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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.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings archive ]

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.

Still waiting for these Premier League summer transfers to hit

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They seemed like hits at the time, but some significant summer transfer buys are are struggling in the Premier League.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

Whereas Mohamed Salah, Nemanja Matic, and Alvaro Morata have been solid pickups, and even lesser moves like Kurt Zouma to Stoke and Grzegorz Krychowiak to West Brom have hit the spot, some purchases just have not panned out at their new clubs.

Some aren’t getting playing time, while others aren’t hitting their stride, but here are some moves which just haven’t paid off (yet).

Andre Gray, Watford — The striker has two goals and two assists, but has had problems keeping hold of the ball and has the same amount of goals as defender Daryl Janmaat and midfielder Will Hughes despite playing about 300 percent of their minutes.

Marko Arnautovic, West Ham — The ex-Stoke player was a menace in a midweek draw against Arsenal, but Arnautovic has managed just one goal for the Irons this season. That’s equal to his amount of red cards.

Renato Sanches and Roque Mesa, Swansea City — Sanches hasn’t been able to get into the squad despite being one of the more talked about loans of the summer; Mesa may be coming around in recent weeks, but was an unused sub or not in the squad in 10 of Swans’ first 13.

Jese, Stoke City – The Real Madrid attacker was almost certain to take time to adjust to the Premier League, but his match-winner against Arsenal on Opening Day remains his lone marker.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool — His deadline day move to join Liverpool, supposedly to play centrally, seemed a head-scratcher. He’s only recently seen consistent minutes in a more central role despite Liverpool having loads of problems there. Maybe that’s on Jurgen Klopp, but we’re still scratching our heads.

Report: Galaxy close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper

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The LA Galaxy may be turning to its Cali Clasico rival for a new goalkeeper.

Reportedly denied in its pursuit of longtime Vancouver backstop David Ousted, the Galaxy are said to be close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper David Bingham from San Jose, according to ESPN.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

The deal would reportedly cost LA between $200,000 and $250,000 in TAM.

Bingham, 28, lost his starting gig to Clemson product Andrew Tarbell this season, and the latter looks intent on keeping the position.

The Galaxy have not had a long-term answer in goal since Jaime Penedo left the club in 2015 (though 24-year-old Jon Kempin showed some very good things last season). Bingham would be a fine addition for a Galaxy team that hemorrhaged the second-most goals in MLS.

FIFA worried about government interference in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation, FIFA said Friday it will send a delegation to the country to investigate government meddling.

FIFA said in a statement written in Spanish that it had recently sent a letter to the federation “expressing our concern for the situation that the federation is going through and reminding (its officials) that, according to the Statutes of FIFA, all member federations must manage their affairs independently and assure that there is no interference by third parties.”

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported earlier Friday that the FIFA letter warned of a possible suspension because of the government’s push to hold elections following the arrest of federation president Angel Maria Villar in July on suspicion of corruption.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

According to El Pais, FIFA is concerned that the government’s interest in federation elections could be considered outside meddling and break its rules. If the national federation were to be suspended, Spain’s team would not be allowed to play at next year’s World Cup.

FIFA’s statement made no mention of a suspension or other punitive measures.

But the scare was big enough for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to say that Spain will not miss soccer’s biggest event.

“I am sure that Spain will go to the World Cup in Russia and that it will win it,” Rajoy said at a news conference in Brussels.

FIFA added in its statement that “in the coming days” it will send a delegation, which will include representatives from UEFA, to Madrid to “observe and analyze the situation” of the Spanish soccer federation.

The federation said in a separate statement that its interim president, Juan Luis Larrea, had spoken with FIFA and UEFA officials at the World Cup draw on Dec. 1 and that he had passed on their “enormous concern” to Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport.

The Spanish federation said it was waiting for the ministry to set a date for a meeting.

Spanish police arrested Villar, his son, and two other soccer officials in July on suspicion of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar was replaced by Larrea, the body’s treasurer for three decades. Critics of Villar argue that elections are needed to make a clean start for the institution that has been tarnished by the scandal.

Newcastle linked with targets as Benitez begins transfer quest

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Newcastle United’s players have canceled their Christmas party, as manager Rafa Benitez admits he’s working on January gifts for the St. James’ Park set.

The Magpies have one point from their last eight matches, and face Arsenal, West Ham, and Manchester City in the run-up to the New Year, closing off a run of five matches in 16 days with Brighton and Stoke.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City vs. Spurs ]

Benitez says he’s begun talks with managing director Lee Charnley about the January window. The team is expected to make moves whether Mike Ashley completes a reported sale of the team or not. From Sky Sports:

“At this time it is just to talk about ideas,” he said. “You might say ‘I would like to sign this player’ and someone will say ‘£40m’ – maybe it is not realistic.

“The main thing, we had this conversation, then we have to move forward quickly. I don’t know the details but at least we were talking about that. We have to progress and it is so obvious that we have to improve things.”

Newcastle has been linked with a number of notable names a few weeks from the start of the January market, including Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, prolific Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun, as well as Liverpool’s Danny Ings and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw.