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Premier League Power Rankings: Jumbled at the top

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Few people truly believe Spurs will catch Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title, but that’s not what Power Rankings are about, are they?

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings archive ]

Not to us. Our PLPR’s have always been about how a team’s current form melds into their overall season, and that just may be enough for us to put a new team up top for the first time in a while.

That’s if we don’t change our mind by the time we finish filling out the chart…


TEAM RANKING
source:
20 (20) Sunderland: Stewing on their plight through the weekend, and daydreaming of burying derby mates Middlesbrough next time out.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 19 (19) Middlesbrough: Single-handedly making the argument for offense, Boro’s decent defense hasn’t been helped nearly enough by those outside of Alvaro Negredo.
source:
18 (18) Swansea City: Guidolin goes defense? Swans lose. Bradley goes for broke? Swans lose. Clement tries a bunch of things? Swans show signs of life for a bit… but only a bit. Swans lose.
Hull City logo 17 (16) Hull City: #BeTwoPointsBetterThanSwansea doesn’t go great on a shirt or a Tweet, but it’s the strategy.
logo_westham
16 (15) West Ham United: Need a summer of rest and a transfer window in a bad way.
source: 15 (13) Bournemouth: After a 3-week gauntlet of Liverpool, Chelsea, and Spurs, “Home to Boro” probably looks amazing on the fixture list.

14 (14) Burnley: If there was a home Champions League (6th best record), Burnley would be headed for Europe. Only problem? The Clarets are two losses away from a winless season away from Turf Moor.
source: T-11 (12) Crystal Palace: Tip of the cap to ol’ Sam Allardyce. We just wish he was willing to take a little bit of credit.
source: T-11 (9) West Bromwich Albion: “ALRIGHT BOYS, WE’RE GONNA GET TO 40 POINTS OR SO, THEN WE’LL DISTRIBUTE POINTS TO EVERYONE ELSE THE REST OF THE WAY. LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” Tony Pulis in August, probably.
source: T-11 (17) Stoke City: Finally back in the win column, Stoke rises
10 (10) Leicester City: With the Champions League era over, can we all agree that Leicester, unfettered by Europe, will probably win the league next season? Arsenal’s next.
source: 9 (7) Southampton: Man City loss reminds us that Virgil Van Dijk was really important.
source: 8 (11) Watford: Winners of three-in-four and that loss came to Spurs, who look capable of outracing a fighter jet right now.
source: 7 (8) Arsenal: Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are the main reasons the Gunners aren’t comfortably seventh or worse.
6 (5) Everton: We know the Toffees can dust the lower half of the table, but they really need to beat Chelsea or Arsenal in the run-in to engender any Top Four confidence for next season.
source: 5 (4) Liverpool: Quietly (?) unbeaten in seven.
Logo_Manchester_City
4 (6) Manchester City: For the first time since their red-hot start, City is starting to consistently show what a Pep Guardiola team can be in the Premier League. Will summer reinforcements allow them to do it for a full year?
source: T-2 (3) Manchester United: Still have not lost in league play since October 23rd.
source: T-2 (1) Chelsea: Yes, they are going to win the league. No, we wouldn’t pick them on a neutral field against Spurs right now. Yes, they’ll probably prove us wrong at Wembley this weekend.
source: 1 (2) Tottenham Hotspur: The best team going right now, just too late to make a difference to the title fight. Probably. Right?

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.