Well folks, it’s been almost two weeks since we had any Premier League action to chat about…. it’s back!
And now seems like a good time to reflect on the Power Rankings before we start up again in Week 12.
Cast your minds back to before the international break and there were some big upsets with both Manchester City and Tottenham tasting defeat. Manchester United put Arsenal in their place and the likes of Liverpool and Southampton recorded big wins.
By now you should know the drill. 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.
Let’s get to it!
Arsenal: The Gunners gave it their best shot against United at Old Trafford but came up short as RVP came back to haunt them with the games only goal. Wenger’s men pushed hard in the second half, but when Giroud isn’t at his clinical best I worry that they have no plan B. Big game vs. Southampton this weekend. (8-1-2)
Liverpool: A resounding 4-0 win over Fulham sent the Reds back to second spot in the standings and in our rankings too. Luis Suarez is unstoppable and Brendan Rodgers’ side are bouncing back from that defeat to Arsenal. Can they win the Merseyside derby vs. Everton to rule the city? Of course they can. (7-2-2)
Manchester City: Dear oh dear. City’s extremely poor form on the road continues as they lost 1-0 at lowly Sunderland and put in a tepid display. At home they look a completely different team and have won all 6 games this season, away from the Etihad they’ve won just once. Massive clash vs. Spurs on Sunday. (6-1-4)
Manchester United: The Red Devils are starting to get some momentum going and that mammoth win over Arsenal should get their season up and running. They’re now just five points away from the Gunners in top spot despite all their struggles. A win away at Cardiff could see them make a big move into the op four. (6-2-3)
Tottenham: Spurs just can’t score can they? Roberto Soldado’s movement is okay, but they’re just so predictable when they get the ball wide and midfielders aren’t getting into the box. At the back they’re solid but one small lapse cost them against Newcastle as the Magpies handed Spurs another unexpected home defeat. Negative tactics won’t win titles. (6-2-3)
Southampton: The Saints smashed four goals past Hull and dominated the Tigers at St. Mary’s. All of their young players are dazzling and sitting in third spot is testament to their terrific start. Biggest test of the season so far awaits away at Arsenal on Saturday. How serious are the Saints’ top four hopes? Very if they can sneak a win at the Emirates. (6-4-1)
Everton: The Toffees couldn’t break down a resilient Crystal Palace side and were lucky to leave Selhurst Park with a point. That said it’s still just one defeat for Everton and a win at home against fierce rivals Liverpool should see them climb into the top four. Martinez’ men have a 240 minute shutout streak going, but can they bag the goals to finish teams off? (5-5-1)
Newcastle United: What a superb away win from the Magpies, Alan Pardew must be one happy man as his side comfortably climb into midtable. When they have a fully-fit team to choose from, Newcastle are capable of beating teams like Spurs. Norwich at home this weekend is a home banker, surely? (5-2-4)
Hull City: A bit of a pasting for Steve Bruce’s boys, who held their hands up after Southampton battered them in the first half. It’s still been a great start to their PL campaign since promotion, but will the wheels fall of the Tigers express? Perfect opportunity to pick themselves up with a home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday. 1-0 home win?(4-2-5)
Swansea City: The Swans are leaking late goals all over the place and the sicking late equalizer against Stoke, after their tremendous rally to be 3-2 up, showed what their season is all about: Inconsistency. Michael Laudrup’s side need a win away at Fulham this weekend. (3-3-5)
West Brom: Perhaps they should be higher in these rankings, I’m sure the Baggies are feeling very hard done by of later. They had a famous win snatched away from them against Chelsea and Steve Clarke’s men are looking great going forward. Few questions marks at the back. A Midlands derby at the Hawthorns vs. Villa will be an incredible atmosphere on Monday night. (3-5-3)
Aston Villa: Speaking of Villa, they dispatched Cardiff with two late goals at home to boost them into midtable. The Villans are doing well without the goals of Benteke and Agbonlahor. If those two keep firing, a top 10 finish could be in the cards. Tough trip to WBA this week though. (4-2-5)
Norwich City: Buoyed by a deserved win over West Ham before the break, Chris Hughton’s Canaries face a daunting trip up the East Coast to square off with Newcastle. A point would be a good result here, but can Hooper and Snodgrass grab them all three? (3-2-6)
Cardiff City: The Bluebirds came soaring back down to earth after their South Wales derby success, as Villa dominated them in a poor display. Mystery still surrounds manager Malkay Mackay and his relationship with owner Vincent Tan… a big win against Man Utd in the Welsh capital would go down a treat. They need to keep it 0-0 for as long as possible and make set-pieces count. (3-3-5)
Sunderland: Gus Poyet has got the Black Cats playing, and a superb home win over Man City has instilled belief in his squad. Although question marks over the transfer policy has been raised and the new manager could walk out. Two wins in four games… the Mackems would be mad to let the Uruguayan go. Stoke away will be a bruising game. (2-1-8)
Stoke City: The Potters were 2-0 up away at Swansea and blew it. Speaking with Geoff Cameron this week, he said it was a mentality thing. Stoke snatched a late 3-3 draw courtesy of a PK, but they should have won. Mark Hughes side need a big win at home to struggling Sunderland. Moans and groans around the Britannia. (2-4-5)
West Ham: The Hammers are not happy, and they still haven’t added any firepower. Cole and Petric should start vs. Chelsea… but Allardyce will most likely carry on with a 4-6 formation that has seen his side fire blanks in 6 of last 11 games.(2-4-5)
Fulham: Back to normal for Fulham as Martin Jol’s men were destroyed by a rampant Liverpool side. The appointment of Rene Meulensteen as coach may liven the place up, but I think it’s going to be a long season for the Cottagers. Three points hugely necessary against Swansea. (3-1-7)
Crystal Palace: The Eagles are still without a permanent manager, but caretaker Keith Millen saw his side battle to an impressive point at home vs. Everton. Tony Pulis is said to be on his way in, massive reinforcements are needed. That said, a game away at Hull is very winnable this weekend. Can the South London side pull it off? (1-1-9)
Surprises, disappointments halfway through Champions League group stage
Some of the strugglers, like 0-1-2 Maribor and 0-1-2 APOEL, are not surprises. And it’s no shock to see Manchester United at perfect 3-0 given its draw.
