Tottenham Hotspur learned that they'd be without a couple of key players very close to their Premier League clash with Chelsea, but that doesn't make the Blues' victory over the weekend any less impressive. Against an in-form Tottenham side, at White Hart Lane, Chelsea scored four times and grabbed three points against Spurs, something that Manchester United failed to do at Old Trafford.
This week's big match between Chelsea and Manchester United might shake things up in our power rankings, but for now, the Blues are top by a wide margin. With road wins at the Emirates and White Hart Lane under their belt, it's well deserved.
At the other end of the table, the relegation battle has been shaken up by Norwich City's big win over Arsenal. Our voters seem to see that result as the start of a pattern rather than a blip on the radar for both teams. The Canaries are out of our bottom three, while the Gunners have dropped two spots.
The Blues stand alone
No. 1 - Chelsea (Average ranking - 1.08. Last week - 1.23): I was more than a bit disappointed with the lineup Tottenham put out on Saturday morning, as I was really looking forward to seeing how Chelsea and Tottenham stacked up. A win is a win though, and Chelsea looked generally good doing it. I continue to be impressed with the work Oscar has been doing defensively, and even Juan Mata and Eden Hazard seem to be contributing in that regard when Chelsea press. If that solid defensive work continues, Chelsea probably won't have too many bad days this season. They really need to work on defending set pieces, though, as they've been poor all season. (Stephen Schmidt, We Ain't Got No History)
Manchesters Red and Blue still contending for a title
No. 2 (tie) - Manchester United (2.46; 2.62): Nothing from the match with Stoke City changed my opinion about Manchester United. They are delight going forward still, especially with the fluid movement between Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Danny Welbeck and the understanding they are developing, but they are also incredibly open in the back -- particularly when the opposition transitions. This is isolating the defenders and central-midfielders too much in space and the result is Rio Ferdinand -- who obviously lacks the pace he once had -- allowing Michael Kightly to look like he's Kaka from back in his Milan days. It's scary to think what Eden Hazard might do in similar situations next weekend. Early predictions for Chelsea versus United: 7-7. (Gene Um, The Busby Babe)
No. 2 (tie) Manchester City (2.46; 2.31): Manchester City captured all three points over the weekend, but they didn't do it in convincing fashion. West Bromwich Albion are a good team and there's nothing wrong with only beating them by one late goal on the road, but it was still a less than inspiring performance from the Citizens. James Milner's red card and the need for some Edin Dzeko heroics indicate that City just doesn't have their stuff together like Chelsea does, and we don't have a lot of evidence to suggest that they're significantly better than Manchester United. They're still title contenders, but unlike last season, they're not clear favorites. (Kevin McCauley)
Fourth place battle gets shuffled
No. 4 - Tottenham Hotspur (4.92; 4.92): The weekend's result was disappointing, but as their unchanged average ranking shows, a 4-2 loss to Chelsea didn't alter voters' opinions of Tottenham. They were expected to fail to win against Chelsea, and all that hurts is the manner in which they lost the match. Spurs took the lead, threw it away, missed some easy chances to go level, then gifted the Blues the dagger with a bad backpass. The good news is that, for most of the game, Spurs looked like they're about as good as Chelsea. That's something to be happy about if you're a Spurs supporter.. (Kevin McCauley, Cartilage Free Captain and SB Nation Soccer)
No. 5 - Everton (5.61; 5.54): Everton were well below their best against QPR on Sunday. With no Marouane Fellaini or Darron Gibson in midfield they struggled to get a grip the game and were outplayed for much of the 90 minutes by a Rangers side desperately seeking their first win of the season. However, the fact the players dug in with 10 men for 30 minutes to grab a point -- with Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard in-particular outstanding -- is a positive sign that the team has substance as well as style. (Thomas Mallows, Royal Blue Mersey)
No. 6 - Arsenal (5.92; 4.54): Whoever replaced Arsenal FC with the reanimated dead on Saturday at Carrow Road will have to explain, instead of Arsene Wenger, why the corpse of Thomas Vermaelen kept slipping and decided not to close down Alexander Tettey for the shot that spilled to Grant Holt; however, he wasn't the only ghast who was slumping around the field. The whole Arsenal eleven was simply bad. If it's a blip, it's a blip, and Arsenal can climb back towards the top four no problem if they perform as they did before the international break. If it becomes a pattern, though, it could be a long autumn, hopefully just literally and not figuratively. (Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse)
Comfortably top half
No. 7 - West Bromwich Albion (7.08; 7.08): The Baggies were 10 minutes from a spectacular win that would have proved their legitimacy as a contender for a European place in the Premier League. They're still well in the top half and don't look like dropping below 10th place anytime soon, but the way Edin Dzeko snatched three points from them so swiftly at the Hawthorns has to be disheartening. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 8 - Fulham (8.77; 8.92): As always, we were sharp at home this weekend against a quite drab Villa side and I think this home form will take us quite far. But what is still richly needed is an improvement away from Craven Cottage. We have won on the road this season already but it wasn't hugely convincing. I think if we can improve on that, we'll be pressing much higher up the table but, until then, I think there's a barrier above us. (Kristian Balkin, Cottagers Confidential)
