It is generally advised that it does no good to glance at the English Premier League table until the season is at least 10 matches old. With the season now 13 matches old (unless you are Tottenham Hotspur or Everton FC), nine writers from around SB Nation have shared their opinion on the league's pecking order. In the inaugural Power Rankings from SB Nation Soccer, Manchester City are the No.1 side headed into Week 14.
The real debate began on trying to decide who No. 2 is. While it was champions Manchester United that captured the most votes for second-best, their recent dip in form has divided opinion and it is in-form Spurs whose average ranking that soared them to No. 2.
Near the bottom of the poll, Sunderland sit in the No.17 spot despite having a goal differential of 0. Perhaps this is a reaction from the recent sacking of manager Steve Bruce. Or perhaps it is simply because the Wearsiders are currently 16th in the league table. Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean won't find any assurances from us in regards to his job security as his side occupies the No. 20 spot in our rankings -- the same position as their standing in the league table.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all explanations are by Gene Um
1. Manchester City - Dropping two points this past weekend to a legitimate contender for a Champions League place (Liverpool) is reasonable. Their draw at Fulham has been their only real stumble thus far this season. - Neal Thurman, Never Manage Alone
2. Tottenham Hotspur - August was a difficult month for Spurs as they were dealing with the London riots canceling their season opener with Everton, a dramatic transfer saga involving Luka Modric, and a fixture list versus the then in-form Manchester clubs. Since defeats by United and City, the North London club have gone 10 straight matches unbeaten. The additions of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor (on loan) give Spurs a starting XI that is arguably competitive with any other side in England.
3. Manchester United - United just endured a 9-day span that saw them draw 2-2 with Benfica in a pivotal UEFA Champions League tie, draw 1-1 with Newcastle in league, and suffer 1-2 defeat by Championship side Crystal Palace in a Carling Cup clash -- all at Old Trafford. The Reds face a relatively comfortable run of league fixtures in December and manager Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful to sort out his side's issues while catching ground on leaders City during this time. However, an important European night awaits United next week in Switzerland as a result is needed versus FC Basel in order to avoid a shockingly early exit from the Champions League.
4. Chelsea FC - New manager Andre Villas-Boas has taken a lot stick recently due to his side's recent propensity to concede goals. Many are blaming the high line in defense and aggressive pressing high up the pitch that the young manager is attempting to implement at Chelsea. The Blues' 3-0 victory over Wolves this past weekend helped ease some of the pressure on AVB.
5. Liverpool FC - The past two weekends have seen Liverpool hold up against City at Anfield and defeat Chelsea 2-1 away at Stamford Bridge. However, manager Kenny Dalglish's Champions League qualification ambitions were dealt a major blow when it was announced that influential holding-midfielder Lucas Leiva would miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL.
6. Newcastle United - Sir Alex Ferguson's scoffs aside, Newcastle played well at Old Trafford, earning a point on their second leg of what supporters are calling the Stretch of Doom. Draws are nice, but the Toon will need to start gaining some wins against the big boys or they will fall down the table fast. They will have that chance soon as they play Chelsea next in what will be the first game at newly christened Sports Direct Arena. - Robert L. Bishop, Coming Home Newcastle
8. Everton FC - The "best of the rest" have re-established themselves after a tough start to the season. Need to see more from any of the three promoted clubs before we move them above the Toffees - Thurman
9. Norwich City - The most points of the three newly promoted sides but they've also had the easiest schedule so we'll grade them down in anticipation of a dip to come as the going gets tougher. - Thurman
10. Aston Villa - They didn't lose. That's the best you can say about a toothless fixture when no one's mind was actually on the football. Whether or not you think that the match should have been postponed in the wake of Gary Speed's tragic death, it seemed that no one was really up for it on a bleak Sunday afternoon. When you consider the difficulty of Aston Villa's next month or so of fixtures, grabbing three points against a promoted team really should have been a priority. However, Swansea have been much fancied since arriving in the Premier League, and the only defeat they've had at the Liberty Stadium was to Villa's next opponent, Manchester United. All things considered, a point gained in Wales is not the worst thing in the world. - Gareth Simpson, 7500 To Holte
11. Stoke City - Since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008, Stoke have finished a respectable 12th, 11th, and 13th in the Premier League table. Manager Tony Pulis arguably has his strongest side this season but the Potters are trying to balance playing in Europe -- in the Europa League after earning qualification last season from reaching the FA Cup final -- while keeping up with their domestic responsibilities. Their position of 12th in the table is about what most expected at this point.
12. Swansea City- The promoted Welsh side have surprised many with their possession-based football as many doubted the feasibility of their system in the Premier League. However, the Swans currently sit 13th in the table and are 5 points clear of the relegation zone after 13 matches. They impressively are fourth in the league in possession and are third in pass accuracy.
13. Fulham FC - It has become almost axiomatic that "Fulham are tough at home" but they have dropped 7 points from 4 home matches against teams not expected to finish above 8th. Not a good sign regardless of the point at the Emirates - Thurman
14 (tied). Queens Park Rangers - Sitting 11th in the table is impressive for a recently promoted side but their -10 goal differential is concerning. QPR have competed well against tough sides like City and Chelsea but their 0-4 defeat to Bolton and their 0-6 defeat to Fulham make them a difficult team to get an accurate read on.
14. (tied). West Bromwich Albion - Roy Hodgson did well to save the Baggies from relegation last season after being appointed manager in February. After their impressive form to finish last season, many felt 'Woy could lead his side to surprise top 10 finish in the current campaign. This likely won't happen.
16. Wigan Athletic - Finally starting to get our act together, managing to string two results together is a novelty. Although our next few games (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and United are amongst the next 5 fixtures) don't lend to us carrying the trend on. - Kieran Heapy, Pie Eaters Footie
17. Sunderland AFC - Steve Bruce's lack of success and ultimately his sacking has led to a tumultuous times for Sunderland supporters. The latest rumors suggest that Martin O'Neill or Mark Hughes will be sought as a replacement. Wearsiders likely did not anticipate sitting so low in the table this far into the season.
18. Wolverhampton Wanderers - Last season, Mick McCarthy's side gained a reputation as giant killers. This season, not so much. This past weekend saw Chelsea cruise to a 3-0 victory over Wolves. Next up is an opportunity at home versus a reeling Sunderland side.
19. Bolton Wanderers - After an impressive 5-0 defeat of Stoke, the Trotters suffered disappointing defeats to West Brom and Everton in the following matches. A difficult trip south to White Hart Lane awaits Bolton and it is unlikely that Owen Coyle's side will improve on their 18th in the table standing.
20. Blackburn Rovers - Their schedule has been very tough so despite the low point total, the straights aren't as dire as you might think. Their season will be made or broken at home against the bottom half and away against their fellow relegation strugglers and so far they've had precious few opportunities at either of those scenarios. - Thurman
How It Works: The rankings were determined by a poll of 9 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); Graham MacAree (SB Nation, Soccer and We Ain't Got No History); 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)