Most Premier League clubs have completed four matches going into the international break.
There are certainly some early surprises. Everton and Aston Villa have exceeded all expectations. The Manchester clubs…lol.
Let’s assess and grade how every Premier League team has performed to date. An “A+” is the highest grade. A “F-” is the lowest.
2020-21 Premier League Grades
Arsenal – A
Credit to Mikel Arteta: it’s not always pretty, but the Gunners are winning trophies and matches.
The Gunners are playing a painfully slow pace–but they’re taking high-quality shots and converting them. It’s a recipe that should keep them in most matches.
Arteta has shipped out some malcontents and brought in some difference makers. And Arsenal kept Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They’re in the top 4 at the break. If they can maintain that position come May, this grade goes to an A+.
Key betting stat: +150 for a top 4 finish
Aston Villa – A+
Holy shit. Didn’t see that coming!
After thrashing holders Liverpool, Villa are second in the table. The underlying data indicates this may not be sustainable (they’re well ahead of xG and xGA), but it doesn’t matter. Villa look for real. They have talent. And they won’t be fighting a relegation battle this campaign.
Key betting stat: +1000 for a top 6 finish
Brighton – B
Unlike Villa, Brighton’s underlying stats suggest they’ve been wildly unlucky.
Aside from having the best overall kit set in the league, they are also playing some aesthetically pleasing soccer. Expect them to challenge for a spot in the top half of the table.
Key betting stat: +450 for a top 10 finish
Burnley – D
Sean Dyche deserves better.
Thwarted by the board on transfer targets, Dyche has watched almost every other Premier League club level up while his squad is under-manned.
A couple of long-term key injuries and Burnley will be this year’s Bournemouth.
Key betting stat: +130 to be relegated (3rd most likely)
Chelsea – C
Expectations can be a bitch.
After spending a billionity dollars this summer, Chelsea were expected to do better. Yes, they’ve been missing their best player (Christian Pulisic) but wonky formations have Timo Werner and Kai Havertz under-performing.
They’re still a viable top 4 threat, but they have issues to fix.
Key betting stat: -200 for a top 4 finish (3rd best)
Crystal Palace – B
How does Roy Hodgson continue to do it?
Led by an in-form Wilfried Zaha, Palace continue to out-perform expectations. They’re like a Homeless Man’s version of Liverpool: they exceed xG, xGA, and xPTs every season. Hodgson is always a “first to be sacked” selection for oddsmakers. And Palace is always a top 5 relegation candidate. And yet…they’ll finish 12-15 again.
Key betting stat: +400 for a top 10 finish
Everton – A+
Credit to Carlo Ancelotti. He’s really showing he’s still going managerial chops with this squad.
The advanced stats back up that Everton is for real. Their one area of concern is around spacing and where they win possession (not far enough up the pitch). But only a handful of EPL teams can really gash them for this.
James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been revelations. This team is legit. A top 6 finish is a real possibility.
Key betting stat: +1600 to win the league (4th best)
Fulham – D
It’s hard to grade Fulham. Nobody expected them to stay up. They’re clearly the least talented squad in the Premier League.
However, while they have 0 points, their underlying stats suggest they’ve been unlucky (their xPTs is just over 3).
Key betting stat: -355 to be relegated (most likely)
Leeds United – B+
On the other hand, everyone expected Leeds to stay up. Oddsmakers had them as a top 10 side.
So far, they’ve met all reasonable expectations. They played Liverpool close, losing 4-3. They drew City 1-1 in one of the most exciting matches of the season to date.
Leeds won’t finish top 6 this season, but the future is bright.
Key betting stat: +600 for a top 6 finish
Leicester – B
Leicester under Brendon Rodgers is exactly who we thought they were: capable of impressively winning or getting pummeled by any squad any day.
Given the demands of European soccer this season, Leicester needed to get out to a strong start domestically. They did just that…until they didn’t.
Still, on sheer talent alone, the Foxes appear poised for another top 6 run.
