Giving Each Premier League Team a Grade Since the Restart

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 3, 2020

Manchester United's English striker Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by MIKE HEWITT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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It's been just over two weeks since the Premier League returned, and with some FA Cup matches sprinkled in among an action-packed period, clubs have been forced to find sharpness and fitness fast.

We've now been able to get a good look at each team post-lockdown, and we've provided grades for each Premier League side based on performances and results since the restart.


Arsenal: B


Arsenal are on a three-game winning streak (in all competitions), something that didn't feel particularly possible after back-to-back losses—one of which was to Brighton & Hove Albion—dogged their immediate return to action.

The wins have helped put the losses into context: Manchester City were too tough a nut to crack in the opener, and they battered Brighton for a good 60 minutes before imploding.

Since then? Southampton and Norwich City were well beaten in the league, Sheffield United were overcome in the FA Cup and Bukayo Saka has signed a new contract.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal  during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on July 01, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Aston Villa: C+


Villa look a different side since the restart—but "different" doesn't necessarily mean "better."

They've gone from expansive but leaky to...well, the opposite, grinding through games in a controlled manner but really lacking any spark, any ingenuity and any pace up front. They're now difficult to beat but dry up top.

They were the better side against Sheffield United, Newcastle United and arguably Wolverhampton Wanderers, but they squeezed just two points out of those games. Wins need to come or the season will probably end in relegation, but at least they're working off a solid base.


Bournemouth: F


What on Earth?

Bournemouth weren't in a good place before the break, and somehow they've come out of it looking even worse. They've lost all three games played, have lacked the sort of fluency and personality Eddie Howe's team usually play with and were defensively calamitous against Newcastle United in midweek.

Their fixture list from here reads: Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Manchester City, Southampton, Everton. And they're already in the relegation zone. Gulp.


Brighton & Hove Albion: B-


A win, a loss and a draw has kicked off Brighton's home straight. It's solid, unspectacular, steady—three words you'd be comfortable using to describe the Seagulls' season so far, fittingly.

They hung in against Arsenal and then took their chances to earn a surprise win before competing against Leicester and holding them at bay.

The only mark against them is the Manchester United game; they were too passive in defence and were taken apart as a result.


Burnley: B


The Clarets had their hides handed to them by Manchester City in their first game back, but they have recovered to record back-to-back 1-0 wins. 

They've managed that without either of their first-choice strikers (Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood) and have finally incorporated January signing Josh Brownhill into the side.

They have nothing to play for, yet Burnley are doing a better job of playing lockdown football than most.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea runs with the ball around Ederson of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on June 25, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ad
Pool/Getty Images


Chelsea: B+


It was all going perfectly. Chelsea were on the charge, two league wins from two under their belt and looking for a third, heading into Wednesday's clash with relegation strugglers West Ham United.

Leicester City lost earlier that day, meaning a win would vault the Blues into third. It was all set up. And then a series of defensive implosions—hardly an unfamiliar sight to Chelsea fans this season—led to a 3-2 loss that derailed what had been a perfect restart.

It's still a solid return—they're well in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League spot and they've progressed to the FA Cup semi-finals—but that West Ham game is a major missed chance.


Crystal Palace: C


Along with Burnley, Palace are one of the least relevant clubs in the Premier League run-in. That's not a slight on them; it's just a realisation of where they are, locked in mid-table, safe on 42 points, lacking the gas in the tank to pull off a true surprise and challenge for a European spot.

They're playing pretty much according to that.


Everton: A


Everton looked a candidate to be grouped in with Burnley and Palace as an also-ran across the final furlong; relegation wasn't a threat, Europe felt too far off and they could easily have sputtered out.

But the Toffees' case is slightly different. Carlo Ancelotti has not long been in the job, and they're clearly trying to put building blocks into place ahead of a full 2020-21 campaign with him at the helm.

That's led to full commitment and great strides; seven points from nine, one of which came against archrivals Liverpool, is an excellent return. They've taken advantage of the indifferent form of others to put themselves in with a shout of Europe.

Leicester City's English striker Jamie Vardy leaves the field at half time during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on July 1, 2020. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL


Leicester City: D


So...Leicester. What's happened, guys?

Two draws (against relegation candidates) and a loss to Everton, in which they started so poorly they simply couldn't recover in the second half, leaves them with just one point from nine.

They're not playing with the zip expected, they're not creating chances for Jamie Vardy, they're not defending with much authority and individual mistakes are hurting them.

The five-point gap they had on fourth in March is down to one, plus they're out of the FA Cup. Can they shake themselves out of this stupor?


Liverpool: C


There's been no middle ground in Liverpool's performances since the break; they were poor against Everton, incredible against Crystal Palace and then terrible against Manchester City.

