Week 5: Premier League Power Rankings – Arsenal and Tottenham battle it out

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There are some pretty big movers this week in PL Power Rankings, I can tell you that right now.

A few upsets sprinkled in with some resounding wins for the big boys means that the order of power has shifted considerably, with both Manchester sides sliding in opposite directions.

Week 5 saw plenty more goals and our first managerial casualty of the season, for better or worse, find out how it affected the Premier League Power Rankings this week.

By now you should know the drill, but every Wednesday we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team. Forget about the official league standings, that doesn’t mean squat.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables. The W-L-D bracket shows each PL team’s current record and you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

RANKING

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1 UP 5
Manchester City: Such was their dominance in the Manchester derby, it proves that City are the best team in the league on their day. Aguero, Nergedo and Nasri are striking up a partnership and the look steady at the back. They will aim to pick up their first win on the road at Aston Villa this week. (3-1-1)
source:  2 Arsenal: The Gunners are the real deal, with Mesut Ozil again looking like real quality in Arsenal’s battling win against Stoke. Ramsey is still scoring and things are going well for Arsene Wenger. However Theo Walcott is out injured, those aliments will hit Arsenal hard. (4-0-1)
source:  3 UP 3
Tottenham: Joint-top of the PL table with Arsenal, this would have been the start Spurs and Andre Villas-Boas were hoping for, post-Bale. On Sunday they battled out to yet another 1-0 win, although they left it late. Saturday’s big game against Chelsea will prove just how good they are. (4-0-1)
source:  4 DOWN 1 Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s side slid down, but they still looked extremely comfortable against Fulham in the 2-0 win on Saturday. Playing Spurs at White Hart Lane will be a massive test, and with Mata dazzling at Swindon, surely he will play some part? The new philosophy could take some time at the Bridge. (3-1-1)

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5 DOWN 5 Manchester United: What can we say about United? Is this just a brief slump, or is it a sign of things to come? Moyes is blaming the tough fixtures to start the season, but they are Manchester United, so they should expect to win most games. They should beat West Brom at home. Should. (2-2-1)
source:  6 DOWN 2 Liverpool: A shock home loss to Southampton saw Liverpool lose their unbeaten run to start the campaign, and the Reds looked lackluster going forward. Luckily, Luis Suarez is back and he can now kick on to grab the goals they need. A trip to Sunderland is up this week. (3-1-1)
source:  7 Everton: The Toffees pulled off a rousing comeback at Upton Park, as Baines scored two terrific free kicks and Romelu Lukaku grabbed a debut winner but worryingly didn’t remember it after a head knock. Roberto Martinez’ side are looking great going forward, Monday night football vs. Newcastle should be a belter. (2-0-3)
source:  8 SwanseaWhat a great week for Swansea after beating Valencia in the Europa League and dismantling Palace with ease. The Swans look back to their best and Michu is scoring again. A home game vs. Arsenal is a tough test on Saturday. (2-2-1)
source:  9 UP 2 Southampton: Tremendous win for the Saints at Anfield, as Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing style unsettled Liverpool. Daniel Osvaldo is improving all the time, and three clean sheets from five games is a great start. Palace at home this week is a great chance to grab three more points. (2-1-2)
source:  10 West Ham: Despite losing, the Hammers were pretty good for most of the clash against Everton. Some stunning goals from the Toffees thwarted West Ham, but at least they scored a few goals. A tricky trip to Hull is coming up this weekend. (2-2-1)
source:  11 DOWN 2 Stoke: A disappointing, yet expected, loss at Arsenal could have seen the Potters steal a point. Surprisingly they were undone by set-pieces and Mark Hughes will be disappointed by that. Home game against Norwich this weekend should be a real bruising battle, watch out for that one. (2-2-1)
source:  12 UP 3 Aston Villa: Brad Guzan was the hero for Villa as he saved a penalty and pulled off some great stops in the second half. A draw would’ve been a fair result but Villa held on for the win. Losing Christian Benteke is a huge, but he should be back in six weeks. Tough game vs. Man City this weekend. (2-3-0)

