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)

Report: Liverpool to escape punishment over Van Dijk pursuit

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The Times states that Liverpool will not be punished further for pursuing Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk.

[ MORE: Expectations for PL managers

Earlier this month the Reds issued a public apology to Southampton and stated they had ended their interest in the 25-year-old Dutch defender following allegations that Van Dijk was flown to Blackpool (just north of Liverpool) to meet with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and their manager messaged VVD “regularly” as they chased the Dutch international.

Southampton, as you would expect, were far from happy about this so-called “tapping up” from Liverpool and reported the Reds to the Premier League by making an official complaint.

Liverpool’s apology was then followed by a preliminary investigation, but reports state that there will be no further action taken against Liverpool by the PL with “insufficient evidence” to support the claims surrounding the alleged “tapping up” of Van Dijk and unless new evidence arrives then the case will be closed.

Regardless, this whole episode has been incredibly embarrassing for Liverpool, especially when you take into account their current ban from signing academy players when a similar case cropped up over chasing a youngster in Stoke City’s academy.

Klopp has not only lost the chance to sign Van Dijk (at least, that’s the way it seems for now) but Liverpool have also lost some respect for the way they supposedly went about this business. American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) went to great lengths to apologize for this situation and are keen to stress they always conduct their business in a respect manner.

Now, we would all be a little naive to believe that this type of thing doesn’t happen a lot in soccer. A player (usually through his agent) will perhaps gently let another team know he’s interested in a move to them, and the ball gets rolling from there. Of course, the two clubs are supposed to agree a fee for the player first and then said player can meet with his potential new club to square away the details.

Southampton are said to still be furious about the approach from Liverpool to Van Dijk, so much so that if they were to sell their star player and captain this summer (they maintain he’s not for sale) they’d rather take less money from another club (Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal are all said to be interested) than let him leave for Anfield for over $70 million.

After Liverpool plucked Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane from Saints in the past few years, it’s easy to understand why the South Coast club are now standing firm and saying enough is enough.

Vidal rips Ronaldo ahead of Confederations Cup semifinal

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Chile hopes to make a statement on Wednesday when it faces EURO 2016 champions Portugal and Ballon d’Or champion Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2015 and 2016 Copa America champions can lay claim to another inter-confederation title with two more wins in the 2017 Confederations Cup, beginning with the semifinal in Kazan.

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Chile finished behind Germany in Group B but didn’t lose a match and only allowed two goals. That’ll be tested by Portugal and its seven goals in three matches.

Two of those goals came from Ronaldo, but don’t tell that to Arturo Vidal. Chile’s hard-edged midfielder doesn’t like him much.

From Goal.com:

“Cristiano is a smart ass,” he told reporters. “For me he does not exist.

“I have already told my Bayern Munich team-mate Joshua Kimmich that we will meet again in the final.”

Germany will have to take care of Mexico to make that happen, though we have a feeling a certain smart ass will have a thing or two to say before it’s all said and done.

Vidal has spoken loudly of his desire to get Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez, a former Barcelona man, at his club Bayern Munich. If Ronaldo is on the market, this isn’t a great recruiting tool. Ah, jokes.

Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Kwadwo Poku.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

[ MORE: Full FIFA-Qatar report leaked? ]

Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

Timo Werner abused in Germany but key to World Cup defense

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) The abuse has followed Timo Werner for months, gathering pace as rapidly as the striker has amassed goals.

No German player was more prolific in the Bundesliga last season. No player was as ostracized.

But Werner is now a full-blown Germany international, scoring his first goals at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, and he could hold the key to the World Cup defense next year.

[ MORE: USMNT’s 23-man roster questions ]

That could require Germany supporters to forgive a player they jeered at during his first competitive game for Joachim Loew’s team earlier this month.

“Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner reflected ahead of Germany’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Mexico on Thursday, seeing a kindred spirit in the basketball great. “I do not want to say that I am the best like him, but (the abuse) is a bit of an incentive.”

If playing for the ascendant but deeply unpopular Leipzig wasn’t bad enough, a dive in December by Werner provided a focal point for the animosity – jealousy, perhaps – toward the Red Bull-funded team.

The insults have even been hurled far from Germany, far from soccer stadiums. The dive won a penalty against Schalke, and provided Werner with one of the 21 goals that helped to propel Leipzig into second place and a Champions League debut next season.

“There was a dive, he made a mistake and he admitted it,” Loew said, “but he is very, very young player.”

And a potentially very important one for Loew at the World Cup in Russia next year. Germany’s striking options are being assessed at the eight-team Confederations Cup as Loew still seeks a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose as target man for the world champions.

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Werner opened his account for Germany on his fourth appearance, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon on Sunday in Sochi.

“Werner put in a lot of legwork,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is and that he’s got a great nose for goal. Both of his efforts were very well taken.”

Werner’s rivals for a place in the squad next year include fellow squad newcomers Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner. They are both close to 30, while the 21-year-old Werner has youth, strength and speed on his side. Even Wagner said he has “never seen such a good striker at that age.”

That’s a result of Werner fusing his pace with intelligence on the ball, mastering dribbling at high speed first with Stuttgart and then at Leipzig.

“There’s no recipe for it,” Werner said. “The quickest players just know how to do it automatically. I like to knock the ball three or four meters ahead of me when I’m on the counter or have space in front of me, that way I can increase the distance between a defender and myself.”

Such proficiency should help Werner win over fans beyond Leipzig. Time, he hopes, will heal the fractures, and there’s certainly support from his new international teammates.

“I wish him well because of the issues he has had to endure,” captain Julian Draxler told Germany’s ARD television.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup