Premier League Power Rankings: Arsenal make title claim, Manchester clubs hit back – Week 10

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It was another weekend full of drama and passion across the PL, as the Gunners finally silenced plenty of doubters with their resounding win over Liverpool.

We have big wins for Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle, and the South Wales derby delivered a massive rivalry to the PL for the very first time.

The teams at the bottom are struggling, as Norwich City and West Ham join Fulham in getting dragged into the relegation battle. Can those sides climb back up the rankings this week? Who knows… that’s the beauty of it.

(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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Arsenal: A resounding win against Liverpool sees the Gunners good run continue. They were majestic at times at the Emirates as they proved to everyone they could turn it on when it matters. A massive trip to Manchester United awaits this weekend. The Gunners haven’t won at Old Trafford in PL since 2006… with Flamini and Wilshere doubtful I think that run will continue. (8-1-1)
source:  2 UP  1
Manchester City:The Citizens have had a great week as they pummeled Norwich 7-0 for their biggest ever PL win and then smashed five past CSKA Moscow to seal their first-ever trip to the Champions League knockout stages. Manuel Pellegrini’s men look fired up going forward, still a little suspect at the back. (6-1-3)
source:  3 DOWN 1
Chelsea:What is going on away from home? Jose Mourinho keeps shuffling his starting XI and against Newcastle they were bullied and out-worked by the home team. Juan Mata, David Luiz and Fernando Torres were woeful… is January the right time for a clean sweep of Chelsea’s squad? (6-2-2)
source:  4  UP 1 Tottenham: The whole head injury incident with Spurs’ goalkeeper Lloris put a dampener on a well-earned point at Everton. But the lack of goals from AVB’s men really does concern me. When will we see the real Roberto Soldado? And can one of Tottenham’s midfielder stand up and make a play? (6-2-2)

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5 DOWN 1
Liverpool: The Reds came up short against Arsenal, massively so, and with Glen Johnson and others missing in defense they look weak at the back. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will only get you so far, they needed supply from midfield and that didn’t happen. Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva were over run in the middle. Not all doom and gloom, but a reality check. Very winnable game at home to Fulham this Saturday. (6-2-2)
source:  6 UP 2
Manchester United: Well, well, look who’s making a charge. A comfortable 3-1 win over Fulham thanks to a first half obliteration was enough to send United four games unbeaten in the league. A massive test of how far they’ve come under David Moyes awaits as Arsenal head to the Theater of Dreams. Can Rooney and RVP rip the Gunners apart? Expect plenty fireworks on Sunday. (5-2-3)
source:  7 UP 1 Everton: The Toffees ground out a good point at home to high-flying Spurs and could’ve grabbed all three points if their finishing would’ve been a little better. All round, a solid display that shows they can mix it with anyone on their day. Crystal Palace away this weekend… easy three points for Martinez’ men? (5-4-1)
source:  8 DOWN 2
Southampton: The Saints probably should have beaten Stoke on Saturday, but that bizarre goal from Asmir Begovic after 12 seconds definitely set them back. Their inability to finish off the teams around them is worrying me, but their unbeaten streak continues as Pochettino’s men have staying power. Another win could be on the cards as Hull City head to St. Mary’s. (5-4-1)
source:  9 UP 1
Hull City: Another week, another 1-0 win at home for the Tigers. They certainly aren’t pretty, but boy they get the job done. Steve Bruce’s side made Sunderland look better with 9-men than they were with 11 at times, but a scrappy own goal and another resolute defensive display sees Hull keep picking up points. (4-2-4)
source:  10 DOWN 1
Swansea City: Yeah, the Swans didn’t really turn up for the big South Wales derby against Cardiff did they? (Read my account of the day the derby arrived in the PL) That said, they looked dangerous in the first half and Michu spurned two great chances to put the visitors ahead. Cardiff wanted it more, and Michael Laudrup was upset after. A game at home to Stoke this weekend could see them out battled again. All is not well for the Swansea faithful right now. But things will work themselves out… right? (3-2-5)
source:  11 UP 3
Newcastle United: The Magpies pulled off a memorable win against Chelsea at a soaking St. James’ Park, it was a display full of guts, endeavor and clinical finishing. Loic Remy looks the real deal up front, and with players coming back from injury, Pardew’s men can be comfortable in mid-table this season. Spurs away on Sunday, see this as an upset? (4-2-4)
source:  12 UP 1 West Brom: The Baggies continue their climb up the table as they dispatched of Crystal Palace with relative ease despite a second half wobble. In windy conditions at the Hawthorns, both sides struggled to get the ball down but Saido Berahino scored a great goal off the bench as WBA had that extra cutting-edge. Chelsea away is tough this weekend. (3-4-3)

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13 DOWN 2 Aston Villa: A dour draw at Upton Park wasn’t pretty, but Villa will take it after another inspired display from Brad Guzan in goal. This young side is looking pretty resilient this season and the only worry is where the goals will come from. Cardiff at home will be a battling affair between two physical sides. (3-2-5)
source:  14 UP 2 Stoke City: Getting a freak goal go your way in the first minute of a game should see you build on it and grab a vital three points. Stoke failed to do that against Saints. The Potters don’t look dangerous going forward, maybe Juan Agudelo’s pace will liven things up when he arrives in January? They need it. Solid enough at the back, just goals an issue once again. (2-3-5)
source:  15 UP 4
Cardiff City: The Bluebirds deserved their win on Sunday in the South Wales derby, as the players really put in a display for Malky Mackay. With Craig Bellamy and Peter Odemwingie they have real pace and can hurt teams on the break. Gary Medel is the man who holds it all together. The Wales side will fancy getting a win on the road at Villa. (3-3-4)
source:  16 DOWN 4
Norwich City:  Another week, another goalless game for the Canaries. They got absolutely battered by Man City right from the start, it could have been more than 7-0. Chris Hughton may start fearing for his job very soon if this trend continues. Can they stop the rot against West Ham in front of the NBC cameras this weekend? (2-2-6)
source:  17 DOWN 2
West Ham: Same story for West Ham as they can’t score for love nor money. Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis aren’t strikers and this system just isn’t working for Big Sam. They load the midfield and are hard to break down, but nobody is making runs forward. They need a win away at struggling Norwich. Big time. (2-4-4)
source:  18
Sunderland: You have to admire their bravery for fighting back with just 9-men against Hull for over 45 mins. But the Black Cats just keep shooting themselves in the foot and Gus Poyet must stop the indiscipline quickly. Man City at home doesn’t look promising on Sunday. (1-1-8)
source:  19 DOWN 2
Fulham: They were just awful against Manchester United in the first half, as the Cottagers terrible display from the game against Southampton carried over. What is wrong with Martin Jol’s men? Just when you think they’ve turned the corner, this happens. Dimitar Berbatov needs to lead this side, otherwise they’ll be in a relegation battle. Liverpool away this week… (3-1-6)
source:  20
Crystal Palace: The Eagles are hurting, the sooner they get a manager, the better. They are a working their backsides off for no reward. At least they’re at home this weekend against Everton, if they play like they did against Arsenal, then they could nick a point, maybe all three. (1-0-9)

Dani Alves fires back at Diego Forlan

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After Neymar and Edinson Cavani’s penalty drama that has blown up over the last few days and potentially led to Neymar’s exclusion from the PSG squad this weekend, Uruguayan legend Diego Forlan went on sports radio in his home country to not just back his former international teammate Cavani, but also throw a pair of Brazilians under the bus.

Forlan obviously denounced Neymar’s role in the dispute, but he also picked out Neymar’s club and country teammate Dani Alves for favoring his countrymate.

[ MORE: Goalkeeping howler sees Bayern blow lead in draw ]

“What doesn’t make any sense is what Alves does, he doesn’t give the ball to Cavani and then gives it to Neymar as if he were his [explitive]. Cavani deserves respect. He has been scoring goals for years, taking penalties. There has to be respect. Neymar would not have done that with [Lionel] Messi. He didn’t want Cavani to take the penalty. He was like a little boy annoying him.”

Well, as you can imagine, Alves did not take kindly to being sucked into the fray, and fired back as a result. “I don’t know what match you were watching,” Alves wrote on Twitter, “but for your information, I didn’t take the ball away from any of my teammates. It was just the opposite, it was taken from me!

“And also for your information, the last penalty kick for PSG was mine. So shut your trap and stop making drama in my name.”

This whole situation has blown up more than most penalty disputes (which happen relatively often) likely due to the international affiliations. With the decades-old bad blood between Brazil and Uruguay, it’s no surprise that people are taking sides. Forlan swept up another Brazilian in the mix, and understandably he did not appreciate the cheap shot.

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

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  • Leicester City has won 2 straight home PL games vs Liverpool
  • Jamie Vardy has 5 goals in 3 PL games vs Liverpool
  • Liverpool leads the PL with 40 shots on target this season

Jamie Vardy is good to go for the Foxes as they welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC or live online via NBCSports.com).

These two teams matched up midweek in League Cup play, with Leicester City winning 2-0, and they did so without Vardy who missed out with a groin strain. He’s since recovered, and will likely play a part. Christian Fuchs and Leonardo Ulloa are also ready to go, with Fuchs back after an eye injury in training, while Ulloa took a knock to the head midweek but is ready to go.

The Foxes need a win in the worst way, as a loss would leave them with their joint-worst point total through the first six matches of a top flight season since 1994/95, the year they were relegated.

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League games

Liverpool, meanwhile, has issues of its own to sort out. They are winless in all competitions since August 27th, and on a larger scale, Jurgen Klopp is taking heat for having less points than Brendan Rodgers did through his first 73 league games of his Liverpool tenure.

