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

source:

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)

Money from Wembley replay will “support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years”

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.

Try, try again: Messi seeks 1st goal vs. Chelsea in 9th attempt

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LONDON (AP) As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.

The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game. “The most important thing is the present.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”

The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.

Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at the Nou Camp as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.

Bayern Munich hosts Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.

Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Conte’s men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it traveled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.

Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Conte has several selection dilemmas. He must choose between captain Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger for a place at the back, and between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud up front.

Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.

Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Eibar.

Philippe Coutinho is ineligible for Barca following his move from Liverpool.

Mourinho claiming injury crisis ahead of CL showdown

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The next three weeks will go a long way toward defining Jose Mourinho’s second season at Manchester United, with the Red Devils facing not only fellow top-four aspirers Chelsea and Liverpool, but also contesting their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Sevilla.

[ MORE: VAR provider admits incorrect graphic displayed on TV ]

Thus, it’s not exactly the most convenient time for the words “injury crisis” to rear their ugly heads yet again, but that’s the challenge Mourinho claims he faces ahead of Wednesday’s CL clash.

Paul Pogba missed Saturday’s FA Cup victory with a last-minute illness; Marcus Rashford is dealing with a leg injury and remains questionable, as are Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini are all but officially out, according to Mourinho — quotes from ESPN.co.uk:

“I didn’t rest one single player so we had today every player available here. I didn’t rest anyone. I brought two kids that played on Friday 90 minutes [for the under-23s] because I don’t have another player, so we arrive at this crucial moment with some problems.”

“Can we recover some of them to Wednesday? I believe so. I think Rashford, Herrera, Valencia — I think they have a chance.

“Paul, I don’t know. Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Marouane, Zlatan — I don’t think they have any chance.”

Mourinho dealt with a similar rash of injuries very late on last season, as his side barreled its way into, and eventually won, the Europa League final, securing a place in the CL this season. With a top-four finish all but out of reach at the time, Mourinho opted to rest his bare-bones group of first-team regulars in Premier League action and prioritize Europe’s “other” competition.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

This time around, United sit second in the PL table, just four points clear of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, and the path to winning the CL will prove far more difficult than taking on the likes of Saint-Etienne, Rostov, Anderlecht, Celta Vigo and Ajax.

Serie A: Napoli, Juve hold serve in 1-point title race

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona now 31 games unbeaten | Real Madrid 17 points behind ]

Napoli 1-0 SPAL 2013

The battle for Serie A supremacy isn’t ending anytime soon, as Napoli and Juventus continue to match one another (nine straight wins for each side) in Europe’s only remaining major title race.

On Sunday, they even traded 1-0 victories — Napoli at home to SPAL 2013, with Juve triumphing over Torino in the Turin derby.

Brazilian midfielder Allan bagged the only goal for Napoli after just six minutes, finishing off a mesmerizing, free-flowing move that’s become synonymous with Napoli this season. The video-assisting referee came into play just after the hour mark, when Marek Hamsik headed home to make it 2-0 before the VAR wiped it away for offside.

Napoli’s current nine-game winning streak is the longest in club history.

Torino 0-1 Juventus

Juve’s victory came at something of a cost, though, as star striker Gonzalo Higuain was lost to an ankle injury after just a quarter-hour (the injury occurred after just three minutes), followed by a potentially serious knee injury for Federico Bernardeschi, who replaced Higuain, in second-half stoppage time. Higuain isn’t expected to miss significant time, with the club calling it a twisted ankle.

In between the injuries came Alex Sandro‘s 33rd-minute winner, a tap-in from close range masterfully set up by Bernardeschi. One additional positive for Juve: Sunday also saw Paulo Dybala return after missing five weeks with a hamstring injury. The Argentine star entered as a second-half substitute.

“Paulo played 30 minutes at a good level,” Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri said. “I’m pleased with his and everyone else’s performance. This is a good result against a well-organized Torino side.”

Elsewhere in Serie A

AC Milan 1-0 Sampdoria
Atalanta 1-1 Fiorentina
Bologna 2-1 Sassuolo
Benevento 3-2 Crotone