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Premier League Power Rankings: Spurs surge after massive midweek win

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Chelsea’s reign at the top of the Premier League continues but the Blues have finally suffered a blemish after three months unbeaten under Antonio Conte.

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Meanwhile, the battle at the bottom to stay up next season is heating up, with nine sides currently separated by 10 points.

[ ARCHIVE: All of PST’s Power Rankings ]

Check out the latest round of power rankings as the season reaches the second half.


TEAM RANKING
Hull City logo 20 (20) Hull City: Mike Phelan has been shown the door and the Tigers are still searching for their first win since a November League Cup match against Newcastle.
source: 19 (18)
Sunderland: A surprising draw against Liverpool will have the Black Cats temporarily pleased, but any truth to the rumors of a Jermain Defoe exit could all but end the team’s tenure in the Premier League.
source: 18 (16) Crystal Palace: The Eagles have plummeted to 17th after dropping points in their last six fixtures.
source: 17 (19) Swansea City: The Swans ended their four-match winless streak with a solid road win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday, giving the side the slightest momentum as the club looks to rebuild.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 16 (15) Middlesbrough: The Boro remain teetering near the bottom but continue to remain above 18th due to their defensive resiliency.
source: 15 (12) Watford: Five straight matches without a win have the Hornets in a precarious position. If the league’s bottom sides can start to pick up points consistently Watford could be in a world of trouble.
source: 14 (17) Leicester City: After a decent display on New Year’s Eve against West Ham, the Foxes followed it up with a disappointing draw against Middlesbrough. Six points separates the reigning champs from the relegation zone.
burnley fc crest 13 (13) Burnley: The side’s thrashing of Sunderland was following by a strong effort against Manchester City, giving Burnley optimism ahead of the second half of the campaign.
source:
12 (14) Stoke City: The Potters continue to ascend towards the top half of the table after early struggles this season. 
source: 11 (9) Southampton: Claude Puel‘s men have lost three in a row and allowed nine in the process. The Saints face a rough portion of the schedule now, having to manage PL, League and FA Cup matches in January.
source: 10 (8) West Ham: The Hammers’ momentum has been halted, but matches against Palace and Boro upcoming could turn the tide once more for Slaven Bilic and co.
source: 9 (11) Bournemouth: Frustration was surely the emotion after their 3-3 effort against Arsenal, however, the Cherries have played better as of late.
source: 8 (10)
West Bromwich Albion: Back-to-back wins have the Baggies up to eighth in the PL, and while the gap to top six is sizable, Tony Pulis and his team have much to be proud of.
source: 7 (7) Everton: The Toffees have found their groove recently although dreams of the top six are quickly fading. Everton will have to spend this month if they want to reel back the PL’s elite.
Logo_Manchester_City 6 (3) Manchester City: The league’s top three continue to outshine City to date but seven points are what separate Chelsea from the Etihad side. 
source: 5 (4) Arsenal: It was a remarkable comeback to witness against Bournemouth but it’s those type of slip-ups that will cost the Gunners dearly if they want to seriously be considered title contenders.
source: 4 (5) Manchester United: Jose Mourinho’s side appears to be hitting perfect stride, and while Red Devils trail by 10 points as things stand United looks to firmly in the mix at the top.
source: 3 (2) Liverpool: The Reds have yet to lose in their last six, and with Tottenham’s win over Chelsea the gap at the top has been cut to five points.
source: 2 (6) Tottenham: Spurs have caught lightning in a bottle, and their latest win over Chelsea will surely give the side lifted title aspirations.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: It had to end sometime but the Blues will be far from panicking following their first defeat in over three months.

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.