Premier League Power Rankings: Chelsea impress, Liverpool the real deal – Week 9

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After week 9, there’s been plenty of movement at the bottom of ProSoccerTalk’s rankings, but towards the top most of the heavyweights are looking steady and assured.

Big wins for Arsenal and Chelsea have consolidated their title aspirations, as the latter shrugged off a well-drilled Manchester City outfit to seal a vital three points late on at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United grabbed a comeback win, but put in yet another shaky display and Liverpool’s iimpressive strike  partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge did the business once again.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

By now you should know the drill. Every Wednesday we put our neck on the line to analyze the strength of each Premier League team, forget about the official league standings (here they are in case you actually do want them) 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-D-L 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
Arsenal: Not the most vintage display form the Gunners, but they gutted out a victory against newly promoted Palace thanks to a PK and a late goal from Giroud. They struggled to get their passing game going, but wins like this when you don’t play well are exactly what the doctor ordered. Massive test vs. Liverpool this week. (7-1-1)
source:  2
Chelsea: The Blues went toe-to-toe with Man City on Sunday in a real cracker, as Fernando Torres proved to be the difference maker following Joe Hart’s late mistake. Chelsea dominated early on, but a second half relapse affected them badly. That said, their squad depth is superb and in October it was six wins from six in all comps. for Jose Mourinho’s men. (6-2-1)
source:  3
Manchester City: What looked like being a thoroughly deserved point away at Chelsea turned into a defeat in the blink of an eye. Manuel Pellegrini won’t be happy with that, but his side played well and are still looking like Chelsea’s biggest title rivals at the moment. Aguero is razor sharp and should tear Norwich to pieces this weekend at the Etihad. (5-1-3)
source:  4 UP 2 Liverpool: The Reds looked tremendous going forward and with Suarez and Sturridge on top form in the 4-1 win vs. West Brom, goals are flowing and life is good at Anfield. If they beat Arsenal this Saturday they go top of the PL… the showdown at the Emirates will be a true indicator as to how good Brendan Rodgers’ side are. (6-2-1)

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5 DOWN 1
Tottenham: Another 1-0 win for Spurs, another PK winner for Roberto Soldado and all is well at White Hart Lane… except it’s not. Manager AVB called out Tottenham fans for “negativity” following the victory, and the defensive style is vastly different than previous years. But Spurs keep winning and keeping clean sheets. (6-1-1)
source:  6 DOWN 1
Southampton: I was at St. Mary’s to see the Saints completely dismantle Fulham in the first half. They went in 2-0 up but it could have been five or six. An exciting core of young players, a manager who’s style is getting results, how far can they go? Apparently, “the sky is the limit”…  that’s what Argentine boss Mauricio Pochettino told me afterwards. (5-3-1)
source:  7 Manchester United: David Moyes’ men got a win, but only just. They had to rally from 1-0 down, and 2-1 down against Stoke to grab a victory at Old Trafford as their defensive struggles continue and the Red Devils look sluggish and uneasy across the pitch. At least they’re slowly climbing up the table. (4-2-3)
source:  8
Everton: The Toffees are absolutely flying, but had USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard to thank (and his beard) for a massive PK save at the weekend, that set up Lukaku and co. to beat Villa. Suave, solid and pacey, this Everton side will get better and better. (5-3-1)
source:  9
Swansea: A disappointing draw at home vs. West Ham for Swansea came off the back of Europa League action at the Liberty. Michael Laudrup’s men can’t get the balance right between midweek soccer and the rigors of PL, but it’s a good problem to have. Once Michu and Bony get going as a partNErship, everything will be alright. Huge, huge derby game vs. Cardiff on Sunday, anything but a win will be frowned upon. (3-2-4)
source:  10 UP 1
Hull City: Yes they lost at Spurs, but they had four starters missing and still put in a sterling display at White Hart Lane. The Tigers could have easily grabbed a point, and a shocking PK decision against them cost Steve Bruce’s side a point. I’ll say it again, they should be just fine this season. (3-2-4)
source:  11 DOWN 1
Aston Villa: I really can’t work out what Villa are all about this season. One minute they beat Man City, Arsenal and Norwich away… then they get obliterated by Everton. Benteke needed that early goal from the spot, a big miss from him, but the Villans should pull further up the table in due course. Winnable game away at West Ham this weekend. (3-1-5)
source:  12 Norwich City: The Canaries worry me. They outplayed Cardiff and just couldn’t score to save their life in the 0-0 draw. Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel have done the business in European competitions, but they’ve come from weaker leagues in Scotland and Portugal and may find it hard to adjust to the PL. Is a relegation battle on? (2-2-5)

