Week 3: Premier League Power Rankings – Liverpool on the up, Spurs go marching down

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Rivalry games took center stage in Week 3 of the Premier League, as Liverpool and Arsenal both scraped narrow 1-0 wins against arch enemies Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.

Spurs lost Gareth Bale, Manchester United picked up Marouane Fellaini and Arsenal splashed the cash to bring in Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.

Transfers like that have had a big say in the Premier League Power Rankings this week.

Every Tuesday we put our neck on the line 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 you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

Please feel free to debate the Week 3 Power Rankings… that’s what they’re here for.

RANKING
source:  1 Chelsea: The Blues weren’t in PL action but narrowly lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup. Defensively sound, José Mourinho will hope Samuel Eto’o and Willian add an extra dimension going forward. Strongest squad in the PL by far this season. (2-0-1)
source:  2 UP 2 Manchester City: The Citizens struggled against Hull for 64 minutes before sub Alvaro Negredo headed home and Yaya Toure capped off the win. A labored victory but City kept their 52 game home scoring streak going as they bounced back following their shock defeat to Cardiff. (2-1-0)
source:  3 DOWN 1 Manchester United: Not many positives this week for United fans. Only Marouane Fellaini arrived in the transfer window and there was a disappointing 1-0 loss to bitter rivals Liverpool. The Red Devils haven’t scored for two games in a row. Is David Moyes’ approach too defensive? (1-1-1)
 source:  4 UP 1 Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers’ side are just grinding out wins to start the season, there is a real grit and desire about the Reds. Daniel Sturridge grabbed the game-winner again and Luis Suárez is close to returning. Three great signings in Sakho, Moses an Ilori on deadline day, too. (3-0-0)

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5 UP 1 Arsenal: The Gunners have responded with four-straight wins in all competitions since losing that opener to Villa and they ground out a 1-0 win in the North London derby against Spurs. The arrival of Mesut Ozil for a club record $60 million shows real ambition and the form of Flamini and Giroud is promising. Arsene Wenger will be a happy man at the moment. (2-1-0)
source:  6 DOWN 3
Tottenham: LAB (Life after Bale) begins at White Hart Lane, and a loss to your biggest rivals just across North London won’t make Spurs fan feel optimistic. However they should, seven terrific new signings are in with Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen the pick of the bunch. Tottenham will be fine but all these new names will take time to gel. (2-1-0)
source:  7 Everton: Another game, another draw for Roberto Martinez’ Everton side. This time against Cardiff they should have won but spurned chances for their second-straight 0-0. They lost Fellaini in the transfer window but added Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. Decent business for the Toffees. (0-0-3)
 source:  8 UP 2 Swansea: Finally something to cheer about for those loyal Swansea City fans. A 1-0 win away at West Brom could have been by even more as the Swans turned on the style. Michael Laudrup’s team looked like the team everyone loved to watch last season. After a tough start, the only way is up. (1-2-0)
source:  9 West Ham: Everyone is allowed an off day, and Hammers boss Sam Allardyce described his team’s home defeat to Stoke as “the worst display since they’ve been back in the Premier League.” We will leave it at that. Nothing to worry about, plus Andy Carroll is back fit after the break. (1-1-1)
source:  10 UP 3 Stoke: Again the big movers as Mark Hughes’ team played West Ham off the pitch. It could have been more than the 1-0 win, thanks to Jermaine Pennant’s free kick, but the Potters won’t mind as they won back-to-back games. Can Stoke push into the top 10? (2-1-0)
source:  11 UP 3 Norwich: The Canaries have a star in the making as 19-year-old Nathan Redmond scored his first PL goal to beat Southampton for Norwich’s first-win of the season. They looked strong with Leroy Fer and Bradley Johnson in midfield. Back to their stubborn best in the 1-0 win at Carrow Road. (1-1-1)
source:  12 DOWN 4 Southampton: The Saints are still struggling to score goals under Mauricio Pochettino. Defensively they look much better and only Redmond’s stunner got past them last weekend in the 1-0 loss. They just can’t seem to get things flowing in attack and new signing Daniel Osvaldo must deliver the goods. (1-1-1)
source:  13 DOWN 1 Aston Villa: No game for Villa this weekend after having their game vs. Chelsea rearranged. But they did sign Czech striker Libor Kozak from Lazio for $8 million. He will add another option up top to Christian Benteke and helps Paul Lambert prepare for the crucial stretch of games ahead. (1-2-0)
source:  14 DOWN 3 Fulham: Two defeats in a row for Martin Jol’s men and despite battling against Newcastle away from home, they hardly created any chances of real note. They were battered and almost grabbed a point. I’m wondering if Jol has signed too many ‘experienced’ players this summer as the Cottagers lack a cutting edge. (1-2-0)
source:  15 UP 2
Newcastle: Alan Pardew’s side finally scored their first goal of the season, and it produced a late win against Fulham. The Magpies looked like they were heading for a second-straight 0-0 draw at home but Hatem Ben Arfa curled in a beauty. Respite for the Geordies but still short of options up front. (1-1-1)
source:  16 Cardiff: The Bluebirds held on for a valiant point against Everton. Craig Bellamy had their best chance in the second half but Cardiff didn’t really threaten and goalkeeper David Marshall pulled off some great stops to deny the Toffees. Four points from three games is a great return for the Welsh side. (1-1-1)
source:  17 DOWN 2 West Brom: Only the deadline day signings of Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon stop the Baggies from sliding further down the rankings. They haven’t scored in three games this season and were torn apart by Swansea at the Hawthorns. Will they be in a relegation scrap this season? (0-2-1)
source:  18 Hull: If only the Tigers could take their chances, they’d have been 2-0 up against Man City. Strikers Sone Aluko and Danny Graham should have done better and despite a spirited display, Steve Bruce’s side were wasteful. Hull will give themselves a chance in most games this season. (1-0-2)
source:  19 UP 1
Crystal Palace: A much deserved first-win of the season against Sunderland at Selhurst Park. Dwight Gayle’s pace caused problems and Ian Holloway jig was a sight to be uphold. New additions give Palace hope of staying up. (1-2-0)
source:  20 DOWN 1 Sunderland: Paolo Di Canio’s men are struggling to get to grips with all the new signings as they lost to Palace on Saturday evening. A tough stretch of games coming up against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United won’t help matters. Fabio Borini arrived on loan from Liverpool, less minutes for Jozy Altidore? (0-2-1)

