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Premier League Power Rankings: Week 17

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With the holidays right around the corner, and Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League nearly upon us, the races in each part of the table are now set, and teams will be looking for every little advantage they can procure.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To be honest, we didn’t learn a whole lot from this past week’s fixtures except a few things: Liverpool is fine, Manchester City has life, and Spurs could be in trouble.

[ MORE: PST’s Player Power Rankings for Weeks 17 ]

The relegation battle is one of the more intriguing scenarios right now, with a good five teams looking like they’ll be the ones to battle it out. The back half of the Champions League fight could prove entertaining as well, should Chelsea run away with the title. Here’s where we stand.

TEAM RANKING
Hull City logo 20 (18) Hull City: Last league win was Nov. 6. Bad news. Could be doomed.
burnley fc crest 19 (15) Burnley: Sean Dyche can only survive on performances alone for so long. Need results and need them now.
source:
18 (20) Swansea City: An absolutely gutting 3-0 loss to Middlesbrough last time out has put Bradley back in the crosshairs. They need transfers and they need them now.
source: 17 (19) Crystal Palace: Alan Pardew is gone, and now the quick rebuild begins. A Jan 3 meeting with Swansea looks crucial.
source: 16 (14) Sunderland: Monumental win over Watford means they’re a point away from pulling off the drop. Problems persist, but results appearing. Tough stretch now versus Man Utd, Liverpool.
source: 15 (12) Watford: Brutal, brutal loss to Sunderland. 6 losses in their last 7. They may be 12th in the table, but this team desperately needs to prove they belong there.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 14 (16) Middlesbrough: With 2 wins in their last 4, a Boxing Day matchup with Burnley could truly separate them from the relegation scrap.
source: 13 (14) Leicester City: A soft schedule ahead provides the opportunity for the Foxes to pull themselves out of the doldrums. Can they do it?
logo_westham
12 (13) West Ham United: The Hammers got past Hull, and now could truly cement a comeback by beating Swansea before having to face the Champions plus both Manchester sides.
source: 11 (11) Stoke City: Mark Hughes has done well to eliminate losing from the vocabulary of late. Can they shock either Liverpool or Chelsea?
source: 10 (9) Everton: The Liverpool loss was as deflating as they come, and a Boxing Day meeting with Leicester will be a good litmus test for the coming new year.
source: 9 (8) Bournemouth: On the heels of a historic game, they fell flat in a derby. A step back.
source: 8 (7)
West Bromwich Albion: Beating bad teams, losing to good ones. They face Arsenal, Southampton, and Spurs in their next 4. Make-or-break for their top-half hopes.
source: 7 (10) Southampton: With Europe over, this team’s form has picked up. Where have we heard that before? Hardly moving up 3 places on the Bournemouth win alone, this team is suddenly dangerous.
source: 6 (5) Tottenham Hotspur: Had to claw back to beat Burnley. Players are signing contract extensions left and right, but the on-field signs are not good.
source: 5 (4) Manchester United: Quietly, this team has won three straight PL games and hasn’t lost in any competition since November 3.
Logo_Manchester_City 4 (5) Manchester City: Many are still unconvinced, but Pep needed a statement win and got it. Beating Arsenal revives the title chase.
source: 3 (2) Arsenal: Two straight losses has this team trending in the wrong direction at the wrong time.
source: 2 (3) Liverpool: With defending an issue, the team stepped up for a gritty 1-0 win over Everton, and they’re back in second in the table and the rankings. As Klopp said, they’re “on fire”
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: Eleven straight wins will do that for a team.

Landon Donovan unveiled by Club Leon

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Landon Donovan was unveiled to Club Leon fans at Estadio Leon on Monday night.

The former USMNT star and longtime LA Galaxy forward came out of retirement for the second time to sign with the Liga MX side this past weekend. Leon finished 7th in the Apertura table, losing to Tigres in the first round of the playoffs. They currently have a perfect six points through the first two Clausura matches, sitting second in the table with a +3 goal differential.

