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.
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!
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Houston counterpart
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Beyond Soccer Series
After a glittering playing career at Arsenal and Inter Milan amongst other sides, Vieira ran Manchester City’s reserves between 2013-15. Now in the dugout leading a senior team for the first time, Vieira hasn’t skipped a beat, leading NYCFC to a playoff spot and a legit chance at a first round bye in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Barrett sees the genius in his 40-year-old opponent.
“You see teams that get stuck just doing one thing over and over again, I don’t want to say they get figured out, but sometimes they run out of options,” Barrett said. “You see a coach like him, he’s made adjustments in games, moved pieces around, and I think that’s really important in this league, is to be able to adjust.
“Patrick’s come in and he’s done very well. He’s got his group playing a very effective style.”
Barrett’s a first-year boss himself, guiding Houston to a 4W-4L-9T record since taking over for Owen Coyle in late May. That’s a significant improvement for the Dynamo, who are still destined to miss the playoffs.
Following this weekend’s match between Wisconsin and Rutgers, Brotherton will hop on a plane to meet head coach Anthony Hudson and New Zealand in Nashville. The Kiwis are Stateside for an Oct. 8 match against Mexico in Nashville before heading to Washington for an Oct. 11 date with the USMNT at RFK Stadium.
This isn’t a bizarre story of a tiny national team finding a college kid with an ancestral tie and giving him a call; Brotherton is off to tangle with two of CONCACAF’s best in a match that will hopefully better prepare New Zealand for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Brotherton will enter the trip on his 20th birthday, and on the path for caps Nos. 7 and 8. He’s the only amateur player on a team with West Ham defender Winston Reid, Leeds United striker Chris Wood, and Portland Timbers backstop Jake Gleeson.
It’s no secret that Brotherton has the skill set to be a professional player now, and his call-ups to the national team in the summer before his freshman year had pro clubs on alert. But Brotherton had signed to play for head coach John Trask at a very good school at Wisconsin, and that meant something to him.
“It was a decision I had to make, and I felt that I had made a commitment to the school,” said Brotherton, whose father was educated at Oxford. “I’ve always been passionate about my education and wanted to get my degree so I felt I wanted to give college soccer a try, start off here at Wisconsin and see where it went.”
Brotherton is one of a bevy of young New Zealand players plying their trade in the NCAA Soccer game. Xavier’s Cory Brown was the Big East preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Saint Francis Red Flash senior defender Francis de Vries is an All-American, and Stuart Holthusen was First Team All-MAC at Akron in 2015.
The University at Buffalo has a Kiwi head coach and four players, including goalkeeper Cameron Hogg, who played with Brotherton on the U20 team.
“Sam has always been a leader in any side he stepped into,” Hogg said. “From Auckland to the national U20s, he’s always been a leading voice even if he wasn’t wearing the armband.”
Wisconsin is 4-2-1, the longtime MLS assistant Trask running the Badgers program to a solid start. Trask has started the sophomore in 24 matches, including a freshman season that saw Brotherton named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and had his teammates recognizing a leader.
“Sam is one of the few sophomores that I’ve named captain,” Trask told PST. “It’s rare in a team. Sam has just got it. His presence as a person and the quality of his play, every guy on the team said he should be our captain. I’ve got a ton of time for him.”
“Sam is an excellent center back and he’s incredible in the air,” said Adam Lauko, who graduated from Wisconsin in 2015. “On top of that he is mature beyond his years and a well-respected leader. He’s a great guy to be around as well.”
2015 was an insane ride for Brotherton, as the kid went from scoring at the U20 World Cup to his freshman year in Madison. Two days after that season ended, he earned his first full national team cap when he played in a 1-0 win over Oman.
“It was amazing,” Brotherton said. “It’s really quite hard to put into words. It’s very special. I was so fortunate that it happened so young in my career. It’s an honor, but it makes you want to work even harder.”
Being a center back means having the opportunity to learn from Reid, a man with 19 caps and 175 appearances for West Ham. All but 28 of those have come with the Irons in the Premier League, and Reid was chosen the Hammer of the Year in 2012-13 and the New Zealand Footballer of the Year for 2014.
“Rugby is the main sport in New Zealand, but Winston has increased the awareness and popularity of football,” Brotherton said. “He’s a great player and a great guy. A lot of guys look up to him, and every time you get in camp with him it’s great to learn off someone like that.”
When New Zealand won the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, Brotherton started all five matches. He went 120 minutes in the final as the Kiwis won in penalty kicks, but still came back to school at Wisconsin.
“With all his international call-ups and how difficult our business school is, we’re still optimistic he’s going to be an Academic All-American in addition to a soccer All-American,” Trask said. “He knows I won’t stand in his way when the moment’s right. I still think he can learn at the collegiate level while also pushing his degree. It’s a very unique situation.”
