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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.

Jamaica upsets Mexico to reach Gold Cup final, face USMNT

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For the second straight tournament, Jamaica are headed to the final of the Gold Cup after knocking off Mexico, the side which beat them in the 2015 final, in the 2017 semifinal on Sunday.

New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence scored the game’s only goal in the 88th minute, making the most of Andre Blake’s man-of-the-match goalkeeping performance which spanned the entirety of 90 minutes.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Blake put forth a stellar display of goalkeeping in the game’s opening 45 minutes, facing three shots on target and denying El Tri’s attackers on each and every occasion.

The pick(s) of the litter came in the 12th minute, when the Philadelphia Union ‘keeper pulled off a stunning double-save to deny Jesus Dueñas and Erick Torres. Dueñas fired first, aided by a wicked deflection, but Blake pulled off the reflexive kick-save, followed by Torres’ powerful strike through traffic seconds later.

15 minutes later, Torres earned himself a yellow card for what was undoubtedly, unquestionably a red-card, lunging “challenge” against Damion Lowe.

[ USA 2-0 CRC: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

The second half consisted of much the same things as the first, as Blake continued his clinic in the 65th minute. Jesus Gallardo fired a free kick through the Raggae Boyz’ wall, a knuckling shot which Blake didn’t see until very late but managed the put two fists behind the ball and punch it anyway anyway.

Blake’s counterpart, Jesus Corona, joined the fun in the 78th minute. Lowe rose highest to get to Owayne Gordon’s free kick, heading it inside Corona’s right-hand post, but the Cruz Azul ‘keeper was quick to scramble across his goal and palm the ball away at full-stretch.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Two minutes before full-time, Lawrence produced the game’s only piece of purge magic, a curling peach of a free kick from 24 yards out. Corona went one way, Lawrence went the other and Jamaica are headed to their second straight Gold Cup final.

Jamaica will take on the U.S. national team in Wednesday’s final, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

MLS: Rookie Ebobisse stars as Timbers win in Vancouver

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers, thanks to a standout performance in rookie striker Jeremy Ebobisse’s first MLS start, put to bed a six-game winless skid with a 2-1 win away to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. The run of poor form stretched back to early June, and saw Caleb Porter’s side slip from contention for the Western Conference’s top spot, into the jumbled mess surrounding the playoff cut line (four teams separated by one point, either side of sixth place, coming into Sunday). Ebobisse scored the opening goal less than a quarter-hour into the game, and delivered the beautiful backheel assist to Sebastian Blanco to restore the Timbers’ lead four minutes into the second half, after watching it disappear just before halftime. The victory sees Portland leapfrog Vancouver to move into fourth place in the West, just four points off the top spot once again.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Ebobisse touches home his first MLS goal — Sometimes you don’t really have to do much beyond simply existing in the right place. Ebobisse existed in the right place.

45′ — Jacobson heads home before halftime — Update: Portland still have issues defending set pieces.

49′ — Blanco slots past Ousted for 2-1 — No one really stepped up to deny Blanco’s marathon dribble, and Ebobisse did so much more than simply existing on this one.

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

Man of the match: Jeremy Ebobisse

Goalscorers: Ebobisse (14′), Jacobson (45′), Blanco (49′)

FOLLOW LIVE: Mexico vs. Jamaica — who’ll face USMNT in final?

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It’s Mexico versus Jamaica in the second semifinal of the 2017 Gold Cup on Sunday, facing off for the right to play the U.S. national team in Wednesday’s final.

When: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

It’s the second time these sides have met this summer, having already played to a scoreless draw in the second game of Group C play, en route to Mexico finish top of the group, besting Jamaica by two points on the final day of the group stage.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Hit the link above, or click here, to follow along with Sunday’s semifinal action.

Gonzalez follows heart in switch from Mexico to USMNT

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jesse Gonzalez started in the 2015 Under-20 World Cup for Mexico, his parents’ homeland. Then last month, the 22-year-old FC Dallas goalkeeper switched his affiliation to join the United States, his home country.

Gonzalez just felt more comfortable in the red, white and blue.

