LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Brendan Rodgers the manager of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on September 2, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
It's been a tough three weeks for Liverpool, and no one is giving them the benefit of the doubt anymore after this weekend's performance.
It was a rough week for Liverpool, who lost once again. They were vanquished at home by previously goalless Arsenal, who struggled through draws in their first two matches. Brendan Rodgers is done getting the benefit of the doubt, while Arsene Wenger's boys look like they're at least the fourth best team in England.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion pulled off another impressive result, this week against Everton, last week's voter darlings in these rankings. Swansea cooled off with a draw, though not an embarrassing one, while West Ham easily dispatched of Fulham. These were the results that had the biggest effects on this week's power rankings.
1. Chelsea (Average ranking - 1.53; Last week - 1.33): I had them first last week, and nothing has changed for me while they had the weekend off. I'm a bit concerned that City may have just closed the gap with both clubs' respective transfer dealings. (Stephen Schmidt, We Ain't Got No History)
2. Manchester City (Average ranking - 1.66; Last week - 2.13): No change in City's position for me this week, with Chelsea having not played and victory over QPR keeping United at bay. For passages of the game on Saturday they were excellent going forward; the quartet of Silva, Nasri, Tevez and Dzeko linked well and in truth they should have had a bigger lead at halftime. Familiar failings in terms of a lack of focus and concentration allowed QPR back into the game, but City's firepower was enough to secure the points and maintain second position in the power rankings. (Danny Pugsley, Bitter and Blue)
3. Manchester United (Average ranking - 2.93; Last week - 2.66): Sir Alex Ferguson's side has only played one good half of football in the young season and it did not occur during the past weekend versus Southampton, the manager's 1,000th league match in charge of Manchester United. However, Robin van Persie's hat-trick obviously stole the headlines -- as did his botched Panenka penalty attempt to a lesser extent -- and many United fans were buzzing after the match due to the late goal dramatics. One important thing that may have gone unnoticed by some was Paul Scholes completely changing the match when he came on as a substitute in the 61st minute. Sir Alex and RvP certainly noticed as they couldn't stop praising his influence in post-match interviews. The 37-year-old maestro is a still a boss. (Gene Um, The Busby Babe)
4. Arsenal (Average ranking - 4.93; Last week - 6.06): Arsenal did much to assuage the supporters' disquiet this weekend at Anfield. Granted, the Reds are in a bit of disarray themselves, but Arsenal were stout in defense when it mattered, although Luis Suarez did threaten early on. Abou Diaby -- I know! -- looked very good in midfield and Kieran Gibbs continued his solid start to the year, but two of Arsenal's three marquee signings this summer were the men of the day, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, the latter not only scoring but keeping Glen Johnson under wraps. Even though Arsenal added no pieces on deadline day, they still have yet to concede and have looked solid if not wowee! in two consecutive tricky away matches. Maybe Steve Bould has instilled some of the Boring, Boring Arsenal back into the North London club? (Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse)
5. Everton (Average ranking - 5.13; Last week - 4.47): Everton were brought down to earth with a uncomfortable bump on Saturday, their 100% record brought to an end by and industrious and well organized West Brom team. They can have no complaints with the 2-0 result, as they were outplayed and tactically outmaneuvered by Baggies boss Steve Clarke. Still, six points from nine is a solid start and hopefully this loss will help to keep their feet on the ground going forward. (Thomas Mallows, Royal Blue Mersey)
6. Swansea City (Average ranking - 6.00; Last week - 6.27): The Swans suffered a slight hiccup with a home draw against Sunderland, but the Black Cats are a quality side and Swansea played the better football. They'll get a big boost when new signing Pablo Hernandez enters the starting XI. (Kevin McCauley, Cartilage Free Captain and SB Nation Soccer)
7. West Bromwich Albion (Average ranking - 6.40; Last week - 10.40): Perhaps our voters are coming around to the idea that West Brom's success last year wasn't all about Roy Hodgson? They knocked off Everton over the weekend and have seven points from three very tough fixtures. There's no reason to believe that the Baggies can't stick around in the top half. (Kevin McCauley)
Still thinking of Europe
8. Newcastle United (Average ranking - 8.53; Last week - 8.07): After the international break Newcastle have a run of 5 matches in 12 days (including 3 in 6 days). Mike Ashley and company are to be commended for keeping the squad that finished 5th last year together this August, but perhaps also condemned for not adding very much depth at all. How the Toon perform during this upcoming stretch will probably tell us a lot about what to expect from the rest of the season. (Robert Bishop, Coming Home Newcastle)
