Week 2: Premier League Power Rankings – Bluebirds rising

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One shock result stole all the headlines during Week 2 of the Premier League, as Cardiff City registered their first win in the top-flight for over 50 years against much fancied Manchester City.

A result like that will do wonders for your position in the Premier League Power Rankings. So find out where the side from the Welsh capital sit and which teams were the other big movers this time out.

Every Tuesday we will put our neck on the line each to analyze the strength of each Premier League team. Forget about the official league standings, that doesn’t mean squat.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables.

The W-L-D bracket shows each PL teams current record and we’ve added an extra factor as you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

So please feel free to debate the Week 2 Power Rankings… that’s what they’re here for.

RANKING
source:  1 UP 1 Chelsea: They move up to the top of the rankings after easily shutting down United away from home. Okay, Chelsea had no real chances to score but they had a gameplan, and it worked a treat. Two home wins and a great point on the road. (2-0-1)

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2 DOWN 1 Manchester United: David Moyes’ side ran out of ideas against Chelsea. Sure they forced the issue, but you can you remember Rooney, RVP or Welbeck getting in behind the Blue wall? Rooney’s performance was the real highlight for United. (1-0-1)
source:  3  UP 1 Tottenham: Two games, two 1-0 wins, two PK game-winners from Roberto Soldado. Solid from Spurs against Swansea, a few kinks here and there. Life could be bright after Bale. (2-0-0)
source:  4  DOWN 1 Manchester City: A shock defeat at Cardiff exposed Manuel Pellegrini’s injury-hit defense, a bad day at the office. City have the perfect chance to recover next time out as Hull head to the Etihad. (1-1-0)

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5  – Liverpool:See Tottenham. Almost a mirror image of their opening day win against Stoke as the Reds beat Villa 1-0 thanks to a Daniel Sturridge goal. Another team built on defensive solidity. (2-0-0)
source:  6  – Arsenal: That’s more like it. The Gunners put in a great counter-attacking display vs. Fulham at a drenched Craven Cottage. Podolski grabbed two, Giroud looked sharp and Ramsey is finally delivering. Back on track but still work to do. (1-1-0)
source:  7  – Everton: Roberto Martinez’ side just couldn’t score against West Brom, they looked going forward and solid at the back. Solid start with two draws, but will they add a few creative players before the window slams shut? (0-0-2)
source:  8  UP 1 Southampton: The Saints should have comfortably beat Sunderland, but ended up grabbing a point late on. Mauricio Pochettino’s men had 64 percent of possession and numerous chances. Need to be more clinical going forward. (1-0-1)
source:  9 UP 1 West Ham: Sam Allardyce’s team haven’t conceded after two games played and went close to beating Newcastle away. On another day they could have scored 2 or 3 but the old adage “win your home game, get a point away” prevailed. (1-1-0)
source:  10  DOWN 2 Swansea: Two tough games to open up the season for the Swans and confidence must be low for Michael Laudrup’s men. They need to turn things around fast, they have the talent. All about mentality to get back on track. (0-2-0)
source:  11 Fulham: The Cottagers looked off the pace against a fired up Arsenal on Saturday. But they did dictate the play for large chunks and tried to force the issue. The Berbatov-Bent partnership looks promising. (1-1-0)
source:  12 Aston Villa: A tough week for Villa is over, as they faced Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in seven days. Two tight defeats and a win later, Paul Lambert’s men look dangerous on the break but still a little shaky at the back. (1-2-0)
source:  13 UP 3 Stoke: A real confidence boosting win at the Britannia in Mark Hughes’ first home game in charge. Palace took an early lead but the Potters had plenty of chances and rallied in the second half to turn things around. (1-1-0)
source:  14 DOWN 1 Norwich: The Canaries suffered a bad loss at Hull City and couldn’t score against the newly promoted team, despite having a one man advantage for over 60 minutes. Norwich’s attack need to fire next week against Southampton. (0-1-1)
source:  15
West Brom: The Baggies ground out a good point on the road at Everton, but they rode their luck as the Toffees struck the woodwork and threatened throughout. News of Ben Foster’s broken foot won’t help matters. (0-1-1)
source:  16  UP 3 Cardiff: What a win. The Bluebirds first ever victory in the Premier League came thanks to Fraizer Campbell’s heroics. A 3-2 win against Manchester City showed they could be here to stay.(1-1-0)
source:  17  DOWN 3 Newcastle: The Magpies didn’t lose against West Ham, but they didn’t really impress either. Alan Pardew may need to get a few new faces in this week, otherwise it will be a long, hard winter in the North East. (0-1-1)
source:  18 Hull: Steve Bruce’s team battled to a much-needed win at home against Norwich after being down to 10-men. Not much poise or creativity about this one, they ground out a result when it mattered. Great character. (1-1-0)
source:  19 DOWN 2
Sunderland: Paolo Di Canio’s men scored early against the Saints but didn’t kick on. They were content to protect their lead and offered nothing going forward. The Mackems still need to gel. (0-1-1)
source:  20  – Crystal Palace: Ian Holloway will be a busy man this week as he desperately searches for new players. Palace started well against Stoke and went into the break 1-0 up, but sloppy defending was their downfall. Pivotal week for Palace. (0-2-0)

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

[ MORE: Liverpool holds all the cards in Coutinho transfer ]

The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

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But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.