Premier League Power Rankings: Man City climbs, Swans soaring

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Swansea City is now four points clear of the drop zone, which feels like rarefied air given their plight at the turn of the calendar to 2017.

Manchester City has climbed into second place in the Premier League table, and the gap to first is in single digits.

Both sides have made big marks in this week’s PL PR’s.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Here is the latest batch of Premier League power rankings…

TEAM RANKING
source: 20 (20) Crystal Palace: Allardyce is running out of excuses. Steve Parish can yell all he wants — and he deserved to get loud –n but maybe he’s got the wrong man for the job.

source:
19 (18) Sunderland: From thumper to thumpee in one week’s time. Hopefully that New York City air has the cure.
Leicester City logo
18 (19) Leicester City: Outside the relegation zone, so why do the reigning champs feel relegated? Maybe it’s defense.
Hull City logo 17 (15) Hull City: No shame in losing a game.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 16 (16) Middlesbrough: Drawing Everton is a legit result, but goals need to come in a hurry.
source: 15 (17) Bournemouth: Winless since New Year’s Day and very much in trouble… just not as much as the teams behind it.
source: 14 (10) Watford: Pretty severe drop for a loss to United, but spots 14-10 are very tight.
source: 13 (13) Swansea City: Another week of Paul Clement of proving doubters wrong.
source: 12 (14) Southampton: Thumping Sunderland is enough to rise up the ranks two spots.
source: 11 (12) Stoke City: Beating a desperate Palace is a decent, if uncomfortable, win.
burnley fc crest
10 (11) Burnley: The Chelsea draw is another impressive result for Sean Dyche.
source: 9 (9) West Ham United: Didn’t take the next step in a 2-2 draw against West Brom… or did they? The referees didn’t help.
source:
8 (7) West Bromwich Albion: Good battle, but the litmus test draw against West Ham shows that both clubs sit where they should in the PRs.
source: 7 (8) Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp‘s men took advantage of a depleted Spurs back line to gain their first PL win of 2017.
Source: Everton FC
6 (5) Everton: The draw at Middlesbrough hurts the Toffees’ surge.
source: 5 (6) Arsenal: Odd to read given the embarrassment in Munich, but the Gunners did win at the weekend.
source: 4 (4) Manchester United: One more slip-up from Spurs has United making it an all-Manchester race for second (in our Power Rankings).
source: 3 (2) Tottenham Hotspur: Losing to Liverpool is just one loss, but it’s one that costs Spurs the catbird seat in the race to second (in the Premier League).
Logo_Manchester_City 2 (3) Manchester City: Pep Guardiola‘s squad is rolling after a nice road win against Burnley, but the season-ending injury to Gabriel Jesus stings. Don’t worry, Sergio Aguero is his backup.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: The lead shrinks to eight after a draw against Burnley. The Blues host Man City on April 5.

World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia fires coach Edgardo Bauza

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia has fired coach Edgardo Bauza nine days before the draw.

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation announced the Argentine coach’s exit after only five friendlies in charge. The team lost to Portugal and Bulgaria this month.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

Bauza has been fired twice this year by teams in the World Cup lineup. He lost the Argentina job in April, after eight months in charge, when the two-time World Cup champions risked missing out on qualification.

In September, Bauza was appointed by Saudi Arabia to replace Bert van Marwijk, who was fired despite leading the team to its first World Cup since 2006.

Saudi Arabia joins Australia without a coach for the World Cup draw in Moscow on Dec. 1.

FOLLOW LIVE: Chelsea kicks off Champions League day

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There’s a Premier League side in action to kick off another day of UEFA Champions League action.

Chelsea is in Baku for a Noon ET match-up with Azerbaijan side Qarabag. A win boosts the Blues into the knockout rounds. CSKA Moscow and Benfica kickoff in Russia at the same time.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Here’s Antonio Conte‘s Starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger; Zappacosta, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro.

Manchester United is in Basel as one of six 2:45 p.m. ET kickoffs

Full schedule
Qarabag vs. Chelsea — Noon ET
CSKA Moscow vs. Benfica — Noon ET
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Celtic — 2:45 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Barcelona — 2:45 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Roma — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon vs. Olympiacos — 2:45 p.m. ET
Anderlecht vs. Bayern Munich — 2:45 p.m. ET
Basel vs. Manchester United — 2:45 p.m. ET

PST Survey results: Most exciting USMNT prospect

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Today’s question: Excluding Christian Pulisic, who’s no longer a prospect despite being just 19, who is the most exciting USMNT prospect.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

Exciting performances in the U-20 and U-17 World Cups have given United States men’s national team fans plenty of hope for the future.

The most-mentioned write-in, collecting across all attempting spellings, was injured Arsenal playmaker Gedion Zelalem.

As for the serious contenders, Jonathan Gonzalez, Andrew Carleton Tyler Adams, and Lynden Gooch lagged behind this pack of four:

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 14 percent — He had a howling back pass in Sheffield United’s 5-4 loss to Fulham on Wednesday, but the on-loan Spurs 19-year-old center back is playing every minute for a club very much in the mix for Premier League promotion.

Weston McKennie — 18 percent — Another 19-year-old, McKennie was one of the Men of the Match as Schalke went second in the Bundesliga this weekend. He’s been a regular starter when healthy, and played advanced, central, and set back in Schalke’s midfield. Next up: a Revierderby meeting with Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund.

Josh Sargent — 21 percent — Off to Werder Bremen when he turns 18 in late February, Sargent has four goals in five matches for the U.S. U-20s, and 14 in 29 for the U-17s. That includes four goals and two assists in his last three outings, against Paraguay, England, and Hungary.

Tim Weah — 24 percent — The son of African legend George Weah, Tim turns 18 two days after Sargent. Unlike his countryman, Weah has been in Europe for some time. The Paris Saint-Germain prospect is slated to get his First Team bow some time soon, having scored four goals and added an assist for PSG in the UEFA Youth League.

Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training (video)

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Among my most quoted coaching lines comes from former University at Buffalo and current Canisius College men’s basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon (and pretty sure it didn’t originate with him).

“It’s more about Jims and Joes than x’s and o’s.”

[ MLS: Seattle wins | Stalemate in Ohio ]

So if Everton rebounds from its rough start to the season to reach its preseason potential, there’s a good chance we’ll credit the return of one of the most electric attackers in the game and not necessarily their new boss.

Yannick Bolasie returned to training on Wednesday, and not a moment too soon following a near one-year layoff due to an ACL tear.

There’s no guarantee the 28-year-old Bolasie will have the same burst, of course, but he has the potential to be a season-changer.

Everton was 5-4-4 when Bolasie went down with his injury last season, and improved on the mark the rest of the way, but are a moribund 3-3-6 this season.