FILE PHOTO (EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image numbers (L) 502929058 and 629845764) In this composite image a comparision has been made between Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City. Liverpool and Manchester City meet in a Premier League match at Anfleid on December 31, 2016.  ***LEFT IMAGE*** SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool looks on before the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Liverpool at Stadium of Light on December 30, 2015 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by  )
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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.

[ ARCHIVE: All of PST’s Power Rankings ]

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.

New St. Louis stadium plan calls for state land contribution

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has made it clear he’s opposed to state funding for stadiums, yet a revised proposal for a $200 million soccer stadium in St. Louis calls for the state to contribute land that’s potentially worth millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, a city aldermanic committee delayed a vote Thursday to advance a measure putting the proposal, which also requires city voters to approve $60 million in funding, on the April ballot.

[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]

The investor group SC STL’s proposal calls for a 22,000-seat stadium near Interstate 64 and Union Station, a key component in the group’s effort to lure a Major League Soccer expansion team. MLS officials have expressed strong interest in St. Louis, but only if a stadium is built.

Time is of the essence: The league is expected to award two new expansion teams in the fall, with play starting in 2020.

St. Louis’ project was on life support after Greitens, a Republican who took office this month, said repeatedly that he opposed taxpayer funding for stadiums, calling it “welfare for millionaires.” SC STL had been seeking $40 million in state tax credits.

But a provision of SC STL’s revised financing plan, presented at Thursday’s meeting at City Hall, says the state would contribute the majority of the 24-acre project site, which is currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation, and perform some site clearing and infrastructure work.

The value is still being appraised, but given its location and the amount of land, it likely is worth several million dollars.

Greitens spokesman Parker Briden told The Associated Press in a statement that the governor “remains opposed to state funding to build the soccer stadium.” He did not immediately respond to a question about how the potential donation of land doesn’t conflict with Greitens’ hard-line stance.

[ MORE: Jones labels Howard’s comments “dangerous” ]

The first hint of compromise with the governor came in an email from SC STL spokesman Jim Woodcock late Wednesday, when he wrote that a “path forward” had been reached after two weeks of meetings.

“Gov. Greitens has made it clear to us that he is very supportive of adding a new professional sports franchise to the State of Missouri, and that’s a sentiment we wholeheartedly share,” the statement said.

The stadium project also requires taxpayer help from the city. The city Ways and Means Committee heard from SC STL officials Thursday, but no vote was taken on whether to ask the full Board of Aldermen to place the issue on the April ballot. The committee is expected to reconsider the measure Monday.

SC STL would be responsible for at least $95 million of the project cost, the entire $150 million expansion fee and all maintenance costs going forward.

Bundesliga returns: Will Bayern hold off competition again?

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 05: Sebastian Rudy of TSG Hoffenheim is challenged by Douglas Costa of FC Bayern Muenchen during the Bundesliga match between Bayern Muenchen and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena on November 5, 2016 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images
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Germany’s top flight returns to action Friday when Bayern Munich travels to Freiburg in an attempt to keep the pressure on new boys RB Leipzig.

[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]

For those who haven’t paid a ton of attention to the Bundesliga this season or need a bit of a refresher after several weeks away, here’s what to monitor over the next several months.

Really Big surprise Leipzig looks to keep title race going

Formed in 2009, RB Leipzig is a lot of German fans’ least favorite club after cash infusions caused a rapid rise into the top flight.

The new club is looking down at most of the haters, however. League leaders for much of the first half, Leipzig is three points shy of league leading Bayern Munich.

Bayern waxed Leipzig 3-0 before the holiday break, and the two sides won’t meet again until May 13. How long can the new boys keep up the show?

Historic relegation candidates

What does USMNT strikers Bobby Wood and Aron Johannsson share besides a national team? Both are on sides that have been in Germany’s top tier longer than the players have been alive.

Wood’s Hamburg has six national titles and hasn’t seen the second tier in 54 years. That’s the longest stretch in the league, two more seasons than Bayern Munich. Hamburg is a currently third-bottom, which would force them into a relegation-promotion playoff against the third-placed team in 2.Bundesliga.

As for Johannsson, his Werder Bremen side is just three points ahead of Hamburg. Bremen has been in the top flight for 36 seasons.

