Premier League Power Rankings: Manchester United on the up, Spurs slipping – Week 11

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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.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

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!

RANKING
Up/Down

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1
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)
source:  2 UP 3
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)
source:  3
Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten PL record at home is intact… just. A controversial penalty saved Chelsea’s skin against West Brom and the Blues were hardly convincing in the 2-2 draw. Until he gets a settled line up, expect these struggles to continue. West Ham away this week. Tricky. (6-3-2)
source:  4  DOWN 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)

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5 UP 1
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)
source:  6 DOWN 2
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)
source:  7 UP 1 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)
source:  8 DOWN 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)
source:  9 UP 2

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)
source:  10 DOWN 1
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)
source:  11 DOWN 1
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)
source:  12  – 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)

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13  – 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)
source:  14 UP 2 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)
source:  15
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)
source:  16 UP 2
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)
source:  17 DOWN 3
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)
source:  18 DOWN 1
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)
source:  19
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)
source:  20
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)

La Liga: Sevilla win late to move even with Atletico Madrid in 3rd

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MADRID (AP) Wissam Ben Yedder scored three minutes after entering the game to give Sevilla a late 2-1 win over 10-man Celta Vigo in the Spanish league on Thursday.

The victory moved Sevilla even on points with third-place Atletico Madrid with four matches left. Third place guarantees an automatic spot in the Champions League next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.

Ben Yedder netted the winner from close range after a low cross by Samir Nasri in the 79th minute, beating a defender to the ball and hitting the top of the net with a right-footed shot.

“It was a complex game but the team was able to overcome the difficulties,” Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

Joaquin Correa put the host ahead after halftime, and Iago Aspas equalized by converting a penalty kick just minutes later. Aspas did not celebrate the goal out of respect to fans of his former club.

Sevilla dominated from the start and was pressuring vigorously in search of the winner, especially after Celta went a man down when midfielder Pablo Hernandez was sent off with a second yellow card in the 56th with the game 1-1.

Sergio Escudero and Nasri each struck the crossbar a few minutes apart late in the second half, and Vicente Iborra also had hit the woodwork earlier in the game played under steady rain in Seville.

It was the third win in four matches for Sevilla after a streak of five games without a win.

Sevilla and Atletico are level on points, but the Madrid club is ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Top PL Storylines: Bye-bye, St. Totteringham’s Day? So long, Sunderland?

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Ahead of Week 34 of the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’re most looking forward to keeping an eye on the following storylines…

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Cancel St. Totteringham’s Day?

8,018 days (otherwise known as 22.9 years) have passed since Tottenham Hotspur last finished above Arsenal in the Premier League. First of all, that’s a lot of days. Secondly, the time to reset that clock is nearly upon us, as Tottenham take a 14-point lead into Sunday’s North London derby (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) — perhaps the final one to be played at White Hart Lane. With Arsenal having only five games left to play after Sunday, a 17-point deficit would be mathematically impossible to overcome, and would guarantee Spurs’ first PL finish above Arsenal since the spring of 1995.

The fact that Spurs could end that embarrassing, heinous streak in a game against Arsenal, in perhaps their next-to-last game at White Hart Lane, and maybe even close to within a single point of Chelsea in the title race… it’s almost all too timely and too perfect to believe it could really happen… to Spurs.


Finish the job

With all due respect to Middlesbrough (home), West Bromwich Albion (away), Watford (home) and Sunderland (home), Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they’ve lost on their last two visits (all competitions) and they’ll take on seventh-place Everton (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), is far and away the toughest remaining fixture on Chelsea’s schedule as they chase a fifth PL-era title (fifth in all eras). Having booked their spot in the FA Cup final by beating Spurs last weekend, Antonio Conte is dreaming of — and a favorite to win — a double in his first season at Stamford.


Someone has to finish top-four

Ahead of the weekend, two points separate Liverpool (third), Manchester City (fourth) and Manchester United (fifth), with Arsenal another four back in sixth (but possessing a game in hand). Given all the points dropped by each of the aforementioned sides in recent weeks, it’s important to remember that someone has to finish third and fourth in the PL this season.

