Premier League Power Rankings: Final week of 2013-14 season arrives

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Manchester City have peaked at the right time of the season as the Citizens have one hand on the Premier League title.

As for Liverpool, the exact opposite can be said as Steven Gerrard and co. have let their hand slip off the shiny trophy. It has been a monumental collapse from Liverpool which has let City in to storm back to the top and needing a point from the final game.

The three relegated teams are all but sealed but there is still plenty of records and pride to play for across the PL, see how that impacted out final PL rankings of the campaign.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

Each week 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
Manchester City: One game from greatness for City’s players as they know a draw at home to West Ham will clinch the PL title. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have outlasted Liverpool and their experience has shown in some massive wins. Do City deserve to win the Premier League title? (26-5-6)
source:  2 UP 2
Arsenal: Good finish to the season for the Gunners as they stormed clear of Everton to take the fourth and final UCL spot. Now Arsene Wenger’s side have an FA Cup final to look forward to and will rest players vs. Norwich. (23-7-7)
source:  3 DOWN 1
Liverpool: Catastrophic. Devastating. Soul-destroying. Those words could sum up Liverpool’s monumental collapse in their last two games, as they followed up their 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea by blowing a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace with 11 minutes to go. They need to win vs. Newcastle and hope City lose to West Ham if they’re going to win the PL. So close for the Reds… (25-6-6)
source:  4 DOWN 1
Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s men hung in their almost until the end but a 0-0 draw vs. lowly Norwich ended Chelsea’s faint title hopes. Likely to be a third place finish and a UCL semifinal appearance. Is that special enough from the “Special One?” The finish up at Cardiff on Sunday. (24-7-6)

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5
Tottenham:  Spurs were beat at West Ham after Younes Kaboul was sent off early on and they didn’t recover. Tim Sherwood’s side can still seal a Europa League spot by beating Villa at home on the final day. Not a bad season after all of the upheaval. (20-6-11)
source:  6
Southampton: Great finish to the season for Saints who have won three of their last six and are unbeaten in three. However the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s and his star players Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw hangs in the balance. Best ever PL finish and points tally say Saints are on the brink of something special. Man United at home to finish. (15-10-12)
source:  7
Everton: The Toffees put up a brave fight against Man City but were outclassed in a 3-2 defeat. Roberto Martinez’s side have run out of steam at the wrong time of the season. Three defeats from their last four but they will still be in Europe next season for the first time since 2009. Hull away on Sunday. (20-9-8)
source:  8 UP 3
Sunderland: My word. What a finish to the season for Sunderland as four-straight wins against Chelsea, Cardiff, Manchester United and West Brom has kept them up. Gus Poyet asked for a miracle last month… he’s got it! A nice relaxing game vs. Swansea on Sunday. (10-8-19)
source:  9 DOWN 1
Manchester United: 12 defeats in a PL season for United. 12. They lost at home to Sunderland, then beat Hull City in their final home game of the season which included an emotional goodbye from Ryan Giggs. What capacity will he be back in next season? They can still clinch a Europa League spot if they beat Saints and Spurs lose to Villa. Nightmare season is almost over. (19-6-12)
source:  10 DOWN 1 Stoke City: Another week, another win for Stoke as they’ve finished off the season in style. This time the Potters battered Fulham 4-1 and they have really clicked into gear late in the season. Mark Hughes has done a top job and they are all but guaranteed a first top-10 finish in the PL whatever happens vs. West Brom. (12-11-14)
source:  11 DOWN 1
Crystal Palace: Palace looked jaded against Man City in a 2-0 defeat but they conjured up supreme strength late on against Liverpool to dash their opponents’ title hopes. 3-0 down with 11 minutes left, Dwight Gayle struck twice and Damien Delaney got the other. Tony Pulis has worked wonders and Selhurst Park is a fortress. Fulham away across the capital to finish off. (13-5-19)
source:  12
Hull City: The wheels have come off for Hull, as all their attention is on trying to overturn Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Can the Tigers regroup and beat Everton at home on the final day to set themselves up for Wembley? That will give Steve Bruce some big selection headaches. (10-7-20)
source:  13
Swansea City: Swans were unlucky to lose against Saints as a draw was probably a fair result. At least their PL status is secured and so is the future of young manager Garry Monk, who has been handed a three-year deal. Away trip to Sunderland on Sunday (10-9-18)
source:  14 UP 3
Newcastle: Finally a win for Newcastle, as they hammered Cardiff 3-0 and stopped the rot of six-straight defeats. The home fans still retaliated and walked out to protest against the owners. Not sure if Alan Pardew will see out the summer as boss. (15-4-18)
source:  15 UP 3
Aston Villa: Villa’s fans can breath a huge sigh of relief, as they beat Hull 3-1 to seal their PL status for another season. Paul Lambert’s project has stalled once again this season and uncertainty remains in the air around Villa Park with American owner Randy Lerner rumored to be selling up. (10-8-18)
source:  16
West Ham: The Hammers beat Spurs in a fierce London derby and secured their PL status. Not a vintage year for Big Sam down at Upton Park, as his side have underachieved and underwhlemed the home fans. Will West Ham’s owner settle for another season of stale soccer in East London? They can scupper Man City’s title chances on the final day… (11-7-19)
source:  17 DOWN 3
West Brom: Pepe Mel’s side aren’t mathematically safe going into the final day but it would take a 17 goals swing to send them down. They are safe but have stumbled over the line. You wonder whether or not there will be another change of manager this summer. (7-15-15)
source:  18 DOWN 3