Chasing the Golden Boot

Robert Lewandowski has scored the most goals in two of the past three seasons, with Alexander Meier of Eintracht Frankfurt seizing the honor in 2014-15.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is leading the pack by three goals, but is with Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations to help open the door for the rest of the bunch.

Koln’s Anthony Modeste is second with 13, while Lewandowski has 12. Two players, Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim), have nine.

Can surprise Europe-chasers hold up?

Hertha Berlin was in 2.Bundesliga a few seasons ago, while Eintracht Frankfurt was there a season prior to that. RB Leipzig, as mentioned earlier, wasn’t even a club until 2009.

Eintracht made a Europa League run one year later, but neither was expected to be competing for a spot in Europe this season. As it stands, all three are in the mix.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 16 12 3 1 38 9 29 7-2-0 5-1-1 39
 RB Leipzig 16 11 3 2 31 15 16 6-1-0 5-2-2 36
 Hertha BSC Berlin 16 9 3 4 24 16 8 7-0-1 2-3-3 30
 Eintracht Frankfurt 16 8 5 3 22 12 10 5-3-0 3-2-3 29
 1899 Hoffenheim 16 6 10 0 28 17 11 4-5-0 2-5-0 28
 Borussia Dortmund 16 7 6 3 35 19 16 5-3-0 2-3-3 27
 1. FC Köln 16 6 7 3 21 15 6 4-4-0 2-3-3 25

Report: El Tri’s Chicharito to LAFC in 2018

Bayer Leverkusen's Javier Hernandez, left, and Atletico Mineiro's Mattheus Rolden fight for possession of the ball during the first half of a Florida Cup soccer match, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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It makes a lot of sense, you know?

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will turn 30 in 2018, not a spring chicken for a striker but still plenty productive if healthy.

His national team, Mexico, will likely be revving its engines for the World Cup, and won’t be upset to have the forward playing a bit less soccer and a lot closer to home.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines ]

And Los Angeles FC will want to make a massive mark as it seeks to butt its head into a market dominated by the LA Galaxy (and, perhaps still then, Mexico national teamer Giovani Dos Santos).

So, tell us more, Steve Brisendine of MLSSoccer.com:

“[LAFC] are going to do everything possible to sign the current Bayer Leverkusen player, whose contract ends in 2018 and could therefore leave for a reduced fee. That’s what AS.com has confirmed with sources close to the project. LAFC hope to announce their new manager this spring and dream, a little later, to do the same with Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito.”

Make it happen. Make. It. Happen. We’re already reserving his spot on our MLS fantasy teams.

Transfer rumor roundup: Jagielka, Begovic, Berahino, Zarate

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Saido Berahino of West Brom challenges for the ball with Phil Jagielka of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 13, 2014 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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There’s action all over England, from those defending the goal mouth to others striving to conquer it.

[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]

— Bournemouth wants an upgrade on Artur Boruc, according to The Telegraph, and that could come in the form of Chelsea backstop Asmir Begovic.

The Cherries reportedly had a $12.5 million bid turned down by Antonio Conte, who has Thibaut Courtois in the No. 1 seat and Portugal national team backup Eduardo in the ranks (along with three keepers on loan and young goalie Mitchell Beanie).

— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shut the door on acquiring West Ham wantaway Dimitri Payet according to Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre:

“We have many players offensively who can play in this position. You are interested by the quality of the player but there needs to be a need as well, and we have no need in this domain.”

— Clubs in need of experienced Premier League backs need look no further than Everton, where manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that England international Phil Jagielka could leave Goodison Park. The 34-year-old center back has 40 caps for England and has made 337 appearances for Everton. He could be a massive upgrade for Sunderland if David Moyes is up for a reunion.

— Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says a purchase of Saido Berahino from West Brom is not contingent on a sale of Bojan Krkic. The latter has been linked to Middlesbrough.

— Mauro Zarate may be returning the Premier League. Watford boss Walter Mazzarri has been largely let down by his strike corps as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have taken steps back this season. Could $4 be enough to bring the ex-West Ham and QPR man from Fiorentina to Vicarage Road? Zarate has four goals in nine matches for La Viola, and has nine goals in 40 Premier League matches.