The Reds are also facing a bit of injury trouble, with Dejan Lovren still out with back problems, while Joel Matip and Emre Can both suffered slight injuries in the midweek loss and are questionable for Saturday. Should all those miss out, the already leaky defense would prove even more porous.

What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool chasing the ball: “We come too close together in the situation where the first ball is going after a throw-in and it means for the second ball we don’t have a good formation. We need to get more natural in these things because it’s not that difficult to be honest but it happens too often. Now we have to work and then it will be even more difficult to create something against us.”

Craig Shakespeare on Jamie Vardy vs. Liverpool: “Is he a bogeyman? I am hoping so. Sometimes strikers will have good memories of playing against certain teams. Centre forwards go through these purple patches and everybody would like one who can get you 20 goals a season.”

Prediction

If anything is certain in a Liverpool match, it’s that the first goal doesn’t matter. Since the start of last season, the Reds are tops in the league with 20 points from losing positions. However, they’re also fifth in the league in that same timeframe with 20 points lost from winning positions. With that in mind, a wild game is likely in store, but with the inconsistent form for either side of late, it’s tough to pick a winner. A 2-2 draw is a likely result.

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 17 of its last 23 Premier League games
  • Alvaro Morata has 3 goals and 2 assists, all with his head
  • Stoke has lost just 1 of its past 7 home games vs defending champions

Eden Hazard is back and at full strength as Chelsea travels to the Britannia to take on Stoke City Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

With Hazard back and Diego Costa finally shed to Atletico Madrid, the Blues have positioned themselves to make a run at the Premier League’s top spot. Chelsea has not lost since their Opening Day misstep against Burnley, and despite firing a blank in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Gunners, Chelsea is still just three points off the top spot, and will look to put pressure on the Manchester clubs.

In addition to Hazard, the Blues also get Temoue Bakayoko and Pedro back in the lineup as well, although David Luiz is suspended after his late red card last weekend.

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League games

This season has been a roller coaster ride for Stoke City, having picked up four points against Arsenal and Manchester United, but also losing to Newcastle and Everton, plus a very disappointing defeat midweek to Bristol City in the Cup. The Potters are missing a host of defenders, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross both injured, plus Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. Kevin Wimmer is also touch and go with a hamstring injury, not expected to be available.

What they’re saying

Mark Hughes on Chelsea’s discipline issues: “Chelsea at the moment look like they are getting yellow and red cards more frequently, but that might be just an anomaly, something happening in the moment. I don’t think it is prevalent in their team. They are just strong when they need to be. It is not going to be tactic we are going to irritate them with, to step over the line, because if I’m honest I don’t think I’ll have the players to do that.”

Antonio Conte on Stoke: “The most important thing for us is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be a really tough game. We must prepare very well this game in all the situations, tactically, physically, to be disciplined. Stoke won against Arsenal and then drew against Manchester United. It means Stoke is a really good team.”

Prediction

Stoke City has given tough teams trouble, and could again if Maxim Chupo-Moting shows up at his best again, but it’s much more likely that Chelsea will ease by in this game. The Potters have fallen off slightly this season, and while their draw against Manchester United shows they pack some punch, it won’t be enough to see off a Chelsea side buoyed by the return of Eden Hazard. Chelsea could win their opening three Premier League away matches for the first time since 2009…their third away fixture of that campaign was a 2-1 victory at Stoke, so we’ll go for the same scoreline here.

Hope Solo says she has settled grievance with US Soccer

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Hope Solo has settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer over her suspension from the women’s national team following comments she made at the Rio Olympics.

The settlement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 35-year-old goalkeeper was suspended for six months and her contract with the federation was terminated after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S. team’s quarterfinal loss.

Details about the settlement, reached last month, were not released. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association filed the grievance on Solo’s behalf.

In a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Solo reiterated her regret over the comments.

“As I expressed in my apology to the Swedish captain immediately following the match, I have tremendous respect for the Swedish team, and in describing the style of play, I used a choice of words that was both offensive and not at all what I had intended to convey,” she said.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

“We have amicably resolved the matter and are moving forward in a positive way,” she added.

U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Women’s Soccer Team Players Association declined to comment.

Solo anchored the team in goal for the 2015 Women’s World Cup victory, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament – earning her a second straight Golden Glove Award.

For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.

The defending champion U.S. women were ousted from the Olympics last summer when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.

Solo’s “cowards” quote came immediately following the loss. Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.

Solo told the AP in an interview late last year that she spoke to coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati following the loss, and felt that the issue was put to rest. After she returned to the United States, she said she was blindsided by the announcement about her suspension.

She said she believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Solo has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay and was among the players who filed a complaint against the federation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” Solo told AP then. “It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word `cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

U.S. Soccer said at the time that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.