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)

LIVE – UCL group stage finale: Leicester, Tottenham both in action

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his sides first goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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The final matchday of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League group stage takes place on Wednesday with two Premier League teams in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Leicester City is already through and has topped Group G with Claudio Ranieri‘s men securing a top spot for next Monday’s Round of 16 draw. The Foxes face FC Porto in Portugal with the hosts needing just a point to secure second place in the group and their spot in the last 16. Putting their Premier League worries aside, Leicester will aim to stay unbeaten throughout all six of their UCL group games.

Tottenham Hotspur wish they could say the same but Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have already crashed out of the Champions League with one game to go. They host CSKA Moscow at Wembley Stadium in Group E with Spurs needing just a draw to secure a place in the Europa League knockout stages. Bayer Leverkusen and AS Monaco has already qualified from Group E but Spurs’ Harry Kane insists they now want to go on and win the Europa League.

[ MORE: Permutations for each UCL group ]

Elsewhere Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund clash to decide top spot in Group F, while Juventus, Lyon and Sevilla are all still in the mix in Group H with the final game to come.

Below is a full schedule for Wednesday’s Champions League games, with each game kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

You can follow live commentary and stats of each game by clicking on the link above, while we will have reaction right here on ProSoccerTalk.


Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Tottenham Hotspur vs. CSKA Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco

Group F
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
Legia Warsaw vs. Sporting Lisbon

Group G
FC Porto vs. Leicester City
Club Brugge vs. FC Copenhagen

Group H
Juventus vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Lyon vs. Sevilla

Power Rankings: Top five players in the Premier League, right now

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The Premier League Player Power Rankings are out and now it is time to focus on the top five.

[ MORE: PST’s top 20 players, Week 14 ]

With two players from Chelsea and two from Arsenal, plus another from Tottenham Hotspur in the top five, Week 14 delivered plenty of goals and attacking players dominate our rankings.

Click on the link above to see our full list of the top 20 players in the Premier League, while in the video above Jenna Corrado and I discuss my top five players based on the last seven days of action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ] 

Hit play on the video above to enjoy watching some silky skills and terrific goals as we guide you through the creme de la creme.

Why are Leicester struggling so much? Where can Man City improve?

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Last season Leicester City vs. Manchester City was a clash between two rivals fighting for the Premier League title.

This season? Not so much.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars ]

Leicester host Man City on Saturday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), with the reigning champs embroiled in a relegation battle with just three wins from their 14 PL games this season.

As for City, Pep Guardiola is finding the Premier League a little tougher to handle than Spain and Germany early on with City winning just three of their last eight games in the Premier League but they’re still sitting just four points off top spot. That said, City has lost to both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea already and their status as preseason title favorites is already being severely questioned.

For Leicester, their problems are worse than those at Man City.

There are multiple issues at play which could explain their stunning drop-off compared to last season. After 14 games this season the Foxes have 13 points. At the same point of their incredible title-winning campaign in 2015-16 they had 29 points and were joint-top of the table with Manchester City who actually have one more point this season than they had at this stage last season.

Back to Leicester and right now they are just two points off the relegation zone and have lost three of their last four games. Ranieri is very worried about relegation, as his recent comments in press conferences show.

“This moment is not the right moment for us. We wanted to get points here but of course it was a relegation battle, they won, well done to them,” Ranieri said after the defeat at Sunderland. “I said two, three weeks ago, always I look behind me. We are in the battle of relegation. For this reason we must stay calm, together and continue to work hard.”

At least Ranieri knows it, but how has it got to this point with Leicester breezing through their UCL group and into the knockout stages?

The loss of N'Golo Kante in midfield has been huge for Leicester with the French international midfielder already proving indispensable for Chelsea this season as he breaks play up, shields the back four and sets the tempo of the game for his team. Kante’s departure has left a huge hole in Leicester’s midfield but they’ve been equally hit just as hard with a lack of goals from Jamie Vardy who has scored just twice in the PL and Riyad Mahrez has suffered from a lack of creativity.

Mahrez set up 22 goalscoring chances for Vardy last season. This season the duo have combined just once. Maybe that is because Ranieri has been chopping and changing his team so much to cope with the demands of the UCL and PL, with Mahrez and Vardy often preferred for European action, but there’s no doubting that their level has dropped off and that’s happened across Leicester’s entire squad.

When you look at Leicester’s defensive displays, not much has changed but perhaps the rub of the green is going against them and they are falling behind to opponents extremely often which is making them chase the game and they’re getting out of their comfort zone. Simply put: Leicester isn’t doing what it is best at.

Ranieri knows it and said as much after their latest defeat at Sunderland which has put them further in trouble with plenty of tough games on the horizon.

“It is difficult to say what we miss. We miss everything,” Ranieri said.

In the latest PST Extra Jenna Corrado and I discuss the recent poor form of both Leicester and Man City and if fans of both teams should be worried heading into this big match on Saturday.

Click play on the video above to see us break it down.

Report: FIFA president backs 48-team World Cup, 16 groups of three teams

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 14: FIFA President Gianni Infantino poses for a photo after part II of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 14, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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Gianni Infantino wants to freshen things up a bit.

The new president of FIFA has been steadfast in his desire to increase the number of teams participating at a World Cup to 48.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars

After all it was a huge part of his presidential mandate which got plenty of the smaller nations of the soccer world on board to vote for him, and reports from AFP are now circulating that Infantino and key figured at FIFA have indeed backed a 48-team World Cup from 2026 onwards.

Members of the FIFA Council had previously received outlines of four proposed formats, including staying with a 32-team World Cup, but it is believed Infantino wants a 48-team World Cup and the decision could be made next month at a FIFA Council meeting.

It is also being widely reported that Infantino wants to try something new and have 16 groups with three teams in each. It is also believed the top two teams would go through from each group to a Round of 32 knockout stage and then to a Round of 16 and so on.

On the face of it, that doesn’t seem too bad an idea.

It would certainly eliminate some of the boring third group games we have endured at most World Cups recently as the two teams going through to the last 16 are usually sewn up by that point and the two other teams are left around with another game to play. However, it will be intriguing to see how the game schedule is set up in the three team group scenario.

The cynical folks out there suggest that Infantino is merely trying to ramp up more revenue from increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48 but when you look at it, the number of games would actually stay the same if there were 16 groups with three teams in each.

Think about it: more upset stories, more first-time qualifiers and more riding on each of the two group games for each team before heading straight to the knockout rounds.