Pre-season predictions, who’d make them? Year after year they make pundits and fans alike look as if they know very little about the Premier League.

This campaign is no different, and could actually argue its case for being the most unpredictable for a good few seasons.

Southampton? Almost certain to be doomed after their backbone was picked off at will in the summer. Liverpool would hold off Manchester United to retain a place in the Champions League.

Looking back at the predicted table I filed three months ago, only rock-bottom Burnley, table-topping Chelsea and rejuvenated Newcastle sit in the correct positions.

Rather unsurprisingly, it is Ronald Koeman’s Saints who are the biggest movers – by a huge 13 places.

They lie second – four points behind the Blues and four ahead of Manchester City – and are, without striking a too patronising tone, the surprise package thus far.

Any passing glance at the top flight table would bring a look of astonishment.

West Ham United comfortably nestled in the top four ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United. Garry Monk’s Swansea, tipped by many to really struggle, only behind the Hammers on goal difference.

This is a team, that starts with Marvin Emnes up front, in a stronger position than sides with Alexis Sanchez and Angel di Maria. Further proof that while English football isn’t blessed with the quality of other countries, it is possibly the most absorbing competition.

Moving down into the bottom half, we find Liverpool and Tottenham. Eleven games into a season.

That is just not good enough for clubs of their stature. Brendan Rodgers is worse off points-wise than Roy Hodgson was after the same stage of the 2010-11 season, while Mauricio Pochettino must pick up 13 points from his next five to match the total of Andre Villas-Boas in 2013-14.

There are extenuating circumstances with both managers – Rodgers has brought Champions League football while Pochettino inherited a dishevelled squad – but their problems make this Premier League utterly unpredictable.

Liverpool – going off Sportsmail’s pre-season table – have been the biggest disappointment so far. Rivals Everton haven’t fared much better after a string of draws and a defence which has been more porous than last season.

Ninth-placed Stoke City haven’t surprised too much given their decent finish to last season, while Alan Pardew has transformed the fortunes of Newcastle in little more than a fortnight.

Harry Redknapp may be slightly disappointed with Queens Park Rangers’ start to life at the top – only Burnley have started worse – but has players coming back to fitness and a striker in Charlie Austin who cannot stop scoring.

They were exemplary against Manchester City in the 2-2 draw at the weekend, their efforts deserving more.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side aren’t too far off where they are expected to finish – behind Chelsea – but would have found this term far trickier had others not performed so poorly.

Hull City haven’t managed to kick on as they might have after a summer in which they spent big money on Jake Livermore, Abel Hernandez and Robert Snodgrass, although the latter has suffered a severe injury setback.

Alan Irvine is proving you don’t need a wealth of experience at the top to engineer results – even if they did lose against Newcastle on Sunday. The new West Brom head coach has the Baggies in 13th largely without their £10m record signing Brown Ideye.

Other than the top and bottom, the only certainties, it seems, are that Aston Villa and Sunderland will loiter in lower mid-table.


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