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13 West Brom: The Baggies were unfortunate, because they came up against Suarez and Sturridge in top form. James Morrison’s PK gave them some hope of a comeback, but there was no repeat of their Anfield heroics of the last few years. Will be hoping to beat a beleaguered  Palace side at home this week. (2-4-3)
source:  14 Newcastle: Alan Pardew’s side got off to a slow start, but then got better as their North East derby with Sunderland went on. A late stunner from Fabio Borini won it for the Mackems, but Newcastle with huge defensive worries at least put in a shift and probably should have grabbed a point. Tough match at home to Chelsea this week could pile the pressure on for Pardew. (3-2-4)
source:  15 UP 1
West Ham: The Hammers just can’t score but at least they’re great at the back. Like Norwich their strikers aren’t firing, but Big Sam hasn’t really got any fit. Kevin Nolan needs to be pushed further forward to try and grab a few goals. Home game against Villa on Saturday is massive. (2-3-4)
source:  16 UP 1
Stoke City: A spirited yet unsuccessful display at United perhaps deserved a point. The Potters were surprisingly undone by aerial balls into the box, which is usually their forte. Peter Crouch back amongst the goals will please Mark Hughes, but losing against his old side United won’t. In-form Southampton visit the Britannia Stadium this week, another one of ‘Sparky’s’ old clubs. (2-2-5)
source:  17 DOWN 2
Fulham: One of the worst displays I’ve seen from Fulham in recent history in their loss to Southampton, and Martin Jol admitted afterwards that “we could’ve been hammered today.” You have to applaud the Dutch managers honesty… but when will new owner Shadid Khan start demanding more from a talented bunch of players? At home vs. Manchester United this weekend… (3-1-5)
source:  18 UP 2
Sunderland: Sheer relief for Black Cats fans, as the first win of the season arrived. Sunderland are off the bottom, Gus Poyet’s men won a massive derby game at the death and hope has returned to the Stadium of Light. Can the Uruguayan boss lead his side up the table as they close the gap quickly? A trip down the East coast to Hull could be fruitful this week. (1-1-7)
source:  19 DOWN 1
Cardiff: The Bluebirds have nothing going on up front, and they battled for a point without many style points against Norwich. This Sunday’s South Wales derby against Swansea is huge, a bad loss may see a knee-jerk reaction from controversial owner Vincent Tan. That would be a big mistake. Work to do for Cardiff. (2-3-4)
source:  20 DOWN 1
Crystal Palace: They battled and matched Arsenal for 45 minutes, then a moment of madness from Adlène Guedioura just after the half changed the game. 1-0 down against Arsenal isn’t easy, but Palace rallied before succumbing losing to a late sucker punch. A new manager is desperately needed if they’re going to drag themselves off the bottom. West Brom away this weekend. (1-0-8)

Report: USMNT’s McKennie linked with Everton, Newcastle

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Weston McKennie has been linked with a move to Premier League sides Everton and Newcastle United.

The USMNT midfielder, 21, has been the main man in Schalke’s midfield over the past few seasons but he is reportedly available for $28 million this summer and several Premier League teams are interested in McKennie.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from Bild, both Everton and Newcastle want to sign Weston McKennie from Schalke this summer.

McKennie has been one of the only Schalke players who can come out of the end of the season with his head held high. David Wagner’s side ended the season on an incredible 16-game winless run and scored just five times after the restart. McKennie scored two of them.

The versatile midfielder can also play at full back and per other reports, Hertha Berlin are also interested in signing him. Schalke’s sporting director Jochen Schneider pointed to the fact that McKennie has a contract until 2024 which he signed last summer but he wouldn’t rule out a move.

Schalke are said to be in a dire financial situation and are trimming their wage bill and squad accordingly this summer.

McKennie has previously said he wants to make the move to the Premier League and both Everton and Newcastle would seem like very good landing spots for him. In fact, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, those were the two teams I previously selected as being the best place for him to land if he did indeed get his wish for a move to England.

“For me, the next target is England. It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League. I want to join a club that is fighting for a place in Europe: the Champions League or the Europa League. For now, I am happy in Schalke because I can play,” McKennie said.

That’s the key here. McKennie will want to play and at Everton and Newcastle he would have a battle to get into the team initially but he would surely be a regular contributor considering what we’ve seen from him in the Bundesliga over the last few seasons. Both Everton and Newcastle need a destructive holding midfielder and McKennie fits the bill.

The $28 million price tag seems a little high in the current market, so that could be a stumbling block, but there’s a deal to be done here. Schalke need to trim their wage bill, McKennie wants to move to the Premier League and Premier League clubs wants to sign him.

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With 92 games remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We may know whether fifth is a Champions League place after scheduled June 8-10 meetings to hear Man City’s appeal over its European ban.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With between nine and 10 matches left for everyone and eighth potentially being a Europa League spot, all the teams between fourth and 11th still have European hopes in the balance. That would change should Norwich City or Newcastle win the FA Cup, so call it 13 clubs.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 32 28 2 2 70 25 45 16-0-0 12-2-2 86
 Manchester City 32 21 3 8 81 33 48 12-2-2 9-1-6 66
 Leicester City 32 16 7 9 60 31 29 9-4-3 7-3-6 55
 Chelsea 32 16 6 10 57 44 13 8-3-5 8-3-5 54
 Manchester United 32 14 10 8 51 31 20 9-5-2 5-5-6 52
 Wolves 32 13 13 6 45 34 11 6-7-3 7-6-3 52
 Sheffield United 32 12 11 9 33 32 1 8-3-5 4-8-4 47
 Arsenal 32 11 13 8 47 41 6 8-5-3 3-8-5 46
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 12 9 11 51 44 7 9-3-4 3-6-7 45
 Burnley 32 13 6 13 36 45 -9 8-2-6 5-4-7 45
 Everton 32 12 8 12 40 47 -7 8-5-3 4-3-9 44
 Crystal Palace 32 11 9 12 28 37 -9 6-4-6 5-5-6 42
 Newcastle United 32 11 9 12 33 43 -10 6-7-3 5-2-9 42
 Southampton 32 12 4 16 41 55 -14 4-2-10 8-2-6 40
 Brighton & Hove Albion 32 7 12 13 34 44 -10 5-6-5 2-6-8 33
 West Ham United 32 8 6 18 38 56 -18 5-3-8 3-3-10 30
 Watford 32 6 10 16 29 49 -20 4-6-6 2-4-10 28

 Aston Villa 32 7 6 19 36 60 -24 5-3-8 2-3-11 27
 Bournemouth 32 7 6 19 30 54 -24 4-5-7 3-1-12 27
 Norwich City 32 5 6 21 25 60 -35 4-3-9 1-3-12 21

Chelsea – Watford preview: How to watch, stream info, prediction, odds

Chelsea - Watford preview
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Chelsea – Watford preview: Chelsea looks to rebound from a surprise loss to a relegation candidate when it hosts another scrapper on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (start time, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The Blues failed to take hold of third place after falling 3-2 at West Ham earlier this week, and will now face an ornery and underachieving Hornets side.

STREAM CHELSEA-WATFORD LIVE ONLINE

Watford’s 28 points are enough to be outside the drop zone, but just. Aston Villa and Bournemouth have 27 points each and also face top-four chasing sides this weekend.


Team news

Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah are available for Watford after being scratched from the Hornets last start for a reported quarantine infraction.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on the loss to West Ham: “Not the story of our season, but we have had many of these moments. Chance to go third but you have to do every part of the game to get them. The players in those moments have to show an extra mentality to get through a game like this. I have seen us play great games, but then I have seen opportunities to jump teams or close points, but we haven’t taken them. It shows the work we have to do.”

