Premier League Power Rankings: Arsenal make title claim, Manchester clubs hit back – Week 10

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It was another weekend full of drama and passion across the PL, as the Gunners finally silenced plenty of doubters with their resounding win over Liverpool.

We have big wins for Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle, and the South Wales derby delivered a massive rivalry to the PL for the very first time.

The teams at the bottom are struggling, as Norwich City and West Ham join Fulham in getting dragged into the relegation battle. Can those sides climb back up the rankings this week? Who knows… that’s the beauty of it.

(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: A resounding win against Liverpool sees the Gunners good run continue. They were majestic at times at the Emirates as they proved to everyone they could turn it on when it matters. A massive trip to Manchester United awaits this weekend. The Gunners haven’t won at Old Trafford in PL since 2006… with Flamini and Wilshere doubtful I think that run will continue. (8-1-1)
source:  2 UP  1
Manchester City:The Citizens have had a great week as they pummeled Norwich 7-0 for their biggest ever PL win and then smashed five past CSKA Moscow to seal their first-ever trip to the Champions League knockout stages. Manuel Pellegrini’s men look fired up going forward, still a little suspect at the back. (6-1-3)
source:  3 DOWN 1
Chelsea:What is going on away from home? Jose Mourinho keeps shuffling his starting XI and against Newcastle they were bullied and out-worked by the home team. Juan Mata, David Luiz and Fernando Torres were woeful… is January the right time for a clean sweep of Chelsea’s squad? (6-2-2)
source:  4  UP 1 Tottenham: The whole head injury incident with Spurs’ goalkeeper Lloris put a dampener on a well-earned point at Everton. But the lack of goals from AVB’s men really does concern me. When will we see the real Roberto Soldado? And can one of Tottenham’s midfielder stand up and make a play? (6-2-2)

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5 DOWN 1
Liverpool: The Reds came up short against Arsenal, massively so, and with Glen Johnson and others missing in defense they look weak at the back. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will only get you so far, they needed supply from midfield and that didn’t happen. Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva were over run in the middle. Not all doom and gloom, but a reality check. Very winnable game at home to Fulham this Saturday. (6-2-2)
source:  6 UP 2
Manchester United: Well, well, look who’s making a charge. A comfortable 3-1 win over Fulham thanks to a first half obliteration was enough to send United four games unbeaten in the league. A massive test of how far they’ve come under David Moyes awaits as Arsenal head to the Theater of Dreams. Can Rooney and RVP rip the Gunners apart? Expect plenty fireworks on Sunday. (5-2-3)
source:  7 UP 1 Everton: The Toffees ground out a good point at home to high-flying Spurs and could’ve grabbed all three points if their finishing would’ve been a little better. All round, a solid display that shows they can mix it with anyone on their day. Crystal Palace away this weekend… easy three points for Martinez’ men? (5-4-1)
source:  8 DOWN 2
Southampton: The Saints probably should have beaten Stoke on Saturday, but that bizarre goal from Asmir Begovic after 12 seconds definitely set them back. Their inability to finish off the teams around them is worrying me, but their unbeaten streak continues as Pochettino’s men have staying power. Another win could be on the cards as Hull City head to St. Mary’s. (5-4-1)
source:  9 UP 1
Hull City: Another week, another 1-0 win at home for the Tigers. They certainly aren’t pretty, but boy they get the job done. Steve Bruce’s side made Sunderland look better with 9-men than they were with 11 at times, but a scrappy own goal and another resolute defensive display sees Hull keep picking up points. (4-2-4)
source:  10 DOWN 1
Swansea City: Yeah, the Swans didn’t really turn up for the big South Wales derby against Cardiff did they? (Read my account of the day the derby arrived in the PL) That said, they looked dangerous in the first half and Michu spurned two great chances to put the visitors ahead. Cardiff wanted it more, and Michael Laudrup was upset after. A game at home to Stoke this weekend could see them out battled again. All is not well for the Swansea faithful right now. But things will work themselves out… right? (3-2-5)
source:  11 UP 3
Newcastle United: The Magpies pulled off a memorable win against Chelsea at a soaking St. James’ Park, it was a display full of guts, endeavor and clinical finishing. Loic Remy looks the real deal up front, and with players coming back from injury, Pardew’s men can be comfortable in mid-table this season. Spurs away on Sunday, see this as an upset? (4-2-4)
source:  12 UP 1 West Brom: The Baggies continue their climb up the table as they dispatched of Crystal Palace with relative ease despite a second half wobble. In windy conditions at the Hawthorns, both sides struggled to get the ball down but Saido Berahino scored a great goal off the bench as WBA had that extra cutting-edge. Chelsea away is tough this weekend. (3-4-3)

