Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

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

1 Comment

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.

RANKING

source:

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)

source:

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)

source:

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)

3 things we learned from the USMNT win over Canada

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - NOVEMBER 17: Jermaine Jones #13 keeps the ball in play during a World Cup Qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and USA as part of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Russia 2018 at Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 17, 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States played to a disjointed and sloppy win over Canada to wrap up January camp. It was promising at times, but mostly a cringe-worth display by both sides. Here are the key notes from the 90 minutes at StubHub Center in California.

1) Jermaine Jones should never play CB again

Look, this probably wasn’t ever the plan, and it probably never is. It’s the “break glass in case of emergency” option. With Matt Miazga likely supposed to start one or both these games before he left for Chelsea, and the departure of Michael Orozco and Brad Evans, the U.S. was thin at the back.

Still. Yikes…

Jones was flat out awful. Just days after he played well in a midfield distribution position against Iceland, he was a total mess at the back. Jones was miserable on the ball, giving it away with ugly touches, he lunged in on challenges including one on Cyle Larin early that very well could have resulted in a Canadian penalty. And he charged forward – something a central defender can never do – leaving his teammates caught out at the back. This ended with Matt Besler getting a yellow card:

Please, Jurgen. Never again.

2) Jordan Morris is developing into a useful player

In his first cap since signing a professional contract with the Seattle Sounders, Morris gave his critics much to think on. Many said the 21-year-old would come and go without much staying power, but he partnered well with Jozy Altidore. There wasn’t much service up front during his time on the field, but when there was, Morris drew defenders off Altidore, and he provided a solid foil to his bigger partner with his speed and precision. He didn’t have many opportunities, but when he did, he made his presence known.

3) Playing players out of position very rarely bears fruit

Soccer coaches often have two choices at their disposal when building a lineup: either pick the best 11 players and position them into a formation that fits their skills best, or pick a formation and then select the 11 players that fit that formation the best. Klinsmann prefers neither. Instead, recently he’s been picking 11 players he wishes to play, choose a formation he feels will fit the opponent, and then tries to force the players he chose into the formation he selected.

It hasn’t worked, especially not today. He tried to force 3 center-backs onto the back line. He tried to force three central midfielders (and Zardes) into a flat four midfield that occasionally looked like a flat diamond. Neither worked. It’s an experimental environment, sure, but the benefits of his choices aren’t entirely clear.

We know what doesn’t work, but we still don’t really know what works, and isn’t the latter what January camp was for?

4) Jozy Altidore needs to work on his heading…oh

Bonus! So, as the game wound down, I had written that Jozy needed to work on his heading in front of net. The 26-year-old had a few headed opportunities in the box throughout the game, and he failed to capitalize. He looked to drill it into the ground on multiple occasions, but from the distance most of his efforts came from, he likely should have looked to aim his headed shots rather than use the ground pound technique.

Then, you know, he scored the late winner on a header. So, yeah. Never mind. But still. Yeah. Whatever.

United States 1-0 Canada: Altidore snatches late winner in sloppy meeting

CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 5: Jozy Altidore #17 of the United States battles with Steven Vitoria #15 of Canada during the first half of their international friendly soccer match at StubHub Center February 5, 2016 in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was sloppy. It was sleepy. It was cringe-worthy at times. By the final whistle, Jozy Altidore refused to let it end goalless.

January USMNT camp wrapped up with an erratic, disjointed but successful 1-0 win over their northern neighbors as Jozy Altidore bagged a headed winner in the 89th minute.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann chose to start a number of players out of position, including a trio of central defenders along the back line and an odd midfield combination that sat back for much of the game. Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris partnered up front, and worked well with the sparse service they received.

Both back lines looked relatively shaky to start, and each midfield was sloppy under heavy pressure from the opposition. The first true chance came on 15 minutes as a beautiful touch with the outside of Gyasi Zardes’s foot found a cutting Jozy Altidore, and the forward’s shot beat Maxime Crepeau but crashed into the post. The ball then rebounded into the back of Crepeau and back off the post a second time before the Canadian goalkeeper finally collected.

Four minutes later, Canada had a penalty shout as Jermaine Jones lunged into the back of Cyle Larin who was attempting a volley from the top edge of the box, but the referee waved it off.

As those chances faded, the game became a snoozer and the U.S. attack devolved into long balls lumped forward. Jones was miserable at the back, looking completely out of position. Both Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud sat back in possession, leaving Lee Nguyen and Gyasi Zardes isolated up front with no wide threat.

