Paul Pogba

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Ballon d’Or shortlisters revealed: Alexis, Pogba, Bale left off

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France Football has released the names on its 30-man shortlist for the 2017 Ballon D’Or.

[ MORE: Yedlin fills USMNT void ]

The list includes seven Premier League players, one each from Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Liverpool.

Before we get to who is on the list, how about who isn’t? Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Wales is absent, as is Bayern Munich backstop Manuel Neuer and Premier League stars Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, and Hugo Lloris.

Remember: the list takes into account play with both club and country.

Here’s the entire list. Who is the most notable omission?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/Gabon)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France)
Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan/Italy)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus/Italy)
Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain/Uruguay)
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool/Brazil)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)
David De Gea (Manchester United/Spain)
Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)
Edin Dzeko (Roma/Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Radamel Falcao (Monaco/Colombia)
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/France)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Belgium)
Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Isco (Real Madrid/Spain)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur/England)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Germany)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal)
Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain/France)
Dries Mertens (Napoli/Belgium)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)
Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Spain)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Portugal)
Luis Suarez (Barcelona/Uruguay)

Fellaini set to miss time with left knee injury

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Manchester United will be without one of its starting midfielders for the next few weeks.

The Belgium FA revealed on Sunday that Marouane Fellaini suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee, ruling him out for “a couple of weeks.”

Fellaini suffered the injury midway through the first half of Belgium’s wild 4-3 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in World Cup qualifying Saturday evening. The injury forces Fellaini to miss Manchester United’s upcoming game against Liverpool, and with Paul Pogba‘s injury, leaves just Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic as natural central midfield options for manager Jose Mourinho.

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Fellaini has started three of six games in the Premier League this season, scoring three goals. With Pogba out, he had moved into the starting lineup and had begun to prove to Mourinho his worth this season.

The injury now is a setback for Fellaini, who will have to start over and work his way back into the lineup.

PL Playback: Opening Power Rankings

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Now seems like the perfect time for the first set of Premier League Power Rankings for the 2017-18 season, right?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

With seven games gone and the two week international break upon us, it is time to focus on who has impressed and who has struggled in the opening months of the campaign.

So much has happened in August and September and now it is time to take stock.

[ MORE: PL standings | schedule

Here it goes.


#1 Manchester City: Imperious. Kevin De Bruyne is running the show. Even with Aguero, Mendy and Kompany out injured Pep’s men have found a way to blow opponents away with 22 goals scored. Marquee wins over Chelsea and Liverpool showcase the current mood of invincibility around them and they’ve also won both games in the Champions League. Guardiola has so many attacking options and Ederson has finally solved his problem in goal. The title favorites have delivered early on, once again. Now, can they keep it up?

#2 Manchester United: Jose Mourinho is building this thing his way. It’s working. Romelu Lukaku has seven goals in seven games and although Paul Pogba has gone down injured so many others are stepping up. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and even Marouane Fellaini are chipping in with goals and in true Mourinho fashion they look as solid as a rock at the back with Nemanja Matic shielding the defense. United have won both of their Champions League games too and Mourinho is exuding confidence with 21 goals in seven games.

#3 Burnley: What. A. Start. Sean Dyche’s men are unbeaten away from home and have won at Chelsea and Everton and drawn at Liverpool and Tottenham. Not bad, especially after selling two stars over the summer. The Clarets are establishing themselves as a true contender to finish in the top 10 and have flown under the radar all summer. No surprise there but with captain and star goalkeeper Tom Heaton out long-term, their positive away results are even more impressive.

#4 Watford: Marco Silva’s side are dynamic going forward and have a solid base to build from. Their counters catch out opponents and in Richarlison they’ve found a gem. Losing Nathaniel Chalobah is a blow but they have a deeper squad than in recent years. Silva’s reputation as one of the best young managers in the game is undoubted and the Portuguese coach has Watford’s fans dreaming of challenging for a Europa League spot. Why not?

#5 Tottenham Hotspur: Mauricio Pochettino’s side have put aside their Wembley woes (they still haven’t won at home in the PL) to win four times on the spin on the road to start the season. The last time that happened they won the league and cup double in 160-61. Just saying. Harry Kane scored 13 goals in eight games for club and country in September and is on fire. Spurs will challenge for the title again and they’ve also won their opening two Champions League games. Wembley aside, a fine start.

