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Premier League Power Rankings — Week 13

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Three points are all that separate four teams at the top of the Premier League table.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Five points are all that separate seven teams, including the defending champions, at the bottom of the table.

[ MORE: PST’s PL Players Power Rankings for Week 13 ]

It’s been a strange ride through 13 weeks of the 2016-17 season, and it’s only going to get wilder as the calendar turns to December. Check out the latest batch of power rankings ahead of Matchday 14.


TEAM RANKING
source: 20 (20) Sunderland: At what point do we rename 20th spot “the Sunderland spot?” Back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and Hull saw them climb out of the cellar, but they’re right back down there with a single win by Swansea.
source: 19 (13) Crystal Palace: Six straight league games without a win, and Alan Pardew is hanging by a thread. If not for their strong-ish start, they’d find themselves in the bottom-three today. As it stands, they’re safe on goal differential.
Hull City logo 18 (19) Hull City: One win in their last 11 games. If not for Sunderland’s perennial bottom-feeding, and Pardew’s impending pink slip, the Tigers would be languishing on the bottom.
source:
17 (18) Swansea City: The good news — Bob Bradley got his first win in the PL. The not-as-good news — he’s going to need a lot more of them to keep the Swans up this season. The defense is still a problem, because they won’t score five goals against many sides not named Palace.
source: 16 (17) West Ham United: Winless in their last four games, and perhaps even more detrimental to their power-rankings stock, the Hammers are abysmal from an entertainment perspective. Last season seems long, long, long ago.
burnley fc crest 15 (15) Burnley: Two stats on Burnley — 1) only Hull have scored fewer goals (11) than the Clarets (12) through 13 games; 2) they are the worst road team in the PL (1 point, -12 GD from five games away from Turf Moor). That’ll get you relegated nine out of 10 times. 
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 14 (14) Middlesbrough: Boro are one of two other sides (Sunderland being the third) with just a dozen goals to their name. Home against Hull on Monday would be an awfully perfect time to rectify that.
source: 13 (8) Leicester City: The Foxes’ bounce-back is coming any day now. Any. Day. Now. With Champions League progression secured — more importantly, a trip to Sunderland on the horizon — better days might not be far off.
source: 12 (9) Bournemouth: Nearly halfway to the requisite 40 points necessary to avoid relegation, Eddie Howe has done well to consolidate and stabilize during his first 18 months in the PL, even if they’ve won just one of their last five.
source: 11 (7) Everton: Remember when some of us thought Everton were top-four contenders? That seems a long time ago. It wasn’t. One win in eight games will make you feel that way.
source: 10 (6) Southampton: Sunday’s win over Everton (and Ronald Koeman) snapped a four-game winless skid that began all the way back in October. Claude Puel has assembled one of the PL’s best defenses (12 goals conceded), but also a lifeless attack (13 goals).
source: 9 (11) Watford: Liverpool’s 6-1 destruction aside, Watford haven’t conceded multiple goals in a game since Oct. 1. Not a coincidence: the Hornets have picked up 10 of 18 possible points since then.
source: 8 (16)
West Brom: Don’t look now, but the Baggies are a top-seven side over the last month and a half. Unbeaten in three, they could end up as high as seventh in the table with a win over Watford on Saturday.
source: 7 (12) Stoke City: The early-season struggles have gone, and Stoke find themselves exactly where they strive to be: right in the middle of the table, after just one defeat from their last eight games.
source: 6 (10) Manchester United: In the formula that converts dollars spent into entertainment value on the field, no one has lit more money on fire these last four years than the Red Devils. Not even Jose Mourinho wants to watch them anymore.
source: 5 (5) Tottenham: The unbeaten start to the season covered up a lot of blemishes, and is finally no more. With just one win in their last six, another title challenge looks a very, very, very long shot as of Dec. 1.
source: 4 (4) Arsenal: Much like Spurs struggled mightily with Harry Kane out injured, it must be terrifying for an Arsenal fan to imagine what will happen when Alexis Sanchez inevitably misses a month this winter.
Logo_Manchester_City 3 (3) Manchester City: After a pair of late wins against Palace and Burnley, City sit third in the table, behind Liverpool on goal differential. They’re far and away the best road team in the PL (18 points from 7 games), but alarmingly average at home (12 points from 6 games).
source: 2 (2) Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho is out for a month, while Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana are all dealing with injuries of their own. The Reds will continue their league-leading pace of 2.5 goals per game anyway.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: After putting to bed Spurs’ unbeaten start, the Blues have won seven in a row, by a combined score of 19-1, since Antonio Conte switched to three at the back. Their 10 goals conceded are joint-fewest in the PL (Spurs), and Eden Hazard and Diego Costa look unstoppable together once again.

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!

Ozil to Manchester United?!? Wenger reacts to gossip

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Sometimes, even the biggest Arsene Wenger detractors have to feel for the guy.

Coming off a thrilling late win in Serbia, one that saw Olivier Giroud cap off a team goal straight out of the creative Wenger playbook, the manager should’ve been discussing how to stretch those good vibes into this weekend’s visit to Goodison Park.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

Yet no. Instead of talking about how the Gunners would respect the struggling Toffees, Wenger had to address speculation from several outlets claiming Mesut Ozil would move to Manchester United, perhaps as soon as January.

Feeling it? No, no Wenger was not feeling it. From Arsenal.com:

“We have to deal with all kinds of speculation when the players are at the end of their contracts. On the other hand, to be professional is to give 100 per cent as long as you are somewhere. For the rest, we came out many times and said that’s the situation. It [the media] can come out tomorrow and say that he extends his contract here. It will be exactly the same, it will not change anything. When you play the next game, commit 100 per cent. … When a player plays for Arsenal Football Club, his commitment cannot be linked with the length of his contract, it has just to be linked with the responsibility and the ambition he has to win the football game.”
Of course most big clubs have to deal with such drama on a year-to-year basis and, yes, having Ozil and Alexis Sanchez still in town was completely avoidable. But the idea that Ozil could leave, for free, to Manchester United? We’re sure Gooners the world over will be thrilled with the gossip.

MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

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Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.