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Premier League Power Rankings: Stoke, Spurs, Reds rise

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Chelsea’s unfettered advantage over most opponents through N'Golo Kante and Antonio Conte has made for some boredom when it comes to No. 1, but the race to stay in the Top Ten has been a fun part of our weekly power rankings.

[ MORE: Top PL story lines — Week 28 ]

Mark Hughes‘ Potters are the latest to make a move, while Liverpool and Tottenham also dance a bit higher this week. It’s the opposite direction for Hull City, Bournemouth, and Burnley.

TEAM RANKING
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20 (20) Sunderland: This is the kind of season the Black Cats have had: After Southampton, Everton, and Man City, they had a shot at struggling Middlesbrough in a Northeast Derby this week only to see the match postponed. Fortunately, Burnley is next.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 19 (19) Middlesbrough: Aitor Karanka‘s side needed the week off badly, but a visit from Manchester United is next.
Hull City logo
18 (17) Hull City: Looking improved only means so much, and the Leicester loss could be followed by another 6-point loss to Swansea City. Time to pony up, Tigers.
source: 17 (16) Bournemouth: Winless in 2017
source: 16 (18) Crystal Palace: Big Sam may have led the Eagles into the drop zone, but he’s also guided them to two big wins and an escape… for now.
source: 15 (15) Swansea City: Fate (or officiating) nearly conspired to rob Swans of a win versus Burnley, but the Welsh side overcame the bad fortune. Now they can really pad their status by beating Hull.
Leicester City logo
14 (14) Leicester City: Two in a row, but it just feels so hollow given the players clearly weren’t playing for a manager who led them to the heights. No, this isn’t about 2015-16 Chelsea.
burnley fc crest 13 (10) Burnley: No wins in five across all competitions, including losses to Watford, Swansea, and Lincoln City. I’d hate to be on Sean Dyche‘s bad side during this stretch. Also, how is Tyrone Mings not banned for the season?
source: 12 (13) Watford: A thrilling loss to Saints is still a loss, and a third in a row.
source: 11 (12) Southampton: Finally putting it together. Nathan Redmond and Manolo Gabbiadini are tactical issue for opponents.

source:
10 (7) West Brom: After losing a court case against Crystal Palace, you know Tony Pulis wanted to heap misery on the lowly Eagles. Instead, he managed a 2-0 home loss. Woof.
source: 9 (9) West Ham United: No shame in losing to Chelsea. We might put that sentence in each team’s column at some point this season.
source: 8 (11) Stoke City: Handled Sunderland before holding Man City to a draw at the Etihad Stadium. Geoff Cameron’s return has helped Mark Hughes’ side, for sure.
source: 7 (6) Arsenal: It’s bad, relatively speaking.
source: 6 (8) Liverpool: Ah, the side that loses to bad teams and “gets healthy” against bigger sides. So odd, but that’s how it was for Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, too. Gotta be a coincidence, right? Right?
5 (5) Everton: 3-2 loss to Spurs shows that Ronald Koeman‘s side needs a few more pieces to contend for Europe.
source: 4 (4) Manchester United: A frustrating draw does have a silver lining in the fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s head wasn’t caved in by Tyrone Mings’ stamp.
Logo_Manchester_City 3 (2) Manchester City: Surely Pep Guardiola didn’t see a 0-0 against Stoke at home as a likely result.
source: 2 (3) Tottenham Hotspur: Really showing mettle this year, and would have to fall apart to finish below Arsenal. Spurs supporters, I swear I’m not jinxing you.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: Another day, another three points for Conte and Kante, who really should get some Ballon d’Or love.

 

Follow Live: Chelsea, Swans, Cherries in FA Cup replays

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Chelsea, Swansea City, and Bournemouth look to avoid upsets in replays of their third round FA Cup matches.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

All three matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues tangle with former Premier League peers Norwich City, this time at Stamford Bridge, in a bid to host a fourth round match with Newcastle United.

Antonio Conte‘s not messing around (too much) with the XI.

Swansea City and Wolves, meanwhile, are arguably battling for a bid in the fourth round, as a trip to Notts County is on the docket for the winner of Wednesday’s replay at the Liberty Stadium.

Bournemouth is at Wigan Athletic for a replay with the third-tier Latics, with the victor hosting West Ham United on Jan. 27.

Benevento captain Lucioni banned one year for doping

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ROME (AP) Benevento captain Fabio Lucioni has been banned one year for doping.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

Italy’s national anti-doping organization made the decision Tuesday after the steroid clostebol was found in a sample taken after Benevento’s 1-0 loss to Torino in September.

Benevento team physician Walter Giorgione was banned for four years for administering the steroid to Lucioni in a spray.

Both Lucioni and Giorgione plan to appeal.

The 30-year-old Lucioni joined Benevento in 2014 and the defender helped the team move from the third division up into Serie A this season for the first time.

Benevento is last in Serie A with only two wins in 20 matches.

The ban is back-dated to October, meaning Lucioni can return early next season.

Everton completes move for Walcott: “I’m dead excited” (video)

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Everton continues to supply its managers with top-end talent, adding Theo Walcott to its expensive season of boys which includes Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney, Cenk Tosun, Jordan Pickford, and Michael Keane.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

The deal is reported to be near $28 million for Walcott, who’s made only a half-dozen Premier League appearances this season but did nab three goals in five Europa League matches.

Walcott, 28, scored 108 goals in 397 appearances for the Gunners. His 19-goal campaign last season was his second-best — he scored 21 in 2012-13 — but Walcott dipped down Arsene Wenger‘s depth charge and is leaving to pursue regular football.

And his comments will be lapped up by the #WengerOut brigade at his now former club:

“The Club has won trophies but I want them to win trophies now. The manager is very hungry and it’s just what I need. I’ve had a couple of chats with him and straightaway I felt that hunger and that desire that he wanted from me. I need that and I wanted that

The move is another exciting one for Everton, which has underachieved under Ronald Koeman and now Sam Allardyce. And it’s another sale from Arsenal which gives pause: Are the underperforming Gunners going to regret the move?

In the 2005-06 season, Walcott made his Southampton debut in the Football League Championship at the age of 16, and moved to Arsenal the next season.

Walcott has eight goals in 47 caps for England, and won two FA Cups at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Montreal nabs Algerian DP ]

Here is a useful quote from Sam Allardyce:“His physical output is excellent, he would be one of our top players in that area as well, which will hopefully bring us a lot more excitement and more ability to get forward quicker and create.

And here is an utterly useless one: ““If you analyse his goal record, then we are looking at a player who contributes goals on a regular basis.”

You don’t say. To paraphrase: If you look at all his goals, he regularly scores goals. Here’s more from the player on his move.

Montreal to nab Algerian DP Taider from Bologna

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The loss of Swiss power Blerim Dzemaili is a big one for the Montreal Impact, but another World Cup player may be taking his place in Quebec.

[ MLS: Club-by-club SuperDraft needs ]

Tutto Bologna reports that Algerian playmaker Saphir Taider, 25, is set to sign with the Impact on a contract through 2020.

On loan to Montreal last season, Dzemaili went back to Bologna. Taider is coming back the other way and will reportedly be a Designated Player.

Taider isn’t as consistent a player as Dzemaili, but presents a skill set that should be a massive problem for MLS midfields.

He has 42 caps with five goals for Algeria, and was once property of Juventus. He spent parts of four seasons at Inter Milan, with loan stints back to Bologna, at Sassuolo, and a unremarkable time at Southampton.