#6 Newcastle United: Rafael Benitez is working his magic at Newcastle. The Magpies are hard to beat and at home they can take on anyone. Joselu could be the man to score the goals they need to not only survive in the Premier League after promotion but also push for a top 10 finish. Some fans are dreaming of a challenge for Europe but that seems a little far-fetched. Still, the newly-promoted Magpies will be satisfied with their start.

#7 Arsenal: After a tough start with defeats at Stoke and Liverpool, Arsene Wenger has steadied the ship with four-straight clean sheets in the Premier League. Suddenly Arsenal look a much better defensive unit and Alexandre Lacazette is looking like a great buy up top. Alexis Sanchez is also starting to return to his best form which suggests the Gunners will be challenging for a top four spot, even though they have the rigors of the Europa League to overcome. We’ve been here before with Arsenal but they seem to be more robust than in recent campaigns.

#8 Chelsea: A real topsy-turvy start for the reigning champs. After a tumultuous summer due to the Diego Costa situation and Antonio Conte seemingly unhappy with a lack of transfers, they lost to Arsenal in the Community Shield and to Burnley in their PL opener. They followed that up by beating Tottenham away and put in impressive displays against Everton, Leicester and Stoke. Alvaro Morata has hit the ground running in the PL and Eden Hazard is back to his best but the defeat to Man City was a reality check. Still, two wins from two in Europe and a great win at Atletico Madrid shows what they’re truly capable of. Back-to-back titles seems like a big ask and there are still question marks over Conte’s long-term future.

#9 Huddersfield Town: Opening up the season with two wins was perfection for David Wagner and his side, and their fans, have captured the minds of the Premier League. A 4-0 hammering at home against Tottenham in their first real test showed them how ruthless the league can be but if they can press midtable teams throughout the season as they have in the early weeks then they will be just fine. The Terriers have kept four clean sheets in seven and will be tough to beat and if Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre can strike up a partnership then maybe they can push for more than just staying up in their debut PL campaign.

#10 Stoke City: The Potters have had a really solid, albeit slightly bizarre, start to the season. A win against Arsenal and draw against Manchester United at home proved they can mix it with the big boys but defeats at Everton and Newcastle in tight games proved they can still improve defensively although having Jack Butland back fit is a huge bonus. Defensive injuries have been hard to deal with for Mark Hughes’ men but new signings Jese Rodriguez and Eric Choupo-Moting have added something extra in attack.

#11 Brighton & Hove Albion: Chris Hughton’s men are pragmatic and likeable but you wonder where the goals will come from on a consistent basis. Pascal Gross and Anthony Knockaert are both talented playmakers but if Tomer Hemed goes down injured they are struggling big time. If they can make it to January above the relegation zone then surely owner Tony Bloom will make plenty of funds available for a new striker, or two. A very commendable start to their first-ever Premier League campaign with home wins against West Brom and Newcastle.

#12 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s side are already seven points off the PL leaders and the same old defensive issues are hampering their progress. Philippe Coutinho is back scoring stunners and the pace of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah has been ripping teams apart without much reward. Two draws to open up Champions League play have been frustrating and despite dominating games missed chances have been costly. The standout display was the 4-0 hammering of Arsenal but that seems like a long time ago. Is the Klopp-effect wearing off?

#13 West Bromwich Albion: Tony Pulis’ men won their first two games of the season but haven’t won since. They were unlucky to lose away at Arsenal but threw away a two-goal lead in their most recent game at home against Watford. That’s incredibly unlike a Pulis side and you get the sense another big slump like the one they suffered in the second half of last season isn’t far off.

#14 Southampton: New season, same problem for Southampton. Mauricio Pellegrino’s side have dominated most of the games they’ve played in, even against Manchester United, but have scored just five goals in the first seven games of the season. Two of those were penalty kicks in the same game. Virgil Van Dijk is back on board but Saints feel a little bit like a team who has plenty of talent but are missing a ruthless streak. That’s incredibly dangerous and talk of a relegation battle is being whispered, perhaps incorrectly, by some fans.

#15 West Ham United: Slaven Bilic is under serious pressure despite the Hammers battling back in several games and grinding out two home wins. Javier Hernandez has, as expected, delivered goals, but it doesn’t seem like West Ham’s players are with the manager. Bilic’s contract runs out at the end of this season and he is unlikely to get a new deal. That’s creating all kinds of instability. The Hammers look set for another season in midtable, at best.