You can forgive them for their 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium—it seemed clear the week leading up to it had been spent celebrating a Premier League title win, not preparing for a match—so while a grade of C is disappointingly accurate, they probably won't care.


Manchester City: A-


City have already played five games since returning, having to catch up on Premier League matches while also participating in the FA Cup.

They've destroyed Arsenal, Burnley, Newcastle United and Liverpool in the space of two weeks, showcasing the sort of attacking prowess Pep Guardiola's teams are famous for.

But they also lost to Chelsea in that span, falling in part thanks to some calamitous defensive errors that have, regrettably, also become somewhat symbolic of this Guardiola team.

So, to be honest, it's been business as usual for the Citizens.


Manchester United: A


Life's good for Manchester United right now.

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are dazzling in midfield, Marcus Rashford's back, Mason Greenwood's turning heads...the list of positives feels endless.

They're into the FA Cup semi-finals, hammered both Sheffield United and Brighton and look the sharpest team in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

Manchester United's English striker Mason Greenwood (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Manchester United's English defender Harry Maguire (R) and Manchester United's Swedish defender Victor Lindelof (L) during the English Premier League football
MIKE HEWITT/Getty Images


Newcastle United: B+


There didn't seem to be much for Newcastle to play for upon the restart, but their good form, resulting in seven points from nine, has made them an outside shout for the last Europa League place.

Allan Saint-Maximin has caught fire and is destroying teams almost single-handedly, and in place of what many thought would be apathy toward the final stretch, there's a real fire. 

They bowed out of the FA Cup to Manchester City via a 2-0 scoreline. Given Arsenal lost 3-0 and Liverpool lost 4-0, that's more than respectable.


Norwich City: D


Norwich have done little to dispel the widespread belief they'll be going down in 20th place.

Opening with a 3-0 loss to Southampton is the wrong kind of tone-setter, and while they always enjoy a good spell in games, they seem to lack the mettle at either end to capitalise and generate results.


Sheffield United: C


Thursday night saw the Blades rediscover their rhythm. It was good to welcome them back.

The behind-closed-doors element affected the team badly, and losing two key men on the eve of the restart hardly helped, so the first set of performances against Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester United were really poor.

We saw flickers of life in the cup against Arsenal, then they exploded back into form against Spurs on Thursday, winning 3-1 thanks to a performance Chris Wilder could finally point to and proudly associate with.

Southampton's English midfielder James Ward-Prowse (C) celebrates with Southampton's English striker Danny Ings (R) after scoring his team's third goal during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Southampton at Vicarage Road Stadi
ADAM DAVY/Getty Images


Southampton: B-


It appears home games are still a mountain too high to climb for Saints—despite there being literally no crowd—and their 2-0 loss to Arsenal ensured they remain the worst home performers in the league.

But away from home? Still golden. Even more so, perhaps. Comprehensive wins over Norwich City and Watford have lifted them to the 40-point mark and into probable safety.


Tottenham Hotspur: C


A fresh round of questions landed at Jose Mourinho's feet after Tottenham's performance against Sheffield United on Thursday.

Even a cursory glance at social media reveals questions over the starting XI, the subs, the attitude and, of course, the treatment of Tanguy Ndombele.

Four points earned against Manchester United and West Ham United heading into the fixture seemed fine, but four from a possible nine isn't good enough if the club's aspirations (Champions League football) are to be realised. They're down to ninth!


Watford: D


Outside of the three seconds it took Craig Dawson to unfurl his leg over his head and smack a remarkable, last-gasp equaliser in against Leicester City, Watford have been extremely underwhelming post-lockdown.

Burnley kept them at arm's length, and Southampton took them apart. One point from nine is a fair reflection of their performances, which have the fanbase deeply concerned about relegation.

They're lacking attacking inspiration outside of Ismaila Sarr, and they look far from sound defensively. It's not a good mix.


West Ham: C+


Wednesday's thrilling win over Chelsea saves West Ham's grade.

The performance was well worth the three points, and they even managed to overcome a VAR farce, offering a robustness in defence, a threat from set pieces and the sort of raw speed that caused the Blues defence to collapse.

Up until then, the results hadn't made for good reading (back-to-back 2-0 losses), but this was a reminder of what they're capable of—and why they shouldn't be down at the bottom.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Leander Dendoncker of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Villa Park on June 27, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images


Wolves: A


It's easy to forget Wolves were only promoted to the Premier League in 2018.

The fact they're challenging for a Champions League spot is part of that, but the other is how professional and calm they appear to be on the pitch. They grind out results in the way seasoned challengers do.

They haven't hit top level but still boast a max haul of nine points from nine, bringing them to within three points of third.


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