Fuham: ‘The Great Escape’ proved just too much for the Cottagers as they were hammered at Stoke. The real damage was done in their 2-2 draw with Hull City at home after leading 2-0 a few weeks back. Now Felix Magath’s men prepare for life in the Championship. (9-4-24)
source:  19
Cardiff City: Ole Gunnar Solksjaer had the impossible task of keeping Cardiff in the PL and he failed. The Bluebirds spent just one season in the top flight and eccentric owner Vincent Tan has a lot to answer for with his erratic ownership. (7-9-21)
source:  20

Norwich City: The Canaries need to beat Arsenal on the final day, West Brom to lose and a 17 goals swing in their favor to stay up. It was a valiant effort against Chelsea to draw 0-0 last week, but that meant they were all but down. Awful finish to the season. (8-9-20)

La Liga: Sevilla win late to move even with Atletico Madrid in 3rd

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MADRID (AP) Wissam Ben Yedder scored three minutes after entering the game to give Sevilla a late 2-1 win over 10-man Celta Vigo in the Spanish league on Thursday.

The victory moved Sevilla even on points with third-place Atletico Madrid with four matches left. Third place guarantees an automatic spot in the Champions League next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.

Ben Yedder netted the winner from close range after a low cross by Samir Nasri in the 79th minute, beating a defender to the ball and hitting the top of the net with a right-footed shot.

“It was a complex game but the team was able to overcome the difficulties,” Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

Joaquin Correa put the host ahead after halftime, and Iago Aspas equalized by converting a penalty kick just minutes later. Aspas did not celebrate the goal out of respect to fans of his former club.

Sevilla dominated from the start and was pressuring vigorously in search of the winner, especially after Celta went a man down when midfielder Pablo Hernandez was sent off with a second yellow card in the 56th with the game 1-1.

Sergio Escudero and Nasri each struck the crossbar a few minutes apart late in the second half, and Vicente Iborra also had hit the woodwork earlier in the game played under steady rain in Seville.

It was the third win in four matches for Sevilla after a streak of five games without a win.

Sevilla and Atletico are level on points, but the Madrid club is ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Top PL Storylines: Bye-bye, St. Totteringham’s Day? So long, Sunderland?

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Ahead of Week 34 of the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’re most looking forward to keeping an eye on the following storylines…

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Cancel St. Totteringham’s Day?

8,018 days (otherwise known as 22.9 years) have passed since Tottenham Hotspur last finished above Arsenal in the Premier League. First of all, that’s a lot of days. Secondly, the time to reset that clock is nearly upon us, as Tottenham take a 14-point lead into Sunday’s North London derby (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) — perhaps the final one to be played at White Hart Lane. With Arsenal having only five games left to play after Sunday, a 17-point deficit would be mathematically impossible to overcome, and would guarantee Spurs’ first PL finish above Arsenal since the spring of 1995.

The fact that Spurs could end that embarrassing, heinous streak in a game against Arsenal, in perhaps their next-to-last game at White Hart Lane, and maybe even close to within a single point of Chelsea in the title race… it’s almost all too timely and too perfect to believe it could really happen… to Spurs.


Finish the job

With all due respect to Middlesbrough (home), West Bromwich Albion (away), Watford (home) and Sunderland (home), Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they’ve lost on their last two visits (all competitions) and they’ll take on seventh-place Everton (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), is far and away the toughest remaining fixture on Chelsea’s schedule as they chase a fifth PL-era title (fifth in all eras). Having booked their spot in the FA Cup final by beating Spurs last weekend, Antonio Conte is dreaming of — and a favorite to win — a double in his first season at Stamford.


