The Premier League season is a marathon, not a sprint.
But even though the pressures of competing for a league title and facing relegation aren't impacting teams yet, and probably won't for many more months, dropping too many points in the first few weeks of the campaign and creating a steep uphill climb to the top of the table is something all clubs need to avoid.
The first month of the Premier League campaign has been full of exciting matchups and moments of individual brilliance. But there have also been some clubs that have failed to meet expectations.
Let's take a look at three underachieving teams and an updated view of the league table.
Chelsea suffered their first league defeat of the year on Saturday with a 1-0 defeat to an inferior Everton squad at Goodison Park, but this wasn't the first disappointing performance of the 2013-14 campaign for Jose Mourinho's men. They also drew at Old Trafford in a clash with Manchester United in one of the most boring matches of the early season.
As is common with all Mourinho-managed clubs, Chelsea have dominated on their home pitch (2-0-0) with four goals scored and only one against. However, the club's road record is far less impressive—zero wins, one draw and a loss. Chelsea also haven't scored away from Stamford Bridge during league play.
Winning away from home is one of the common denominators among all Premier League-winning clubs. Unfortunately for Chelsea, their next two road matches are against quality opponents Tottenham and Norwich City.
Chelsea are only two points from the top of the table, so there's no need to panic yet.
But there are a few issues, including road performance and a lack of goal-scoring from strikers, that need to be improved.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom enjoyed an impressive campaign in 2012-13 with an eighth-place finish in the table. If the club are going to replicate that success this season, they're going to need some positive results as soon as possible.
Steve Clarke's side are currently in the relegation zone with only two points (zero wins, two draws and two defeats) after four weeks.
For West Brom to turn their season around, the team's attack will have to improve. They have scored just one goal through four games, a Gareth McAuley equalizer in stoppage time on Saturday against Fulham that rescued West Brom from another defeat.
One man with the talent to score goals consistently is striker Nicolas Anelka, but the former Chelsea and Arsenal star has only one shot through two games and has been mostly ineffective this season.
West Brom must improve quickly. After next week's match versus a struggling Sunderland squad, their next four league fixtures include matchups against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Sunderland currently sit at the bottom of the Premier League table with a single point (0-1-3). The club also have the worst defensive record in the league with eight goals allowed through four matches.
After falling behind to Arsenal early in Saturday's match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland were able to equalize from the penalty spot just three minutes into the second half. But two unanswered goals by the Gunners prevented the Black Cats from taking any points from the match.
The most disappointing part of Sunderland's early-season struggles is that three of the club's four league games were against opponents currently ranked 12th or lower in the table. The Black Cats have taken just one of nine points.
Sunderland barely escaped relegation last season with an 18th-place finish. If they don't improve quickly and earn some positive results over the next few weeks, they are going to be in an intense uphill climb to avoid relegation later in the season.
Premier League Table (As of Sept. 14)
|11||West Ham United||4|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||2|