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13 DOWN 2 Aston Villa: A dour draw at Upton Park wasn’t pretty, but Villa will take it after another inspired display from Brad Guzan in goal. This young side is looking pretty resilient this season and the only worry is where the goals will come from. Cardiff at home will be a battling affair between two physical sides. (3-2-5)
source:  14 UP 2 Stoke City: Getting a freak goal go your way in the first minute of a game should see you build on it and grab a vital three points. Stoke failed to do that against Saints. The Potters don’t look dangerous going forward, maybe Juan Agudelo’s pace will liven things up when he arrives in January? They need it. Solid enough at the back, just goals an issue once again. (2-3-5)
source:  15 UP 4
Cardiff City: The Bluebirds deserved their win on Sunday in the South Wales derby, as the players really put in a display for Malky Mackay. With Craig Bellamy and Peter Odemwingie they have real pace and can hurt teams on the break. Gary Medel is the man who holds it all together. The Wales side will fancy getting a win on the road at Villa. (3-3-4)
source:  16 DOWN 4
Norwich City:  Another week, another goalless game for the Canaries. They got absolutely battered by Man City right from the start, it could have been more than 7-0. Chris Hughton may start fearing for his job very soon if this trend continues. Can they stop the rot against West Ham in front of the NBC cameras this weekend? (2-2-6)
source:  17 DOWN 2
West Ham: Same story for West Ham as they can’t score for love nor money. Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis aren’t strikers and this system just isn’t working for Big Sam. They load the midfield and are hard to break down, but nobody is making runs forward. They need a win away at struggling Norwich. Big time. (2-4-4)
source:  18
Sunderland: You have to admire their bravery for fighting back with just 9-men against Hull for over 45 mins. But the Black Cats just keep shooting themselves in the foot and Gus Poyet must stop the indiscipline quickly. Man City at home doesn’t look promising on Sunday. (1-1-8)
source:  19 DOWN 2
Fulham: They were just awful against Manchester United in the first half, as the Cottagers terrible display from the game against Southampton carried over. What is wrong with Martin Jol’s men? Just when you think they’ve turned the corner, this happens. Dimitar Berbatov needs to lead this side, otherwise they’ll be in a relegation battle. Liverpool away this week… (3-1-6)
source:  20
Crystal Palace: The Eagles are hurting, the sooner they get a manager, the better. They are a working their backsides off for no reward. At least they’re at home this weekend against Everton, if they play like they did against Arsenal, then they could nick a point, maybe all three. (1-0-9)

Andrea Pirlo named Juventus manager

Pirlo named Juventus manager
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Andrea Pirlo has been named Juventus manager.

[ MORE: MLS restart to include games played in home stadiums, with fans ]

The legendary Italian midfielder has been named Maurizio Sarri’s replacement after the he was fired in the wake of the club’s shocking exit from the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Pirlo was named manager of Juventus’ U-23 side less than two weeks ago, but the expectation is that he will now be promoted to first-team manager. Given the unexpected nature of Sarri’s departure, and in the timeframe in which it occurred, it would appear the Juve board was either fully prepared to install Pirlo in short order, or hadn’t even considered the possibility they might have to fire Sarri.

