Ranking the moods of all 20 Premier League clubs

Dave Tickner
Cristiano Ronaldo Newcastle fans Antonio Conte Premier League mood rankings

It is barely a month since we did this, but many of those rankings are now staggeringly wrong and some of them in hindsight (Spurs! Third!) were probably giddy nonsense even then.

Anyway, we go again. Last month’s rankings are in brackets – and you can read the full nonsense here to give an accurate guide of the amount of stock (zero) to place in these latest incoherent ramblings…


1. Manchester City (1)
Just miles better and miles more consistent than any other team in the league as they casually saunter off into the distance. With the league in the bag, future placings in this season’s Mood Table are likely to depend mainly on Champions League progress or lack thereof but for now there is barely a cloud on the horizon. Raheem Sterling returning to form with a hat-trick at Norwich was another lovely little fillip for a club in absolutely zero need of such a thing.


2. Chelsea (6)
While the most soil-yourself-in-public embarrassing Celebration Policing in recent weeks has come from Wolves, the most objectively hilarious has been pundits criticising Chelsea for celebrating becoming ACTUAL CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD. Inward-looking, parochial, snide, Brexit Britain might not care a jot for Jonny Foreigner and his endeavours and there is no doubt that winning the Club World Cup thing is a far less arduous task than winning the Champions League, but it is also a reward for doing that really difficult thing. Fundamentally, once you’ve reached a point where you’re going “Look at them, running around celebrating like they’ve won the World Cup” at a team that has just done exactly that, then surely we must all accept that the drab, joyless, cynical policing of any and all pleasure people derive from this stupid f***ing sport must go in the bin. Apart from that time Liverpool did a full-scale German celebration in front of their fans after a 2-2 home draw with West Brom. That was a bit much and deserving of ridicule. Come on. Remember how Liverpool fans at the time said it happened after every game in Germany and it was just a Klopp thing but then it never happened again after any of their games? But in general, celebrate away. In summary, then: Chelsea are pretty happy and fair enough too.


3. Liverpool (4)
Barring something extraordinary in either direction will now finish second in the league meaning they, like City, will see future spots here largely defined by cup exploits. Domestic cups also a factor here, though, with Liverpool now having a tremendous chance to fill a rare gap on Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield resume by finally lifting one of those trophies at Wembley. Non-zero chance they then London bus their way to two such trophies before May is out. Current status: happy days.


4. Newcastle (10)
Not even a Dreaded Metatarsal can stop the Newcastle feelgood momentum now. Three wins in a row was absolutely what was required around a January transfer window of alarming competence in which exciting signings for the future were married with practical, sensible work for the immediate job at hand. Relegation already a fading threat with the genuinely cheery prospect now for Newcastle fans of just being able to enjoy the rest of this season before the different, new but still very real stress of trying to compete at the division’s sharp end really kicks in.


5. West Ham (2)
Their own stuttering results are offset by the free-hit nature of their top-four tilt and the abject refusal of any of the ‘bigger’ clubs around them to take the thing by the scruff of the neck either. Narrow avoidance of a disastrous humiliation at non-league Kidderminster a reminder of the fragility of the Hammers’ current status and the small pool of suitable players David Moyes has at his disposal, as was the tin-eared retention of cat-bothering social media pariah Kurt Zouma. January was a disappointment as West Ham became the latest club to discover that trying to improve a very good first team that has you punching above your weight can be enormously challenging. Huge run of games coming up for the Hammers before the Europa League resumption next month that could send them right to to the top of this table or tumbling down it. It’s rejuvenated Newcastle next, followed by top-four rivals Wolves, an FA Cup trip to Southampton, a visit to Anfield, the first leg of the Europa League last 16, Aston Villa, the second leg of the Europa League last 16 and then Tottenham. Eight games in 29 season-defining days.


6. Brighton (5)
Losing in the cup to Spurs does, in hindsight, look utterly humiliating but hey ho. The perennial xG bantersmiths continue to draw games on the regular, treating foes as disparate as Norwich, West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester as essentially identical. Have still lost only four league games all season, which is truly ridiculous. It’s at least two fewer than anyone else outside the three good teams. And they have just started to win a few now as well, with three league wins since their most recent defeat. Looking very good for an extremely commendable top-half finish now, and it could be better yet if certain teams above them continue their current abject shambling.