No. 9 - West Ham (8.85; 10.85): Our voters believe in Sam Allardyce and the Hammers, and for good reason. Beyond their manager's history of making the most out of sides with limited technical skill, their performance against Southampton showed off the fantastic depth that they have in their forward ranks, while the side also showed off some creativity that isn't usually associated with Allardyce sides. Yossi Benayoun looked like Liverpool Yossi Benayoun, while Modibo Maiga came off the bench to score a stunning goal. If those two players can consistently show off their flair, it adds a new dimension to a team that was tough to beat when they were only about athleticism and organization. Don't expect the Hammers to be anywhere near a relegation battle this season. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 10 - Newcastle United (9.31; 8.77): Newcastle almost hung on to win at Sunderland despite being down a man for 65 minutes ... but they didn't. It was a disappointing result for a team struggling to gain traction in the league. If they are to right the ship and climb the table like we believe they are capable of doing, they will need to do it now. NUFC now enter an extended stretch of league matches against teams considered to be mid-table at best. If they don't obtain maximum points, they will adopt that moniker for themselves. (Robert Bishop, Coming Home Newcastle)
No. 11 - Liverpool (11.38; 12.00): Liverpool doesn't have significantly more believers after they defeated Reading, but they still managed to pick up three points and get a big monkey off their back. The Reds are still never going to be an elite team without a real center forward or defensive midfielder, but the talent elsewhere in their side is good enough to haul them out of the bottom half without a problem. Liverpool are a few signings and a year away from running with the Premier League's big boys, but it's safe to say that they're on the road to maintaining last year's status quo and avoiding a move backwards. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 12 - Swansea City (12.00; 12.54): It's not encouraging for Michael Laudrup's side that they had to struggle so valiantly to defeat Wigan at home, but a win is a win, and Wigan aren't exactly a horrible side. They continue to play very pretty football, and they're certainly not overachieving anymore. The players brought in to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair are more than good enough to keep Swansea out of a relegation battle. Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan De Guzman look to be settling in well. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 13 - Sunderland (12.08; 11.15): It's so tough to see Sunderland drop like this, but we are on a bit of a slide. The positives are that we're playing badly and not getting beat (barring Man City away). However, being a Sunderland fan for over 25-years now, I've got a bit of a nose for a bad run. I can see us slipping a little to the mediocrity battle if Martin O'Neill doesn't turn the ship around. If anyone can though, he can. (Simon Walsh, The Roker Report)
No. 14 - Stoke City (13.38; 12.54): Stoke City continue to be the most predictable and uninteresting side in the Premier League. They are good enough that they will not get anywhere near a relegation battle. They are almost certainly not good enough to push for the top half. It's going to take a truly massive win or a truly embarrassing loss for them to budge from this No. 14 slot. They're locked in here. (Kevin McCauley)
Narrowly avoiding the drop
No. 15 - Wigan Athletic (15.62; 15.23): Post-match, Latics goal-scorer Emmerson Boyce summed up our season so far in one sentence: "It's like last year all over again". Supporters hoped this wouldn't be the case, and the team has shown signs of being able to play good football and consistently score goals at times, but we have also conceded cheap goals and failed to score when we have been in control. It's time to improve, I think, and if we can play like we did the last 20 minutes against Swansea, we'll be fine going forward. Against West Ham next, we need a win. (Kieran Heapy, Pie Eater's Footie)
No. 16 - Norwich City (16.07; 19.38): All it took was one win for our voters to thrust Norwich well out of the relegation zone. Granted, it was a very impressive win, but the Canaries had not looked good up until that point this season. Chris Hughton's side not only managed an incredible win over Arsenal, but truly deserved it. They defended well, created chances, and at least matched the Gunners on the night. Hopefully, it was a sign of what's to come. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 17 - Aston Villa (16.54; 16.08): With the loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage, Aston Villa have managed to make their worst start of a league season since they were relegated from the first division back in 1986-87. They aren't out of the woods yet, as November features a grueling sequence of Manchesters United and City followed by a visit from Arsenal. If Paul Lambert cannot right the ship next week against his former club Norwich City, things could get very dark for Villa fans. (Gareth Simpson, 7500 to Holte)
The relegation zone
No. 18 - Reading (18.53; 18.15): Call me crazy, but I still think there are at least three teams in the Premier League that are worse than us right now. Sure, we've gone seven games without a win, but we've got Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Brom and Newcastle out of the way. With our next three games taking place against Fulham, QPR and Norwich, we'll get a far better impression of how good or bad we are in the coming weeks. Goal difference isn't anything, but ours is currently the best in the bottom six, showing we've been competitive against some good sides. (Wimb, The Tilehurst End)
No. 19 - Queens Park Rangers (18.77; 19.00): Mark Hughes has a very silly Steven Pienaar sending off to thank for his current state of employment. A 1-1 draw against Everton would have sounded impressive before the match started, but given how the match actually went, it's more of a missed opportunity than a good result. This team is still underachieving, and Hughes is still on borrowed time. (Kevin McCauley)
No. 20 - Southampton (19.00; 16.77): 4-1 against West Ham. OUCH. (Kevin McCauley)
SB Nation Soccer writers Ryan Rosenblatt, Callum Hamilton, Zach Woosley and Graham MacAree also voted.