Brotherton said he’s grateful to Trask, who he calls “a winner”, and Wisconsin for allowing him to pursue his international career. He praises Hudson’s preparation and tactical acumen, and admits that he’s open to playing professional in Europe, North America, or wherever the best opportunity lies.
“I love going to the beach,” Brotherton said. “I spearfish a little bit, and I definitely miss being close to the sea.”
That’s all in the future, though. Brotherton has a busy week ahead of him, as Wisconsin looks to go 3-1 in Big Ten play with a home win over Rutgers before he goes to hopefully start in front of thousands of passionate Mexico and USMNT fans in two gigantic stadia.
“All players look forward to playing in big games in front of some good crowds,” Brotherton said. “It’s exciting and those opportunities don’t come around too often, so it brings the best out of you as a player.”
Let’s dig into our Top Five storylines for the PL weekend.
First versus second at White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City — 9:15 a.m. EDT Sunday (NBCSN)
Pep Guardiola has already presided over a Manchester City win across town at Old Trafford, and scooping three points at White Hart Lane would be yet another gorgeous feather in his new sky blue cap. Want more insight into this 1v2? Here’s JPW with a PST Extra.
Gunners look to keep firing in classic trap game
Burnley vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday (NBCSN)
Arsene Wenger has Theo Walcott and the Gooners humming, with three-straight clean sheets and just four goals allowed in their last eight contests. With an international break coming, Arsenal just has to do what’s expected of it and take a week to revel in its fine form.
That’s kinda the problem. In the past, Arsenal would make a trip like this much harder than it looks on paper. If the Gunners are truly on the path to something special, that doesn’t happen at Turf Moor.
Will Chelsea responds to furious Conte?
Hull City vs. Chelsea — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
As good as Chelsea has been at times this year, there are still lingering worries that the group that quit on Jose Mourinho is lacking the leadership necessary to make a title push (and yes, we know that group won the title one year previous).
Manager Antonio Conte was ticked off after the Blues were bounced all over the Emirates by Arsenal, and are supposed to making the most of this season without a congested European schedule. That should mean a win at Hull, right?
Pretender alert, pretender alert
Leicester City vs. Southampton — 9 a.m. EDT Sunday (CNBC)
Leicester and Southampton have also combined for a mere 15 points though 12 Premier League games, far off the pace for fans hoping both could become European fixtures. At least one, or two, maybe four of these teams will feel better come 11 a.m. Sunday. Not three, though. Definitely not three.
Last stop for Guidolin?
Swansea City vs. Liverpool — 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
As the rumor vultures circle above Francesco Guidolin crowing, “Bob Bradley, Bob Bradley“, the Swansea boss looks to engineer a home win over Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool that could save his job. That won’t worry Klopp too much, who is hoping to lead his Reds into the international break as high as second in the PL table.
BARNSLEY, England (AP) A British newspaper investigation led to a second soccer coach getting fired in England on Thursday.
Two days after Sam Allardyce lost his job as England manager following an undercover operation by the Daily Telegraph, second-tier club Barnsley fired assistant coach Tommy Wright.
Wright was filmed apparently accepting an envelope which the Telegraph said contained 5,000 pounds ($6,500) from a fake Asian firm to help place players at the northern club. Video footage was released by the newspaper late Wednesday and Wright was immediately suspended by Barnsley.
“After considering Mr. Wright’s response to allegations in today’s Daily Telegraph about breaching (Football Association) rules over player transfers, Mr. Wright was dismissed,” the club said after a meeting with the coach on Thursday.
Barnsley said it was “unaware of such matters or involved in any wrongdoing.”
The English Football Association decided to terminate Allardyce’s contract on Tuesday after video showed him appearing to offer advice to fictitious businessmen on how to sidestep an outlawed player transfer practice and also negotiating a 400,000 pound ($519,000) public-speaking contract to top up an annual England salary of 3 million pounds ($4 million).
English soccer is reeling after three days of accusations by the newspaper following its months-long investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the game.
Second-tier Queens Park Rangers is investigating footage that appeared to show its coach, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, seeking a fee of 55,000 pounds ($71,600) to work for a fake Far Eastern firm that had suggested selling players to the second-tier London club.
Hasselbaink denied any wrongdoing, saying he was only offered a fee to make a speech in Singapore and did not ask QPR to sign players said to have been represented by the fake firm. QPR said it had “every confidence” in Hasselbaink, and its chief executive and director of football spoke to Hasselbaink on Thursday to get his version of events.
QPR said it wanted to view an unedited version of the video footage and a full transcript.
Hasselbaink, a former Chelsea and Leeds striker, will prepare the QPR team for the league match against Fulham on Saturday.
The Daily Telegraph also filmed an agent accusing 10 managers, which it did not name, of taking bribes linked to player transfers.