Manchester derby “the game of the season”

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Whatever way you slice it up, Thursday’s Manchester derby is huge.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Manchester City host Manchester United (Watch, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium with Pep Guardiola‘s side just one point ahead of United in the Premier League table.

City currently occupy fourth spot and the final UEFA Champions League qualification berth but are coming off the back of a damaging FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal after extra time.

United and Jose Mourinho haven’t lost in 23 Premier League games, the longest current unbeaten streak across Europe’s top five leagues, and are in the UEFA Europa League semifinals as their banged up squad have stood tall in the final months of the campaign.

Speaking ahead of the derby, one of United’s stars this season believes everything comes down to this one game.

“It is going to be the game of the season,” Ander Herrera said. “We are one point behind them. If we win we have the chance to finish in the top four, if they win it is going to be very difficult. It is the game of the season.

“Make or break? Probably. Both teams are in a good moment so if one of us wins the game we are not going to lose a lot of games, or make mistakes after that. Us or them. It is going to be key. I don’t know the ‘winner takes all’ expression but it is going to be a massive game. We are in a very good moment, a very good run and we respect them but we are doing a lot of good things and we have to show it on Thursday.”

Herrera’s comments say it all.

It is fair to say that both Manchester clubs have flattered to deceive for much of this season with Guardiola’s tactics yet to flourish in England and Mourinho’s rebuild hampered by injuries and a lack of goals at crucial moments.

On Thursday there will be a raucous atmosphere at the Etihad as both teams are aware of what is at stake.

More of the pressure may well be on City who now have just a place in the top four to focus on and with many previously giving United no chance of finishing in the top four, a win at City would take them above their “noisy neighbors” and into the UCL spots.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.