Premier League Power Rankings: Manchester United sinking, Arsenal soar – Week 6

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Well, who saw that coming? Certainly not the gent who collates the PL Power Rankings.

Two massive upsets for both Manchester sides has things moving all over the place, while other teams like Southampton, Everton and Aston Villa are on the rise considerably.

Week 6 saw the highest number of goals so far, find out how it affected the Premier League Power Rankings.

By now you should know the drill, as 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

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1 UP 1
Arsenal: The Gunners just keep getting better, and Mesut Ozil looks like more of a bargain each and every week. A spirited 2-1 win at Swansea sees them top of the table at top of our standings. When will they lose? (4-1-1)
source:  2 UP 2 Chelsea: I saw the Blues live on Saturday, they weren’t at the races in the first half vs. Spurs, but should’ve been out of sight in the second. Fernando Torres’ red card swung the game away from them, but he was superb, so was Mata. Mourinho’s men starting to click… (3-1-2)
source:  3 UP 1
Tottenham: Have to say, I wasn’t sure if Spurs were going to be able to hang with the big boys this season. I think they will prove me wrong. Against Chelsea they were unlucky to not be winning 2-0 or 3-0 at HT, they’re just missing a clinical goalscorer to round things off. (4-1-1)
source:  4 DOWN 3 Manchester City: What is going on away from home? Pellegrini’s side have yet to taste victory away from the Etihad, with two defeats and a draw after their second half collapse vs. Villa. Tough game at home to Everton this week. Defensive solidity needed. (3-2-1)

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5 UP 1
Liverpool: Another great win for the Reds and Luis Suarez is back, scoring twice on his PL return. If they can keep him and Sturridge fit, they could be the best partnership in the PL. They should beat Palace at home, right? (4-1-1)
source:  6 UP 1
Everton: The Toffees are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, and they hammered Newcastle in the first half on Monday, 3-0 up at HT. They hung on to win, just, but that’s what you get with Roberto Martinez in charge. Lukaku is a beast.  (3-0-3)
source:  7 DOWN 2 Manchester United: The Red Devils are sliding, fast. An embarrassing home defeat to West Brom shows just how frail David Moyes’ team are, and things may get worse. Moyes needs to buy big in January as his side sit 12th and face Sunderland away on Saturday. (2-3-1)
source:  8 UP 1 Southampton: The Saints go marching up the rankings, as they beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to make it two wins in a row, three unbeaten, and have four clean sheets from six games so far. Swansea at home on Sunday will be a big test. (3-1-2)
source:  9 DOWN 1
Swansea: They battled hard against Arsenal, but were just too sloppy at the back and let the Gunners score to easily. The rigors of Europa League action are starting to show in their squad. Can Laudrup hold things together? (2-3-1)
source:  10 UP 2
Aston Villa: The Villans are gradually finding their feet again, with two wins in two catapulting them up the table and that massive comeback win over Man City will give them plenty of confidence. Can they beat Hull and make it three from three? (3-3-0)
source:  11 UP 3 Hull City: Like Villa, many people weren’t expecting Hull to be on a potential three-game winning spree. But they are. A solid win at home to West Ham last week sees the Tigers comfortably in the top half of the table. By far the best of the promoted teams. (3-2-1)
source:  12 UP 3 Norwich City: The Canaries went to Stoke City and won… not many teams do that. And all credit to Chris Hughton’s men for bouncing back after their home defeat to Villa. They have Chelsea on Sunday so will have to crank it up a few notches. (2-3-0)

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13 UP 3 West Brom: The Baggies pulled off the shock of the weekend as they beat United at Old Trafford, two wins in two have brought a sigh of relief around the Hawthorns. Young Englishman Berainho looks a real player. Arsenal at home on Sunday. (2-2-2)
source:  14 DOWN 3 Stoke City: The Potters are crumbling after their good early start, with Mark Hughes’ men struggling to create anything against Norwich. A trip to play struggling Fulham is going to be a massive encounter. Can they bag an away win? (2-3-1)
source:  15 DOWN 5
West Ham: Down the Hammers go, after yet another scoreless display away at Hull. In fairness, they probably should have nicked a point at the KC Stadium but they’re missing Andy Carroll massively. No plan B for Sam Allardyce spells trouble. A London Derby at Spurs will yield 0 points. (1-3-2)
source:  16 UP 2
Cardiff: A great win away at Fulham for the Bluebirds, but boy, they left it late. Craig Mutch’s wondergoal gave them a great three points and they host Newcastle on Saturday in a very winnable game. Malkay Mackay’s boys looking good. (2-2-2)
source:  17 DOWN 4
Newcastle: The Magpies defense really let them down on Monday against Everton, but their potent offense nearly grabbed them a point. You have to love Newcastle’s spirit late in games, but they are digging holes for themselves in nearly every game. (2-3-1)
source:  18 DOWN 1
Fulham: How much more can Cottagers fans take? Bad, bad loss to Cardiff. Many believe if they don’t beat Stoke this weekend then Martin Jol will be fired. Too early? Not really. They labored through the second half of last season and haven’t gelled this year. Tough times ahead. (1-3-1)
source:  19
Crystal Palace: The effort is always there from Palace… but they lack real quality up front. Southampton easily beat them on Saturday, and now the Eagles face a daunting trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. What can Ian Holloway do? (1-5-0)
source:  20 Sunderland: Another week, another defeat for Sunderland. The Black Cats are still in search of a new manager, and it’s hard to see who would want this job. They worked hard against Liverpool, but that’s not goo enough. Next up… Manchester United. (0-5-1)

Totti out to ‘destroy’ Lazio in what could be his last derby

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MILAN (AP) Roma great Francesco Totti is out to “destroy” Lazio in what could be his last derby.

