Who is HOT?
Was City’s performance at Stamford Bridge the best display we have seen in the Premier League for a long time? I would say so.
They smothered Chelsea – the second favourites for the title – in their own back yard, creating plenty of chances while allowing next to nothing defensively (xG: CHE 0.32 – 1.73 MCI).
That part of their game deserves an immense amount of credit, with Pep’s side again ranking as the best in the league in terms of xGA per game, allowing just 0.52, with the next best being Everton with 1.02.
City have had a tough week, playing at Chelsea and at PSG so far, but it doesn’t get any easier as they visit Anfield on Sunday. Can they get another statement win? If they are to do so, their defence will have to continue in the same manner.
Yes, Liverpool were held by Brentford in a thrilling 3-3 draw last weekend, but they remain in the HOT category thanks to their attack, which is frightening at the moment.
The Reds have scored three or more goals in all of their last six games in all competitions, and in the Premier League, they rank as the best attacking team based on expected goals – averaging a whopping 3.11 xGF per game.
City are next best with 2.55, but the way in which the Reds are exploiting decent defensive teams is eye-catching, and before the game with Brentford their defence had looked extremely solid.
Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that game was a one-off, as they can’t afford to defend like that against Man City, but while ever their attack is performing at this level, Liverpool have a chance of winning any game.
Despite missing key players, Everton dismissed Norwich with consummate ease last Saturday, and while they have been blessed with a soft opening schedule compared to other sides, they really have taken advantage.
Rafa Benitez’s side sit fifth through six games, but have collected the third most expected points (xP), and possess the fourth best xG process.
Their good start is no fluke, and the improvements made since Benitez’s appointment have been excellent.
For perspective, last season under Carlo Ancelotti, the Toffees averaged 1.32 xGF and 1.47 xGA per game. Through six league games under Rafa, Everton have averaged 1.72 xGF and 1.01 xGA per game.
It is a small sample size and they are yet to face a ‘strong’ team, but the signs are promising. A trip to Manchester United on Saturday is their chance to make a real statement.
Who is WARM?
Many wrote Arsenal off after losing their opening three games, but the team that beat Spurs convincingly on Sunday was a completely different one to the first three games – particularly in personnel.
They were excellent, with really good balance throughout their team, and are now upwardly mobile. Since the international break, only Man City, Liverpool and Man Utd have collected more xPoints than Arsenal, while the same teams are the only ones to boast a better xG process over the last three games.
A kind schedule has played it’s part in that, but the Gunners are certainly improving, and a trip to Brighton on Saturday really is an opportunity to make people sit up and take note.
For starters, Villa haven’t climbed into the WARM category just for beating Manchester United, they enter the fray thanks to consistently solid defensive performances.
They have allowed just 1.10 non-pen xGA per game so far this season – and that includes games at Chelsea and Man Utd – which ranks the fifth best defensive process in the Premier League.
In terms of non-pen big chances (0.35 xG+), Villa have allowed just five in six games, which also ranks as the fifth best in the league.
They are a legitimately solid backline, and a struggling Tottenham attack could have issues again this Sunday.
Brentford deserve a mention in the WARM category after their start to the season, with results fully deserved, including a draw with Liverpool last time out.
They have collected the seventh most xPoints through six games, and have shown an ability to play in a number of different ways.
Thomas Frank’s side are a team to be feared, and even an in-form West Ham side should be wary on Sunday.
Who is COOL?
I highlighted Leeds struggles in last weeks column, and nothing much has changed since, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side beaten by West Ham after again struggling in both attack and defence (xG: LEE 1.27 – 2.06 WHU).
The Whites rank as the seventh worst attacking team based on xGF this term, averaging 1.17 per game, which is a huge concern given their defence hasn’t improved from last season – where they were only better than three teams.
If things continue in the same manner, Leeds will be looking down rather than up for the majority of the campaign. A good opportunity to get their first win of the season presents itself on Saturday, as they host Watford. Should they fail to win that game, then perhaps it is time to panic.
After steadying the ship following a deserved opening day defeat, Southampton really haven’t kicked on since.
They remain winless after a 1-0 defeat to Wolves, and despite draws with Man Utd and Man City, Saints are firmly in a relegation battle.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has shored up their defence, but that has come with consequences in attack, with Southampton failing to breach 1.0 xGF in five of their six league games. Only at Newcastle did they look threatening.
Draws won’t keep you in this league, and if they start to exert more in attack, they could again look incredibly vulnerable defensively. They still look like a team that will be involved in a relegation battle, and a trip to Chelsea is the last game they would want before the international break.
Who is COLD?
Leicester continue to have a hard time at the start of the new season, with their latest game a 2-2 draw against winless Burnley, but it was a better attacking performance from the Foxes.
Still, given the talent they have at their disposal, an average of 1.16 xGF per game is a poor showing, with Brendan Rodgers’s side rightly in the bottom half of the table.
They face a tough trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday after an away game in the Europa League, and unless they improve things offensively, Leicester will again fail to win.
Wow. Can it get any worse for Spurs?
They were pathetic at the Emirates on Sunday, again having major issues creating chances and stopping them.
Nuno’s side look unorganised and idealess, and their xG process paints the same picture – sitting third bottom based on xPoints.
Only Norwich have a worst attacking process than Spurs (1.01 xGF per game), while only Norwich, Newcastle and Leeds have a worst defensive process than Nuno’s team (1.99 xGA per game).
Those are relegation worth numbers, and a hosting of a solid Aston Villa side on Sunday could lead to another negative result for Spurs.
It seems obvious, but Norwich have been the worst team in the Premier League through six games, with their six defeats highlighting issues at both ends of the pitch.
They are the worst attacking team and worst defensive team in the league, meaning things already look bleak for Daniel Farke’s side.
If they fail to get a result at Burnley on Saturday, many will be writing them off already – and it’s hard to disagree.