Others? Well, that’s not the case.
While Manchester United is a perfect 3-0 in Group A, raise your hand if you figured Benfica would have just one goal and zero points through three matches. Benfica’s also played two of its three home ties, making the knockout rounds a dream.
Atletico Madrid has found the UEFA Champions League Final in two of the last four seasons, but finds itself with work to do moving forward. Atleti’s Wednesday draw at Qarabag leaves it three points behind Roma and five back of leaders Chelsea. Diego Simeone’s men still host Roma and Qarabag, so points are out there.
Serie A play has been gorgeous for Napoli, who has failed to bring that momentum to Group F. It’s worth noting that a missed penalty by red-hot Dries Mertens could’ve earned the Neapolitans a point at Man City on Tuesday, but as it stands Napoli is three points back of Shakhtar and could be six back before the Ukrainians visit on Nov. 21.
It turns out you can’t sell everyone and expect the youth to come through shining. Monaco is at the bottom of a very winnable group, having lost at home to Porto and Besiktas. Still just three points behind RB Leipzig, they’ll need to win at Monaco and/or Besiktas to have any hope of the knockout rounds.
Borussia Dortmund got a rough deal from officials when it visited Wembley Stadium, but losses to Spurs and Real Madrid can happen in a group stage. Tuesday’s draw at APOEL Nicosia, however, is close to a backbreaker.
Spurs draw at Real Madrid may have been aided by a huge performance from Hugo Lloris, but goalkeepers — as you know — are actual components of a team. This is in fact a group of death, but the North Londoners are holding a scythe. If Mauricio Pochettino can lead a home win over Real Madrid at a raucous Wembley on All Saints Day, well, look out!
Cenk Tosun has gone from sleepy transfer target to the tip of many gossipers’ tongues, as Besiktas is a perfect 3-0 including wins at Monaco and Porto. Anderson Talisca and… wait for it… Ryan Babel (!!) have also starred for the Turkish powers who will almost certainly see the knockout rounds.
Pep Guardiola‘s done this Champions League dance, you know, and Manchester City has weathered all storms. That includes conceded two penalties — one was saved by Ederson — as a down performance versus Napoli still ended with a home win. If City can win at the Stadio San Paolo on Nov. 1, Pep can sleepwalk into the final two matches (though that’s not his style).
Roma has a classy draw at Chelsea and has gathered five points including four away from home. Mimic that mark and i Lupi will be a challenge in the knockout rounds.
Neymar was best pals with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez last season at Barcelona, but having a less-than-perfect relationship with Edinson Cavani hasn’t hurt a thing in Paris. Paris Saint-Germain is for real, scoring 12 times and yet to concede in wins over Bayern Munich, Celtic, and Anderlecht.
Liverpool leads its group and advancing is really the only goal, but there’s something off-putting about the home draw against Sevilla. The 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow looks better now that the Russians hammered Sevilla 5-1, but a return visit from Maribor next should help the Reds buttress their stock.
Be careful how finely you analyze a club as accomplished as two-time reigning champs Real Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s men don’t look so hot. Still well-positioned to move on, keep a close eye on how they look at Wembley in a few weeks.
Chelsea‘s 3-3 draw versus Roma today was its first real stumble of the UCL, but there shouldn’t be too many alarm bells considering their injury problems and Roma’s desperation. Consider their status even, especially given their clever win at Atletico Madrid.
Jose Mourinho is doing a fine job with Manchester United, but it’s really hard to praise the club too much for doing what’s expected in a glorified Europa League group. Clearly Sir Alex Ferguson was involved in the icing some of the draw balls again…
The perfect road match, more or less, though United scored its lone goal thanks to goalkeeper error. Marcus Rashford took the free kick that was carried across the goal line, and United completed more than 500 passes to double Benfica’s output at the Estadio da Luz.
Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos
It’s not much of a surprise to see Barca triumph at home over Greek opposition. An own goal joined Lucas Digne and this historic Lionel Messi marker to build a 3-0 lead at the Camp Nou.
That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.
“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.
Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.
“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.
“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”
Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.
United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”
“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”