Frank Lampard

Premier League Power Rankings: Chelsea climb, Tottenham plummet – Week 12

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It’s been a real mixed bag over the past week, as plenty of sides chasing the top four gave up valuable points.

Tottenham were hammered 6-0 by Man City as Spurs’ continue their dramatic slide down our rankings, while Manchester United let a late lead slip away at newly-promoted Cardiff City much to the annoyance of manager David Moyes.

Arsenal and Chelsea both won and at the bottom Crystal Palace and Stoke both recorded much needed wins. Factor in all of that and there was plenty of chopping and changing going on in Week 12.

(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 did what they needed to against Southampton as the away side imploded and made some huge errors. Jack Wilshere dazzled midweek in the UCL and looks back to full fitness. A tricky trip to Cardiff awaits this weekend, as both Manchester clubs have already faltered in the Welsh capital. Will Aaron Ramsey dominate on his homecoming? (9-1-2)
source:  2 UP 1
Chelsea: Mourinho’s men have had a mixed-week as they battered West Ham 3-0 last weekend with Frank Lampard bagging two goals and Oscar shining. But a midweek UCL defeat to Basel left everyone scratching their heads again, why the inconsistency? Saints at home isn’t easy live on NBCSN this Sunday. (7-3-2)
source:  3 UP 1
Manchester City: 6-0 winners against Spurs and it could’ve been more, City’s six straight wins at home to open the season is sublime. Pellegrini’s attackers devoured Tottenham’s defense which had previously been the league’s best. Now the Citizens have to improve their away form, then they’re back in the title race. (7-1-4)
source:  4 DOWN 2 Liverpool: They snatched a dramatic late point at Everton but Liverpool’s defending was woeful at times. Yes it was a Merseyside derby but under pressure they have to be tighter and do better from set pieces. A trip to Hull will be ugly but Rodgers’ men should get back to winning ways. (7-3-2)

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5
Manchester United: Moyes’ men missed their chance to creep back into the top four as Kim Bo-Kyung’s late equalizer broke Red Devils hearts in South Wales. United didn’t really deserve to win but how often did they churn our three points last season when they shouldn’t have? Massive trip to struggling Spurs on Sunday. Will RVP return to partner Rooney? (6-3-3)
source:  6 UP 2
Everton: Roberto Martinez’ men were poor in the first half of the derby vs. Liverpool but came roaring back impressively. Romelu Lukaku has carried them this season, what an inspired loan signing he has been. A home game vs. Stoke should present the Toffees with a chance to move into the top three. (5-6-1)
source:  7 Southampton: The Saints shot themselves in the foot against Arsenal as they hung in with the Gunners for most of the game but were undone by a terrible blunder from Boruc and Fonte’s silly challenge in the box. That said they know they can mix it up with the big boys and a trip to Stamford Bridge awaits on Sunday. Rickie Lambert and Daniel Osvaldo are key if they’re going to stun Chelsea. (6-4-2)
source:  8 DOWN 2
Tottenham: What is going on at Tottenham? No goals in their last 3 games and Spurs are unraveling quickly. I worry for AVB’s future as he’s suddenly a villain at White Hart Lane after the embarrassing 6-0 loss at City. They need to beat Man Utd at home on Sunday it not it could be curtains for Villas-Boas which is crazy but Spurs’ fans are running out of patience already. (6-2-4)
source:  9

Newcastle United: The Magpies keep on rolling but they did labor to a win over Norwich. Pardew’s men were 2-0 up at HT but almost threw it away late on… a wins a win as they say. Remy is on fire up front and a home game vs. West Brom live on NBC at 12:30pm ET on Saturday presents the St. James’ faithful with a chance to see their side climb into the top 4. (6-2-4)
source:  10 UP 1
Swansea City: The Swans hit back after a barren spell by beating lowly Fulham 2-1 at the Cottage. Jonjo Shelvey came off the bench to net the winner with a beauty and Swansea are back in the top 10. They face a daunting trip to Man City this weekend but their attractive style of play could suit a trip to the Etihad. (4-3-5)
source:  11 DOWN 1
Hull City: Steve Bruce’s men disappointed against Crystal Palace and suffered their second-straight defeat. A home game against Liverpool on Sunday isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. Defensively they always look solid but they need to find a way to score more goals. (4-2-6)
source:  12 West Brom: Great start from the Baggies in the Midlands derby vs. Villa but they ran out of steam big time after the break. 2-0 up is always a dangerous scoreline but Steve Clarke will be upset his side didn’t grab a win. Newcastle away is always hard but WBA are a resilient bunch, so that Villa comeback won’t get them down in the dumps. Hopefully for them Shane Long’s hot streak continues. (3-6-3)

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13 Aston Villa: Paul Lambert will be ecstatic with the 2nd half comeback away from home in the derby with WBA but shocked at the poor defending that put his side on the back foot. Last season they hammered Sunderland 6-1 at Villa Park, can they repeat that on Saturday? Christian Benteke’s lack of goals is a worry. (4-3-5)
source:  14 UP 1 Cardiff City: The Bluebirds have that key ingredient which every newly promoted side needs: resolve. Trailing Man Utd late in the game Kim’s header sent Cardiff’s fans nuts and they deserved to nick a point in another great home display. They welcome Arsenal this weekend, can they take another big scalp? (3-4-5)
source:  15 DOWN 1
Norwich City: Up and down like a yo-yo this season, Norwich put in a lackluster display away at Newcastle which resulted in another away defeat. Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel need to start banging in the goals. Palace at home presents the perfect opportunity for those two to get amongst the goals. (3-2-7)
source:  16 UP 1
Stoke City: Boy did the Potters make hard work of that win over Sunderland. Even when the Black Cats were controversially reduced to 10-men, Stoke struggled to break them down and Nzonzi’s late goal finally sealed their first home win since August. A trip to Everton this week will test their defensive solidity, can Hughes’ men get on a roll? (2-1-8)
source:  17 DOWN 1
Sunderland: Brave effort after Wes Brown was bizarrely sent off, the Mackems gave it a good go. Jozy Altidore hasn’t started in the last three games, should he be worried about that? Absolutely. A trip to Villa Park will bring back bad memories but Poyet’s men are battlers who can dig out a point from this game. (2-1-9)
source:  18 UP 2
Crystal Palace: Tony Pulis joins Palace at the perfect time after they beat Hull last week and play Norwich, West Ham and Cardiff in the next 3 games. A second away win on the bounce would do wonders for morale. Expect direct soccer and better results down at Selhurst Park, Pulis will give Eagles fans hope of extending their stay in the PL… they’re only 3 points off safety. (2-1-9)
source:  19 DOWN 1
West Ham: Outclassed and outworked, the Hammers were dismal in a resounding 3-0 home defeat vs. Chelsea. Sam Allardyce continues to play without a forward and West Ham’s fans are getting increasingly worried that this season will turn into a relegation battle. Tense times at Upton Park as Fulham come to town this weekend. Massive London derby between two strugglers. (2-4-6)
source:  20 DOWN 1
Fulham: As we just mentioned Fulham travel from West to East London this weekend to face West Ham in a game already being described as a six-pointer. Both sides are out of form and out of luck as the Cottagers went down to Swansea after Aaron Hughes own goal and some poor finishing. How much longer will Martin Jol get to turn things around? (3-1-8)

West Ham United 2-1 Liverpool: Ogbonna strikes after 120 minutes

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Jordon Ibe of Liverpool takes on Pedro Mba Obiang of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Angelo Ogbonna is now an FA Cup hero.

Two sides willing to move the ball and attack produced a fine FA Cup tie on Tuesday at the Boleyn Ground, with Ogbonna heading home the match-winner in the 121st minute of play for a 2-1 win.

Michail Antonio scored a first-half goal for West Ham before Philippe Coutinho equalized for the visiting Reds.

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s cheeky free kick ties the score ]

All told, West Ham heads to Ewood Park for a fifth-round date with Blackburn Rovers. Peterborough United hosts West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday to sort out the fourth round’s other replay.

Liverpool played a more second-string set than the home side.

