Liverpool's defensive solidity is key to their success.

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)

source:

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)

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.

Qatari official says World Cup drunks will be treated “very gently”

In this photo taken during a government organized media tour, laborers work at the Al-Wakra Stadium that is under construction for the 2022 World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Qatar’s top labor official told The Associated Press Monday that Qatar’s inability to ensure decent housing for its bulging migrant labor population was “a mistake” the government is working to fix as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, vowing his country would improve conditions for its vast foreign labor force. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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One of the biggest unanswered questions still hanging over the 2022 World Cup — at least for fans traveling to Qatar for the tournament — has to do with the rules and regulations placed upon their consumption of alcohol.

[ MORE: All of the latest FIFA news ]

On Monday, Hassan Al Thawadi, the head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup committee, attempted to ease those fears when he said that not only will the consumption of alcohol be permitted during the tournament in six years’ time, but that in the event of public drunkenness, the visitors in question will be dealt with quickly and “very gently” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I know in South Africa there where specific courts established during the World Cup for this kind of thing, and that is something we were discussing with FIFA.”

“In relation to drunk fans it will be as it is anywhere else, anyone who is rowdy, anyone who breaches the law, will be very gently – depending on how they react – taken care of in a manner to make sure that people are not disrupting the public order. Everyone will be able to have fun and be exposed to Qatari culture.”

“We welcome everyone in the world. We’ve hosted many people, from many places and [drinking] was never an issue. This will be a fun World Cup. It will be one of the best cups out there.”