Enough time has passed since Chelsea's draw against Queen's Park Rangers for our voters to place them in the same spot they occupy in the table that matters - No. 1. The Blues have been flawless outside of that match. Between their win at the Emirates Stadium two weeks ago and their entertaining 4-1 victory over Norwich this weekend, they're ahead of the Manchester sides with a solid buffer zone to boot.
Unfortunately for Norwich, that game caused them to drop to the bottom of our rankings. Besides those two battles, at the top and bottom of the table, the most interesting battle is for fourth place. Our voters seriously disagree about whether Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur or Everton is the fourth-best team in the Premier League.
The Contenders, now a group of three
No. 1 - Chelsea (Average ranking - 1.23): I'm still not sold on the idea that Chelsea will remain atop the table for the entire season, as there are still too many questions about Fernando Torres and what Chelsea have behind him to feel completely comfortable. The rest of the Chelsea attack has been incredible though, and defensively they've generally looked better than either of the Manchester sides.. (Stephen Schmidt, We Ain't Got No History)
No. 2 Manchester City (2.31): They returned to the safer waters of the Premier League after a troubling time in Europe, and Sunderland were willing opponents as City sought a morale boosting win, with a clean sheet to boot. Clearly their most all-round comprehensive performance of the season the form of David Silva is a boost and Sergio Aguero has returned from injury impressively. A nice looking run of fixtures awaits and it could see City go on a nice run. (Danny Pugsley, Bitter and Blue)
No. 3 - Manchester United (2.62): Sir Alex Ferguson continued this past week with his midfield diamond experiment and the returns continue to be encouraging. In Romania last midweek, United were mostly in control versus CFR Cluj during a Champions League tie. At Newcastle on Sunday, at the same ground where the Red Devil's midfield was completely overrun in this same fixture last season, the midfield diamond established dominance early and that propelled the away side to a 3-0 victory over the Magpies. The other big positive to these recent change in tactics is that Wayne Rooney has excelled as the playmaker at the tip of the diamond since returning from his recent injury. Despite his impressive goal tally last season, the England international's overall influence had been waning since last winter. (Gene Um, The Busby Babe)
Ladies and gentlemen, your fourth place battle!
No. 4 - Arsenal (4.54): The Gunners struggled initially with Andy Carroll, but a healthy Andy Carroll gives most defenses some trouble. Poor defensive play allowed West Ham to get on the board first, but Arsenal were able to keep things mostly in check from that point forward, even though West Ham had a couple more golden chances. Good goals from Giroud and Walcott, plus a great goal from Santi Cazorla, were enough to seal the points for Arsenal and right the ship after a tough loss to Chelsea last weekend. Questions remain about dealing with physicality in the middle without Abou Diaby around, but Mikel Arteta is doing the business for the nonce. (Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse)
No. 5 - Tottenham Hotspur (4.92): Quite a few voters placed Tottenham Hotspur over Arsenal this week. I'm not one of them, though I would vote for a tie for fourth if that was an option. We'll learn exactly how good Tottenham are when they take on Chelsea at White Hart Lane after the international break. If they're able to get a draw out of that match, there won't be much of a debate about which team is the early favorite for fourth. (Kevin McCauley, Cartilage Free Captain and SB Nation Soccer)
No. 6 - Everton (5.54): Everton have cooled off a bit after their hot start, though there's certainly not any shame in drawing away to Wigan, who have been getting good home results against superior teams for half a decade. They've been hit by the news that Marouane Fellaini will miss three weeks, but the good news for them is that the injury came at international break, and he'll probably be back for October 28th's Merseyside Derby. With Tottenham finding their footing while Liverpool and Newcastle continue to struggle, Everton might stay in sixth for a while. (Kevin McCauley)
Comfortably top half
No. 7 - West Bromwich Albion (7.08): The Baggies are consistent, if nothing else, and there's no reason to beleive that they won't be able to stick in the top half this season. They followed up their 1-1 West Midlands Derby draw against Aston Villa with a 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers this weekend. If there are any concerns about them, it's that they needed three goals to overcome QPR. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 8 - Newcastle United (8.77): Well, this weekend didn't go very well. Newcastle got absolutely pasted at home by Manchester United, dropping points for the second straight match. They come back from international break to a massive Tyne-Wear Derby at the Stadium of Light, and the pressure will be on Alan Pardew to right the ship for that match. If Newcastle don't managed a good performance and a draw against Sunderland, it will be time to start questioning whether or not they can fight for a European place. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 9 - Fulham (8.92): It was at least warming that after such an abysmal first half at Southampton, we could pick ourselves up and put in a much more worthy shift in the second half, even without Berbatov or Petric to lead the line. Uncharacteristically, though, Hangeland looked poor and unreliable and his distribution was weak - even though his pass released Riether for Richardson's goal. We were clumsy when defending set pieces and, as such, this weekend highlighted some weaknesses that need to be adressed. It was still a point on the road, however, so not all is bad. (Kristian Balkin, Cottagers Confidential)
