Premier League report card: Your team’s early season rated with Chelsea top of the class


Seven games in and the Premier League season is already shaping up to be a cracker.

No one side looks like running away with the title, the race for Europe has the potential to be a thriller and even bottom club Norwich aren’t cut adrift with four teams yet to win a game.

As we pause for the second set of international matches this season, it’s time to reflect on how each of the 20 top-flight clubs has performed so far.

Part one of our early season report card takes us from Arsenal through to Leicester City.

Brentford have been a revelation during the opening to their first Premier League season

ARSENAL

Position: 11th Points: 10

We remain none the wiser as to whether Arsenal have actually made any improvement this season and whether Mikel Arteta has the acumen to restore the club to old glories.

Their opening seven games have been a complete mixed bag. They started with three consecutive defeats – surprisingly to Brentford and then less surprisingly to Chelsea and Man City (5-0).

This was then followed by ground out wins over Norwich and Burnley before everything seemed to click in that impressive north London derby win over Tottenham.

The Gunners were the inferior side in Saturday’s goalless draw at Brighton and remain an enigma when it comes to assessing their direction of travel right now.

It has been hard to figure out whether Arsenal are moving forward after a mixed set of results

It has been hard to figure out whether Arsenal are moving forward after a mixed set of results

On the plus side, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is scoring goals again and the fluidity of their football to sweep aside Spurs, with Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe majestic, offered a glimpse of what it could be like. Martin Odegaard has been pretty good.

But equally the goals aren’t exactly flowing and the best sides are still going to inflict serious punishment on a defence that rarely inspired confidence.

There are promising signs, however, that £50m summer signing Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes can work together well at the back.

Back-to-back home games with Crystal Palace and Aston Villa after the internationals mean Arsenal have the chance to kick on.

Grade: C

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal against Spurs in Arsenal's best performance

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal against Spurs in Arsenal’s best performance 

ASTON VILLA

Position: 10th Points: 10

Safely mid-table last season, the question is whether Villa can take the next step and qualify for Europe this time around.

There was plenty of summer investment, primarily to offer a sharper attacking edge and compensate for the departure of Jack Grealish, with Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia coming in.

It hasn’t been entirely clear on early evidence whether Dean Smith’s team are going to progress or regress and their current 10th position reflects that quite neatly. Middle of the road.

Kortney Hause celebrates scoring Aston Villa's smash and grab winner at Manchester United

Kortney Hause celebrates scoring Aston Villa’s smash and grab winner at Manchester United

There have been some great displays, snatching a late victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford with Kortney Hause scoring and Bruno Fernandes sending his penalty into orbit.

The 3-0 home win over Everton saw some sensational football in the second-half as Villa scored three times in nine minutes.

But they looked very susceptible in falling three behind at Watford on the opening day and didn’t stand much of a chance at Chelsea. They also failed to take advantage of Tottenham’s weaknesses on Sunday.

Ings has started off well but there must be more from their creative players. However, Villa look on course for a top half finish, the question is how high can they go?

Grade: C

Things could only get better for Aston Villa after their defeat to Watford on the opening day

Things could only get better for Aston Villa after their defeat to Watford on the opening day

BRENTFORD

Position: 7th Points: 12

What a revelation Brentford have been. New to the Premier League, you wouldn’t know it from the impressive start they’ve made.

Wins over Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham plus that thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool have seen them make the step up in division look effortless.

Thomas Frank’s side have still only lost the one game – at home to Brighton – and Yoane Wissa’s 94th-minute winner at West Ham on Sunday means they enter the international pause with a real spring in their step.

Yoan Wissa celebrates his 94th-minute winner for Brentford at West Ham on Sunday

Yoan Wissa celebrates his 94th-minute winner for Brentford at West Ham on Sunday

Wissa, a summer arrival from Lorient, has settled in very nicely, while Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney have ensured the Bees have an edge in attack.

As anyone who watched them in the Championship last season knows, Brentford are entertainers and nothing appears to have changed with promotion. They certainly won’t be left wondering.

They’re streetwise as well, with some tactics that can rub opponents up the wrong way, but with one of the lowest budgets in the Premier League, they need every little advantage they can get.

There are going to be times when things don’t go so well and some resilience is required but the early part of the season suggests all those pre-season predictions of relegation are wide of the mark.

