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Premier League Power Rankings: Week 29

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If any club is going to catch Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, they better start their trek towards the top now.

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With 10 matches remaining for most teams, the Blues currently hold a 10-point advantage over second place Tottenham, and Antonio Conte‘s side has shown no signs of slowing down.

[ MORE: PST’s Player Power Rankings for Weeks 17 ]

Meanwhile, we’ve got a hearty battle at the bottom as four teams sit within six points of one another. Sunderland has occupied the basement position for much of 2016/17, but can the Black Cats pull off some magic as the season winds down?

TEAM RANKING
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20 (20) Sunderland: With 50 goals conceded and nobody other than Jermain Jones bagging goals for the Black Cats, Sunderland can only wait for its plummet to the Championship.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 19 (19) Middlesbrough: 19 goals in 27 matches doesn’t spell success for the Boro, who sit 19 in the table.
Hull City logo 18 (18) Hull City: The Tigers have fought valiantly, and their recent victory over Swansea could be what the team needs to propel itself out of the bottom three.
source: 17 (17) Bournemouth: It’s been a rough second half for the Cherries but at least they should survive for another season.
source: 16 (16) Crystal Palace: Winners of back-to-back matches, Palace may have found its form again as the relegation battle heats up.
source: 15 (15) Swansea City: The Swans have risen under Paul Clement, and it might be just enough to keep them in England’s top flight come 2017/18.
burnley fc crest 14 (13) Burnley: The Clarets haven’t won since the tail end of January, and although they sit 12th, only seven points separate Burnley from 18th place.
source: 13 (14) Leicester City: A UCL quarterfinal and a recent lift in form under Craig Shakespeare. It looks like the Cinderella story is back on!
logo_westham
12 (9) West Ham United: The Hammers haven’t won since Feb. 4, but a top 10 finish could still be in the cards.
source: 11 (12) Watford: Only one win in five for the Hornets, and they must be wary of how tight the bottom of the table is.
source: 10 (11) Southampton: The Saints have benefitted from other teams struggling, and with two matches in hand a top 10 finish is very possible once again.
source: 9 (10) West Bromwich Albion: Two straight losses for the Baggies has put a damper on the team’s already bleak hopes of finishing top six.
source: 8 (8)
Stoke City: If Stoke could start picking up wins as opposed to draws, Stoke would have a shot at finishing top eight. Goals have been hard to come by for this club though.
source: 7 (4) Manchester United: Three straight winless in all competitions pretty much sums up United’s season. The Red Devils have been good but not great under Jose Mourinho.
source:
6 (5) Everton: The Toffees have quietly gone unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 and moved within two points of six place. If Ronald Koeman can get them there, could he be considered for Manager of the Year? 
source: 5 (7) Arsenal: The Gunners no longer have Champions League aspirations for this season after being pummeled by Bayern, and their PL title hopes are gone as well. All Arsene Wenger can hope for is to extend his team’s streak of top four finishes.
Logo_Manchester_City 4 (3) Manchester City: Take City’s Champions League collapse out of it. Pep Guardiola‘s side will likely finish top four and possibly top two.
source: 3 (6) Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp‘s backline continues to be this team’s Achilles’ heal and that showed recently with losses at Hull and Leicester. Top three is surely possible but the Reds attack has to continue to shine.
source: 2 (2) Tottenham: Any other season Spurs would go on to win the title, but Chelsea has had their say. Still a tremendous showing thus far from Tottenham.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: Unbeaten in seven and closing in on the PL crown, the Blues can’t lose the top spot, right?

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.