Manchester City have peaked at the right time of the season as the Citizens have one hand on the Premier League title.
As for Liverpool, the exact opposite can be said as Steven Gerrard and co. have let their hand slip off the shiny trophy. It has been a monumental collapse from Liverpool which has let City in to storm back to the top and needing a point from the final game.
The three relegated teams are all but sealed but there is still plenty of records and pride to play for across the PL, see how that impacted out final PL rankings of the campaign.
Each week 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.
Let’s get to it!
Manchester City: One game from greatness for City’s players as they know a draw at home to West Ham will clinch the PL title. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have outlasted Liverpool and their experience has shown in some massive wins. Do City deserve to win the Premier League title? (26-5-6)
Arsenal: Good finish to the season for the Gunners as they stormed clear of Everton to take the fourth and final UCL spot. Now Arsene Wenger’s side have an FA Cup final to look forward to and will rest players vs. Norwich. (23-7-7)
Liverpool: Catastrophic. Devastating. Soul-destroying. Those words could sum up Liverpool’s monumental collapse in their last two games, as they followed up their 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea by blowing a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace with 11 minutes to go. They need to win vs. Newcastle and hope City lose to West Ham if they’re going to win the PL. So close for the Reds… (25-6-6)
Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s men hung in their almost until the end but a 0-0 draw vs. lowly Norwich ended Chelsea’s faint title hopes. Likely to be a third place finish and a UCL semifinal appearance. Is that special enough from the “Special One?” The finish up at Cardiff on Sunday. (24-7-6)
Tottenham: Spurs were beat at West Ham after Younes Kaboul was sent off early on and they didn’t recover. Tim Sherwood’s side can still seal a Europa League spot by beating Villa at home on the final day. Not a bad season after all of the upheaval. (20-6-11)
Southampton: Great finish to the season for Saints who have won three of their last six and are unbeaten in three. However the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s and his star players Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw hangs in the balance. Best ever PL finish and points tally say Saints are on the brink of something special. Man United at home to finish. (15-10-12)
Everton: The Toffees put up a brave fight against Man City but were outclassed in a 3-2 defeat. Roberto Martinez’s side have run out of steam at the wrong time of the season. Three defeats from their last four but they will still be in Europe next season for the first time since 2009. Hull away on Sunday. (20-9-8)
Sunderland: My word. What a finish to the season for Sunderland as four-straight wins against Chelsea, Cardiff, Manchester United and West Brom has kept them up. Gus Poyet asked for a miracle last month… he’s got it! A nice relaxing game vs. Swansea on Sunday. (10-8-19)
Manchester United: 12 defeats in a PL season for United. 12. They lost at home to Sunderland, then beat Hull City in their final home game of the season which included an emotional goodbye from Ryan Giggs. What capacity will he be back in next season? They can still clinch a Europa League spot if they beat Saints and Spurs lose to Villa. Nightmare season is almost over. (19-6-12)
Stoke City: Another week, another win for Stoke as they’ve finished off the season in style. This time the Potters battered Fulham 4-1 and they have really clicked into gear late in the season. Mark Hughes has done a top job and they are all but guaranteed a first top-10 finish in the PL whatever happens vs. West Brom. (12-11-14)
Crystal Palace: Palace looked jaded against Man City in a 2-0 defeat but they conjured up supreme strength late on against Liverpool to dash their opponents’ title hopes. 3-0 down with 11 minutes left, Dwight Gayle struck twice and Damien Delaney got the other. Tony Pulis has worked wonders and Selhurst Park is a fortress. Fulham away across the capital to finish off. (13-5-19)
Hull City: The wheels have come off for Hull, as all their attention is on trying to overturn Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Can the Tigers regroup and beat Everton at home on the final day to set themselves up for Wembley? That will give Steve Bruce some big selection headaches. (10-7-20)
Swansea City: Swans were unlucky to lose against Saints as a draw was probably a fair result. At least their PL status is secured and so is the future of young manager Garry Monk, who has been handed a three-year deal. Away trip to Sunderland on Sunday (10-9-18)
Newcastle: Finally a win for Newcastle, as they hammered Cardiff 3-0 and stopped the rot of six-straight defeats. The home fans still retaliated and walked out to protest against the owners. Not sure if Alan Pardew will see out the summer as boss. (15-4-18)
Aston Villa: Villa’s fans can breath a huge sigh of relief, as they beat Hull 3-1 to seal their PL status for another season. Paul Lambert’s project has stalled once again this season and uncertainty remains in the air around Villa Park with American owner Randy Lerner rumored to be selling up. (10-8-18)
West Ham: The Hammers beat Spurs in a fierce London derby and secured their PL status. Not a vintage year for Big Sam down at Upton Park, as his side have underachieved and underwhlemed the home fans. Will West Ham’s owner settle for another season of stale soccer in East London? They can scupper Man City’s title chances on the final day… (11-7-19)
West Brom: Pepe Mel’s side aren’t mathematically safe going into the final day but it would take a 17 goals swing to send them down. They are safe but have stumbled over the line. You wonder whether or not there will be another change of manager this summer. (7-15-15)
Fuham: ‘The Great Escape’ proved just too much for the Cottagers as they were hammered at Stoke. The real damage was done in their 2-2 draw with Hull City at home after leading 2-0 a few weeks back. Now Felix Magath’s men prepare for life in the Championship. (9-4-24)
Cardiff City: Ole Gunnar Solksjaer had the impossible task of keeping Cardiff in the PL and he failed. The Bluebirds spent just one season in the top flight and eccentric owner Vincent Tan has a lot to answer for with his erratic ownership. (7-9-21)
Norwich City: The Canaries need to beat Arsenal on the final day, West Brom to lose and a 17 goals swing in their favor to stay up. It was a valiant effort against Chelsea to draw 0-0 last week, but that meant they were all but down. Awful finish to the season. (8-9-20)
The UK chief medical officer yesterday said cases could climb to 50,000 a day if the current trajectory isn’t stopped.