Key betting stat: +130 for a top 6 finish
Liverpool – D
Almost didn’t want to give the Reds a “D” because they aren’t playing any D right now.
Maybe this seems harsh, but things aren’t right with the Reds. Their backline has been shredded twice. A casualness and arrogance has seeped in to their mentality. You don’t lose 7-2 if you’re locked in.
Klopp and crew will get this fixed. The underlying data suggests they’re not far off of last year’s form. Their next match against Everton will be telling. But troubling signs at Anfield right now.
Key betting stat: +130 to win the league (favorites)
Manchester City – Z
A club with their financial resources and roster and manager should be better. Maybe this season will be karma for getting away with flagrant FFP violations.
Key betting stat: +150 to win the league (second favorites)
Manchester United – F
Man U will be streaky all season. They’re going to look like world-beaters one month. They’ll look like 💩other months (like they did in September).
Man U are a mess at the board level and it’s seeping down to the pitch. OGS has been on this rollercoaster many times during his almost two-year tenure at United. Still, they’re 16th in the table and 19th in xPTs. They give up too many quality shots while taking too few. And at some point, they’ll stop getting so many penalties awarded.
They’ll quickly climb back to the top 6 but it’s been a miserable start at Old Trafford.
Key betting stat: +10000 to be relegated
Newcastle – B
Newcastle is making the most of its talent infusion. Steve Bruce has the club solidly in the top 10 with 7 points. Unlike last season, when Newcastle’s advanced metrics had them as the worst team in the Premier League–early data shows the Magpies are right where they should be.
Expect a finish in the 10-13 range.
Key betting stat: +650 for a top 10 finish
Sheffield United – D
One of three teams without a point thus far, are the Blades in danger of a drop?
Chris Wilder’s side has been unlucky. No team has underperformed their xPTs more than Sheffield. Their biggest problem is they just aren’t scoring goals (they have 1 after 4 matches). Getting Rhian Brewster should give them an offensive spark. While a top 10 finish seems unlikely, they should rebound enough to get out of relegation danger.
Key betting stat: +175 to be relegated (fourth most likely)
Southampton – B
The Saints sit 11th at the break, which seems right. However, the club is too reliant on Danny Ings’ ability to score goals (and stay healthy). Ings has 3 of their 5 goals. Any major injury and they could slide quickly.
Key betting stat: +1400 for a top 6 finish
Tottenham – B
Just like pundits / supporters are negatively over-reacting to OGS’s struggles with Man U, let’s cool our jets on Jose Mourinho and Spurs’ start.
Mourinho is who he is. Things will go badly and he will implode. There’s over 5 years of data to back this up. Spurs will be streaky. When it’s clicking, they’ll look unstoppable. When it’s not, they’ll appear in disarray. Still, it’s a positive start and relieves any pressure on Mou.
Key betting stat: +150 for a top 4 finish
West Brom – D+
It’s hard to grade West Brom as they were expected to be bad. They do have one point. That’s better than Fulham, Sheffield and Burnley! Advanced metrics grade them out as the worst team in the league thus far.
Key betting stat: -190 to be relegated (second most likely)
West Ham – B+
This season’s West Ham is what we thought last season’s West Ham would be. The Hammers are scoring goals and playing solid defense. They’re 10th in the table with the xPTs of a 3rd place team.
They’re doing it without Sebastien Haller contributing anything (he has 1 goal and has started 0 times). Declan Rice looks back on track. Michail Antonio is having a career revival at 30.
Depth will be an issue but if they can stay healthy, they stay in the top 10 mix.
Key betting stat: +2500 for a top 6 finish
Wolves – C+
They started off slow last season and were in the mix for the top 6 until matchday 38.
This season, they’ve started off just fine with 6 points. However, they’re not clicking yet. Losing Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty will have to sting as the season progresses. While they’re in no danger of relegation, a top 6 challenge appears out of reach this campaign.
Key betting stat: +325 for a top 6 finish
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