Premier League Power Rankings: Southampton surging, Manchester United sliding – Week 8

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This season just keeps getting worse for Manchester United, and so far Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are taking full advantage of their struggles by pulling away at the top. Plus, a few surprise packages are still hanging around.

One of those is Southampton, who are flying high, while their isn’t much movement further down as the midtable mediocrity crew cancel each other out.

Week 8 saw the highest number of goals, 34, as offenses finally exploded and plenty of teams look in dire straits at the back. Find out how it affected the Premier League Power Rankings below.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

By now you should know the drill. Every Wednesday we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team, forget about the official league standings (here they are in case you actually do want them) that doesn’t mean squat.

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables. The W-D-L 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
Arsenal: A big win against Norwich showcased the Gunners’ attacking talents, with Aaron Ramsey coming off the bench to shine and Mesut Ozil running the show. Wenger’s side left it late to wrap up that win but they are loaded with attackers. Now they just need to stay healthy to keep the charge going. (6-1-1)
source:  2
Chelsea: The Blues went behind against Cardiff but looked strong in the second half as they surged back, with Eden Hazard scoring twice and Samuel Eto’o getting his first. Oscar hoping off the bench shows their strength, plus a big UCL win and goals for Torres helps. Mourinho is getting settled at Stamford Bridge. (5-2-1)
source:  3 UP 1
Manchester City: Rejoice! They finally broke their away day voodoo against West Ham, by confidently beating the Hammers 3-1. David Silva and Sergio Aguero turned on the magic, and Pellegrini’s men suddenly look like world beaters. (5-1-2)
source:  4 DOWN 1 Tottenham: Spurs are looking solid and dependable as they ground out yet another clean sheet in a solid win away at Aston Villa. And in Andros Townsend they’ve got a star winger who could possibly replace Gareth Bale. Maybe it’s too early for that, but Tottenham have a strong squad assembled. (5-1-1)

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5 UP 3
Southampton: The Saints are the big movers this week as Mauricio Pochettino’s men really should have beaten United at Old Trafford in the 1-1 draw. Southampton have come a long way in a short time, but after a win at Anfield and beating plenty of bottom half PL fodder, they look superb. Young talent, high-pressing and full of confidence... how long can they keep this up? (4-3-1)
source:  6 DOWN 1
Liverpool: The Reds are having a few growing pains here and there and they came up a little short at Newcastle. Grabbing a 2-2 draw against the spirited Magpies who were down to 10-men actually turned out to be a good result. But too many defensive lapses and giving the ball away cheaply hampered Liverpool. (5-2-1)
source:  7 Manchester United: Moyes’ United were outplayed by the Saints and they got lucky. Defensively they were struggling, as both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were out injured. The lack of depth for Moyes is worrying, especially as UCL action hots up. Problems persist as the slow start continues. (3-2-3)
source:  8 DOWN 2
Everton: Roberto Martinez’ men gutted out the win against Hull, but it certainly wasn’t pretty. Another good defensive display was made all the better thanks to a terrific finish from Pienaar with his first touch off the bench. Great start carries on. (4-3-1)
source:  9
Swansea: A resounding win at home to Sunderland showcased what the Swans are all about, pouncing after long-spells of possession to punish the opposition. They resemble more of a counter-attacking team this season, and with Bony getting amongst the goals more regularly, Laudrup’s team will keep threatening. (3-1-4)
source:  10
Aston Villa: A spirited yet pretty toothless display from Villa against Spurs summed up their season so far. Poor going forward but much better at the back than last year, a home game against Everton this week will show how far they’ve come. (3-1-4)
source:  11 Hull City: A battling display perhaps deserved more against Everton, and Hull are looking just fine in the PL. They held their own and sub Yannick Sagbo smashed home a great effort, but Spurs away this Sunday will not be easy to navigate. Scrappers who never give up, that’s the Tigers. (3-2-3)
source:  12 Norwich City: A poor loss at Arsenal showed up all of the Canaries weaknesses, as the Gunners tore their slow defense apart. They managed to grab a goal back and make things interesting, but ultimately their lack of guile going forward has, and will continue to, cost them. (2-1-5)

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13 West Brom: The Baggies were the better team for most of the second half vs. Stoke, and should have had a penalty when Youssouf Mulumbu was brought down. Steve Clarke’s men are another team that are solid, but lack quality going forward. Need to keep improving. Tricky trip to Anfield coming up. (2-4-2)
source:  14 UP 3 Newcastle: Newcastle are looking back to their best with a display full of energy, passion and drive vs. Liverpool gaining them a vital point after going down to 10-men. That fighting spirit should see them raring to for the derby against Sunderland on Sunday, can Pardew’s men deliver a win away to pile more misery on the Mackems? (3-2-3)
source:  15  UP 3
Fulham: What a difference a few weeks make, as Martin Jol’s men recorded back-to-back wins. They absolutely hammered Crystal Palace on Monday night, with Pajtim Kasami and Steve Sidwell scoring screamers. That scrappy win against Stoke before the break could be the turning point when all’s said and done. (3-1-4)
source:  16  DOWN 1
West Ham: It was always going to be hard against Man City, but the Hammers made life hard for themselves with a poor defensive display. Add in a lack of belief going forward and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Record signing Andy Carroll won’t be fit anytime soon, so ‘Big Sam’ has some big problems. (2-2-4)
source:  17 DOWN 3
Stoke City: Another game, another blank in the ‘goals for’ column for the Potters. How can Mark Hughes’ side get the creative juices flowing? Maybe bring in the likes of Brek Shea to mix things up… Anyway, Stoke have a solid foundation to build from, and that’s about all you can say so far. (2-2-4)
source:  18 DOWN 2
Cardiff: Things are starting to slip away from Malkay Mackay, especially with some unrest behind the scenes. All that nonsense aside, the Scotsman is seeing his side start games well, then peter off as Chelsea’s class showed the Bluebirds up. Fitness or concentration an issue? Massive game away at Norwich this week. (2-2-4)
source:  19
Crystal Palace: Who will lead the Eagles now? That’s the big question on everyone’s mind as Ian Holloway walked away from the early-season strugglers on Wednesday following the capitulation vs. Fulham. So many new faces have arrived, and with 30 games to go… Can anyone save this sinking ship? (1-0-7)
source:  20 Sunderland: Deja vu… “Another week, another defeat for Sunderland.” Gus Poyet has got a huge job on his hands with the Black Cats and he saw that on his debut with a poor second half in the 4-0 loss to Swansea. Are the Mackems ever going to win a game? A Tyne-Wear derby should get things going. (0-1-7)

