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)

LIVE: UCL last 16 – Leicester face Sevilla; Juve head to Porto

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Jamie Vardy of Leicester City applauds the crowd in defeat after the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first legs take place on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Leicester City of the Premier League head to Spain to face Sevilla in the UCL last 16 despite Claudio Ranieri‘s men battling for survival in the Premier League. The Foxes, as always, are the big underdogs in Spain as Sevilla have won the UEFA Europa League in each of the past three seasons and Jorge Sampaoli’s side are battling for the title in La Liga.

As for Leicester, they’re just two points off the bottom of the PL as they haven’t scored in their last six outings and have lost five on the spin as well as being dumped out of the FA Cup by third-tier Millwall at the weekend. So yeah, Sevilla head into this game as the heavy favorites and will hope to take a healthy lead to the King Power Stadium with them in two weeks time.

In the other UCL clash on Wednesday FC Porto host Juventus as the Portuguese and Italian giants collide at the Estadio do Dragao. Porto finished behind Leicester in the group stage, while Juv battled it out with Sevilla and clinched top spot. Massimiliano Allegri’s men remain top of Serie A and will look to Gonzalo Higuain to deliver the goals away from home. It promises to be an intriguing tactical battle in northern Portugal.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary on both games, while we will have reaction and analysis on all of the UCL knockout games here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Wednesday’s UCL Round of 16, first legs

Sevilla vs. Leicester City – 2:45 p.m. ET
FC Porto vs. Juventus – 2:45 p.m. ET

Man United’s stroll at Saint-Etienne comes at a cost

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22:  Jose Mourinho, manager of Manchester United looks on before the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between AS Saint-Etienne and Manchester United at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on February 22, 2017 in Saint-Etienne, France.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
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Manchester United beat Saint-Etienne 1-0 in their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg clash on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho will be more concerned by injuries picked up ahead of the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mkhitaryan, Carrick injury updates ] 

The Red Devils advanced to the last 16 of Europe’s second-tier club competition after a resounding 4-0 win on aggregate against the Ligue 1 side but with goalscorer Henrikh Mkhitaryan hobbling off in the first half and Michael Carrick removed in the second half, Mourinho will have some injury problems to sort out ahead of this weekends final against Southampton at Wembley.

Eric Bailly was sent off for two quick yellow cards in the second half but that didn’t impact the outcome as United cruised into the Round of 16 which will be drawn on Friday.

United have now lost just one of their last 25 games in all competitions. They are well and truly on a roll.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ] 

United controlled the early stages and went ahead after 15 minutes when Juan Mata picked the ball up on the left flank, drifted inside and picked out Mkhitaryan’s run as the Armenian playmaker flicked home. 1-0 to United on the night as the Red Devils led 4-0 on aggregate.

Mata again got free down the left in the first half and his cross hit two Saint-Etienne defenders and almost went in, while Mkhitaryan hobbled off soon after clutching his hamstring.

With Marcus Rashford coming on for Mkhitaryan, he almost made it 2-0 as Ashley Young‘s cross just evaded him. At the other end Saint-Etienne barely threatened as Loic Perrin sent a tame header in on goal which Sergio Romero saved easily.

In the second half United spurned good chances as Marouane Fellaini fired into the side-netting with teammates wide-open and then Paul Pogba went down in the box easily under a challenge. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then fired a shot just wide after another good break from Rashford as United dominated proceedings with link-up play between Pogba and Ibrahimovic imperious.

Carrick was then taken off with Bastian Schweinsteiger coming on in his place as it appeared that United’s veteran midfielder had a calf issue.

Bailly was then shown two quick yellow cards around the hour mark (he will miss their next European game) which saw United play out the game with 10-men and that buoyed the home side slightly.

However, United coasted through to the last 16 with Rashford and Ibrahimovic going close to doubling their lead late on in front of a raucous home crowd.

Vietnamese players banned for two years after penalty protest

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Flag bearer, Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam arrives during the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon Asiad Main Stadium on September 19, 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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The Vietnamese Football Federation has imposed two-year bans on two players and suspended a coach for three years after their team was involved in a bizarre penalty protest during a league match on the weekend.

[ MORE: China or MLS for Rooney? ]

Long An players were furious at a late penalty awarded by referee Nguyen Tr?ng Thu to Ho Chi Minh City when the score was locked 2-2 late Sunday.

After initially walking off the pitch, the players returned to the field but goalkeeper Nguyen Minh Nhut turned his back as the penalty was taken, conceding a goal.

The whole team then stood motionless and allowed Ho Chi Minh City to score two more goals as the margin blew out to 5-2.

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In a statement, the VFF said that Mimh Nhut and captain Huynh Quang Thanh would banned for 24 months, “Due to disrupting the match, not respecting the decision of the referee and causing damage to the reputation and honor of the Vietnam Football Federation.”

Coach Ngo Quang Sang has been banned for three years, as has club chairman Vo Thanh Nhiem, who quit following the game.

Zaza scores stunning goal for Valencia vs. Real Madrid

TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 23:  Simone Zaza (C) of Juventus FC celebrates after scring the opening goal during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and Frosinone Calcio at Juventus Arena on September 23, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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Simone Zaza scored a stunner for Valencia against Real Madrid in La Liga.

Yes, that Simone Zaza.

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The Italian international striker, 25, spent the best part of six months on loan at West Ham United this season and just didn’t look interested as he failed to score in 11 appearances in all competitions. That prompted Slaven Bilic and the Hammers to cancel his loan deal from Juventus and the forward then joined Valencia in La Liga in January.

Fans of West Ham will be scratching their heads when watching the video below as Zaza swiveled and smashed home a perfect volley to put Valencia 1-0 up against Real at the Mestalla on Wednesday.

Simply sublime.