#16 Swansea City: The main problem for Paul Clement’s team is scoring goals. That’s what happens when you sell your two leading goalscorers from last season over the summer. Wilfried Bony has yet to get firing and Tammy Abraham is doing his best to chip in when he can. The Swans have ground out plenty of clean sheets on the road and surely their luck in front of goal will eventually change. The big problem for Clement is that they don’t look like scoring in most games.

#17 Bournemouth: Eddie Howe’s side lost five of their opening six games and naivety is creeping into their game once again. They led against Manchester City and Everton but ended up losing both games. The Cherries did seem more free-flowing in the final third against Leicester and should have won easily, so maybe things have finally clicked. A worrying start but whenever people have written them off over the past two seasons in the PL they always seem to have an answer. Now is the time for experienced campaigners Jermain Defoe and Asmir Begovic to step up.

#18 Leicester City: Plenty of people are worried about the Foxes, and rightly so. Craig Shakespeare’s side have had a tough start, schedule wise. They lost to Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool and then drew games at Huddersfield and Bournemouth which they should be winning. One win so far says it all and Shakespeare should perhaps start thinking about well and truly breaking up the title-winning team, apart from Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki. Leicester could be in a relegation battle.

#19 Everton: Awful. Dreadful. Disappointing. The Toffees are in real trouble and all because of one thing: their failure to replace Romelu Lukaku. The pressure is mounting on Ronald Koeman already after he brought in three No.10s in Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen but failed to address his biggest need. Hammerings by Chelsea and Tottenham, plus at Atalanta in the Europa League, were amplified by a worrying home defeat to Burnley in the PL. The surprise package of the season so far. And not in a good way. They would be bottom of our rankings if it wasn’t for the record-breaking exploits of our next team…

#20 Crystal Palace: The worst start in top-flight history says it all. Seven defeats on the spin. Zero goals score. Frank De Boer fired after four games and Roy Hodgson hired to try and steady the ship. Well, the ship is taking on water at an alarming rate and the Eagles could soon be cut adrift. Christian Benteke’s injury hasn’t helped matters and the period between November to December will truly decide if they can save themselves. Terrible times at Selhurst Park but they are only five points from safety.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace

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  • United leads all-time 34W-10D-7L
  • Palace winless in last 9 vs. MUFC
  • Last CP win at Old Trafford came in 2011

Injury-hit and goal-starved Crystal Palace faces red-hot Manchester United in its latest bid to comeback from a horrible start to this Premier League season (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Old Trafford is the venue for Roy Hodgson’s next opportunity to lead Palace to a goal, and a point, and he’s going to have to do it without two of his top attackers Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Benteke.

[ MORE: Mourinho says Pogba amongst “long-term” injuries ]

United’s had injury issues, too, and will still not have Paul Pogba nor Michael Carrick on Saturday. The Red Devils also played midweek in Russia, a talking point for both managers on Friday (see below).

Palace has yet to score in the league play this season, the longest stretch to start a campaign in Premier League history.

What they’re saying

Mourinho on United’s mindset during congested fixtures: “It is very important. We played Wednesday night and we arrived in Manchester at 4 a.m., home at 5 a.m., and we have to play tomorrow, so our mentality is always  very important.”

Hodgson on perceived fixture advantage: “I don’t know if their schedule helps us at all. There’s never a good time to play United and there’s always a good time to play against United. I guess Jose will say it’s not ideal to be playing on a Saturday at 3 p.m. after a trip to Russia, but they have a strong team on paper. The game is not played on paper though and we can only hope to give them a good game and any good luck going around will come our way.”

Prediction

If Hodgson was able to engineer an away result at Old Trafford without Benteke and Loftus-Cheek, we’d hand him the keys to the USMNT, and several other jobs at once. United easy, 3-0.

Mourinho has no timetable for Pogba return

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Jose Mourinho did not proffer much hope when it comes to the status of Manchester United star Paul Pogba, who has been out since suffering a thigh injury against Basel on Sept. 12.

The United manager classed Pogba with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, two players still working to return from long-term knee injuries.

[ MORE: Klopp “can’t shoot from the bench” ]

Pogba had been fantastic for Mourinho, and has missed a pair of Premier League matches and will add a third when Crystal Palace visits on Saturday.

And there’s nothing but vagueness when it comes to the potential of a return versus Liverpool after the international break. It could be gamesmanship, but it sounds a bit ominous. Here’s the boss:

“Paul Pogba’s injured he cannot play tomorrow and his injury I cannot have hope like Jones or Valencia who I can see in training and hope for positive answer. So don’t speak about long term injury – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rojo – I don’t speak about them.”