Despite their defeat by Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge, Manchester City is still the No. 1 side in our Week 16 English Premier League Power Rankings. The victory by Andre Villas-Boas' side isn't all for naught though as the West Londoners have climbed to No. 3. The champions, Manchester United, have moved up to No. 2 while Tottenham Hotspur have been dropped to No. 4 after their defeat by Stoke City. At the bottom of this poll, Bolton Wanderers were the unanimous choice by our eight voters to occupy the No. 20 spot -- the same position as their standing in the league table.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all explanations are by Gene Um
1. Manchester City - With the dropped points at Liverpool and the loss at Stamford Bridge, what was extremely tight grip on first is slipping. This weekend against Arsenal will be very interesting and who would have thought that a couple of months ago when City were crushing United and United were crushing Arsenal? - Neal Thurman, Never Manage Alone
2. Manchester United - Prior to their 4-1 victory over Wolves, it had been seven successive matches -- and eight of the past nine -- where United had only scored a single goal in Premier League action. Thus, a bit of therapeutic relief was provided when both Wayne Rooney and Nani bagged a brace at Old Trafford. With City's loss during the past weekend, United have pulled within two points of the leaders and they undoubtedly are eying a relatively favorable holiday fixture list as an opportunity to jockey for better position in the title race. However, a plethora of injuries has thinned manager Sir Alex Ferguson's squad and this certainly is a concern for the upcoming congested fixture list.
3. Chelsea FC - The Blues continued their recent run of good form by taking down leaders Manchester City on Monday night. City started the match well but Villas-Boas' side showed grit as they grew into the match and found an equaliser from Raul Meireles. After Gael Clichy was sent off and City were reduced to ten-men, substitute Frank Lampard hammered home a penalty and Chelsea took all the points. In the aftermath of this match, Chelsea have denied the claims that left-back Ashely Cole taunted the City players with 'Thursday night, Channel 5' chants. Hilarious if true though.
4. Tottenham Hotspur - Spurs undefeated streak ended against Stoke City on Sunday, but it hasn't changed what I think of them. Unlike some of my colleagues who had them up in second due to their run of form, I've thought of them as the fourth best team in the league even through their run. I still feel that way. They played poorly in the first-half against a team playing a specific style that they won't face again anytime soon, and they were excellent in the second-half. Arsenal and Spurs should yo-yo between fourth and fifth for much of the year, but their previous run keeps them fourth for another week in my eyes. - Kevin McCauley, Cartilage Free Captain
5. Arsenal FC - They will have to make a tactical shift to playing four center-backs for a crucial period against City and Villa. So far though, the makeshift back four has proved out and even young Ignasi Miquel looked solid at left-back against City in the Carling Cup. The next three weeks may affect what Wenger decides to do in January. - Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse
6. Liverpool FC - Life without Lucas continues as Liverpool earned their first league victory since their influential holding-midfielder tore his ACL. During Liverpool's 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, it was talisman Luiz Suarez that scored what was his first league goal since October 1. The hearing for the Uruguay international, in regards to the charges that he racially abused United's Patrice Evra, has begun and if it any sort of ban results, Liverpool may see their hopes of a top four finish vanish.
7 (tied). Newcastle United - If Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote don't get well soon, Newcastle's struggles to keep the ball out of the net will only continue. Supporters are certainly thankful that they grabbed so many points to start the campaign; the countdown to the safety net of 40 begins now. - Robert L. Bishop, Coming Home Newcastle
7 (tied). Stoke City - Great home win, even if it wasn't really deserved. In six matches against teams with a legitimate shot at a top four finish, they have a total of eight points. Stoke would be closer with Newcastle if they would stop dropping points against relegation contenders -Thurman
9. Aston Villa - Villa were decidedly more impressive this week, grabbing their first away win under Alex McLeish. However, it came in the form of a 2-1 win against bottom-feeders Bolton. Villa likely should have won by much more, and if they'd finished a bit better, they had the chance to bury Bolton. However, it's difficult to judge whether this represents a real sea of change due to how poor Bolton are. - Gareth Simpson, 7500 To Holte
10. Norwich City - Call it a great win or a stroke of luck to get NUFC when they were weakened, but it all looks the same in the standings in the end. Like QPR, they're performing like a mid-table team rather than like the relegation contender many expected. -Thurman
11. Fulham FC - It was a disappointing week for the Cottagers as they lost 2-0 away to Swansea City in league and that was followed by being knocked out of the Europa League in shocking fashion when Danish side Odense scored an equaliser in the final minute of play. Fulham will look to rebound this weekend when they host bottom of the table Bolton at Craven Cottage.
13. Swansea City - The Welsh side continued to display their impressive home form during their 2-0 victory over Fulham but their woeful away form will be tested again when they travel to the Toon for a clash at
St James' Park Sports Direct Arena. Away results will likely be needed if the Swans hope to play successive seasons in the Premier League.
14. Queens Park Rangers - QPR competed well at Anfield but ultimately came up short in their 1-0 defeat by Liverpool. The current fixture list continues to remain difficult as United is next. However, the West Londoners get to at least play at the friendly confines of Loftus Road.
15. West Bromwich Albion - Nothing announces your entry into the relegation chase quite like a home loss to Wigan. -Thurman
16. Sunderland AFC - It is criminal that they've sunk to these depths with the talent on hand but the appointment of Martin O'Neill and the dramatic comeback win over Blackburn have things pointing in the right direction. -Thurman
17. Wolverhampton Wanderers - A defeat at Old Trafford is hardly reason for an indictment but Wolves will certainly be looking for results in the upcoming week as they host two mid-table sides -- Stoke and Norwich -- at the Molineux. Mick McCarthy's side likely will be dancing in or near the relegation zone for the remainder of the season.
18. Wigan Athletic - A great win for Lactics as they dominated the game versus West Brom and looked great from start to finish. They showed how much the defence has improved and it took a wonder strike from West Brom for it to be penetrated. Signs are good so I think we can carry on the revival and do well against Chelsea this upcoming weekend. - Kieran Heapy, Pie Eaters Footie
19. Blackburn Rovers - Is David Hoilett that good that his absence can force Blackburn to 'park the bus' for 80 minutes against a fellow relegation zone side? That little confidence in or impact from your attacking players is not a good sign. -Thurman
20. Bolton Wanderers - Bottom of the table. Worst goal differential in league. Four successive losses. It doesn't look good for Owen Coyle and his side. Bolton do not face a top six side until mid-January so it will be essential for them to pick up points in the upcoming weeks if they want to position themselves better for a rescue out of the relegation zone.
How It Works: The rankings were determined by a poll of 8 voters. Each voter ranked the clubs 1 through 20 and the final rankings were determined on the average of those votes.
Who participated: Gene Um (SB Nation, Soccer and The Busby Babe); Kevin McCauley (SB Nation, Soccer and Cartilage Free Captain); Robert L. Bishop (Coming Home Newcastle); Neal Thurman (Never Manage Alone); Ted Harwood (The Short Fuse); Gareth Simpson (7500 To Holte); Kieran Heapy (Pie Eaters Footie); Thomas Mallows (Royal Blue Mersey)