Ian Darke's Premier League first impressions: City favourites for three-peat

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Aug 27, 2019, 10:20

Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

First impressions can be misleading, but, as Liverpool maintains a 100% record -- with Manchester City hot on their heels -- there may already be some heavy hints about how this season might develop. Interestingly, all three promoted clubs have already recorded a win, and it does not look as if there are any complete "no-hopers" this season, suggesting a mighty close battle to avoid the drop with possibly 10 teams involved. Here's my early club-by-club look at the Premier League.


Arsenal: Defeat at Anfield was a predictable reality check, but the Gunners have bought well during the summer transfer window and carry enough threat to make the top four despite a still-suspect defence.

Aston Villa: The win over Everton will give them real confidence. They've shown enough to believe they can hold their own after promotion to the Premier League.

Bournemouth: Form has been mixed, but the Cherries look to have enough quality players, including Callum Wilson and David Brooks, to stay clear of relegation again.

Brighton: Florin Andone's horrendous red-card challenge cost them a home defeat to Southampton, spoiling an encouraging start for new manager Graham Potter. I think it might still be a close call for them this season.

Burnley: Spirit, determination, organisation and with the underrated threat of Ashley Barnes. Nobody's pushovers.

Chelsea: A much-needed first win for Frank Lampard at Norwich. Refreshing to see homegrown kids like Mason Mount starring, but they miss Eden Hazard and have not been that convincing yet, and they are especially vulnerable to counters.

Crystal Palace: Their win at Old Trafford is a reminder of how dangerous Roy Hodgson's team are away from home.

Everton: Poor, bland and wasteful in defeat at Aston Villa. Looks like scoring goals will be a big issue for Marco Silva's team. Only one so far.

Leicester City: Full of flair at times with James Maddison pulling the strings, but doubts over a defence missing Harry Maguire. That might scupper top-six chances.

Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp's "mentality monsters" keep winning without yet hitting top gear. They will take a fair bit of stopping.

Manchester City: No sign of the Rolls-Royce stalling. Winning with plenty to spare. The draw with Tottenham was a freak result. Pep Guardiola & Co. are worthy favourites to win the Premier League for a third straight time.

Manchester United: Look a bit better than last season with Harry Maguire calming the defence, but a home defeat to Crystal Palace suggests old frailties are still there. Finishing in the top four would be a success.

Newcastle United: After so much negativity, the shock win at Spurs was built on heroic defensive resolve. A sign that manager Steve Bruce might be starting to get a better tune from a previously off-key squad.

Norwich City: They've scored six goals in their first three games -- five of them from Teemu Pukki. That's grounds for quiet optimism despite a shaky defence.

Sheffield United: Will be happy enough with four points from their first three games. Hard-working and difficult to play against, but probably in a season-long relegation fight.

Southampton: Needed their first win of the season to calm nerves, but it was against a 10-man Brighton. Probable bottom-half toilers.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lost 13 times last season, so the shock home defeat to Newcastle was alarming. Had 80% possession, yet only two shots on target. Spurs are talented, but they slip up too often.

Watford: Bottom of the table, on a long losing streak and woefully out of form. Manager Javi Gracia is walking a tightrope.

West Ham: Recovering well from a 5-0 first-day drubbing from Manchester City. New striker Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt could become a Hammers cult hero.

Wolves: Early-season focus has been on ensuring qualification for the Europa League group stages, and that might be affecting league form.

 
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