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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.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).