[ MORE: Chelsea reveal Christian Pulisic injury update ]

The 41-year-old has no prior experience in management. He retired his playing career in 2017 after three seasons with MLS side New York City FC.

Pirlo takes over an aging squad which, while it has won nine straight Serie A titles, is in desperate need of a rebuild.

MLS restart to include games played in home stadiums, with fans

MLS return
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UPDATE: MLS commissioner Don Garber has since clarified that none of the league’s teams have been granted final permission from the league to host fans inside their stadiums, contrary to what press releases from three teams stated.

MLS restart: MLS announced on Saturday its intention and preliminary schedule for resuming the 2020 regular in its teams’ home markets — with fans in attendance in  stadiums where permitted — beginning with an Aug. 12 bout between FC Dallas and Nashville SC, a matchup of two teams forced to withdraw from the MLS is Back tournament due to a significant number of positive cases of COVID-19.

[ MORE: Chelsea reveal Christian Pulisic injury update ]

Each team is expected to play 18 additional games, taking the total number of regular-season games played by each team to 23 in 2020. The regular season will wrap up on Nov. 8, assuming no further stoppages. 18 clubs will then qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, leading up to MLS Cup on Dec. 12.

Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake have announced that they will welcome fans into their respective stadiums upon the restart of the season. Sporting KC will allow 14 percent (roughly 2,500) of the total capacity of Children’s Mercy Park, while Dallas announced that 5,110 (roughly 25 percent) will be allowed into Toyota Stadium and 5,000 (roughly 25 percent) at Rio Tinto Stadium.

From the league’s press release:

At this time, the majority of the matches in local markets will be played without fans in attendance. MLS and club leadership are working with local health authorities and government officials on a plan for limited capacity at certain games where allowed.

At this time, the league’s three Canadian teams — Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — do not have any games scheduled.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, MLS announced the initial phase of the league’s revised schedule with each U.S. club playing six matches against other U.S. teams by Sept. 14.
Major League Soccer continues to work with the league’s three Canadian clubs regarding plans to continue the regular season. More details on schedules for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.

MLS revealed that regular testing of players and staff for COVID-19 will continue during the resumed portion of the regular season, a protocol which proved effective with 24 of the 26 teams inside the bubble in Orlando, Fla.

As with the MLS is Back tournament, COVID-19 testing protocols will again play an important role in MLS’ competition framework. MLS continues to work closely with the league’s infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLSPA on the plan for testing. All clubs are forming testing partnerships with a local certified lab, and all players, technical staff, and essential club staff will be tested every other day, including the day before each match day. Also, guidelines will be provided to players, coaches and essential staff to avoid the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during their time away from club facilities.

Travel protocols will also be different for the remainder of 2020, with teams exclusively traveling via chartered flights, or buses. In most instances, teams will arrive the day of a game and return to their home market that night, aiming to limit time spent out of market.

3 things learned: Man City v. Real Madrid

Manchester City - Real Madrid
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Manchester City – Real Madrid was a fairly straightforward win for the hosts, as they reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by beating the 13-time European champions 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

[ MORE: Champions League predictions ]

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for Man City after a bad mistake from Raphael Varane was ruthlessly punished. Real’s Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema combined well at times and although Ederson denied them early on, Benzema pulled one back in the first half as Rodrygo’s cross was nodded home by the French striker.

Benzema and Jesus both went close for either team in the second half and the latter made the most of another big mistake from Varane to make it 2-1 and seal Man City’s spot in the quarterfinals for the third-straight season with relative ease.

