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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Swansea: What 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Pogba contract talks to begin after season ends
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Pogba contract update: For all the talk of Paul Pogba leaving Manchester United this summer, last summer and the summer before that one, the 27-year-old midfielder now appears ready to commit to the Red Devils for the foreseeable future.
According to a report from Sky Sports, not only is Pogba happy at Man United these days, but he also expects negotiations over a new contract to begin after the club’s Europa League run ends. United are set to face Sevilla in the quarterfinals on Sunday, with the final looming large next Friday, Aug. 21.
“Pogba is happy at United and he’s expecting them to open contract talks once their Europa League campaign is over.
“His current deal runs out next summer but United always insert this year option so they don’t get caught out with free transfers.
“It should be said United are in a better position to negotiate with Pogba and the returning Dean Henderson, as it stands from Sheffield United, following the departure of Alexis Sanchez and all of the money his wages have now freed.
“There appears to be a willingness from all parties to get around the table as far as Pogba is concerned.”
The part of the report referring to Sanchez’s now-offloaded contract is of the utmost importance. Not only was the transfer itself — and the Chilean’s time at Old Trafford — an incredible flop, but his massive (reported) $500,000-per-week contract was a huge obstacle for the club when it came time to sign new players and/or negotiate new contracts with players already at the club.
It’s not just the Pogba contract which needs resolving in the coming months, but budding superstar Mason Greenwood is almost certain to get another pay rise following his standout performances over the second half of the 2019-20 season. The 18-year-old signed a new contract back in October, but he will likely be rewarded — and locked down — with the longest possible terms as United move to fend off any interest from other clubs in the Premier League and around Europe. Without the Sanchez money off the books, taking care of such business would have been that much more difficult.
With Manchester City the favorites against Lyon, a massive clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, plus intriguing ties between Atalanta and PSG, plus RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid, the final few games in the 2019-20 Champions League campaign will be so tight to call.
In the next few days the Champions League quarterfinals will excite as the mini tournament in Portugal begins.
Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate to reach the last eight and Pep Guardiola’s boys will be confident but wary after Lyon dumped out Juventus in the Round of 16. Bayern v. Barcelona should be all-out attack, while Atletico v. Leipzig will be full of grit and Atalanta and PSG could end up 6-5 to either team as two free-flowing attacks collide.
Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, and there will be one heck of a show over the next few days.
Below is a look at the key battles, as well as how to watch and follow all of the Champions League quarterfinal fixtures in the USA.
How to watch, stream Champions League quarterfinals
Kylian Mbappe makes the bench after suffering an ankle injury just over two weeks ago. He was previously expected to be altogether ruled out for Wednesday’s game. It will be interesting to see whether or not he is truly available should PSG need him to come on late in the game.
Yes, that Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough. The Dutch midfielder has been a sensation at Atalanta and does most of the dirty work for Gomez, Zapata et al. to score boat loads of goals. His battle in the engine room against Ander Herrera will be crucial. Marco Verratti is out injured and that is a big blow, especially with Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria out too for PSG. Neymar and Icardi will be looking for the midfield to give them the ball as much as possible and if that happens, PSG could run riot. That said, if De Roon can win that battle with Herrera, Atalanta’s attackers can cause PSG’s defense big problems. Whoever wins the midfield battle will win this game. It should be tight and full of goals. Enjoy.
RB Leipzig – Atletico Madrid: Dayot Upamecano v.Diego Costa
This should be an epic head-to-head. Costa loves the one-on-one scraps and Upamecano is among the finest center backs in Europe right now. The young Frenchman doesn’t get bullied often but Costa will have a good go. Costa has hardly been prolific in his second spell at Atletico but he so often sets the tone for their scrappy displays under Diego Simeone. Leipzig like to play a back three at times and that could leave space for Costa to run at Upamecano. This will be intriguing. Watch out for Costa to put down his marker early on with elbows and everything else flying at Upamecano.
Barcelona – Bayern Munich: Lionel Messi v. David Alaba
Okay, so, we know how Jerome Boateng v. Lionel Messi went before. Somewhere, somebody is still using that gif of Boateng tangling his own legs like spaghetti as Messi bamboozled him to score at the Nou Camp. So it’s probably best if versatile Austrian star David Alaba goes up against Messi. It’s likely that Alaba will play at the back but he should basically mark Messi, and when (or if, because this is Messi) he gets the ball back he has the quality to start attacks. Bayern and Barcelona both score plenty of goals but defensively they have to improve if they’re going to win the Champions League this season.
Manchester City – Lyon: Aymeric Laporte v. Memphis Depay
Everyone is tipping Man City to beat Lyon easily, but that’s what everyone said about Lyon against Juventus. Memphis Depay is a real threat up top and Lyon usually do very well against Man City. Pep Guardiola needs Aymeric Laporte to be at his very best and it is likely he and Fernandinho will again line up together at center back. Laporte will line up on the left and Memphis will start on the right side of Lyon’s central strikers, so this will be a battle to look out for. Laporte has class but his pace is sometimes questioned and if City leave him exposed on the break, Memphis can take advantage of those situations.
Barcelona and Lionel Messi have the disappointment of losing their La Liga title in recent weeks to spur them on in the Champions League, while Bayern Munich swept all before them in Germany this season with Robert Lewandowski scoring 53 goals in 44 games in all competitions.
After just a few months in charge, Barca boss Quique Setien likely needs to win the Champions League to keep his job as Messi is firing in attack but Barca are still suspect at the back. As for Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick, who has masterminded a masterful turnaround since taking charge last November, he and the Bayern hierarchy will see this as the Bavarians’ best chance to win the Champions League since they last did so in 2013.
Barcelona will likely be without the injured Ousmane Dembele who hasn’t featured since having surgery on his hamstring in February, but could be part of the squad.
Bayern are without Benjamin Pavard who has an ankle injury, but apart from that they have a fully fit squad to choose from as Alphonso Davies sat out of training with a slight adductor problem but is expected to be fit.
What they’re saying
Antoine Griezmann on Barcelona’s mindset: “We are looking forward to it, we have worked well tactically and we are ready to play the game. We know it will be difficult, but we know what we have to do to qualify for the semifinals. It will be a very good match. We hope to take advantage of the quality we have. We are in a good moment and we can play a good game. We have to be together, up front and at the back, and try to have the ball as much as possible.”
Hansi Flick on the style of play he wants from Bayern: “Defensively to win the ball – and offensively, purposefully and consistently to score goals. The intensity of our actions is crucial. We also want to play attractive possession football. The most important thing is that we see ourselves as a team and that everyone knows what their task is. Every player has to get involved and be able to rely on his neighbor on the pitch. This is extremely important to us.”
It is not often that Barcelona (+235) are the underdogs but they are here, and that shows you how good Bayern Munich (+115) have been in recent months. Bayern will be wary of Messi but with Lewandowski banging in goals for fun and a stable midfield and defensive unit behind him, the Bavarian giants are the favorites for a reason. The tie at +255 provides value and this should be a goal-fest.
If this turns into a straight shootout, you would probably fancy Barcelona to advance with Luis Suarez, Messi and Antoine Griezmann in attack. But Bayern will keep it tight, look to slow play down and then launch counters which Lewandowski can finish. I think this game will be stretched and become the attacking feast all neutrals are hoping for, but the Germans are just a more ruthless and solid team right now. Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich.