Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Week 5: Premier League Power Rankings – Arsenal and Tottenham battle it out

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There are some pretty big movers this week in PL Power Rankings, I can tell you that right now.

A few upsets sprinkled in with some resounding wins for the big boys means that the order of power has shifted considerably, with both Manchester sides sliding in opposite directions.

Week 5 saw plenty more goals and our first managerial casualty of the season, for better or worse, find out how it affected the Premier League Power Rankings this week.

By now you should know the drill, but every Wednesday 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 team’s current record and you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.



1 UP 5
Manchester City: Such was their dominance in the Manchester derby, it proves that City are the best team in the league on their day. Aguero, Nergedo and Nasri are striking up a partnership and the look steady at the back. They will aim to pick up their first win on the road at Aston Villa this week. (3-1-1)
source:  2 Arsenal: The Gunners are the real deal, with Mesut Ozil again looking like real quality in Arsenal’s battling win against Stoke. Ramsey is still scoring and things are going well for Arsene Wenger. However Theo Walcott is out injured, those aliments will hit Arsenal hard. (4-0-1)
source:  3 UP 3
Tottenham: Joint-top of the PL table with Arsenal, this would have been the start Spurs and Andre Villas-Boas were hoping for, post-Bale. On Sunday they battled out to yet another 1-0 win, although they left it late. Saturday’s big game against Chelsea will prove just how good they are. (4-0-1)
source:  4 DOWN 1 Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s side slid down, but they still looked extremely comfortable against Fulham in the 2-0 win on Saturday. Playing Spurs at White Hart Lane will be a massive test, and with Mata dazzling at Swindon, surely he will play some part? The new philosophy could take some time at the Bridge. (3-1-1)


5 DOWN 5 Manchester United: What can we say about United? Is this just a brief slump, or is it a sign of things to come? Moyes is blaming the tough fixtures to start the season, but they are Manchester United, so they should expect to win most games. They should beat West Brom at home. Should. (2-2-1)
source:  6 DOWN 2 Liverpool: A shock home loss to Southampton saw Liverpool lose their unbeaten run to start the campaign, and the Reds looked lackluster going forward. Luckily, Luis Suarez is back and he can now kick on to grab the goals they need. A trip to Sunderland is up this week. (3-1-1)
source:  7 Everton: The Toffees pulled off a rousing comeback at Upton Park, as Baines scored two terrific free kicks and Romelu Lukaku grabbed a debut winner but worryingly didn’t remember it after a head knock. Roberto Martinez’ side are looking great going forward, Monday night football vs. Newcastle should be a belter. (2-0-3)
source:  8 SwanseaWhat a great week for Swansea after beating Valencia in the Europa League and dismantling Palace with ease. The Swans look back to their best and Michu is scoring again. A home game vs. Arsenal is a tough test on Saturday. (2-2-1)
source:  9 UP 2 Southampton: Tremendous win for the Saints at Anfield, as Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing style unsettled Liverpool. Daniel Osvaldo is improving all the time, and three clean sheets from five games is a great start. Palace at home this week is a great chance to grab three more points. (2-1-2)
source:  10 West Ham: Despite losing, the Hammers were pretty good for most of the clash against Everton. Some stunning goals from the Toffees thwarted West Ham, but at least they scored a few goals. A tricky trip to Hull is coming up this weekend. (2-2-1)
source:  11 DOWN 2 Stoke: A disappointing, yet expected, loss at Arsenal could have seen the Potters steal a point. Surprisingly they were undone by set-pieces and Mark Hughes will be disappointed by that. Home game against Norwich this weekend should be a real bruising battle, watch out for that one. (2-2-1)
source:  12 UP 3 Aston Villa: Brad Guzan was the hero for Villa as he saved a penalty and pulled off some great stops in the second half. A draw would’ve been a fair result but Villa held on for the win. Losing Christian Benteke is a huge, but he should be back in six weeks. Tough game vs. Man City this weekend. (2-3-0)


13 Newcastle: The Magpies threw away a great chance to win at home against Hull, as Loic Remy twice handed them a lead that they squandered. Another tricky away tie to Everton is coming up and Alan Pardew must be worried about his side defensively. (2-2-1)
source:  14 UP 3 Hull City: Terrific win for the Tigers at St. James’ Park as Sone Aluko’s screamer sealed all three points. A battling display and true grit showcased what Hull are all about, a home game against West Ham is extremely winnable. So far the best of the promoted teams. (2-2-1)
source:  15 DOWN 3
Norwich City: I worry for the Canaries this season, I really do. They’ve spent big on strikers but I’m not convinced by Ricky van Wolfswinkel and they really need Gary Hooper to score goals for fun. At the back they’re okay, but Villa easily exposed their lack of pace. Work to do. (1-3-1)
source:  16 UP 2 West Brom: The Baggies finally clicked on Saturday to get their first win of the season, but to be fair, it was against Sunderland. Regardless, stephane Sessegnon looks at home and maybe things will turn around. Can they win at United this week? (1-3-1)
source:  17 DOWN 3 Fulham: What is going on down at Craven Cottage? Some are calling for Martin Jol’s head, but it may be too soon for that. Fulham aren’t playing well, and they hardly created any chances against Chelsea. I’ll say it again, too many similar signings from Jol. Must win vs. Cardiff in week 6. (1-3-1)
source:  18 DOWN 2
Cardiff City: They battled incredibly hard against Spurs, and they almost had a point before Paulinho’s backheel stole all three. The Bluebirds need to get something from every home game if they’re going to do well this season, because I think they will struggle away. (1-2-2)
source:  19
Crystal Palace: It’s a case of trying to battle through every game for Palace, as the new faces try to settle in as quickly as they can. Two defeats to Man Utd and Swansea were to be expected, but can they beat Southampton on Saturday? Ian Holloway will be breaking out the jig again if they can. (1-4-0)
source:  20 Sunderland: Well, now that’s over, what next? After Paolo Di Canio was fired, the Black Cats are in a heck of a mess. 14 new players not gelling, no manager and just one point from 15… this season needs to turn around fast. A home game against Liverpool isn’t ideal. (0-4-1)

‘Ravens’ challenge soccer orthodoxy in Belarus

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) Less than three years ago, Alexander Skshinetsky’s soccer career seemed over.

The former under-21 international found himself unemployed after his career stalled, and was working on construction sites when an offer came. Would he consider joining an amateur team that had been playing seven-a-side soccer but now wanted to go pro, founded by a small group of fans staking thousands of dollars of their own money to build a club from scratch?

Two seasons and two promotions later, the 26-year-old midfielder is a key player in one of European soccer’s most unlikely success stories. In only its third professional season, Krumkachy Minsk is playing top-flight soccer, beating established names and challenging the economic orthodoxy in one of Europe’s most closed-off countries.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Krumkachy – “Ravens” in Belarusian – has soared into the country’s top league with a shoestring budget but an enthusiastic and growing fan base of hipsters, families and others turned off by the stagnation of soccer in the ex-Soviet nation. Before a recent run of losses, it was even challenging for Europa League qualification.

The secret has been finding talented players on the verge of leaving the game, or even those who have already quit, “people who have been underestimated and put down,” in the words of co-founder Denis Shunto, who set up Krumkachy with friends in 2011. “We get those guys and we can really make them into a team.”

After starting out in recreational competitions, Shunto and his friends decided to aim higher. Belarusian soccer has a three-tier league system packed with clubs backed by various government agencies and state-run factories in the country’s Soviet-style economy, a set-up which prefers predictability over ambition and can give rise to conflicts of interest. With a spot open in the third tier, but without a state patron, Krumkachy scraped together a few thousand dollars to apply. Each subsequent step up the pyramid brought predictions of imminent financial collapse.

“Everyone said we wouldn’t have the money, we couldn’t take part,” said Skshinetsky, the midfielder. “We played for free in the second division, and in the first division it wasn’t much. Maybe $100 for a win in the first division and salaries maybe $150 (a month).”

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

On a freezing Friday night in Minsk, the crowd was small and the game scrappy. Goalkeeping errors helped to hand Krumkachy a 2-1 win which all but ensured the club’s top-flight survival for 2017 in the Belarusian league’s calendar-year system. Financial survival is always a trickier question.

“We’ve got the smallest budget (in the league) and we’re still putting money in ourselves,” said Shunto, who wonders if the approach of going without government funding may be “too romantic.”

At Friday’s game, commercial tie-ups were prominent and Krumkachy’s shirts were covered in a myriad of small logos from various businesses which have chipped in as sponsors, while opposition Granit Mikashevichi bore only the logo of its backer, a state-run quarry. Consumerism may be the norm in most European leagues, but in Belarus’ state-dominated economy, it’s the mark of the plucky underdog.

After ending a nine-game wait for victory, the players came over to celebrate with the sparse crowd. An hour later, the reserve players were still sharing the field with fans and their children having a kickabout.

“It’s an atmosphere like home, very warm. It’s been helping the guys not to give up,” said Vasily Khomutovsky, one of Krumkachy’s two co-coaches.

At a recent away game, “a woman with two children who went there, with two small kids 7 and 10 years old, she made each player a little souvenir by hand and signed it, something different for each player,” Khomutovsky said.

There’s a family atmosphere within the club, too, with Shunto’s brother serving as a backup goalkeeper and Skshinetsky’s wife in charge of fitness training.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Going to the playoffs edition ]

Vladimir Harlach, one of the team’s supporters, said Krumkachy reminds him of AFC Wimbledon, the English club founded by fans after owners relocated its previous incarnation to another town, and which has since shot up several divisions.

“That’s a bit different, there was history,” Harlach said. “Here, it’s from scratch. History is being written in front of our eyes. You could compare it to other countries 100 years ago, when (soccer) was all being created.”

Krumkachy’s average home attendance of about 1,500 is tiny by European standards, but enough to put it comfortably above all but the biggest clubs in Belarus, as well as higher than that of FC Minsk, the city government-run club whose stadium Krumkachy is using.

Some at the club wonder whether European qualification might be possible next year, another improbable step up, but the top spot in Belarus appears far out of reach. Able to outspend rivals with cash from occasional Champions League appearances, BATE Borisov has just sewn up its 11th straight title.

Khomutovsky welcomes the comparison to Leicester, a team which was promoted to top division in England, survived one season, then won a wildly unlikely title the following year.

“I hope next year,” Khomutovsky said, “we do what we can to become the Belarusian Leicester.”

MLS Cup Playoffs Weds. preview: Toronto, LA host openers

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, right, celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against the New England Revolution during first-half MLS soccer game action in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Here we go, sports fans.

Major League Soccer starts its playoffs with a pair of knockout round games on Wednesday and another two on Thursday.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. ET

The Union are back in the playoffs for just the second time in playoff history, the same amount as Toronto. The difference is that Toronto has made the postseason in back-to-back season and isn’t entering the second season on a brutal cold streak.

Philly has lost three-straight and five of seven, making the playoffs on goal differential and — as Brotherly Game points out — has the lowest points-per-game of a playoff team since 2006.

That’s probably not going to fly at the new, loud BMO Field, where TFC’s supporters will finally get a home playoff match. Sebastian Giovinco is close to full fitness, Jozy Altidore has been on fire, and Michael Bradley isn’t exactly a player who shirks the big game spot light.

But it’s going to be players like Drew Moor and Clint Irwin who keep TFC calm under the bright lights. They’ve been here before. In fact, Moor has actually been at BMO in the playoffs, when Colorado trumped FC Dallas for a 2-1 win at MLS Cup 2010.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy –10:30 p.m. ET

Before the season began, LA looked like it had an embarrassment of riches that could challenge for one of the best records in MLS history. Between Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong, Steven Gerrard, and Gyasi Zardes — let alone the rest of the crew — the Galaxy were terrifying.

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his goal with Giovani dos Santos #10 to take a 4-1 lead over the Orlando City FC at StubHub Center on September 11, 2016 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Dos Santos and Keane (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

About 700 miles northeast was a team expected to do, well, not much. Real Salt Lake had its mainstays in Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, but had the club done enough to make up a 10-point playoff deficit from 2015?

Injuries and defections stopped the Galaxy from reaching its potential, while RSL rode a hot start into the playoffs. Both teams finished their seasons in cold fashion; In Real’s case, ice cold.

The Galaxy only lost one game at the StubHub Center this season, and it’s realistic to think that trend will continue on Wednesday. But there’s something about RSL and the playoffs — and the potential absences of not just Zardes but Keane and Gerrard — that lead us to believe something strange could be coming by the time Thursday morning hits the East Coast.

USMNT’s Zardes nearing return for LA… but not this week

CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 09:  Gyasi Zardes #11 of Los Angeles Galaxy attemps to break away from Leiton Jimenez #30 of Club Tijuana at StubHub Center on February 9, 2016 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
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Gyasi Zardes waits on X-rays, and it’s not just a matter for LA Galaxy concern.

Yes, the MLS side is chasing its sixth Cup and has as many as two playoff matches coming in the next five days.

But Jurgen Klinsmann has regularly called upon the 25-year-old attacker for the United States men’s national team who, in case you haven’t heard, have two of the toughest World Cup qualifiers on their slate in the next few weeks.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

There’s good news and bad news. First, the good, from

Gyasi Zardes, returning from a broken foot this past August, happily took to the field with his teammates in a sign of a potential return in time for the postseason. The offensive favorite spent a little under an hour with the team, not quite completing a full training session, but definitely close to returning to his usual fitness.

Now the less good: Zardes cannot return until his next scheduled X-ray on the aforementioned broken foot.

That X-ray comes next Thursday – well after Wednesday’s game and any weekend matches.

Will a fit Zardes instantly reclaim a spot in Klinsmann’s 23? Wingers have had strong performances in his stead, and the coach’s take on that position is a bit unknown as we anticipate the United States and Mexico in Columbus on Nov. 11.

Juventus CEO: agent to earn $30 million for Pogba transfer

VERONA, ITALY - JANUARY 31:  Paul Pogba of Juventus celebrates the victory after the Serie A match between AC Chievo Verona and Juventus FC at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on January 31, 2016 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta has revealed that Paul Pogba‘s agent will be paid 27 million euros ($30 million) for the player’s record transfer to Manchester United.

Pogba returned to United in August for a world-record fee of $116 million.

Marotta was quoted by Italian media as telling Juventus’ shareholders meeting Tuesday as saying “27 million (euros) will be paid to (Pogba’s) agent Mino Raiola. So the total net gain for Pogba was 72 million ($78 million)” after other fees are taken into account.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high in MLS Playoffs ]

Marotta says that Pogba joined Juve from United in 2012 for a bargain price of 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million).

Marotta adds that Juan Cuadrado‘s two-year loan from Chelsea costs 5 million euros ($5.4 million) per season and if Juventus wins Serie A this season it will be obliged to buy Cuadrado’s full rights for an additional 20 million ($22 million).