Grade: A

Bees boss Thomas Frank celebrates their opening night win over Arsenal with his players

Bees boss Thomas Frank celebrates their opening night win over Arsenal with his players

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION

Position: 6th Points: 14

Quite a few pundits wondered if Brighton’s luck might expire this season after finishes of 15th, 17th, 15th and 16th in their four Premier League seasons.

But the way they’ve started the campaign suggests that relegation won’t be of any concern at all.

Four wins, two draws and just the one defeat leave them in the top six, against all expectations, as tools are downed for a couple of weeks.

Neal Maupay (right) celebrates his late equaliser for Brighton in their game at Crystal Palace

Neal Maupay (right) celebrates his late equaliser for Brighton in their game at Crystal Palace

Graham Potter’s side look more comfortable in possession and more assured at the back than in recent seasons, willingly taking control of a contest as they did against Arsenal on Saturday.

In fact, Brighton’s eight clean sheets in the Premier League this calendar year is exceeded only by the nine of Manchester City and Chelsea.

On that solid foundation, their attacking players can prosper, with Neal Maupay already scoring four times this season.

Games against City and Liverpool do loom on the horizon when the Premier League returns but Brighton are no longer the callow side that have flirted with relegation a little too often for comfort.

Grade: A

Brighton are more than happy to take command of games, as against Arsenal on Saturday

Brighton are more than happy to take command of games, as against Arsenal on Saturday

BURNLEY

Position: 18th Points: 3

It’s quite early in the season for alarm bells to be ringing anywhere but there are plenty of worrying signs for Burnley.

Sean Dyche’s team have yet to win a game and have only three points on the board. They were unable to break down Norwich on Saturday in a game they really needed to take more from.

It’s not as though Burnley have been taking early season hidings – and there were signs of encouragement in their draw at Leicester, especially in Maxwel Cornet’s performance – but the rewards haven’t arrived.

Summer signing Maxwel Cornet celebrates scoring in Burnley's 2-2 draw against Leicester

Summer signing Maxwel Cornet celebrates scoring in Burnley’s 2-2 draw against Leicester 

The good news is they are one of four clubs yet to register a win this season and there are probably teams worse than they are.

But after finishing 17th last season, you do wonder how much longer Dyche and his never-changing team can defy gravity.

Holding on to leads has become an issue – they chucked away points against Brighton, Leeds, Everton and Leicester – and their finishing often deserts them.

The Clarets are not in a full-blown crisis yet but that first win really does need to come soon. Unfortunately, they’re away at Man City next.

Grade: D

It was a case of frustration all round as Burnley and Norwich played out a goalless draw

It was a case of frustration all round as Burnley and Norwich played out a goalless draw

CHELSEA

Position: 1st Points: 16

Having delivered Champions League glory so early in his tenure, you did wonder where Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea could go next.

But their very good start to the Premier League season – sitting top after seven games, a point clear of Liverpool – shows there is plenty more to accomplish.

Chelsea have been very impressive so far, recording five comfortable wins, a draw at Liverpool playing with 10 men for 45 minutes and with just the one setback at home to Man City.

Romelu Lukaku hasn’t exactly been burdened by his £97.5million price tag, scoring three league goals already and showing a selfless side by linking well with other attackers in recent games.

Timo Werner celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring in Chelsea's win over Southampton

Timo Werner celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring in Chelsea’s win over Southampton

Creativity oozes through the team with Mateo Kovacic, Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta all among the assists in the first seven games.

The wins over Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Southampton have been ruthless – Tuchel’s Chelsea invariably get the job done.

The manner of their home loss to City, however, will no doubt occupy Tuchel’s thoughts the most over the international break. They were comprehensively second best and such encounters will ultimately decide the destination of the title.

But overall, Chelsea look every inch the title contenders we all expected them to be this season. They’ll have N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva back after the internationals as well, so can only get stronger.

Grade: A

£97m signing Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea and English football in some style

£97m signing Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea and English football in some style

CRYSTAL PALACE

Position: 14th Points: 7

They may sit 14th and have only actually won one game but there is a fair feel-good factor at Selhurst Park since Patrick Vieira took over.

After Roy Hodgson delivered the club to a succession of comfortable mid-table finishes, it was always going to be interesting to see how Vieira, a relative managerial rookie, got on in trying to smash that ceiling.

There have been a few early positive signs. Good use of his substitutes bench to make an impact on the game and plenty of verve going forward and chances created.

Palace showed a good fighting spirit to come back from two goals down to earn a draw against Leicester on Sunday when they might easily have folded having actually been the better team.

