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PL Power Rankings: Blues back where they belong

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It’s no surprise that, as the season draws to a close, the Power Rankings slowly begin to reflect the Premier League table positions more and more. Eventually, you are what the table says you are.

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Teams like Stoke City and West Brom, who benefitted from great starts to the year, are stumbling down the stretch. Teams like Manchester United, Southampton, and Manchester City appear better than their position at times, but can’t secure the points to prove it. We can move them appropriately in the Power Rankings, but only for so long.

So, where do we stand? Is the title race over? Can Hull City avoid relegation? Maybe the Power Rankings can be of some assistance…


TEAM RANKING
source:
20 (20) Sunderland: With the Black Cats officially relegated, David Moyes is now managing not just for his job, but for his career.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 19 (19) Middlesbrough: There’s still hope. Barely. Chelsea’s up next, and that could spell doom.
source:
18 (18) Swansea City: With Hull City matched up against Sunderland, the upcoming game against Everton feels like a must-win.
Hull City logo 17 (17) Hull City: The Tigers seem to get points at all the right times. It’ll still be a scrap to the finish, but so far they’ve successfully warded off every effort by Swansea to outmaneuver them.
source: 16 (11) Stoke City: Over their last five, they’ve lost to teams in 14th, 18th, and 3rd. Drew with the the team in 15th. Needed a goal of the season candidate to beat the team in 17th.
logo_westham 15 (16) West Ham United: Sure, they’re unbeaten in four. They beat Swansea by 1, and drew 0-0 with Sunderland and Stoke. The Hammers are still limping over the finish line. A season to forget for Slaven Bilic.
source: 14 (11) West Bromwich Albion: That faint sound you hear is West Brom’s fabulous first half of the season fading into nothing more than a distant memory.
13 (14) Burnley: Beating Crystal Palace was a huge, huge boost against a team that was in good form. Little to worry about now.
source: 12 (15) Bournemouth: Back in the win column, proved they’re 5 goals better than
source: 11 (11) Crystal Palace: The 1-0 loss to Spurs was nothing to be ashamed of. The 2-0 loss to Burnley is. Didn’t see that one coming. Back down to Earth it is. Still seem quite safe.
source: 10 (8) Watford: 1 goal in their last four is not going to earn any style points. Or actual points.
source: 9 (9) Southampton: Every time we want to push this team up the rankings, they go and draw 0-0 with Hull.
8 (10) Leicester City: Tough to get this team figured out, but they’re not getting relegated, and that’s a significant upgrade from a few months ago.
source: 7 (7) Arsenal: Thoroughly beaten by their arch-rivals, the FA Cup is all Arsene Wenger has to hold onto. It might not be enough.
6 (6) Everton: All season long they’ve hovered in this purgatory. Smoked the bottom teams, smoked by the top teams. Top 4 hopes are gone.
source: 5 (2) Manchester United: A point back of wishy-washy Manchester City for 4th, and Jose Mourinho says he’s giving up on the league. Does anyone actually believe him?
Logo_Manchester_City
4 (4) Manchester City: Just when we thought Pep Guardiola would finish the season strong, they go and drop points to Manchester United and Middlesbrough. A good team that struggles in crucial moments.
source: 3 (3) Liverpool: They lost to Crystal Palace like so many other top teams, but
source: 2 (1) Tottenham Hotspur: Sure, they’re in fabulous league form (9 straight wins). Maybe we shouldn’t drop them based on a game outside Premier League competition, but after being soundly beaten by Chelsea at Wembley, it’s tough to put them #1.
source: 1 (2) Chelsea: Since losing to Manchester United, the Blues have scored 11 goals in three games. The defense has looked surprisingly shaky to finish the year, but given their soft stretch run, they should be fine.

Zouma signs new Chelsea contract, is immediately loaned to Stoke City

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Kurt Zouma‘s long-term future is secure at Chelsea, but his short-term future will be away from Stamford Bridge.

The France international centerback signed a new six-year contract with Chelsea and was promptly sent out on a season-long loan to Stoke City. Zouma made just three starts and nine total appearances last season as he came back from a torn ACL suffered in February 2016.

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“It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said in a statement. “He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

“Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke.”

The move to Stoke will give Zouma a new experience, playing for a mid-table side in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in at centerback, battling with American Geoff Cameron and Englishman Ryan Shawcross.

Even with John Terry leaving the club, Zouma was likely to be second-choice in the back three for Chelsea and if he wants to make France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, he’ll have to play regularly.

 

 

 

Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea

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Chelsea FC will have another Spanish international leading the front line, with Diego Costa likely on his way out of town.

The club announced that Alvaro Morata has completed a transfer from Real Madrid, signing a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The BBC reports the transfer fee at nearly $78 million.

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“I am so happy to be here,” Morata said in a statement. “It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”

Morata emerged as an option to replace Costa after Romelu Lukaku decided on joining Manchester United over his former club Chelsea. Morata, who was a Manchester United target at first, then turned his sights on London after becoming disillusioned in Madrid, playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema.

Despite not being first-choice up top, Morata scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga games and another three in the UEFA Champions League, which Real Madrid went on to win over Morata’s former club Juventus. Morata started for Juventus the last time the club had been in the Champions League final.

Despite being just 24, Morata is emerging as one of the world’s top forwards. He has nine goals in 19 games for the Spanish National Team and now is the right time for him to experience the challenge of the Premier League, where the games come thick and fast and the pace of the game is a step up from what he’s experienced in Spain and Italy.

However, the tactical knowledge he’s learned in both places should help him in England, where he can position himself between the opposing centerbacks.

 

Report: Neymar tells Barcelona teammates he’s off to PSG

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Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.

According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.

The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.

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Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.

Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Liverpool complete signing of Hull’s Robertson

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Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.

The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.

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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.

Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.