The Red Devils are back on form and unbeaten in five, can Cardiff upset the apple cart?

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

source:

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)

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal ]

In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).