Fans were allowed into the stadium for free, and they packed the lower stand on one end, waving USA flags and holding large “L” and “D” cutouts, and the fans faced a massive board on the field that read “I DON’T BELIEVE IN WALLS.” Chants of “U-S-A” rang out through the stadium before the unveiling.

ESPN reporter Tom Marshall pointed out that the last time the club had such a large event to welcome a player, it was in January of 2013 when the club brought Mexico captain Rafa Marquez in from the New York Red Bulls.

Donovan will don the number 20 for Club Leon.

Report: Rimando to return to RSL

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USMNT veteran and current MLS free agent Nick Rimando will reportedly return to Real Salt Lake for a 12th season with the club, according to a report by Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep.

The report states he received interest on the free agent market from both Los Angeles clubs, but the 38-year-old will return to the club he has made 350 appearances for.

Rimando came to Real Salt Lake from D.C. United in 2006, and has made at least 24 league appearances in every single season since. He has also made 22 playoff appearances for the club across eight playoff campaigns.

He last received a USMNT cap in January of 2017 in a friendly against Serbia, but was part of the 2018 World Cup qualification squad throughout 2017 backing up Tim Howard. Overall, Rimando has played 22 times for the US national team, with 14 goals conceded and nine clean sheets.

The report also states that Kyle Beckerman will return to Rio Tinto Stadium, with the veteran also testing the free agent waters but deciding to re-sign. The pair will be two of just four players left on the roster from the 2009 MLS Cup winning team.

Report: Aubameyang hands in transfer request at Dortmund

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According to German publication Bild, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has handed a transfer request to the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy.

Arsenal is the latest club linked with the Gabonese striker, with reports earlier this month of a deal to send Aubameyang to China. He has reportedly asked to leave Dortmund multiple times this January, and has been turned down thus far, and it’s causing problems. Aubameyang was suspended by the club for one match for missing a meeting last week, a match that ended in a goalless draw with Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Man United, Chelsea battle for Alexis Sanchez ]

“We had a very heated discussion,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc after the suspension was announced. “He hasn’t behaved like this for years, he’s always been very professional. What has happened is very tolerable, there will be some fines, too. It’s not necessary to talk about a transfer, but it’s clear that things can’t continue like this because some important things are in jeopardy, and that there is tension inside the squad.”

The price tag, according to recent reports, would be around $76 million, and he would be purchased with money from the likely outgoing transfer of Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal transfer guru Sven Mislintat is reportedly driving the deal, having signed Aubameyang at Dortmund during his days as a scout from Westfalinstadion. However, there is buzz among the British media that Arsene Wenger is unimpressed by Aubameyang’s recent insubordination and has expressed his concerns.

Emre Can says new Liverpool contract still a possibility

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is out of contract this summer, but says he could still sign back on at Anfield despite heavy rumors of his departure.

Still just 24 years old, the German came over from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 and has improved in each of his four years at Liverpool, flourishing under Jurgen Klopp as a strong passer and versatile player who can be used in midfield or defense. With that, he has reportedly turned down a number of new contract offers, and Juventus is reportedly in the lead to sign him to a free transfer.

[ MORE: Arsenal should follow Liverpool’s rebuilding example ]

Can is eligible to sign a pre-contract agreement with anyone from now until the end of the season, but he says that doesn’t mean he will leave.

“My agent is looking after everything but I am here until the summer,” Can said. “I haven’t signed anything with anyone. I am talking with everyone. Of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club. What can I say? My agent does the rest. I just concentrate on the scene, on my performance and the football. I will give everything for this team.”

The loss of Philippe Coutinho this winter is an obvious blow to the Reds, but an argument could be made that the loss of Can would hurt just as much if not more, as stout defensive midfielders are hard to come by. However, the arrival of Naby Kieta this summer could ease the blow of the German’s potential departure. Should Can stay, partnering with Keita in midfield could prove masterful as Liverpool looks to continue building towards a title challenge. Currently, Can has paired with Giorgino Wijnaldum in Liverpool’s midfield in recent weeks, and the club is on a five-match win streak that has seen them shoot into third place in the Premier League table.