Speaking to the BBC, UK government official Michael Gove was asked about the reintroduction of a small number of fans at sporting venues and here was his answer.
“We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans,” Gove said. “We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.
“The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.”
This was expected given the huge rise in cases in the UK and the expected trajectory of the spread of the virus in the coming weeks and months. Premier League fans haven’t been allowed in stadiums since play was suspended in March, but test events in the Championship, League One and League Two have been held in recent weeks with 1,000 fans in attendance.
The fact that the UK will postpone fan reintroduction will hit the Premier League financially but it will hit the lower leagues harder. Clubs in the third and fourth tiers rely heavily on fans paying for tickets and they will now need big help from the football and government authorities in the UK to try and stay afloat in the coming months.
For now, Premier League fans will be waiting for the next update.
Serie A wrap: ‘Benjamin Button’ Zlatan nabs 2; McKennie debuts for Juve
Photo by Filippo Alfero - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images
Fourteen of the league’s 20 teams debuted this weekend, as European combatants Atalanta and Inter Milan will start the season late along with Serie B playoff winners Spezia.
That leaves opponents Lazio, Benevento, and Udinese also waiting to start their 2020-21 seasons.
Benjamin Button’s brace leaves Milan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as AC Milan started the Serie A season with a 2-0 defeat of Bologna on Monday.
The humble Swede said that if he were 18 years younger he would’ve scored two more.
“I am not old, I am like Benjamin Button, I start old and die young,” Ibrahimovic said after the win. “Kidding aside, the team worked well, we are not at 100 percent and therefore made some mistakes we usually avoid, but it bodes well.”
Ibrahimovic is 38 years old and demanding he not be held to any less of a standard than his prime, which is incredible considering his prime is better than 99 percent of top soccer careers.
“I don’t want people to talk about my age, I want to be treated at the same level as everyone else,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I am 38, I want to be treated like someone aged 20 and do the same work.”
Milan is coming off seven-straight seasons outside of the top four, six of those coming behind their city rivals Inter Milan.
But Ibrahimovic’s 2019-20 half-season in Italy showed he can still bring the goods, with 14 goals and five assists in 20 appearances
Now he’s scored thrice in two competitive fixtures after opening his campaign with a goal against Shamrock Rovers in Europa League qualifying.
Milan is aiming high and is tied for the fifth-best odds to win the scudettothis season due to a talented squad that features Ibrahimovic, Alessio Romagnoli, Gianlugi Donnarumma, and Theo Hernandez.
“This year, we have to take it one game at a time, play with confidence and treat every match like a Cup Final.”
McKennie impresses as Juve rolls again
Playing under Andrea Pirlo has started well for USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie.
The 22-year-old Texan went 90 minutes in central midfield with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot as Juventus beat Sampdoria 3-0 in Turin.
McKennie had 94 touches and completed 88 percent of his passes, with one key pass and four-of-five crosses in that mix.
He took two shots and converted his lone dribble attempt, the busy midfielderwinning six of 12 duels while registering four tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. SofaScore did hit him with a “big chance missed” on debut.
McKennie kept some very good players on the bench in the forms of Arthur and Rodrigo Betancur. It’s going to be a battle to keep his place in the Starting XI but it’s clearly one he’s prepared to fight.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Leonoard Bonucci, and Dejan Kulusevski all scored for The Old Lady, who is bidding to win its 10th-straight title. That would double Inter’s second-best five-consecutive title run earlier this century.
