On September 1, the day after the transfer window closed, we ranked all 20 Premier League clubs based on their summer business.
As you can probably imagine, the piece engendered almost universal delight among readers. We were flooded with polite messages of support from fans of every team, none of whom were remotely disgruntled.
Of course, that ranking was always going to be premature: the season was only a couple of games old and many of the new signings had not played.
Now, though? Well, a period of two months is the kind of sample size that allows us to make measured judgements that definitely, definitely won’t come back to haunt us. There’s no way at all that it’s too early to call this. No way at all.
(NB – the extent to which each side has risen/fallen in the table (the bit in brackets) is more a reflection of how wrong we got the first version than it is an appraisal of their form. Sorry Bournemouth.)
20. Swansea (down 1)
Major ins: Leroy Fer, Mike van der Hoorn, Fernando Llorente, Borja Baston, Alfie Mawson
Major outs: Eder, Alberto Paloschi, Kyle Bartley, Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Ayew, Ashley Williams, Franck Tabanou, Marvin Emnes
What we said: “The incoming players look like gambles.”
Fer has hit the ground running with four league goals to date, but that’s about it as far as the good news goes. Williams and Ayew have been huge losses, leaving a side short on leadership and cutting edge, not least in attack, where Llorente and Borja really aren’t cutting it. It could be a long season for Bob Bradley.
19. Hull (up 1)
Major ins: David Marshall, Ryan Mason, Will Keane, Dieumerci Mbokani, Markus Henriksen
Major outs: Sone Aluko, Ryan Taylor, Mohamed Diame
What we said: “Should have done much more.”
The Tigers started well after their summer of uncertainty, but have come crashing back to earth since and now find themselves in the relegation zone. The new signings are yet to make a major contribution and Mike Phelan could easily find himself short on options if injuries begin to bite in the weeks ahead.
18. Sunderland (down 3)
Major ins: Papy Djilobodji, Paddy McNair, Donald Love, Adnan Januzaj, Javier Manquillo, Steven Pienaar, Didier Ndong, Jason Denayer
Major outs: Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher, Wes Brown, Emanuele Giaccherini, Santiago Vergini, Will Buckley, Liam Bridcutt, Jordi Gomez, Younes Kaboul, Jeremain Lens
What we said: “In have come a number of players, most of them cast-offs.”
The more you look at that list of incoming players, the worse it gets. The best you can say about Djilobodji is that he will be a long-term replacement for John O’Shea at his very worst, while Ndong and Januzaj have made fitful starts to life at the Stadium of Light. McNair and Love – not a pair of maverick Chicago cops, disappointingly – have mostly been played out of position, in midfield. Manquillo has done reasonably well, but they’re going to have major problems if Jermain Defoe gets injured.
17. West Ham (down 8)
Major ins: Havard Nordtveit, Domingos Quina, Sofiane Feghouli, Gokhan Tore, Ashley Fletcher, Arthur Masuaku, Andre Ayew, Jonathan Calleri, Simone Zaza, Alvaro Arbeloa
Major outs: Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins, Enner Valencia
What we said: “West Ham’s biggest coup was keeping hold of Dimitri Payet.”
We made a big deal about Payet staying, but the new boys have been pretty abject thus far: Feghouli and Tore were blunted by Accrington in the League Cup; Calleri and Zaza have looked about as threatening as a ball of candy floss; Masuaku blew hot and very, very cold before getting crocked. Ayew was always likely to be the pick of the signings, but already a lot seems to be riding on his ability to produce his best form after injury.
16. Tottenham (down 6)
Major ins: Victor Wanyama, Vincent Janssen, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Pau Lopez, Moussa Sissoko
Major outs: Federico Fazio, Alex Pritchard, DeAndre Yedlin, Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli, Ryan Mason, Clinton Njie
What we said: “Not spectacular, but continuity is key.”
After a season during which most of their key men remained injury-free, there was always a chance that fate would take its revenge this term. And Tottenham, for all their midfield options – bolstered by the astute addition of Wanyama – have looked painfully short up front in the absence of Harry Kane, with Janssen thus far unable to cut the mustard. More worrying, though, there is the fact that they paid £30million for Moussa Sissoko. Read that sentence as many times as it takes for you to agree with their position in this ranking.
15. Watford (up 1)
Major ins: Jerome Sinclair, Christian Kabasele, Isaac Success, Juan Camilo Zuniga, Brice Dja Djedje, Younes Kaboul, Roberto Pereyra, Daryl Janmaat, Stefano Okaka, Adrian Mariappa, Kenedy
Major outs: Jose Manuel Jurado, Almen Abdi, Steven Berghuis, Mario Suarez, Matej Vydra, Allan Nyom
What we said: “All a bit scattergun.”