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13 Newcastle: The Magpies threw away a great chance to win at home against Hull, as Loic Remy twice handed them a lead that they squandered. Another tricky away tie to Everton is coming up and Alan Pardew must be worried about his side defensively. (2-2-1)
source:  14 UP 3 Hull City: Terrific win for the Tigers at St. James’ Park as Sone Aluko’s screamer sealed all three points. A battling display and true grit showcased what Hull are all about, a home game against West Ham is extremely winnable. So far the best of the promoted teams. (2-2-1)
source:  15 DOWN 3
Norwich City: I worry for the Canaries this season, I really do. They’ve spent big on strikers but I’m not convinced by Ricky van Wolfswinkel and they really need Gary Hooper to score goals for fun. At the back they’re okay, but Villa easily exposed their lack of pace. Work to do. (1-3-1)
source:  16 UP 2 West Brom: The Baggies finally clicked on Saturday to get their first win of the season, but to be fair, it was against Sunderland. Regardless, stephane Sessegnon looks at home and maybe things will turn around. Can they win at United this week? (1-3-1)
source:  17 DOWN 3 Fulham: What is going on down at Craven Cottage? Some are calling for Martin Jol’s head, but it may be too soon for that. Fulham aren’t playing well, and they hardly created any chances against Chelsea. I’ll say it again, too many similar signings from Jol. Must win vs. Cardiff in week 6. (1-3-1)
source:  18 DOWN 2
Cardiff City: They battled incredibly hard against Spurs, and they almost had a point before Paulinho’s backheel stole all three. The Bluebirds need to get something from every home game if they’re going to do well this season, because I think they will struggle away. (1-2-2)
source:  19
Crystal Palace: It’s a case of trying to battle through every game for Palace, as the new faces try to settle in as quickly as they can. Two defeats to Man Utd and Swansea were to be expected, but can they beat Southampton on Saturday? Ian Holloway will be breaking out the jig again if they can. (1-4-0)
source:  20 Sunderland: Well, now that’s over, what next? After Paolo Di Canio was fired, the Black Cats are in a heck of a mess. 14 new players not gelling, no manager and just one point from 15… this season needs to turn around fast. A home game against Liverpool isn’t ideal. (0-4-1)

How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica?

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Saturday brings a first look at the United States men’s national team in 2020, though Gregg Berhalter’s bunch won’t look anything like its best self.

The Yanks have an almost exclusively MLS roster for the match, with Hobro’s Christian Cappas, Wolfsburg II’s Uly Llanez and unattached 17-year-old Bryang Kayo in the fold.

Many of Berhalter’s best MLS stars won’t be in Carson either for the 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff. Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley are the biggest names.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Ronald Gonzalez’s Ticos will be similarly hampered, although more of Costa Rica’s A-side play in MLS and domestically.

We’ll leave the breakdown of the visitors for a later date, but who will rep the U.S. in Saturday’s Starting XI?

The travel roster includes keepers Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, and Matt Turner, as well as defenders Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Julian Araujo, Chase Gasper, Justen Glad, Mark McKenzie, and Sam Vines. Listed midfielders Sebastian Lletget, Jackson Yueill, Brenden Aaronson, Cappis, Kayo, and Brandon Servania are joined by forwards Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Ulysses Llanez.

Goalkeeper is anyone’s guess, but Johnson’s got the most run of the three during the Berhalter era. The younger Turner or more accomplished Hamid may step in there.

It would be surprising to see any other center backs besides Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long given what we know of Berhalter and his respect for regulars. Reggie Cannon should start at right back and it’s between Chase Gasper and Sam Vines for the left. We’ll choose Vines out of intrigue.

Jackson Yueill, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Gyasi Zardes are safe bets to start, and this would seem a spot to give Jonathan Lewis more than subs’ run. That leaves one spot, and we’re pegging Brandon Servania to be the one chosen of four midfielders aged 17-20.

There’s also the matter of whether FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira will be internationally cleared to play Saturday. We sure hope he will be!

How do you think Berhalter will line them up?


How Berhalter may go

Johnson

Cannon — Zimmerman — Long — Vines

Yueill — Servania

Arriola — Lletget — Lewis

Zardes


What we’d like to see

Turner

Cannon — Zimmerman — McKenzie — Vines

Yueill — Cappis — Servania

Arriola — Ferreira — Lewis

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Report: Sheffield United in ‘advanced talks’ for $22M Norway star

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Sheffield United is ready to add one of the game’s brightest young talents to its blossoming Premier League side.

Norway midfielder Sander Berge is the name, and he’s been linked with Liverpool amongst others over the past few months.

Berge turns 22 next month and already has 20 caps for Norway in addition to 113 senior appearances for Genk in Belgium and 43 more for Valerenga in his home country.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals and four assists. He won the Belgian Super League with Genk last year and has a career-best four goals so this season.

It shows what success brings to a club, as Sky Sports reports that Berge turned down a move to Bramall Lane in the summer.

The fee is said to be $22 million, which isn’t small but completely reasonable given his stature for club and country.

This may move may join the Lys Mousset purchase as one of the Blades’ smartest bits of business, especially as Chris Wilder‘s men look for success on multiple fronts. Their success as a newly-promoted side is one of the great stories of the European season, and a place in Europe would be a fantastic achievement.

From The Yorkshire Post:

“It is going well, no doubt about it,” Wilder said. “On the Premier League front and in the Cup. You probably would not think it, but the win at Millwall has given me an enormous amount of pleasure in confirming, not even seeing, what my team is about. Players have come in with the likes of the skipper (Billy Sharp) and other players who are really driving it forward and want to produce individual performances and the atmosphere is good.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.