The U.S. had another spell of attack before halftime. Altidore sprung Jordan Morris on the left edge of the box, but his chipped effort skittered just wide. Bradley tried a left-footed effort on net on 39 minutes, but his shot was easily saved low by Crepeau. Matt Besler earned a yellow card by clipping the heel of Larin just before the break, forced into the foul after Jones was caught out of position.

Thankfully, the first half ended. Klinsmann made one halftime change, bringing on Brandon Vincent for his first USMNT appearance in place of Kellyn Acosta, whom the manager said had a hamstring problem. The U.S. pushed forward early, and they had a 53rd minute chance when Diskerud lofted a ball to the far post where Altidore met it with his head, but he pushed an effort on goal just wide left, inches out of reach by Morris.

Things settled until the 66th minute, when substitute Jerome Kiesewetter found Altidore in the box, but he drove it into the ground meekly. In the 70th minute some U.S. pressure bought a shot for Vincent, but it was saved well by Crepeau’s feet. Altidore had another big chance with six minutes to go, and he went for the off-balance chip that aged as it traveled through the air, slow enough to allow Crepeau to recover and slap it out of danger.

Klinsmann brought Morris off with just three minutes to go in regulation, bringing on Steve Finlay, who had an instant impact. Finlay cut inside from the left and lofted a ball to the far post, one which Altidore lept to meet, finally finding the back of the net after having bungled a few earlier headed opportunities.

The win leaves the United States 2-0 in January camp, and despite a few clear deficiencies, the end results were there.

USMNT lineup vs Canada sees Jermaine Jones at CB, Morris and Altidore up front

at StubHub Center on January 31, 2016 in Carson, California.
Getty Images
4 Comments

The United States takes on Canada for the second of two friendlies that test those involved in January camp. With Iceland already dispatched 3-2, Canada is next up, at 10:30 p.m. ET from the StubHub center in California.

Jurgen Klinsmann has chosen his lineup, and it’s not easily discernible.

[ MORE: Full preview United States vs Canada ]

The back line is the biggest head-scratcher, with three central defenders starting, and at least one of them out of position. Jermaine Jones, who performed well in a midfield distribution role against Iceland, has been moved back to the defensive line, partnering with Matt Besler. Steve Birnbaum, also a central defender who had ups and down against Iceland, is back in the lineup. There’s nowhere to fit a third central defender, so he will play out wide. Kellyn Acosta, a natural full-back, rounds out the back four.

In midfield, the personnel lends itself to a flat four, if only because there’s really no other way it can go. Again, a multitude of central defenders are deployed, with Michael Bradley, Lee Nguyen, and Mix Diskerud forming some kind of CM/CM/Winger combination (Nguyen is likely the odd man out wide), with Gyasi Zardes out wide on the other end.

[ MORE: 3 key battles for USMNT vs Canada ]

Jozy Altidore returns up front, this time to partner with Jordan Morris, who makes his first USMNT appearance as a professional player.

Finally, San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham makes his USMNT debut between the sticks.

Jurgen Klopp says Daniel Sturridge is focused on getting healthy, not leaving Liverpool

during the Capital One Cup quarter final match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on December 2, 2015 in Southampton, England.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp has made his frustrations with Daniel Sturridge‘s injury history very clear, but he still knows the England international is a crucial part of his squad, and he will be patient, no matter how frustrating it is.

Sturridge has been out since early December, and has made just five appearances all season due to a number of recurring injuries that have sapped him of his consistency for the last two years.

But with the 26-year-old back in training the last two days, the English media has speculated that Sturridge is looking to leave Liverpool, and that the club is trying to rid themselves of him as well. Klopp does not see it that way.

[ RELATED: Daniel Sturridge says he’s “good to go” ]

“I have no feeling that Daniel is thinking like this so stop thinking about it,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference, speaking ahead of the match Saturday against Sunderland. “I spoke to him but not about this. I didn’t ask: ‘do you want to leave?’ “Why should I? He’s been back in training for two days. I don’t go over and say: ‘Daniel, I hear you want to leave? Is there truth in it?’ I don’t believe that it is like this.”

Klopp called the rumors a “non-story” and believes as soon as Sturridge is out on the field, the rumors will stop. He just has to get out on the field first.

“Since I was here I’ve had a normal relationship with Daniel Sturridge,” Klopp said. “The only problem is I have only had him 10 or 12 times on the training pitch – that is the truth. Now he is back we hope he can stay in team training and everything will be good. If everything is normal from now on then he is in the race.”

The German said that just having returned to training, Sturridge won’t be ready for Saturday’s game, but he could potentially be back to action for the FA Cup match against West Ham on Tuesday.