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Premier League Power Rankings: Anfield clash looms for Liverpool, Man City

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Chelsea continues its dominance atop the Premier League, but can Stoke halt the Blues in their pursuit of history?

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Meanwhile, four other clubs sit within 10 points of the Blues at the summit, while separation is starting to be created amongst those at the bottom of the league.

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Check out the latest round of power rankings ahead of Matchday 19.


TEAM RANKING
Hull City logo 20 (20) Hull City: One win in their last 16 has the Tigers hugging the bottom of the table. It’s difficult to envision Hull rising above the drop zone any time soon.
source: 19 (18) Swansea City: The search for a new manager has begun, and after matches against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace the Swans are rewarded with Arsenal and Liverpool in league play. Good luck.
source:
18 (16) Sunderland: The Black Cats have won two in their last five, which is better than most of the teams in the relegation battle. Still, David Moyes and co. have their work cut out.
source:
17 (13) Leicester City: One win in their last five PL matches (ironically against Manchester City) has Claudio Ranieri and co. scrambling. The Foxes stand just three points above the relegation zone.
source: 16 (17) Crystal Palace: Sam Allardyce has his work cut out for him in London, and what better way to welcome the veteran manager but to take a trip to the Emirates Stadium?
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 15 (14) Middlesbrough: As good as the defense has performed in 2016, the Boro simply can’t bag goals on a consistent basis.
source: 14 (11) Stoke City: The Potters have fallen to 13th but they have the chance to spoil Chelsea’s chase for a 13th straight PL victory on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
burnley fc crest 13 (19) Burnley: Sean Dyche and co. must take advantage of the schedule at hand and build off of last week’s win over Middlesbrough.
source: 12 (15) Watford: The Hornets have scored just five goals in their last six matches. Because of that, they have just one win to show.
source: 11 (9) Bournemouth: Back-to-back losses have the Cherries down to 12th in the table.
source: 10 (8) West Bromwich Albion: Two straight defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal have halted the momentum of the Baggies, making Saturday’s test at St. Mary’s all the more important.
source: 9 (7) Southampton: A beatdown from Spurs calmed any top six talk for the time being. A critical match against West Brom looms for the Saints.
source: 8 (12)
West Ham: The Hammers have won three straight and allowed just one goal in the process. This team looks significantly improved from their early season woes.
source: 7 (10) Everton: Ronald Koeman‘s group has been inconsistent to say the least as of late but a match against Hull could be what the Toffees need to build some momentum.
source: 6 (6) Tottenham: Nine goals in their three straight wins has Spurs back on track after a hiccup in form. 
source: 5 (5) Manchester United: Four straight victories have Jose Mourinho’s men within four points of the top four. 
source: 4 (3) Arsenal: A gritty win over West Brom kept the Gunners in the top four but Arsene Wenger‘s side must improve soon or else their title chances could fade for good.
Logo_Manchester_City 3 (4) Manchester City: A huge clash against Liverpool could leave one side well behind league leaders Chelsea, so three points is a necessity for Pep Guardiola‘s side.
source: 2 (2) Liverpool: See above. Since their disappointing loss to Bournemouth in early December, the Reds have been on a tear, going unbeaten in four straight.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: One win separates the Blues from tying Arsenal’s 01/02 record of 13 consecutive victories. While Stoke is more than capable of stealing a point at the very least, Chelsea hasn’t lost in forever and they very well may break history this season.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.