7. Aston Villa (8)
Vaguely middling, despite the clean, wholesome, feelgood story that is Philippe Coutinho. We’re very invested in Villa right now having decided that Steven Gerrard Is Going To Be A Good Manager and we’re firmly Team Stevie G in what is now in our heads at least a bitter rivalry with Frank Lampard’s Everton. They are in so many ways basically the same club – famous old ground, storied history, bit sh*t for quite a while now, occasional top-four botherers back in the day, Cazoo, Lucas Digne – that we hope they can end up thoroughly despising each other now they’ve got England’s incompatible Golden Generation midfield combo in the dugouts. Fight, fight, fight!

Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring for Aston Villa.

8. Southampton (12)
Such a curious side, capable of looking like relegation fodder one week and genuinely excellent the next. Since managing to concede three goals to Wolves – an embarrassment even Spurs managed to avoid – they have been absolutely first-rate, drawing with both Manchester clubs and deservedly beating Tottenham as well as progressing in the FA Cup. Upcoming run of fixtures looks kindly, with a home FA Cup tie with West Ham the standout but no decent team to face in the league until the visit of Chelsea in the second week of April. Good form plus kindly fixture list means we all know what’s going to happen. The annual 9-0 defeat is definitely happening in the next six weeks.


9. Arsenal (7)
No idea. Christ alone knows what to put here to be honest. Have boldly further shrunk a squad already too titchy to risk facing Spurs but remain in thoroughly unconvincing top-four contention. Fanbase has spent much of the last week in high dudgeon about a correctly awarded red card in a game they won, which feels very Arsenal indeed. Mikel Arteta is the last man standing from the bizarre craze for big clubs giving huge jobs to total novices and we’re still really none the wiser whether he’s going to end up more Guardiola or Solskjaer. Arsenal’s season, reduced as it now is to just league games, teeters similarly. Finish fourth as they really probably should from here and it’s a very good season indeed. Could just as easily finish eighth again, though. Season likely to be defined by rearranged games against Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea.


10. Wolves (9)
Should be much higher on this list. They are a very good side indeed and in with a genuine chance of bothering the top four come May. But this self-appointed Celebration Police role they’ve taken on since the Arsenal game is absolute desperate and embarrassing. I’m tempted to drop them all the way to 20th to make some kind of point to someone but would that count as Celebration Policing Policing? Philosophical debate for you there. Reached a nadir when they tried to use a 2-0 win over Tottenham as a way to continue their banter war with Arsenal. Just a heads up, lads: humiliating Spurs is good and correct and fun, but it will never ever be a good way to get one over on Arsenal. Shame, because there’s a lot to like about this team and its manager. But it’s all been spoiled. Next.

11. Crystal Palace (13)
Just gone a bit flat league-wise, hasn’t it? Will be absolutely fine, but hopes of a top-half finish are fading. Losing games to West Ham and Liverpool is fine as long as you win the ones against your Norwiches and Brentfords but they keep drawing those. The big boost, though, is the FA Cup, where Palace are starting to have the look of one of those ‘reach the final without telling anyone’ sides having reached the last 16 via wins over Millwall and Hartlepool and needing only a home win over Stoke to find themselves in a quarter-final.


12. Everton (20)
Comfortably off the bottom as optimism returns thanks to the arrival of Super Frank. We’re still not at all convinced, obviously, but if nothing else Everton are now sure of good coverage in the press. It’s been an up-and-down start for Lampard in truth, but he got things very right indeed against Leeds at the weekend and there was something coherent and thrusting about the whole performance that highlighted just how dreary things were under Agent Benitez. Everton should definitely be good enough often enough to stay out of trouble, and Donny van de Beek already looks like a difference-maker in terms of the quality of football and general vibe around the ground. Adding Dele Alli’s outfits to a squad already containing Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has already started annoying people, which again is a bonus.


13. Brentford (11)
Just need to be ever so slightly careful that a generally encouraging first season in the Premier League doesn’t have a needlessly choppy end. When the games-in-hand stagger unwinds they could very easily be 17th. The gap to 18th should still be sizeable, but you’d rather have a few more bodies between yourselves and the trapdoor given a season that has carried almost no threat of relegation from the moment Arsenal were so gleefully dispatched on the opening night. They’re still going to be fine, but a run of four defeats only ended by a goalless draw with Palace has shifted the mood from ‘looking upwards’ to ‘nervous glance over the shoulder’.