Palace celebrate Jeffrey Schlupp's equaliser as they fought back to draw 2-2 with Leicester

Palace celebrate Jeffrey Schlupp’s equaliser as they fought back to draw 2-2 with Leicester

The 3-0 home win over Tottenham last month showed how good it can be when those chances are taken. They were also moments away from beating rivals Brighton.

Now the task for Vieira is to build on the promise by converting more draws into wins. Their only losses to date have come in tricky assignments against Chelsea and Liverpool.

It could well be steady progress at times but there are signs Vieira will move Palace in the right direction.

Grade: C

There are encouraging early signs for Palace under Patrick Vieira but they need to kick on

There are encouraging early signs for Palace under Patrick Vieira but they need to kick on

EVERTON

Position: 5th Points: 14

Everton fans will have been forgiven for fearing the worst in pre-season. 

With Rafa Benitez far from the most popular managerial appointment and bargain basement signings, it looked as though the Toffees would slide down the table.

As it’s transpired, such worries were unfounded. Four wins from seven, plus a hugely creditable draw at Old Trafford that could easily have been a win, have bred some unexpected optimism.

Benitez has wasted little time in getting a tune out of his new squad and there have been some eye-catching moments in Everton’s wins over Southampton, Brighton, Burnley and Norwich.

Andros Townsend celebrates his equalising goal in Everton's draw at Manchester United

Andros Townsend celebrates his equalising goal in Everton’s draw at Manchester United 

Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure have bossed the midfield, Andros Townsend is playing like a man desperate to reward his manager’s faith and most of it has been done without injured duo Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

It has served to remind everyone that Benitez is actually a very good coach and there already seems to already be a good spirit in a team without the burden of expectation after just £1.7m was spent in the summer.

The only off-day in the league came in a 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa but nobody can really complain with Everton level on points with Man City and Man United seven games in.

Grade: A

Abdoulaye Doucoure gets stuck in during the game at Old Trafford - he has started very well

Abdoulaye Doucoure gets stuck in during the game at Old Trafford – he has started very well

LEEDS UNITED

Position: 16th Points: 6

It looks like there could be a case of tough second season syndrome at Elland Road after a far from encouraging first few games.

Marcelo Bielsa’s team did overcome Watford to claim their first win of the season on Saturday, offering a lift going into the two-week break.

But prior to that, both results and performances were hugely worrying for a team who were a breath of fresh air on their Premier League return last season.

It's been an early slog for Leeds United and they don't look as assured as last season

It’s been an early slog for Leeds United and they don’t look as assured as last season 

Heavy losses to Man United and Liverpool have been interspersed with a home defeat to West Ham and draws against Everton, Burnley and Newcastle.

Leeds would have been expected to win at least two of those drawn games but the element of surprise that caught out so many opponents last season has faded.

The hard graft that is the hallmark of Bielsa’s team remains but they have looked vulnerable at the back too often and the absence of a plan B has come to look like a serious failing.

You still imagine that Leeds have enough quality to pull themselves away from the relegation zone but they don’t seem to have as many weapons to damage teams as they did last season.

Grade: D

Diego Llorente's goal ensured Leeds won their first Premier League game against Watford

Diego Llorente’s goal ensured Leeds won their first Premier League game against Watford

LEICESTER CITY

Position: 13th Points: 8

Having suffered the heartache of being knocked out the top four on the final day in the last two seasons, the joke is that Leicester won’t have to go through the pain again.

But that isn’t because they look nailed-on for the Champions League spots, more they don’t look capable of getting anywhere near them.

It’s been a seriously underwhelming start for the Foxes, who have struggled to balance the demands of the Europa League and have been been affected by injuries to key personnel.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy are in form but Leicester haven't impressed this season

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy are in form but Leicester haven’t impressed this season

They have lost to West Ham, Man City and Brighton, were held at home by Burnley and looked tired as they chucked away a two-goal lead at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

It certainly feels like further progress under Brendan Rodgers is going to prove difficult this season but with Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho both in good form, you can’t totally rule them out.

A bit of consistency is needed and returning players to bolster their defence and midfield will help that. They also need to get back into the Thursday-Sunday routine, which is never ideal.

They’re too good a side to finish in their current mid-table position but improvement is needed.

Grade: C

Leicester have looked vulnerable at the back with key players missing through injury

Leicester have looked vulnerable at the back with key players missing through injury

[item name=module id=1034852 style=undefined /]

Report cards for Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Tottenham, Watford, West Ham and Wolves will be published in Part Two on Thursday.