No. 10 - Sunderland (11.15):We were pretty awful against Manchester City this weekend out, but it wasn't a performance that was particularly indicative of our season so far. 3-0, away, at the Champions is far from unexpected. There's reason to remain optimistic about this season, and I still see us slightly above the middle of the pack. . (Simon Walsh, The Roker Report)
No. 11 - West Ham (10.85): The Hammers would be ranked quite a bit higher if Kevin Nolan took his chances. Before Santi Cazorla scored his absolute stunner to put West Ham away this weekend, Nolan missed a pair of absolute sitters. Sam Allardyce got his tactics right and West Ham gave Arsenal a game, which is very encouraging. They're still not a great team, but they're better than the relegation battlers. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 12 - Liverpool (12.00): Those who dislike Liverpool will find it very easy to make fun of Liverpool after a draw against Stoke, but their performance was hardly an embarrassment. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see Chelsea or one of the Manchester clubs put in the same solid, but not quite good enough performance in a draw with Stoke. Arsenal have already been there. If the Reds don't beat Reading at home, then you can make fun of them. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 13 (tie)- Swansea City (12.54): The Swans rescued a draw after 60 minutes of very poor football against Reading. There's simply no excuse for a team with Swansea's talent and recent Premier League record to get outplayed for the majority of a match by Reading. Hopefully for Michael Laudrup, this was just a small blip on the radar. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 13 (tie) - Stoke City (12.54): Yet another scoreless draw for Stoke! They are who we thought they were. (Kevin McCauley)
Narrowly avoiding the drop
No. 15 - Wigan Athletic (15.23): We got a good point against Everton, and we are starting to slowly improve bit by bit. Slowly but surely, we are getting back to the team we used to be: Arrogant, confident and with lots of swagger. The return of Franco Di Santo, the lanky striker who has always been classed as a big flop, has been a key factor. He is turning into one of our best players and as this season goes on the better he will become and his form will dictate the points we pick up. Really, for us the international break couldn't have come at a worse time. (Kieran Heapy, Pie Eater's Footie)
No. 16 - Aston Villa (16.08): For yet another season, Aston Villa were comfortably taken apart at White Hart Lane. However, despite the scoreline's similarity, the performance from a still-young squad was considerably more encouraging than Alex McLeish's tactical surrender last year in North London. The most concerning talking point for Villa fans will be Christian Benteke's lack of sharpness in front of goal. They may start to wonder if the still-benched Darren Bent might be able to finish some of the chances that Benteke is wasting with alarming regularly. (Gareth Simpson, 7500 to Holte)
No. 17 - Southampton (16.77): Southampton certainly didn't play well enough against Fulham to deserve more than a draw, but the way they threw away their lead was alarming. They went ahead, and the own goal that they conceded was a bit embarrassing. Still, the Saints are a bit better than the other relegation contenders and they seem like a good bet to finish 17th. (Kevin McCauley)
The relegation zone
No. 18 - Reading (18.15): We've picked up our first away point of the season and while we would have liked to come away from the Liberty Stadium with all three, a great goalkeeping display has helped us to climb another place in the Premier League. The returns of Kebe and Roberts have really given us some new energy and I've seen nothing from Wigan, Villa, Saints, QPR or Norwich to think that we're in too much danger of being cut adrift. Winning at Anfield in two weeks time will be a tough task but I think we can sneak a point. (Wimb, The Tilehurst End)
No. 19 - Queen's Park Rangers (19.00): What does Mark Hughes have to do to lose his job? Queen's Park Rangers is clearly a more talented side than Reading, Norwich and Southampton, and shouldn't sit bottom of the league. Surely someone at Loftus Road has Harry Redknapp's phone number? (Kevin McCauley)
No. 20 - Norwich City (19.38): Seven games, no wins for Chris Hughton's side. This is not the Premier League of old, where playing decent-looking football is a virtue that causes managers like Hughton to get the benefit of the doubt. Norwich and Swansea stayed up playing pretty last season, and Southampton are playing nice football this year. Losing to Chelsea is understandable, but shipping five goals to Liverpool isn't. They'll probably lose to Arsenal after the break, but that game is followed by a stretch where they must get points -- at Villa, home against Stoke, and at Reading. (Kevin McCauley)
SB Nation Soccer writers Ryan Rosenblatt, Callum Hamilton, Zach Woosley and Graham MacAree also voted.