14. Leeds (14)
It’s just been such a drab contrast to last season’s freewheeling joyride, hasn’t it? Threat of relegation remains minimal which makes it far from the worst example of Second-Season Syndrome on record and there are still plenty of reasons to think the fun can return next year if the bad luck with injuries can just f*** off. Patrick Bamford’s ongoing absence is a major p***er and that defeat at Everton was an absolute horror show – a grim lowlights reel of Leeds at their worst.


15. Norwich (19)
Briefly climbing out of the bottom three at the precise moment Newcastle’s lottery win kicked in was almost cruel, but a run of seven points from three games means Derby’s record is safe for another year and that whatever happens now, Norwich can reasonably claim to have made a fight of it. As long as they don’t end the season with 10 straight defeats like last time. Also, and not unimportantly, are obviously coming straight back up because they are Norwich and it’s what they do.


16. Leicester (15)
A corner against Leicester is currently like a penalty against anyone else. Combining general shoddiness with a penchant for absurd late collapses is not a winning combination, and it’s starting to feel like Brendan Rodgers is in the endgame. Already there’s a sense of what comes next for The Brendan, does he fail upwards to Manchester United or have to take his medicine at, say, Spurs? For Leicester, it’s a long road back to those two fifth-placed finishes and FA Cup wins. Getting spanked at Forest of all places was not good for the overall mood either, really.

17. Watford (17)
Already on their third manager of the season in classic Watford style. It’s not going to save them from relegation and condemns them to watching some pretty abject stuff over the closing months of the season in classic Watford style. Roy Hodgson is saying some pretty mad stuff in press conferences, and it’s up to you really whether that’s a positive or a negative.


18. Burnley (18)
Grimly, pointlessly yet stoically battling against the inevitable. Draws with Arsenal and Manchester United and unfortunate narrow defeat to Liverpool are absolutely textbook results for a side that is getting relegated yet determined to do so as bloody-mindedly as possible. There won’t be more than two goals in any of their remaining 17 games this season, FACT. Could yet prevail in a seesaw battle with Brighton, Southampton and Crystal Palace to finish the season with the highest number of draws, which is the real quiz.


19. Manchester United (16)
Mediocre results and worse performances. Ronaldo in a sulk. A misfiring, struggling manager who can’t be replaced until summer without acute embarrassment. A club used to the very finest of things and now colossally, humiliatingly less than the sum of its parts. That they still sit fifth and only a point outside the top four should be a source of abject and lasting shame to the teams around them. Even the bare minimum of Champions League qualification is currently odds-against, and the hopes of this season being actually good now hinge entirely on an unlikely win in that competition. The string of 1-1 draws against Middlesbrough (followed by defeat on penalties), Burnley and Southampton must be one of the most dispiriting string of 1-1 draws in the history of football. United have led all three of those games and f***ed it every time. They’re just not very good, and that is not an acceptable state of affairs at Old Trafford.


20. Tottenham (3)
Ah. Right. Fair to say we might have slightly overegged the pudding in putting them as high as third a month ago, but they were at that time on a decent unbeaten run, favourites to finish fourth and had the at least theoretical prospect of significant improvement to the first team and squad before the month was out. That in the intervening weeks they have managed to pull off the single daftest, most improbable win in Premier League history yet have still absolutely tumbled down the rankings is quite extraordinary and the simple fact is that no other club could pull off any of it. For better or worse, Spurs always bring drama. In a way, that is their true Spursiness. Not just the failure to take advantage of literally any situation ever, but their ability to pull off things like the Leicester heist, and then have that extraordinary thing be worth absolutely nothing just a few short weeks later. Underwhelming January window saw both the admission of mistakes made in the past combined with a pigheaded refusal to learn from them. Rodrigo Bentancur looks… okay. He runs a bit like Dimitar Berbatov which is something. Early days, but it looks like Spurs have been absolutely diddled on Dejan Kulusevski. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does; having just been humiliatingly carved to absolute shreds by Wolves, the third-lowest scorers in the division, Spurs now head to the Etihad for a clash with the champions that should come with a trigger warning.