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

1 Comment

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)

source:

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)

Northern Ireland manager O’Neill banned for DUI

Getty Images
Leave a comment

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has pleaded guilty to drunk driving and been banned from the road for 16 months.

O’Neill was caught by police on the outskirts of Edinburgh at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 10 and was found to be around three times the legal drink-drive limit.

O’Neill appeared on Thursday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he received the driving ban and fine of 1,300 pounds ($1,700).

O’Neill’s solicitor, James Mulgrew, told the court “this was simply a bad error of judgment.”

Northern Ireland is still in contention for its first World Cup trip since 1986. The team plays Switzerland in a two-leg playoff next month to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Newcastle takeover bid moves closer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Newcastle United fans are getting very, very excited.

PCP Capital Partners, led by Amanda Staveley, have signed a confidentiality agreement with the club’s owners after Mike Ashley put the club up for sale earlier this week

Ashley is said to value Newcastle at over $520 million, while Staveley is said to believe the club is worth close to $395 million, so there is plenty of negotiating still to happen but things are heading in the right direction.

In a statement on Monday Ashley said he would allow any potential buyer to pay the overall transaction fee in installments, while he also wants a buy to be completed by the end of December.

Who is Staveley?

She was seen at a Newcastle vs. Liverpool game at St James’ Park earlier this month as speculation was rife that a new owner was being lined up to buy Newcastle. That is indeed the case and Staveley, 44, is now able to look over the finances of the club exclusively.

Staveley oversaw the purchase of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United and also lined up a deal for Liverpool to be bought by Dubai International Captial which fell through in the past.

Her close links to the Middle East has seen her become one of the most prominent British businesswomen in recent years and she currently manages over $34 billion of wealth globally. Staveley and her investors are said to be interested in buying several Premier League clubs.

Ashley’s lawyer, Andrew Henderson, released a statement on Thursday stating several other parties have inquired about buying the club since the announcement came that they were up for sale.

“Since Monday, a number of additional parties have come forward which we believe to be credible. We are also continuing to engage with a number of parties with whom we had entered into negotiations prior to Monday’s announcement.”

Things are moving very quickly for Newcastle’s fans as they thought they’d never get rid of much-maligned owner Ashley who is a lifelong fan of the club and bought them in 2007.

After two relegations from the Premier League (followed by instant returns to the PL on both occasions) Ashley has been accused of failing to spend money on the playing squad and realize Newcastle’s full potential as they challenged for the Premier League title on numerous occasions during the 1990s.

With Rafael Benitez getting the most of his squad and the Magpies sitting in the top 10 of the PL as things stand, the future is looking bright for Newcastle with plenty of investment expected if this sale does go through to Staveley or those she is closely connected with.

VIDEO: Man United ooze class after consoling teenage goalkeeper

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wednesday was a big night for Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his debut in the UEFA Champions League and in doing so he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in the competition, jumping ahead of the likes of Iker Casillas to set a new, hugely impressive, record.

Still, the night did not end well for the Belgian youngster.

[ MORE: United targeted Benfica’s goalkeeper ]

With Marcus Rashford‘s free kick floating into the box from out wide, he caught the ball but then stepped back over his own goal line… taking the ball with him.

Goal-line technology showed the ball had gone over and United were awarded the goal and won 1-0.

At the final whistle the teenager was stunned but Romelu Lukaku was one of the many United players who took time to console the distraught teenager.

Classy from Lukaku.

Even if Jose Mourinho did admit afterwards that United had targeted the teenager…

FIFA probe: Al-Khelaifi confirms his presence in Switzerland

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says he will go to Switzerland next Wednesday to answer questions from Swiss prosecutors investigating the suspected bribery of a top FIFA executive for World Cup broadcasting rights.

Criminal proceedings against Al-Khelaifi, who is also CEO of Qatar-owned BeIN Media Group, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and an unnamed businessman working in sports rights were announced by the office of Switzerland’s attorney general last week.

The case involves the award of broadcast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have offered advantages to Valcke – FIFA’s CEO-like secretary general from 2007 until his firing in January 2016 – for the award of media rights in certain countries for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup.

Speaking Wednesday night on Canal Plus television, after PSG’s 4-0 win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League, Al-Khelaifi confirmed his trip to Switzerland.

“I have an appointment on the 25th. I will go there to speak with them, the Swiss (authorities),” said Khelaifi, who attended Wednesday’s match in Belgium. “That’s all.”

The proceeding against Al-Khelaifi is one of the first direct links to Qatar in sweeping investigations by federal law enforcement authorities in Switzerland, the United States, and France concerning FIFA, international soccer, and the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Last week, the Paris offices of BeIN Sports were searched. Properties were searched in Greece, Italy, and Spain while Valcke was questioned in Switzerland.