Someone has to finish top-four

Ahead of the weekend, two points separate Liverpool (third), Manchester City (fourth) and Manchester United (fifth), with Arsenal another four back in sixth (but possessing a game in hand). Given all the points dropped by each of the aforementioned sides in recent weeks, it’s important to remember that someone has to finish third and fourth in the PL this season.

We’ve already discussed Arsenal’s titanic task, so here’s the challenges facing the other three this round: Liverpool, at Watford (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com); Man City, at Middlesbrough (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, on  NBCSports.com); Manchester United, vs. Swansea City (7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com).


So long, Sunderland?

For five seasons now, Sunderland have flirted with relegation from the PL; and every previous season, they’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to stay up. This season, though, under David Moyes, there appears to be no rabbit. With five games to go, safety is a whopping 12 points away, which means a loss to Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com), coupled with a win or draw by 17th-place Hull City, would officially send Sunderland to the Championship next season. If the Black Cats somehow find their way out of this predicament, a northeastern knighthood awaits Mr. Moyes.

French authorities investigating 2018, 2022 World Cup bids

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PARIS (AP) French financial prosecutors are investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and have heard former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday that France’s financial prosecutor services (PNF) opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling, and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Blatter was questioned in Switzerland last week as a witness, the same person told the AP.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland said in a statement that “at the request of and in the context of proceedings being conducted by French justice authorities, it has questioned Mr. Joseph Blatter in his capacity as a person providing information on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich.”

The PNF opened its investigation last year.

FIFA has also been targeted by investigations led by Swiss and US authorities. Last month, FIFA sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption to Switzerland’s attorney general. The documents complete a 22-month probe by legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which FIFA retained in the fallout from United States and Swiss federal prosecutors revealing their sprawling investigations of soccer corruption in May 2015.

Blatter said last week that he met with U.S. Department of Justice investigators and insisted he was not a suspect in their bribery and corruption case linked to FIFA.

Blatter was suspended from office in September 2015 and later banned from soccer by the FIFA ethics committee.

Johannsson expected to leave Bremen this summer — is MLS next?

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Aron Johannsson’s time at Werder Bremen is all but finished, as the 26-year-old American-born, Icelandic-raised striker is expected to leave the club this summer after 22 months with Die Werderaner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Having failed to make much of an impact during his second season in the Bundesliga, following a few promising days early in the fall of 2015, the German press stated on Thursday, in no uncertain terms, “Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club” — quotes from Kicker (translation courtesy of Google Translate):

In addition, Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club. The US boy was not able to get through the hard competition in the storm, claimed more time, which can hardly be guaranteed in the next season. The fact that Baumann is already talking about finding a meaningful solution with the striker in the summer can be interpreted as follows: Johannsson will leave Werder.

Since various bits and pieces are lost in the above translation, allow us to offer a translation of the translation: the “hard competition in the storm” refers to the three or four strikers presently ahead of him in the pecking order. Johannsson fell down the depth chart due in large part to a hip injury which cost him the final seven months of last season.

Johannsson was recently quoted as saying, “It’s not my desire to leave, but at the end of the day it’s important that I play. I love football, but I need to play to be happy.”

[ MORE: John Brooks hip injury is worrying ahead of World Cup qualifiers ]

So, what’s next for Johannsson?

He can probably forget about a move to a top-division team in any of Europe’s premier leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). A move back to Holland, where he starred at AZ Alkmaar (39 goals in 81 games) before moving to Bremen, would make sense if his goal is to stay in Europe at all costs. Another strong season (just a half, even) could earn him another shot with a first-division side roughly the size of Bremen.

Then, there’s MLS, which Johannsson’s been linked with before, and has publicly expressed a desire to join one day. As a current U.S. national team player, a move to MLS would mean a trip through the league’s allocation order for Johannsson. As of this posting, the Houston Dynamo hold the no. 1 spot in the allocation order, with Columbus Crew SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota United and Orlando City SC rounding out the next five.

[ WATCH: If you haven’t Darlington Nagbe’s latest golazo ]

Any team in MLS could land Johannsson by acquiring the top spot in the allocation order, via trade, and agreeing (what would almost certainly be) a Designated Player contract with him.

At the age of 26, Johannsson will likely feel there is still something left for him to accomplish in Europe. A strong showing in this summer’s Gold Cup (he’s a perfect candidate for Bruce Arena’s “B-team”) could open plenty of eyes — and doors. Money talks, though, just as the opportunity to be the face of the franchise and score a boatload of goals in MLS might also do.