lifeless performance against Chelsea. Still, there's no shame in losing at Stamford Bridge, and Newcastle should be just fine. Expect them to compete to finish in the top seven yet again. (Kevin McCauley)
8. Tottenham Hotspur (8.20): It's been a rough start under Andre Villas-Boas, but at least there have been some positives. The first half performances against Newcastle and West Brom have been solid and they've found goals late in the second half for two games in a row, but their final 15 minutes has been putrid in both games. If Spurs can find a way to play for 90 minutes, not just 75, they'll compete with Arsenal and Newcastle all season. (Kevin McCauley)
Fighting for Europa League
9. Fulham (9.13): The start we've made has been, in my opinion, brilliant, and also much better than expected. Hammering Norwich City was welcoming but not necessarily ground-breaking, while we actually put in a very good shift at United -- something you rarely hear when talking about Fulham and away games. We have a better team than I think most people realise but, unfortunately, the clubs around us are making better signings so something will have to be done in the last few transfer window days if we are to progress from last season. Our new reliance on youth could either be a master-stroke or our downfall. (Kristian Balkin, Cottagers Confidential)
10. Liverpool (10.07): The second-half display against West Brom was absolutely awful -- as bad as Liverpool have looked in a while, and they've spent plenty of time in the past few years looking pretty awful. But the performance to that point had been very positive even though they were down a goal, with plenty of possession and more than a few dangerous chances created, and a general sense of encouragement about where things were headed. Against Manchester City, things were much better. Ultimately, I think Liverpool are in place to be better than we might have expected. As long as nobody outside the twelve good players they have gets hurt. (Ed, Liverpool Offside)
11. West Bromwich Albion (10.40): The Baggies probably got disrespected in this week's power rankings. A win over Liverpool and a draw at White Hart Lane isn't good enough for top half? Preposterous. In any event, they're going to be fighting for a top-half place all season if Romelu Lukaku finds his form and proves he's 90-minutes fit. He's already embarrassed Jan Vertonghen and Jamie Carragher this year, and he's played about 45 minutes of football. (Kevin McCauley)
12. Sunderland (10.60): We've only played one game, we've not scored but at the same time we've not conceded either. There's a huge buzz of excitement around the area at the moment with the signing of Steven Fletcher and what could be the signing of the summer in Adam Johnson. Big things are certainly in the offing for us, and we're well placed to achieve them. We're much stronger than the mainstream media would have you believe. (Simon Walsh, Roker Report)
13. Stoke City (13.20): Two games, two draws. Pretty much par for the course for Stoke. They've done very well to bolster their midfield with a couple of Americans, Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu, and that athleticism is going to be tough for other teams to deal with. They did very well to draw Arsenal at the weekend and shouldn't end up anywhere near the drop zone. (Kevin McCauley)
14. Wigan Athletic (13.80): Wigan Athletic have had a mixed start to the season. The Chelsea game was disappointing in that we played well, bar 10 minutes of self destruction. Against Southampton, it was a great game of football where everything came together, even if for parts they had us on the back foot. We defended well and took our chnaces even better. Promising signs for the rest of the season. (Kieran Heapy, Pie Eater's Footie)
Need to improve
15. Reading (15.27): Two games and one point is just about alright, but the nagging feeling among Reading fans remains that it should have been four or maybe even six. The performance against Stoke was uninspiring but a Federici error aside, we looked comfortable in defence and we deserved the late equaliser we got through Le Fondre's penalty. I think the performance against Chelsea exceeded expectations and only another gaffe from Fedders and an utterly shocking decision from the linesman denied us one or even three points. Sadly our game against Sunderland was lost due to freak storms but it's nice going into this three-week stretch without a game knowing we're off the mark. (Wimb, The Tilehurst End)
16. West Ham (16.27): West Ham's draw against Aston Villa isn't terribly impressive, and they were poor against Swansea. Only Sam Allardyce's experience and voters' faith in his ability to keep a team from getting relegated has them in 16th at the moment. (Kevin McCauley)
17. Southampton (17.00): The Saints followed up their solid showing against Manchester City with a putrid performance against Wigan at home. They avoid the bottom three due to the awful performances of three other teams, but they could find themselves there soon enough. They have plenty of attacking and midfield talent, but their defense is dire. (Kevin McCauley)
Heading for the drop?
T-18. Aston Villa (18.20): Paul Lambert's honeymoon has come to a rather abrupt end after Villa's embarrassing defeat at home at the hands of a club that Villa supporters used to consider equals. Aston Villa's squad is a collection of strangers and academy graduates, and they're in dire need of improvement before the transfer window shuts on Friday. (Gareth Simpson, 7500 to Holte)
T-18. Norwich City (18.20): Norwich didn't appear in last place in nearly as many ballots as Aston Villa did, but they did not place above 16th on anyone's ballot. Without Paul Lambert on the sidelines, very few have faith in the Canaries. It's understandable, considering that they are a team made up of players who were Championship and League 1 stars before finally playing in the Premier League last year. (Kevin McCauley)
20. Queens Park Rangers (18.40): QPR was placed in the bottom four slots by all but one voter, who inexplicably voted them 14th. If not for that one vote, they would have been in last place much more convincingly. Their strategy of adding fringe Premier League defenders who couldn't get into other teams hasn't helped them out so far, and things are looking bleak unless they can do some excellent business on deadline day. (Kevin McCauley)