Milivojevic free kick, Sako deflection lead Palace past WBA

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Goals from Luka Milivojevic and Bakary Sako led Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the third place game of the PL Asia Trophy.

Palace had lost 2-0 to Liverpool in its semifinal, while West Brom fell to Leicester City in penalty kicks after trading goals over 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Milivojevic’s free kick, won by Wilfried Zaha, was super. Whipped in with force and a wicked curl, Baggies keeper Ben Foster didn’t have a chance to reach it with his dive.

Sako created his goal with a darting move off a long dribble, though it needed a pair of deflections to get behind Foster.

The Baggies had their chances, and Julian Speroni made an outstanding save on Matty Phillips late in the match.

STREAM LIVE: Liverpool-Leicester duel for PL Asia Trophy

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Goals from Bakary Sako and Luka Milivojevic spearheaded Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the PL Asia Trophy third place game, and now Liverpool and Leicester City tangle for the title.

The final will be staged at 8:30 a.m. ET, when Liverpool will hope to build on a 2-0 semifinal win paced by Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke goals.

[ LIVE: Stream PL Asia Trophy here ]  

West Brom lost to Leicester City in its semifinal when youngster Sam Field missed the side’s seventh attempt in penalty kicks. Jay Rodriguez scored the Baggies goal in regulation of a 1-1 draw.

Here are the lineups for Leicester City and Liverpool:

Strootman loving life at Roma, aims to keep paying club back

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Kevin Strootman is in love with Roma.

The club, the city, the fans, name it: The relentless 27-year-old has renewed his commitment to AS Roma with a new contract, and understands how players like Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi devote their entire careers to i Lupi.

“It’s Rome,” Strootman exclaims, speaking ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup.

“You’re not going to leave easy. This is Rome. We all have the ambition to win something here, and to celebrate with the fans. Totti told us when he won the scudetto in 2001, there were parties for three months. If you win something here, it’s going to be really special. About the city you don’t even have to talk, it’s so beautiful you cannot compare it with anything else.”

[ MORE: FIFA’s Infantino in hot water ]

Yeah, the Eternal City is pretty nice, but it’s most celebrated football club is growing in magnitude, too. Roma’s finished second in Serie A three of the past four seasons, and last season came within four points of its first scudetto since the aforementioned win earlier this century.

Strootman was a massive part of the campaign, returning to the elite form displayed in his first season at the club and in previous campaigns with PSV Eindhoven. He scored six times with seven assists between Serie A and the UEFA Europa League, averaging 2.7 tackles per game, 1.7 interceptions, and 1.4 dribbles per Serie A contest.

That his reclamation of that status came after knee surgeries limited him to 18 matches over the previous two seasons was sweet (if nervy).

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“For me it was like such a relief, especially in the beginning you’d play a game and you’d be happy to play,” Strootman said. “If you won everyone was happy with the win, but I was just happy that I didn’t get injured again. The fitness coaches and technical staff did a great job. I played 50 games, we made the Champions League, and I signed a new contract. I was happy to pay them back on the pitch. I feel good.”

Payback is a theme in our talk with Strootman, who speaks glowingly of club chairman James Pallotta, the American businessman who stood by the midfielder during his injury struggles (NOTE: PST profiled Pallotta in depth last summer).

“He brought me here when he started the project, and he’s always supported me even during my injuries,” Strootman said. “He would call me, and was always there for me. I always told him, when I’m fit I want to pay you back with my play on the pitch. He’s like a president should be.”

It’ll be different from Strootman this season, and not just because of the changes to the Roma roster. Gone are Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger, Leandro Paredes, and retiring Francesco Totti. Arriving are Maxime Gonalons, Hector Moreno, and reports of bids for Riyad Mahrez and the impending arrival of Aleksandar Kolarov excite the fan base.

I Lupi are a club which has been on the precipice of greatness for some time. Now with the Champions League group stage and battles with not just Juve and Napoli but surging AC Milan and Inter Milan, Strootman says it’s time to stop talking big and start acting it out.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to raise game ]

“The last couple years we talked in the preseason about winning the scudetto, winning cups, but we have to show it on the pitch,” he said. “We still need some time, that’s normal, but we need to show on the pitch that we are hungry. We’re a young team with some experienced players. It’s a good mix. We have to show it from the first competition and game by game.”

Strootman also admitted, as many have, that American soccer continues to grow in renown around the Netherlands and Europe in general.

“I think it’s rising,” he said. “A lot more players from Holland are going over to MLS. I don’t see a lot of the games because they don’t show them in Italy. But when you’re here and see the friendly games against the big teams, the level is going up. MLS is getting higher and higher.”

Roma faces Spurs at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

2-year doping ban upheld for Finland, CSKA Moscow player

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to “level up” like rest of PL contenders ]

The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.

Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.

Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.