Troy Deeney on Watford’s struggles near the bottom three: “We’ve had chats. Everyone was frustrated so we’ve tried to park it as quickly as we can in regard to moving onto the next one, but there’s certainly been a lot of things said. It’s important we are able to do that as it doesn’t help anybody if people are not speaking up and saying what’s on their minds, so we had to get to a point where we understood everyone wants to win, no-one’s playing bad on purpose, but if you don’t get to the required standards you’re going to get called out and that’s ultimately what’s happened.”

Odds and ends

The odds reflect the task at hand for Watford at +750. A Chelsea win is -235.

Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham scored in a 2-1 Chelsea win at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

Prediction

The Blues bounce back, though not without warts in another 2-1 win.

Guardiola, Klopp disagree on gap between Man City, Liverpool

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Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp believe Man City and Liverpool are in very different places.

Very, very different places, according to the post-game reaction of Guardiola and Klopp.

[ MORE: Klopp happy with Liverpool ]

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game if Man City’s 4-0 win against Liverpool proves they aren’t that far behind the new Premier League champions ahead of the 2020-21 season, this was Guardiola’s response. Seriously, it was this long.

“The gap to Liverpool is more than 20 points. That is the difference between one team and the other one,” Guardiola said via Zoom. “It is 20 points. Like two seasons ago it was 25 [in favor of Man City], now it is 20 points for them. That is the reality. That result is not going to be confused with my players as to what is the reality. They were incredible, much better than us. We are not consistent and we have to recover the consistency that we had the previous seasons. It doesn’t matter anywhere we play. We take a result and points. But I am happy today because we beat a team who are the Champions of Europe and England. Like, they were really incredibly focused to beat us. I saw their faces, the way they shout, the way they communicated, they way they won it and that’s why. They didn’t come hear to celebrate absolutely anything.

“I think they celebrated and they are going to celebrate but I think they drank enough beers in the early days of the week but they came here to compete against us, without a doubt, and that is why for us, to prepare Arsenal and [Real] Madrid, it will be so important, this game, to take confidence and say ‘okay, we can do it’ but next season will be completely different. Everyone starts from zero and you have to show, first to Liverpool but especially for ourselves, that we can do it. That we can do what we have done these last few years, winning a lot of titles in many different competitions.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

ProSoccerTalk then asked Klopp what he thought about Guardiola pointing out the 20-point gap between Liverpool and second-place Man City?

“If anybody thought before that game that the quality gap between Liverpool and Man City is 20 or 23 points, I cannot help these people. That is how it is,” Klopp smiled. “Football is not about that. Football is about winning games and we did that, in a pretty impressive manner, to be honest. I saw pretty much all of the Man City games and even the games they lost were good. Unbelievable. It is the truth. It was not that they didn’t perform or whatever. They had moments when the opponents scored and that was tonight the case.

“We had our situations and if you’ve watched us before, you know we score in situations like this, more often than not. Tonight we didn’t. Not at all. Then to concede a penalty… I was really happy with the start of the game, to be honest. We were there, we were completely in the game, we pressed them, it was not comfortable for them. It was a good game. Both teams pressed high. Both teams tried to play football. When do you see that? You don’t see that a lot of times. In the very decisive moments, City was better tonight. You can see that in the result. We cannot change that. If anybody thought we were 20 points better than City, I cannot help them.”

This reaction from Guardiola and Klopp is somewhat predictable given their respective situations.

With six games of the season to go, Man City will finish a long way behind Liverpool in the table but don’t let that deceive you.

Pep Guardiola wants you to think they are a long way back to Liverpool which will in turn make his players think that and they will come back hungrier and fitter next season. Not to mention for the FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal and their Champions League clash against Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp wants you realize that Liverpool’s season has been incredible but it is not a true reflection as to their quality compared to Man City’s.

The real answer? Probably a bit of both. Man City and Liverpool are the clear title contenders and will be again next season but the result on Thursday proved they are very evenly matched. Well, they are closer than the current 20-point gap anyway.