Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Premier League Power Rankings — Week 13

Leave a comment

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.

Three things we learned from Arsenal v Chelsea in FA Cup final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday at Wembley as the Gunners won the FA Cup for the third time in four years and a record-breaking 13th time.

[ MORE: Gunners win FA Cup

Arsene Wenger has now won seven FA Cups, more than any other manager in history, as he denied Antonio Conte and Chelsea the chance to secure a famous Premier League and FA Cup double.

Here’s what we learned from an intense FA Cup final as Arsenal won their 13th FA Cup, becoming the most successful team in tournament history.


MERTESACKER A MAN MOUNTAIN

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal’s club captain, had not started a single game in the 2016-17 season.

His first start was in the FA Cup final at Wembley against Chelsea and the German defender (affectionately nicknamed the ‘Big F****** German’ or BFG by his adoring fan) stood tall, using one of his telescopic legs in the first half to deny Costa and throwing his body on the line to block shots and make vital interceptions.

Mertesacker was only throw into central defense because Laurent Koscielny was suspended and both Gabriel and Skhodran Mustafi were injured in the past week.

He was incredible in marshaling Arsenal’s backline and along with David Opsina kept Chelsea at bay before Ramsey grabbed the winner late on.


TAYLOR GETS HUGE DECISIONS CORRECT

“Did Arsenal get lucky?” is one of the main questions you will hear after this game.

They weren’t. Referee Anthony Taylor got the key decisions correct. The first goal was flagged for offside but he overruled his linesman to allow the goal to stand and although Aaron Ramsey was in an offside position, he wasn’t interfering with play, so that was the right call.

There may have been a handball by Sanchez in the build up but that was missed totally and the decision to overturn the offside flag was the correct one.

In the second half Victor Moses then clearly took a tumble to try and get a penalty kick as he received a second yellow card. No complaints and another brave, but good, call from Taylor.

Two key decisions went Arsenal’s way, but they were the right calls. Chelsea can not complain.


WASTEFUL CHELSEA BLOW DOUBLE

Diego Costa may well have played his last game for Chelsea as a move to the Chinese Super League beckons this summer. It sounds harsh, but Chelsea may not miss the Spanish international as much as everything thinks.

Although he scored to make it 1-1, Costa could have scored a hat trick. He took too long to get his shot off just after Arsenal went ahead as three Gunners defenders blocked his effort, and he then raced clear of Rob Holding but failed to get past David Ospina in another first half chance. He then drilled a shot straight at Ospina in the second half with Chelsea trailing 2-1.

It wasn’t just Costa who was guilty of missing chances though.

Pedro blazed over from a glorious position in the first half and in the second half he curled wide, while Victor Moses had an effort saved down low by Ospina.

Chelsea have come up short in attack in a few big games this season, including the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, 2-0 defeats at Tottenham and Manchester United and now the FA Cup final.

Antonio Conte will be searching very quickly for the phone numbers of Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku et al.

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea: Gunners win FA Cup in dramatic fashion

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Arsenal won the 2016-17 FA Cup after beating London rivals Chelsea in a dramatic Wembley final on Saturday.

The Gunners took the lead controversially through Alexis Sanchez and had numerous chances to extend their lead in the first half.

Chelsea were reduced to 10 men late in the second half with Victor Moses shown a second yellow card, but Diego Costa equalized just when they appeared down and out. Moments later Aaron Ramsey popped up to head home the winner and despite late chances for both teams the Gunners held on for victory.

Arsenal have now won the FA Cup in three of the past four season, with the north London club now winning a record 13 FA Cups and manager Arsene Wenger has now secured his seventh FA Cup, the most by any manager in history.

[ MORE: FA Cup box score, stats ]

Arsenal got off to the perfect start, albeit in controversial fashion, as the ball broke to Sanchez it appeared to hit his hand but the Chilean raced through and barged past Aaron Ramsey to smash home a low shot. Ramsey was clearly in an offside position as the linesman flagged but referee Anthony Taylor overruled the decision and the goal stood. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

At the other end the ball broke kindly to Diego Costa but three Arsenal defenders charged in to block his shot.

Arsenal then missed a host of chances to doubled their lead as Mesut Ozil beat Thibaut Courtois but Gary Cahill hooked off the line, then Danny Welbeck hit the post with a header and the follow up from Ramsey bounced off his chest and hit the post.

Chelsea had a great chance as a long ball forward found Costa who beat Rob Holding and raced into the box but David Opsina saved bravely to keep Arsenal ahead.

The Gunners then went agonizingly close once again before half time as Welbeck’s shot from close range was blocked by Courtois and then as the ball rolled towards the goal Cahill was again on hand to clear. Pedro blazed a chance over the bar for Chelsea before half time but Arsenal led and were incredibly unlucky not to be further in front.

In the second half Chelsea, as expected, came flying out of the traps. N'Golo Kante had an effort saved, then Per Mertesacker made a fine tackle on Costa before Opsina saved superbly from Moses.

Pedro flashed a shot wide and Chelsea kept pouring forward as they became increasingly susceptible on the break as Sanchez found Hector Bellerin brilliantly but Courtois caught his poor cross.

Another huge moment of controversy arrived with just over 20 minutes to go as Moses went down in the box after being closed down by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and referee Taylor decided to book the Chelsea man for simulation. That was Moses’ second yellow of the game and Chelsea were down to 10-men.

Just when it looked like Chelsea had no hope, Willian clipped a hopeful ball into the box which Costa chested down and his shot into the ground took a slight deflection off Mertesacker and in. 1-1. Game on.

Less than three minutes later the Gunners were back in front as substitute Olivier Giroud, who had been on the pitch for a matter of moments, clipped in a delightful cross which Ramsey headed in to make it 2-1 and sent the Arsenal fans wild.

Bellerin raced clear late on but his low shot across goal squirmed inches wide, then Opsina made a wonderful save from Costa and Ozil hit the post, however none of that mattered as Arsenal held on to win their third FA Cup in four years and end Chelsea’s hopes of securing the double.

LIVE, AT THE HALF: Rampant Arsenal lead Chelsea in FA Cup final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal lead Chelsea 1-0 at half time of the 2016-17 FA Cup final, but they should be so much further ahead.

[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final here ]

Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead in controversial fashion as Aaron Ramsey was clearly in an offside position and flagged for offside, but referee Anthony Taylor overruled his linesman to allow the goal to stand.

Ramsey didn’t touch the ball but was remarkably close to it when Sanchez raced through to score.

Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Ramsey had further chances to score with Gary Cahill twice clearing off the line, while Chelsea had two chances through Diego Costa but he couldn’t convert.

Click on the link above to follow all the action from Wembley live.

What a first 45 minutes!

VIDEO: Moving tribute to Manchester bombing victims at FA Cup final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At the FA Cup final on Saturday at Wembley there was a moving tribute to the people killed in the Manchester bombing attack earlier this week.

On Monday a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured a further 67 after detonating a bomb outside Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert.

Ahead of the FA Cup final, Arsenal and Chelsea came together to salute everyone impacted by the atrocity.

Watch the moving video below as 90,000 stood in silence to show their solidarity.