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)

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

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

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.