Brilliance met brilliance in the 38th minute, as Dimitri Payet struck a gorgeous dipping free kick over the wall only to see Mignolet get the slightest touch to help the ball crank off the goal post. Cheikhou Kouyate failed to scissor kick the rebound, and Mignolet flew back into the picture to parry Antonio’s header.

Antonio would get his glory next, as Enner Valencia took Payet’s pass and dribbled through the left side of the 18 and toward the end line before crossing the ball. Antonio let the ball sink to hip height before volleying home. 1-0, 45′.

There were three goal posts struck in the first half.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Coutinho scored on a clever free kick from the edge of the 18, betting on the wall jumping and cheekily rolling his shot under it and past Hammers keeper Darren Randolph.

Christian Benteke started and nearly finished a 56th minute chance inside the box, but his shot was blocked.

West Ham should’ve been awarded a penalty when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box. Roger East didn’t see it that way.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or UEFA Champions League final a must ]

The match went to extra time after eight minutes of second-half stoppage time.

Mignolet made a solid flying stop on Mark Noble in the first frame of extra time. At the other end, Benteke struck a low chance wide of the right post. Moments later, Randolph came out to thwart Benteke on a breakaway.

If anyone needed a reminder of Daniel Sturridge‘s skill, the late sub let fly with a 108th minute bullet that missed the goal by inches.

Then Lucas Leiva gave up a free kick just as two minutes of extra time stoppage began, and Ogbonna struck.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Randolph, O’Brien (Moses, 83′), Reid (Collins, 64′), Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate (Carroll, 76′), Noble, Obiang, Antonio, Valencia, Payet.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Stewart, Tiago Ilori, Smith, Teixeira (Origi, 60′), Lucas, Chirivella (Milner, 102′), Ibe, Benteke, Coutinho (Sturridge, 60′).

WATCH: Liverpool’s Coutinho bewitches West Ham with cheeky free kick

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores from a free-kick during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Philippe Coutinho has some gumption.

Liverpool’s Brazilian wizard tied things up with West Ham United in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at the Boleyn Ground, and did it in style.

[ MORE: Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must ]

With a free kick from just outside the 18, Coutinho thought West Ham would expect he’d hit a ball that would get up quick before dipping after the wall.

They’d jump, he figured, and he’d roll it under the wall. He was correct (video courtesy Fox Soccer):

USWNT’s Solo says Zika fears could make her skip the Olympics

Hope Solo attends the premiere of "He Named Me Malala" at The Ziegfeld Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
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As it stands, Hope Solo would skip the Olympics if fears over the Zika virus don’t subside in Brazil.

It’s been speculated that Zika increases the odds of certain birth defects, and Solo said playing in the Olympics is not worth risking future pregnancies.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

With CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying heading to NBC Live Extra at 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday against Costa Rica (All games of the tournament will be streamed on Live Extra), Solo is set to star between the sticks for the USWNT.

But in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, the 34-year-old netminder is far from ready to commit to the tournament.

She went as far as to say she wouldn’t go if the tournament was today, elaborating in this story from SI.com:

“I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child,” said Solo, 34. “I don’t know when that day will come for Jerramy and me, but I personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby. No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma. Female professional athletes already face many different considerations and have to make choices that male professional athletes don’t.”

Brazilian officials claim there will be minimal risk by the Summer Games because of the change in season, but that won’t alleviate all the concerns of female athletes. It will certainly be interesting to monitor how the situation develops in the coming months.

Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must

Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC
Brian Westerholt/AP Images for International Champions Cup
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Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is used to big matches, whether at Stamford Bridge, with the Belgian national team or during his loan to Atletico Madrid.

[ SPORTSWORLD: Courtois “standing tall” at Chelsea ]

If he doesn’t get one or two of those contests by the end of this season, a bad season will become an utter failure.

Courtois says it’s a long way to the Top Four, but Chelsea hasn’t given up on that hope. Regardless, he’s targeting wins over Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, respectively.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“After that we play in the Champions League and FA Cup against two great sides and we have to try to win those games because the only way to save our season is to reach the final in one or both of them.”

Chelsea’s star has fallen this year, but this is still largely the team that won the Premier League last season. Courtois’ goals are not unreasonable.