When you sign that many players, a couple are always likely to hit the mark. Pereyra and Kaboul have been the positive stories so far, with the odd cameo from Success and Zuniga also catching the eye. But the rest of them have barely been seen at all, meaning it’s the old guard who have been doing the business for the Hornets so far.
14. Burnley (up 3)
Major ins: Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jon Flanagan, Steven Defour, Patrick Bamford, Jeff Hendrick
Major outs: Joey Barton, Michael Duff, Matt Taylor, David Jones, Matt Gilks, Lukasz Jutkiewicz
What we said: “A cautious approach.”
Their minimalism looked a bit risky and it could yet be that they lack the depth required in the months ahead. But Gudmundsson and Hendrick have been solid additions to the midfield, and Defour has shown glimpses of the quality that once had some of Europe’s top sides monitoring his progress. No idea where Bamford is, mind.
13. West Brom (no change)
Major ins: Matt Phillips, Brendan Galloway, Nacer Chadli, Allan Nyom, Hal Robson-Kanu
Major outs: Victor Anichebe, Stephane Sessegnon, Anders Lindegaard, James Chester, Cristian Gamboa, Sebastien Pocognoli, Rickie Lambert
What we said: “Tony Pulis has secured some promising attacking talent.”
Chadli has been a canny addition and has already started to repay his fee with some impressive displays. Phillips should also chip in, but Galloway and Nyom are basically just hanging about for those rare occasions when Tony Pulis decides he actually needs to play a full-back. Not a massive upgrade, overall, but no disaster either.
12. Leicester (down 8)
Major ins: Ron-Robert Zieler, Luis Hernandez, Nampalys Mendy, Ahmed Musa, Bartosz Kapustka, Islam Slimani
Major outs: Andrej Kramaric, Mark Schwarzer, Paul Konchesky, Dean Hammond, Liam Moore, N’Golo Kante, Ritchie De Laet, Gokhan Inler
What we said: “Most of the incoming players look like calculated gambles.”
Slimani has done well and offers Leicester a good alternative to the pace of Jamie Vardy and the hustle of Shinji Okazaki in attack. Musa is also a threat on his day, although he is just as likely to frustrate as to enchant. Mendy and Zieler have had unconvincing starts, meanwhile, and the former has yet to make much of a dent in the thankless task of replacing N’Golo Kante.
11. Southampton (up 1)
Major ins: Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Alex McCarthy, Jeremy Pied, Sofiane Boufal
Major outs: Gaston Ramirez, Kelvin Davis, Juanmi, Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, Paulo Gazzaniga, Sam Gallagher
What we said: “As usual, the Saints lost key men.”
The south-coast club have coped well since losing Mane, Wanyama and Pelle, although that is mainly down to Claude Puel and their tried-and-tested defence. Redmond has looked assured in a new, more attacking role, but Hojbjerg has yet to hit his stride and Boufal – their record signing – is still feeling his way into the side. So steady reconstruction, as usual.
10. Middlesbrough (down 2)
Major ins: Viktor Fischer, Marten De Roon, Victor Valdes, Antonio Barragan, Alvaro Negredo, Gaston Ramirez, Brad Guzan, Fabio Da Silva, Calum Chambers, Adama Traore
Major outs: Jonathan Woodgate, Rhys Williams, Mustapha Carayol, Albert Adomah
What we said: “All in all it has been a positive summer.”
There were plenty of new faces at the Riverside at the start of the campaign and most of them have contributed to an encouraging start. Valdes, Chambers and Barragan have been solid at the back. De Roon looks neat and tidy in midfield. Negredo, Ramirez and Traore have had their moments, even if consistency is an issue. Pretty good, in the main.
9. Chelsea (up 2)
Major ins: Michy Batshuayi, N’Golo Kante, Eduardo, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz
Major outs: Nathan Ake, Tomas Kalas, Mohamed Salah, Bertrand Traore, Danilo Pantic, Partrick Bamford, Loic Remy, Kenedy, Juan Cuadrado, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu
What we said: “Very hit and miss.”
Kante has slotted in as expected, but it was the late signings of Alonso and Luiz that allowed Conte to switch to the 3-4-3 formation that has yielded such fine results in recent weeks. Still, the fact that the Italian has had to improvise in a couple of areas – Cesar Azpilicueta at centre-back, Victor Moses at wing-back – strengthens the feeling that their summer work was a little haphazard. And goodness knows what has happened with Batshuayi.
8. Everton (up 10)
Major ins: Maarten Stekelenburg, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie, Enner Valencia
Major outs: Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert, Tim Howard, John Stones, Brendan Galloway
What we said: “£25million for Yannick Bolasie is madness.”
Ronald Koeman was always going to be the signing of the summer for the Toffees, but Gueye has rivalled him with a series of commanding displays in midfield. He was a snip for £7million. Stekelenburg has been less assured, but Williams should become a fixture in the side and Bolasie has quickly struck up an understanding with Romelu Lukaku. Maybe his fee wasn’t quite so scandalous as it first appeared… (*cough* *cough* Sissoko *cough*).
