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Premier League Power Rankings: Brokedown Palace

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The Premier League’s Bottom Six was thrown into insanity last weekend, leaving six teams within two points from slots No. 20 to 15.

But the slides aren’t limited to the PL lowlands, as Liverpool has plummeted down our power rankings after looking like title contenders for much of the season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Here is the latest batch of Premier League power rankings…

TEAM RANKING
source: 20 (18) Crystal Palace: There are many questions for Big Sam to answer, and getting Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend going would help provide clues. Getting humiliated by former club Sunderland won’t help him get his mind right.

Leicester City logo
19 (17) Leicester City: When’s the last time a club still alive in the UEFA Champions League in February was 19th in any set of Premier League rankings?
source: 18 (20) Sunderland: Thumping Allardyce had to feel amazing to supporters of the Black Cats.
source: 17 (15) Bournemouth: It wasn’t too long ago Eddie Howe was headed to Arsenal and the Cherries were the darlings of England. Outscored 16-9 in last five matches.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 16 (16) Middlesbrough: The last time Boro won a PL game, there were still eight more days to go before Christmas. That’s seven league games without a win.
Hull City logo 15 (19) Hull City: The Marco Silva revolution looks quite real right now, and imagine how it will feel if the Tigers snare a point or more at stammering Arsenal on Saturday.
source: 14 (13) Southampton: Battered at home by West Ham, Saints have to keep their eyes on the PL table and not just potential Wembley glory.
source: 13 (14) Swansea City: Paul Clement is proving doubters wrong, and Gylfi Sigurdsson is really, really, truly good at striking a ball.
source: 12 (9) Stoke City: Winless in three, granted against decent competition in Manchester United, Everton, and West Brom.
burnley fc crest 11 (10) Burnley: About as mid-table a team as you can find… which is fine given the goals of this season.
source: 10 (12) Watford: Manager Walter Mazzarri must just be shrugging his shoulders right now; Who knows what you’ll get from the Hornets on a week-to-week basis, but they will work for it under captain Troy Deeney.
source: 9 (11) West Ham United: Slowly, steadily approaching its level. Beat West Brom this week and find many new believers, Slaven Bilic.
source: 8 (6) Liverpool: One win in 2017. One.
source: 7 (8) West Bromwich Albion: Tony Pulis has done a job with this bunch, who is exceeding expectations in both form and style.
source: 6 (4) Arsenal: Two-straight losses and a mainstay openly questioning his legendary boss in both players’ native land? Fun times, guys. Fun times.
Source: Everton FC 5 (5) Everton: Boro and Sunderland are next. If the Toffees can handle their business, they’re a hair away from the conversation.
source: 4 (7) Manchester United: Need more comfortable wins like the 3-0 victory at Leicester City.
Logo_Manchester_City 3 (2) Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus, everybody.
source: 2 (3) Tottenham Hotspur: You know that comfortable win we referenced in Manchester United’s space? One of those would be nice after four tight ones.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: They’re gonna win the league.They’re gonna win the league. You’re probably gonna believe us. You’re probably gonna believe us. You’re probably gonna be-lieeeeve us. They’re gonna win the league.

“Injustice.” “Incomprehensible.” Ronaldo again protests suspension

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The five-game suspension Cristiano Ronaldo received for making contact with an official is not sitting well with the forward.

Better put: it’s still not sitting well.

Six days ago, Ronaldo took to Instagram to say he was being persecuted after his red card in the Spanish Super Cup.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Tuesday afternoon, he kept up the strong words by saying the suspension is “incomprehensible” and “an injustice.”

Roughly translated, Ronaldo posted, “One more incomprehensible decision. From injustice to injustive, they will never overcome me. And as always I will come back stronger. Thank you to all who have supported me.”

We’ll say this: He’s a really good soccer player.

Barca to offer Liverpool $176m for Coutinho

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Barcelona is insane.

Desperate following a rough two-legged loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the Blaugranas are reportedly ready to offer $176 million to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho.

Read it again: $176 million for Philippe Coutinho. It’s about $126 million with $12 million more when Barca clinches a UCL spot over the next four seasons (which they have done every year since finishing sixth in 2002-03).

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Even in this transfer market, that’s nuts. Crazy to offer, and maybe even crazier not to accept.

That’s pretty much two-thirds of the Neymar money. Two-thirds (I keep repeating myself with this story)

It’s even a convenient out for Jurgen Klopp, who’s said Liverpool is not a selling club. Here, he can say with a straight face that the club can improve with this money by selling a player who has — and I recognize it’s not all about goals and assists — one double-digit goal season in his career and a career single-season high of seven PL assists (done thrice).