“The U.S. has given me a lot. I’m grateful for what they have given me and the opportunity they have given me,” he said after joining the U.S. roster for the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Tim Howard, now 38, remains the top U.S. goalkeeper as the Americans try to qualify for next year’s World Cup. Brad Guzan, who will be 33 in September, is entrenched as the No. 2.

After that, no keepers have emerged at the top level in the next generation. Gonzalez, and fellow 20-somethings Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Cody Cropper and Ethan Horvath all figure to compete with Guzan for the starting job in the 2019-22 World Cup cycle.

“I don’t have any doubt that he will be one of the best keepers in America,” Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said of Gonzalez after discovering the teen prospect when he was playing in a youth tournament.

Gonzalez’s parents emigrated from Mexico, and he was born in Edenton, North Carolina.

“My parents didn’t really find anything around North Carolina,” Gonzalez said. “They thought it was a lonely state, so they got out of there.”

His family moved to Houston and then on to Dallas when Gonzalez was a child. After spotting Gonzalez on a recreational team, Pareja persuaded the family to switch the keeper to the FC Dallas youth academy. He played there alongside midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who has broken into the U.S. starting lineup this year.

“They taught me how to be more responsible,” Gonzalez said. “It was almost like a job at the time, just waking up early and being on time to training.”

[ USA 2-0 CRC: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Pareja, a Colombian national team midfielder in the early 1990s, said the 6-foot-4 Gonzalez’s long arms and quick reflexes immediately reminded him of late Colombian keeper Miguel Calero. Gonzalez debuted for Dallas’ under-16 team in September 2010 and was signed to a professional homegrown player contract in March 2013. Just more than two years later, he became the youngest keeper to start in team history: at 20 years, 89 days.

By then, Mexican team scouts had noticed Gonzalez at a showcase in Sarasota, Florida, and asked whether he had interest in playing for El Tri.

“Richard Sanchez, one of my old teammates, he was there. He talked very well about them,” Gonzalez recalled.

Gonzalez started Mexico’s first four matches at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, then had a pair of saves during penalty kicks to lift Mexico over Panama in the final. At the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, he played in Mexico’s second and third games,

The following January, Gonzalez turned down an invitation from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann to attend a national team training camp in Carson, California. Instead, Gonzalez went to a Mexican Under-23 team camp ahead of the Olympics, but he was not picked for El Tri’s Rio de Janeiro roster.

Gonzalez spent a long time before deciding this spring to apply to FIFA for a change of affiliation. Because he had not played a competitive match for Mexico’s senior national team, he was allowed a one-time switch.

“Whatever you decide, you’re going to be right, because that’s going to be your heart,” Pareja recalled telling him.

“Any time a soccer player is making a choice, whether it’s club or country, it’s important that they analyze the options carefully, they seek input from people they trust, and that they come to a decision that they’re happy with,” said Gonzalez’s agent, Richard Motzkin. “That’s the process Jesse took in making his decision and, rest assured, it wasn’t done lightly or without a lot of forethought. Ultimately, Jesse was fortunate in that he had two very good choices.”

After the switch was announced, Gonzalez received text messages from surprised friends.

“They were funny,” he said without going into detail.

[ MORE: Mexico blocking out drama during deep run at Gold Cup ]

Howard is the U.S. starter as the Americans head into Wednesday’s Gold Cup championship against Mexico or Jamaica, and Hamid is the backup while Guzan settles in with Atlanta. For now, Gonzalez’s role is limited to training and pushing others on the practice field.

“We just want to see what he’s about,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Gonzalez is with the national team to learn. A full international debut might take a while.

“He’s not much of talker, which is good. I think young guys talk too much nowadays,” Howard said. “You’re naive in a good way and you think you know it all, and really it’s the opposite. You have it all to learn. At this age they’re using their athletic ability and their raw talent to keep their head above water, and through that process you learn. It is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. It’s got to be everything to you. You’ve got to make a lot of sacrifices to get there.”

Gonzalez is willing to wait. He just hopes his absence from Dallas doesn’t cost him playing time in Major League Soccer.

“My backup could come in and have great games. He could stay there,” he said. “It’s difficult for me. I want to be over there, but I want to be here because this is an amazing opportunity for me.”