7. Bournemouth (down 4)
Major ins: Nathan Ake, Lys Mousset, Lewis Cook, Jordon Ibe, Brad Smith, Marc Wilson, Jack Wilshere
Major outs: Sylvain Distin, Tommy Elphick, Matt Ritchie, Glenn Murray, Lee Tomlin, Eunan O’Kane
What we said: “Jack Wilshere is a marquee signing in the truest sense.”
OK, so we probably got a bit overexcited with the Wilshere thing last time out. But that was still quite a coup and the Arsenal loanee has made a good start in an eye-catching midfield unit. Ibe and Cook should prove astute signings in the long run, while the others provide padding for a squad that was pretty thin last season.
6. Crystal Palace (no change)
Major ins: Andros Townsend, Steve Mandanda, James Tomkins, Christian Benteke, Loic Remy
Major outs: Emmanuel Adebayor, Marouane Chamakh, Brede Hangeland, Adrian Mariappa, Dwight Gayle, Alex McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie, Mile Jedinak, Jonny Williams
What we said: “A job well done.”
OK, they’re not in the best form and Remy is currently doing his best Invisible Man impression. But it’s still hard to argue with the addition of four international players and an extra centre-half, funded by a clearout of dead wood. They just need Alan Pardew – or someone else – to unlock their potential.
5. Man United (down 4)
Major ins: Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba
Major outs: Victor Valdes, Nick Powell, Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair, Donald Love, Adnan Januzaj, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Tyler Blackett, Will Keane
What we said: “United had a great, great summer.”
United have not been brilliant, but have their struggles so far been down to the summer recruitment drive? Surely not: Bailly looks like a fine addition, Pogba will only improve and Ibrahimovic, while perhaps blocking Marcus Rashford’s progress just a shade, has scored six of their 16 league goals so far. Even Mkhitaryan looked like the right option to add some creativity – Jose Mourinho’s refusal to play him reflects more on manager than player or board.
4. Stoke (up 1)
Major ins: Ramadan Sobhi, Joe Allen, Wilfried Bony, Bruno Martins Indi
Major outs: Peter Odemwingie, Steve Sidwell, Marc Wilson, Philipp Wollscheid, Joselu
What we said: “A proven Premier League goalscorer? Tick.”
The Potters had a terrible start to the campaign, but already there are signs that their summer business will pay off handsomely. Bony and Martins Indi have established themselves as first-choice picks, Sobhi looks a lively wildcard option and Allen, who has four goals to his name already, was one of the signings of the summer. No key departures either.
3. Arsenal (up 11)
Major ins: Granit Xhaka, Takuma Asano, Rob Holding, Lucas Perez, Shkodran Mustafi
Major outs: Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini, Calum Chambers, Joel Campbell, Wojciech Szczesny, Serge Gnabry, Jack Wilshere
What we said: “The players they have signed should all be useful.”
We were a bit sniffy about Arsenal’s business two months ago, but the outlook is much more positive now. That’s mainly down to the form of the unfussy Mustafi, who has struck up a fine partnership with Laurent Koscielny and has every chance of keeping Per Mertesacker and Gabriel out of the side when they return to fitness. True, Perez has yet to do much, but Xhaka has put in some classy displays for a side that now has options all over the park.
2. Liverpool (up 5)
Major ins: Joel Matip, Loris Karius, Sadio Mane, Ragnar Klavan, Alex Manninger, Georginio Wijnaldum
Major outs: Jerome Sinclair, Kolo Toure, Jordan Rossiter, Jose Enrique, Martin Skrtel, Jordon Ibe, Adam Bogdan, Joe Allen, Brad Smith, Jon Flanagan, Christian Benteke, Luis Alberto, Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic
What we said: “Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum are excellent additions.”
It’s early doors, but Mane and Wijnaldum have indeed been great so far, the former especially a perfect player for Jurgen Klopp’s dynamic, high-pressing attacking set-up. Matip has also done well, providing stability in an unsettled defence. The jury is still out on Karius and Klavan, but it’s a much better squad than it was a few months ago.
1. Man City (up 1)
Major ins: Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Marlos Moreno, John Stones, Claudio Bravo
Major outs: Martin Demichelis, Marlos Moreno, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joe Hart, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala, Jason Denayer
What we said: “Talk about flexing your muscles.”
Yes, Bravo has been shaky in the extreme. Yes, Stones has made a couple of silly errors. Yes, Sane has only played a minor part so far. But Nolito looks perfect for the Premier League and Gundogan has been an inspired addition, bringing both control and cutting edge to the midfield since returning from a long lay-off. With Gabriel Jesus yet to arrive, and Sane and Stones likely to improve, the future also looks bright.