Almost anyone who’s had the audacity to say the Reds should accept the bid has often been shot down by the Anfield faithful online. “It’ll ruin our season” and “How do we replace him this late?” are the common cries.

To the first question: No, it won’t. To the second: Easy?

It’s not like-for-like, but nearly every player in the world is available for $176 million. It’s not like-for-like, but here’s a short list: Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale, Paulo Dybala, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus… Shoot! Klopp could sign 2-3 of his favorite BVB alums.

With this fee, Coutinho would become the second-highest transfer fee of all-time, behind only Neymar. There are makeweights Barcelona could offer that would make the deal even more intriguing to the Reds: Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez.

Look at it from a neutral’s eyes — which I know is hard from the number of times I’ve read @ Tweets that say, “The only people who would like this deal are fans of Chelsea or United!” — at some point, it becomes unreasonable to not take advantage of Barcelona’s desperation. Maybe Coutinho is worth the “fit” for Barca, but rejecting this fee is more illogical than the offer itself.

At the risk of inflaming every more Liverpool supporters, Ross Barkley is probably going to cost someone $35 million and he’s a year and a half younger (Coutinho is a superior player right now, but we’re talking about the market here).

And, lastly, at some point you’re telling your entire team room that you’re willing to turn down near record money — it would be the highest non-buyout clause transfer ever — to keep a player from his dream club.

Take the money. Use it. Move on.

EFL Cup Weds preview: East Lancashire Derby highlights slate

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Eighteen teams booked spots Tuesday in the League Cup’s third round, with Watford the lone Premier League side to take a fall.

Six more try their luck on Wednesday, the last day of tournament play before the big boys join up.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

A sleepy big affair is the East Lancashire Derby between Burnley and now League One side Blackburn Rovers, a rivalry which has been staged in three leagues or competitions since the turn of the century. This makes it four, joining the Premier League (2009-10), FA Cup (2004-05) and Championship (six times since 2012-13).

Burnley has three wins and three draws since its last loss to Blackburn, which came via David Dunn penalty at Turf Moor in a Premier League match on March 28, 2010.

Make no mistake, Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton thinks it’ll be a fantastic affair (from burnleyfootballclub.com):

“And for the players. Make no mistake, we were all delighted when the draw came in,” said Heaton. “It’s a fantastic match we are all looking forward to. It’s a fantastic night as players, fans and for the club.

“We’ll be going there geared up to win the game and give it everything we’ve got. The new lads coming in will certainly get an eye opener for the atmosphere and how good it is. They’re brilliant games to play in, I’ve enjoyed every minute of them.”

If you’re surprised by the rivalry, you have company in Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray. From Rovers.co.uk:

“I have to say living in the north east of England, Suffolk and Scotland most of my life I never would have grasped that Blackburn and Burnley and the geography of how close they were to be honest,” he said.

“It is not something that has hit me in the face before of a huge rivalry and yet I can feel it from the people around the building who have lived here all their lives how important this game is to them. … We’ll give it our very best shot and leave no stone unturned in trying to get a result.”

Elsewhere…

Southampton, fresh off adding $19 million Dutch center back Wesley Hoedt, will host Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. Mary’s, one of four 2:45 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Also kicking off at that time is Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park, with USMNT fullback Eric Lichaj likely to feature for the visitors, as well as Rotherham United’s visit to Huddersfield Town and Cheltenham Town’s trip to West Ham United.

A quarter-hour later, the final two second round matches kickoff when Burnley hosts Blackburn Rovers and Rochdale heads to Stoke City.

Southampton lands $19 million Dutch CB Hoedt

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Southampton’s added another defender who checks all the boxes, and used its press release to cement its status on the future of want-away center back Virgil Van Dijk.

Saints added Lazio center back Wesley Hoedt on Tuesday, with the reported fee in the neighborhood of $19 million for the 4-times capped Dutch international.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Gooch scores for Sunderland ]

The 6-foot-2 defender is 23 years old, and played 23 matches for i Biancocelesti last season.

Here’s Saints vice chairman Les Reed:

“Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult. We have been tracking central defenders on our target list for the past 12 months and Wesley has always been at the top of that list, so it was important to act when the opportunity came.”

As our own Joe Prince-Wright pointed out, Saints aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for Van Dijk’s departure.

Saints also have Maya Yoshida — who won a penalty for Saints this weekend — Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos in their corps.

Will Van Dijk stay? Betting sites have him at 5:6 odds to stay at Southampton, but somehow 1:1 to join Liverpool and 7:1 to head to Chelsea (Man City gets 24:1 odds).

At this point, we’d love to see Van Dijk stay and buck the summer’s (actually much longer than that) gossip as Saints fight for a Top Six place.