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

source:

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)

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.

Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over in-limbo Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Few footballing sagas will ever reach heights of absurdity comparable to that of the Joel Matip/Liverpool versus Cameroon/FIFA battle currently raging, as the Reds defender finds himself “ineligible” to play for his club due to an international call-up 18 months after announcing his international retirement.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright summed up the situation quite well, in full, right here. An excerpt:

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

Fast forward a few days, and Jurgen Klopp and Co. have no further clarity regarding the situation. It’s so unclear, in fact, that Klopp said on Tuesday he may select the 25-year-old during one of two remaining games this week, and hope for the best — quotes from the Guardian:

“As you can imagine, we are in a lot of talks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this. It’s already long term but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything but at the end I have to make the decision. Of course I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make. I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice — I’m not a lawyer.”

“Most of the time in life you know if you do this, then you get this. But it’s not 100 percent clear what happens [if Matip plays]. We try everything to win football games. If this can happen — out of the tournament or whatever — then we have to decide about the risk. He’s ready to play for us and that makes it difficult.”

What an utter disaster of a situation Cameroon have intentionally created here.

VIDEO: Jeison Murillo’s incredible bicycle from a corner kick

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17:  (R-L) Jeison Murillo of FC Internazionale celebrates his first goal with Geoffrey Kondogbia during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Look away now, Andy Carroll. Take a bow, Jeison Murillo.

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Just three days after Carroll scored the bicycle-kick goal of the year (so we thought), here comes Murillo, Inter Milan’s 24-year-old Colombian striker, to steal his thunder (below video). The fact he did it directly from a corner kick, with the ball traveling roughly 40 yards before flinging his body into the air and striking the ball so cleanly, (somehow) trumps Carroll’s accomplishment from Saturday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — Tight at the top… and bottom ]

Sensational goals come in twos now, apparently, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud scored stunning scorpion-kick goals (WATCH HERE and HERE) just days apart earlier in the season.