9. Tottenham Hotspur (Average ranking - 8.80; Last week - 8.20): Saturday's result was another disappointing one for Andre Villas-Boas and company. Hopefully for Spurs, their new signings will start playing after the international break and they'll start playing some better football. A starting XI that features Emmanuel Adebayor, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey should perform better than the lineups that Tottenham trotted out in their first three games, but they won't be a magic fix. (Kevin McCauley)
Welcome to Average Island
10. Sunderland (Average ranking - 9.73; Last week - 10.60): A slight slip, but still cause for optimism at the Stadium Of Light. Steven Fletcher went some way to both paying back his transfer fee and silencing some of the critics of it at the weekend against Swansea City in a game we could well have won. It's only two games, but they were tough games against Arsenal (a title contender) and Swansea (the form team). Points on the board, and everyone's still smiling up here. (Simon Walsh, Roker Report)
T-11. Fulham (Average ranking - 12.27; Last week - 9.13): Deadline day, despite the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov, wasn't as successful as we were all hoping. We haven't replaced Moussa Dembele when we desperately needed to. Apparently, Jol had 3 or 4 in mind but failed with all of them, through a mixture of haggling agents and, believe it or not, mixed up paperwork. It's left us short in central midfield and it was obvious on Saturday as Kevin Nolan bossed the midfield for West Ham United. Normally, Dembele would be clearing up the trouble and also providing us with a creative edge. Losing him will affect our season in a huge way. (Kristian Balkin, Cottagers Confidential)
T-11. Wigan Athletic (Average ranking - 12.27; Last week - 13.80): Been an okay week considering a dominating performance in the League Cup before a hard fought draw against Stoke City. The draw for me shows that both teams are in places they want to be. Both us and Stoke are likely to be close to each other come the end of the season and shows how both of us are likely to be mid-table for our styles of football. The continual good quality of passing football is a good sign and long may it continue. Hopefully the international break will do the team well and we can come back ready to go beat United at Old Trafford. (Kieran Heapy, Pie Eater's Footie)
Top four? You're having a laugh.
13. Liverpool (Average ranking - 12.7; Last week - 10.07): There's no shame in losing to Arsenal, but a 2-0 home loss is a bad result, and their finishing was embarrassing on the weekend. Without Lucas Leiva or a striker to bring off the bench, it's hard to envision Liverpool passing the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham this season. They might even have some trouble getting by Everton. (Kevin McCauley)
Lana. LANA. LAAAAAAANAAAAAAAAAAA. Danger Zone.
14. West Ham United (Average ranking - 12.86; Last week - 16.27): And you doubted Sam Allardyce. He might not know what to do when you hand him quality players and some money to spend, but Big Sam knows how to keep an average side in the Premier League. Their first half display was extremely impressive in their 3-0 win over Fulham. (Kevin McCauley)
15. Stoke City (Average ranking - 13.13; Last week - 13.20): A 2-2 draw away to Wigan is a decent enough result for Stoke, but their midfield is obviously lacking something. Geoff Cameron is a defender and there's a picture of Glenn Whelan next to 'mediocre' in the dictionary. Maurice Edu and Charlie Adam should provide them with some life in the center, and they should move upwards shortly. Until then, 15th is about right. (Kevin McCauley)
16. Aston Villa (Average ranking - 16.60 ; Last week - 18.20): A lot of people, including certain Villa supporters, looked down their noses as Paul Lambert's transfer activity during the week, and there have been murmurings of "Championship team" and "preparing to go down." In that light, going into the lion's den that is St. James' Park and coming away with a creditable draw looks like a bit of a statement. However, Newcastle were there for the taking, and while there's little that you can say about the goal they did allow, Aston Villa were careless with possession and still have the look of a team that's fairly rough around the edges. (Gareth Simpson, 7500 to Holte)
17. Reading (Average ranking - 16.87; Last week - 15.27): Well it's hard to really move us up or down given that we've not played a league game since losing to Chelsea back on August 22nd. As expected we didn't make any moves on deadline day but West Ham aside, I don't think many our our relegation rivals did anything stunning and I'm still confident we'll be able to finish above the bottom three come May. (Wimb, The Tilehurst End)
Have fun in the Championship!
18. Southampton (Average ranking - 17.07; Last week - 17.00): This team has no luck. They've put together great showings against Manchester City and Manchester United, but have no points to show for it. They have a few believers among the voters, but most have them in the drop zone. They'll probably drop three points again when they go to the Emirates after international break, but a home win against Aston Villa the following round should change everyone's mind about the Saints. (Kevin McCauley)
19. Norwich City (Average ranking - 18.13; Last week - 18.20): Apparently, a draw against Tottenham isn't enough to garner any respect. A number of voters still have Norwich dead last. They certainly have fewer big name talents than their relegation rivals, so they'll have to string together a couple of wins to earn anyone's trust in these rankings. (Kevin McCauley)
20. Queens Park Rangers (Average ranking - 19.00; Last week - 18.40): I am side-eying the hell out of everyone who did not vote QPR in last place. (Kevin McCauley)