Totti’s contract runs out at the end of the season and the 40-year-old forward is likely to retire and move upstairs into a director’s role at the club where he has spent his entire career.

“It’s a different match to all the others,” Totti said. “It’s a team you always try to destroy on the field but with the maximum respect.

“For the city, for the curva, for the fans, you always try to give 101 percent. It’s a match you always want to win.”

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Roma won the last derby 3-2 last month but still lost to Lazio in the two-legged Italian Cup semifinals. Totti played less than 10 minutes in each match.

That semifinal defeat still hurts Roma and its fans, which are likely to fill the Stadio Olimpico again after ending a 14-month protest following the removal of deeply unpopular security barriers.

“It will be like all the other derbies, a must-win match,” Totti said. “It’s important because we all remember how the last one finished. We have to get our revenge.”

Sunday’s match is also crucial for the battle for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the group stage of the Champions League.

Roma is currently second, four points ahead of Napoli, which visits Inter Milan on Sunday. The team which finishes third has to go into a playoff for Europe’s premier club competition.

Roma has a more difficult run-in than Napoli. After the derby, it next faces AC Milan and Juventus before ending its season against Chievo Verona and Genoa. Napoli plays Cagliari, Torino, Fiorentina and Sampdoria.

[ MORE: Henry, Aguero on playing for Pep ]

“It will be a very important derby for the standings and we will try everything to have a great game to bring home the three points,” Totti said. “We are going through this battle for second serenely and calmly, also because now we have a four-point advantage on them.

“There are only a few matches left until the end of the season, even if three out of five are very difficult on paper. We will try everything to finish second.”

Lazio is fourth, seven points behind Napoli.

Totti has been playing for Roma for 25 years – remarkably more than 28 percent of the club’s existence – since making his debut in the final stages of a 2-0 win at Brescia on March 28, 1993.

Totti, who also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, could have won more than the solitary Serie A title, two Italian Cups and two national Super Cups he claimed with Roma, but he rejected offers of more money and glory to remain with his childhood club.

His face adorns murals and posters across Italy’s capital, where he is loved by Roma fans and respected by supporters of Lazio, despite his antics against them.

Totti has scored 11 times against Lazio and often celebrates these extra-special goals with T-shirts made for the occasion. One famously said, “I have purged you again,” while he revealed another reading simply “Game Over” after a victory in May 2015.

He hit the headlines in January of that year when he scored the second of two goals against Lazio and, in a pre-planned celebration for becoming the all-time leading scorer in the derby, grabbed his phone off Roma’s goalkeeping coach and took a selfie under the Curva Sud with thousands of adoring fans in the background.

In the Eternal City, Totti is Roma’s eternal leader – first made captain in 1998 when he was only 22.

Nike alluded to his “King of Rome” nickname at a promotional event on Wednesday to unveil new gold-colored boots to mark the Roma captain’s 25 years at the club.

Totti, who was greeted by about 200 chanting fans, was instructed to sit on a throne with the steps leading up to it bearing the names of the seven kings of ancient Rome, with his name placed on the final step.

“I have nothing to do with these kings,” Totti said. “I prefer to be judged than to judge.”

Bayern Munich activates clause to make Coman permanent

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Bayern Munich has announced its decision to make Kingsley Coman’s loan from Juventus a permanent move.

Coman, 20, operates as a right wing and striker, and can also play on the left. He’s made 40 Bundesliga appearances with six goals and six assists over two seasons for Bayern.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

It’s a $24 million option, and will bind Coman to Bayern through the 2019-20 season.

From FCBayern.com:

“Kingsley Coman is a crucial player for the future of our team, so we’ve decided to exercise the option,” commented Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “Kingsley is a promising player with great potential. We’re convinced he’ll help us in the coming years.”

Coman, Renato Sanches, and Joshua Kimmich are all under the age of 22.

Mourinho has chance to make major statement in Manchester Derby

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The betting market says Man City is more than even money to beat Manchester United, and wagering on the latter to win Thursday’s derby match is a longer shot than the Red Devils finishing in the Top Four (an achievement to be sure).

The worth of those metrics is debatable, but allows a sincere thought: Given their thin depth and the road challenge, a win for Jose Mourinho would be as impressive as almost anything Manchester United has accomplished this season.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Maybe that’s obvious to many of us, but a twirl through the spheres of United supporter social media shows something different. Many Red Devils are confident of their teams’ fortunes in Thursday’s Manchester Derby, with one even predicting a 3-1 win in a comment on the NBC Sports Soccer Facebook page.

That could be an outlier, sure, but shows the demands Manchester United supporters place on their big spending club. United won’t have Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, two of the best players in the world, and it’s not as if the club has had time to adjust to their absences. No one has played more minutes for United than Pogba and Ibrahimovic this season.

United is also without Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, and Phil Jones at the heart of their defense as it attempts to shut down Sergio Aguero and/or Gabriel JesusDavid Silva is a doubt for City, who also may not have John Stones, but Guardiola has options.

How Mourinho attacks — or doesn’t attack — City, and how Guardiola sets up his XI, will be interesting leading into the match, because parking the bus lacks its usual luster given the center back carnage. Will Mourinho trot out Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in a bid to clog the midfield? Will he run Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as a strike pair?

The answers to these questions and the unlikely event of a United road win may end up shining all over Thursday. And while that win would wind up being overshadowed by United’s finish on the Premier League table and UEFA Europa League, there’s little doubt it would stake a serious claim for Mourinho’s time at United being on the rise.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.