Week 1 scoreboard
Fiorentina 1-0 Torino
Hellas Verona 0-0 AS Roma
Parma 0-2 Napoli
Genoa 4-1 Crotone
Sassuolo 1-1 Cagliari
Juventus 3-0 Sampdoria
AC Milan 2-0 Bologna
Week 2 fixtures
Torino v Atalanta — 9 am ET Saturday
Cagliari v Lazio — Noon ET Saturday
Sampdoria v Benevento — Noon ET Saturday
Inter Milan v Fiorentina — 2:45 pm ET Saturday
Spezia v Sassuolo — 6:30 am ET Sunday
Verona v Udinese — 9 am ET Sunday
Napoli v Genoa — 9 am ET Sunday
Crotone v AC Milan — Noon ET Sunday
AS Roma v Juventus — 2:45 pm ET Sunday
Bologna v Parma — 2:45 pm ET Monday
“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”
At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haalandand Takumi Minamino.
Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.
Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.
UEFA Champions League playoff round matches
All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv v. Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague v Midtjylland
Krasnodar v PAOK
Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia
Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos
Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Bayern Munich thumped Schalke 8-0, running its win streak in all competitions to 22. That’s just two behind the world record set by Brazil’s Coritiba in 2011.
It’s not just about the extension of the streak, but about the pure domination from the champs.
Hat trick hero Serge Gnabry and midfield prototype Joshua Kimmich continued to play as well as any midfielder in the world. New pal Leroy Sane played a role in three goals while Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and Leon Goretzka all scored before German-English teenager Jamal Musiala scored to make it eight.
As a domestic bonus, American defender Chris Richards played the final 17 minutes and completed 95 percent of his passes while making an interception.
As for the record, Bayern will have to work for it. The Bavarians need to beat Sevilla in Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup before visiting a decent Hoffenheim side.
If they win both, Bayern will have a chance to set a Guinness Book record by beating… Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on Sept. 30.
Now let’s talk about Schalke. While sold midfielder Weston McKennie was starring for Juventus, the remaining players had little to like about their day.
A team that failed to win its final 16 league matches of the 2019-20 season, losing 10, was again oh-so-poor.
If manager David Wagner wanted to get some heat off his back after holding onto his position, this wouldn’t have helped things.
— Tyler Adams went the distance at midfield in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Mainz. He was typically tidy at 78-of-82 passing including a perfect 4-for-4 on long balls. Adams had four tackles and won 4-of-9 duels.
— Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent was deployed as more of a left-sided attacking midfielder in a lopsided loss to Hertha, making one key pass and putting a matching shot on target in an uneven performance.
— John Brooks helped Wolfsburg keep a clean sheet and posted three clearances, three interceptions, and a tackle at center back. He wasn’t as clean passing as usual, but connected on 7-of-13 long balls.
— There were just a few minutes for 88th-minute Eintracht Frankfurt sub Timothy Chandler. He won his only duel and completed his only dribble in the waning moments of a 1-1 draw with Arminia Bielefeld.
— Reyna scored his first Bundesliga goal and won a penalty in 78 strong minutes that featured a perfect 29-for-29 in passes.
— Bayern’s Richards, 20, went 17 minutes and completed 19-of-20 passes while making an interception.
— Stuttgart manager Pellegrino Matarazzo, a New Jersey-born Columbia University product, saw his promoted side lose at home to Freiburg.
— U.S. eligible Norwegian youth international Julian Ryerson was an unused sub for Union Berlin.
Player of the Week
Serge Gnabry was absolutely marvelous. Even considering the lack of, well, everything from Schalke, Bayern’s hat trick man had as many key passes as goals.
Gnabry hit 30-of-35 passes in doing all of his damage on 57 touches over 72 minutes.
The German made three tackles and two interceptions to edge opposite wing Leroy Sane’s 1-goal, 2-assist, 5-key pass day and the hat trick produced by Hoffenheim’s Andrei Kramaric in giving his team three leads and the win.
All three of Koen Casteels’ saves in Wolfsburg’s 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen came inside the box, while Lacroix put together a gaudy stat line in front of him: 10 clearances, four interceptions, three tackles.
No one completed more dribbles than Matheus Cunha’s five. The Brazilian also scored as Hertha hung four on Werder Bremen.
Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt — 2:30 pm ET Sept. 25
Bayer Leverkusen v RB Leipzig — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Borussia Monchengladbach v Union Berlin — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Arminia v Koln — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Mainz v Stuttgart — 9:30 am ET Sept. 26
Schalke v Werder Bremen — 12:30 pm ET Sept. 26
Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich — 9:30 am ET Sept. 27
Freiburg v Wolfsburg — Noon ET Sept. 27