[ LIVE: Champions League schedule ]

Here’s a look at what we learned from the Etihad, as Manchester City – Real Madrid was an open affair but the hosts always looked in control.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM ALIVE FOR MAN CITY

Pep Guardiola is like Indiana Jones entering the desert on his way to reaching the holy grail. Lisbon is now his ‘Canyon of the Crescent Moon’ as Man City have a quarterfinal, semifinal and final between them and footballing immortality. Man City have longed for Champions League glory and given their successful appeal against their two-season UEFA ban, they will now stride into Lisbon, Portugal as the favorites to be crowned champions of Europe. They strolled past Real Madrid and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, you’d fancy them to sweep all before them to reach the promised land. Man City have always found a way to mess things up in the Champions League but this season feels different. They gave up their Premier League trophy easily to Liverpool but it seemed like the Champions League was always the main focus this season. They now face Lyon in the quarterfinals and then their toughest test, likely either Barcelona or Napoli in the semifinals. Guardiola knows the holy grail is within reach as he is closer than ever to finally delivering the trophy Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners have built this whole project to win.


SLOPPY REAL MADRID EXIT WITH A WHIMPER

Missing captain and legendary Sergio Ramos through suspension from the first leg, Real Madrid needed young defender Edgar Militao to step up in is place. They did not need silky smooth defender Raphael Varane to give the ball away early on to give up a cheap and avoidable goal. Although Real recovered from that early error, they failed to get Luka Modric on the ball as much as they wanted to and Eden Hazard and Benzema only showed flashes of promise. Just when it seemed like Real would push hard for a second goal which would have taken the game to extra time, Varane made another big mistake. And that was that. After impressing in La Liga since the restart and winning the Spanish title, Real Madrid looked remarkably subdued as perhaps a few weeks off before this game impacted them. The Kings of Europe will have to wait another year to add another crown to their collection. Manchester City – Real Madrid was historic, as it marked the first time Zinedine Zidane has ever lost a Champions League game in the knockout rounds. The way his team limped out of Europe was surprising and disappointing for Real Madrid.


PEP BEATS ZIZOU, BUT FALSE NINE FAILS

It was a surprise to see Phil Foden start ahead of David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva in a game of this magnitude but there’s always a method to Pep’s madness. And it isn’t madness, is it? It’s genius. Just like he did in the first leg at Real Madrid, Pep raised eyebrows as he started a central midfielder (Foden this time, Kevin de Bruyne in the first leg) as a false nine. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were rampant from each flank early on, putting defenders under pressure in their own box, and that was how they opened the scoring. But Man City then failed to build on that lead and let Real back into the game. Pep changed things around at half time and Jesus looked more comfortable centrally and so too did Foden. It was a small tweak but it got Man City back on track and Guardiola’s tactical nous made the difference, even though Man City were handed the win on a platter thanks to Real Madrid’s shaky defensive display.

Chelsea reveal Pulisic injury update

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The latest Christian Pulisic injury news has arrived and it is not as bad as it could have been, but not great either.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the FA Cup final last Saturday, Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but injured his right hamstring and was in agony before he took a shot.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich on Saturday (they trail 3-0 from the first leg), Lampard confirmed that the latest Pulisic news is that he’s expected to be out for six weeks with his hamstring injury.

“We will get him fit and ready, if he misses the first one or two games, then we can wait for a firing Christian like he was from restart,” Lampard told reporters.

The latest Pulisic injury news means he will likely miss the whole of preseason and the opening few weeks of the 2020-21 Premier League season, as the new season kicks off on Sept. 12 due to the quick turnaround and the delays following the coronavirus pandemic.

When Pulisic came off injured against Arsenal, Chelsea missed him badly as they ended up losing the FA Cup final and the USMNT star being injured was a big reason for that defeat.

Right now Christian Pulisic is the first name on the team sheet for Chelsea and he was named as one of the nominees for the Premier League young player of the season during his debut campaign in England, plus he was one of the best players in the league since the restart.

It is good to hear Lampard said he will not rush Pulisic back, as it was clear for all to see how much more impactful and dynamic he was after having a few months rest. Before joining Chelsea he had played for many years straight as he played for the USMNT during the summers and with Borussia Dortmund.

Chelsea need Pulisic to be fit and firing if they’re going to improve on their fourth-place Premier League finish this season.