We’ve already discussed Arsenal’s titanic task, so here’s the challenges facing the other three this round: Liverpool, at Watford (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com); Man City, at Middlesbrough (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, on  NBCSports.com); Manchester United, vs. Swansea City (7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com).


So long, Sunderland?

For five seasons now, Sunderland have flirted with relegation from the PL; and every previous season, they’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to stay up. This season, though, under David Moyes, there appears to be no rabbit. With five games to go, safety is a whopping 12 points away, which means a loss to Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com), coupled with a win or draw by 17th-place Hull City, would officially send Sunderland to the Championship next season. If the Black Cats somehow find their way out of this predicament, a northeastern knighthood awaits Mr. Moyes.

French authorities investigating 2018, 2022 World Cup bids

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PARIS (AP) French financial prosecutors are investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and have heard former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday that France’s financial prosecutor services (PNF) opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling, and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Blatter was questioned in Switzerland last week as a witness, the same person told the AP.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland said in a statement that “at the request of and in the context of proceedings being conducted by French justice authorities, it has questioned Mr. Joseph Blatter in his capacity as a person providing information on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich.”

The PNF opened its investigation last year.

FIFA has also been targeted by investigations led by Swiss and US authorities. Last month, FIFA sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption to Switzerland’s attorney general. The documents complete a 22-month probe by legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which FIFA retained in the fallout from United States and Swiss federal prosecutors revealing their sprawling investigations of soccer corruption in May 2015.

Blatter said last week that he met with U.S. Department of Justice investigators and insisted he was not a suspect in their bribery and corruption case linked to FIFA.

Blatter was suspended from office in September 2015 and later banned from soccer by the FIFA ethics committee.

Johannsson expected to leave Bremen this summer — is MLS next?

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Aron Johannsson’s time at Werder Bremen is all but finished, as the 26-year-old American-born, Icelandic-raised striker is expected to leave the club this summer after 22 months with Die Werderaner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Having failed to make much of an impact during his second season in the Bundesliga, following a few promising days early in the fall of 2015, the German press stated on Thursday, in no uncertain terms, “Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club” — quotes from Kicker (translation courtesy of Google Translate):

In addition, Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club. The US boy was not able to get through the hard competition in the storm, claimed more time, which can hardly be guaranteed in the next season. The fact that Baumann is already talking about finding a meaningful solution with the striker in the summer can be interpreted as follows: Johannsson will leave Werder.

Since various bits and pieces are lost in the above translation, allow us to offer a translation of the translation: the “hard competition in the storm” refers to the three or four strikers presently ahead of him in the pecking order. Johannsson fell down the depth chart due in large part to a hip injury which cost him the final seven months of last season.

Johannsson was recently quoted as saying, “It’s not my desire to leave, but at the end of the day it’s important that I play. I love football, but I need to play to be happy.”

[ MORE: John Brooks hip injury is worrying ahead of World Cup qualifiers ]

So, what’s next for Johannsson?

He can probably forget about a move to a top-division team in any of Europe’s premier leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). A move back to Holland, where he starred at AZ Alkmaar (39 goals in 81 games) before moving to Bremen, would make sense if his goal is to stay in Europe at all costs. Another strong season (just a half, even) could earn him another shot with a first-division side roughly the size of Bremen.

Then, there’s MLS, which Johannsson’s been linked with before, and has publicly expressed a desire to join one day. As a current U.S. national team player, a move to MLS would mean a trip through the league’s allocation order for Johannsson. As of this posting, the Houston Dynamo hold the no. 1 spot in the allocation order, with Columbus Crew SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota United and Orlando City SC rounding out the next five.

[ WATCH: If you haven’t Darlington Nagbe’s latest golazo ]

Any team in MLS could land Johannsson by acquiring the top spot in the allocation order, via trade, and agreeing (what would almost certainly be) a Designated Player contract with him.

At the age of 26, Johannsson will likely feel there is still something left for him to accomplish in Europe. A strong showing in this summer’s Gold Cup (he’s a perfect candidate for Bruce Arena’s “B-team”) could open plenty of eyes — and doors. Money talks, though, just as the opportunity to be the face of the franchise and score a boatload of goals in MLS might also do.