It’s been a truly remarkable and unique start to the new season with the action having come thick and fast, this week’s international break allowing Premier League sides to pause following a chaotic campaign to date.
Whilst several sides across the division will have been pleased with their early progress in the league’s opening weeks, there are plenty who will be using this time to regroup after enduring stuttering starts.
We’ve decided to look at the teams who may be seeking major changes after just four fixtures, here are five Premier League clubs who’ve started the season in shocking form:
Stepping up a division is always difficult given the gap between the Championship and top-flight, though Fulham will no doubt have been hoping for more following a harrowing return to the Premier League to date.
Four defeats from four and 11 goals conceded are the key statistics from a dreadful start for Scott Parker’s side, who have looked some way out of their depth during comprehensive defeats to Arsenal and Aston Villa.
Fulham’s defensive issues have been abundantly apparent with several of the players relegated in ignominious fashion two years ago remaining present, the likes of Denis Odoi and Tim Ream some way short of the standard required.
Few were expecting much more than a relegation struggle for the west London side this season, but even their most pessimistic of supporters must have hoped for more than this, their displays having lacked any form of quality to date.
A narrow 1-0 defeat at Wolves prior to the international break was an improved showing and encouraging sign for Parker and company, whilst much may depend on how their late window arrivals settle and gel.
Loanees Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman can provide an injection of attacking verve, whilst it will be hoped Joachim Andersen can help shore up a leaky rearguard.
The onus is now on the inexperienced Parker to blend a side capable of competing.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom may have bettered Fulham by getting their first point on the board, but there are huge areas of concern for Slaven Bilic’s side following their opening four fixtures of the season.
No side has conceded more goals than the Baggies over the opening weeks of the Premier League season, their hospitable defensive line providing opportunity after opportunity for opposition sides.
The newly-promoted outfit have barely been competitive in defeats to Leicester and Southampton, whilst a positive start at Everton was undone by Kieran Gibbs’ stupidity as the 10-man visitors were overpowered on Merseyside.
Even their draw with Chelsea was littered with errors, incredibly blowing a three-goal half-time lead to capitulate in a worrying second half collapse at The Hawthorns.
Bilic’s side lack a recognised and reliable goalscorer and are struggling badly to keep opponents out at the other end, a recipe for disaster as the club bid to re-establish themselves at Premier League level.
Has Burnley’s lack of investment finally caught up with the Clarets?
No club spent less than Sean Dyche’s side during the summer transfer window with the £1m signing of a 31-year-old Dale Stephens and squad goalkeeper Will Norris their only additions of note, a hugely underwhelming window of activity for a club who have worked tirelessly to become an established Premier League outfit in recent seasons.
The results are a squad that sits just one or two key injuries away from potential disaster, their lack of depth looking perilous during a campaign in which a global pandemic can have its impact at any given time.
Three defeats from three is a poor return for a club who punched above their weight to finish in the top half last season and Dyche will no doubt be concerned in the opening weeks of the season.
Dyche has previously looked to the Championship for new additions and that could be an avenue to explore with the domestic window remaining open, gaps needing to be filled at right-back, centre-back and right-midfield.
Burnley face West Brom next weekend in a clash that already shapes as a huge encounter, one neither side can afford to lose at present.
After the dizzying heights of a fairytale return to the Premier League last season, Sheffield United have been brought back down to earth with a thudding bump in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Chris Wilder’s side competed for the top four for much of the season before a worrying slump after the Premier League’s restart, one which has continued into the new season and has shown little signs of turning around.
Four fixtures have delivered zero points and just a solitary consolation goal, the innovative and well-drilled system deployed by the Blades last season malfunctioning of late.
Wilder’s decision to drop Oliver Norwood since the opening day defeat to Wolves has left Sheffield United short of midfield creativity, whilst their lack of firepower in attack is hugely worrying with none of their forward players looking reliable in front of goal.
The Blades boss has acted with the club-record signing of Rhian Brewster from Liverpool and he could make his debut in next weekend’s clash against fellow strugglers Fulham, the England U21 international possessing a striker’s instinct despite being unproven at this level.
It’s been a stuttering start for last season’s over achievers and one they will be seeking to address quickly.
Just where to start with Manchester United?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are languishing in 16th-place in the Premier League after just one win in their opening three fixtures, an unconvincing victory at Brighton sandwiched between humbling home defeats to Crystal Palace and Tottenham.
That latter loss was the joint-worst in the club’s Premier League history as the north London side ran riot to win 6-1 at Old Trafford, cutting through the Red Devils’ defensive lines with effortless ease as Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane starred.
United’s much-maligned board has failed to address glaring weaknesses in Solskjaer’s side with the club lacking quality in key areas including centre-back, a futile summer-long pursuit of Jadon Sancho only proving to once again highlight the incompetency of the club’s hierarchy and recruitment team.
Last season saw the club climb into the Champions League places after a strong second half of the season was inspired by a magnificent mid-season signing, but the Bruno bounce has now all but evaporated with the dark clouds closing in once more.
United lack leaders and direction from boardroom through to the pitch and a manager who – despite trying his utmost to improve the culture in difficult circumstances – is far from the quality required to challenge at the top.
Last season’s third place finish should not cover the chasm between United and the Premier League’s best, their shortcomings vividly apparent during the opening weeks of the season, with a daunting run of fixtures still to come.