Premier League Power Rankings: Red Devils and Villains on the up

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We are a month into the 2014-15 Premier League season (hasn’t that flown by?) and plenty of teams are still trying to figure things out.

At this early stage of the campaign there are tons of inconsistent performances as new players get used to new teams, managers are stamping their authority on clubs and simply put, some have been handed tougher schedules than others. A few teams came up big over the past seven days with Manchester United, Aston Villa and Southampton putting in particularly eye-catching displays.

[Archive: Premier League Power Rankings]

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!

RANKING
Up/Down

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1 Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s men remain perfect in league play but they slipped up in the UCL vs. Schalke in midweek. This week they have their toughest test so far: Man City away. Can they stay perfect? Diego Costa is the key man. (4-0-0)
source:  2 UP 2  Aston Villa: Undefeated and flying high after their win at Anfield, Villa are in the top 2 for the first time in our rankings. Brad Guzan has three shutouts from four games as the Villans are hard to beat. Tough test vs. Arsenal live on NBCSN on Saturday. (3-1-0)
source:  3  UP 5 Southampton: The Saints have won two-straight and scored seven goals in the process. Koeman has got them playing attractive soccer, with a cutting edge. Graziano Pelle and Morgan Schneiderlin can’t stop scoring. Swansea away this weekend. (2-1-1)
source:  4 UP 1 Arsenal: Another week, another draw for the Gunners. But this was a good one. They led Man City 2-1 until late on as Jack Wilshere scored this stunner. Can they grab their first W since the opening day of the season away at in-form Villa? (1-3-0)

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5 DOWN 3 Swansea City: Brave battling from the Swans who led Chelsea up until the 45th minute at Stamford Bridge. Garry Monk’s men look dangerous and face Southampton in a top four battle this weekend at the Liberty. (3-0-1)
source:  6 UP 1  Manchester City: Man City looked lackluster against Arsenal but still came away with a point from their trip to the Emirates. They came so close to getting a draw away at Bayern in the UCL too. Yaya Toure’s poor form is worrying. Can he get back to his best vs. Chelsea this Sunday? (2-1-1)
source:  7  DOWN 4 Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers has spoken about their being “no magic formula” as the Reds’ new boys settle in. A shock defeat to Aston Villa was followed up by a poor display vs. Ludogorets in the UCL. Should fans be worried? Tough trip to West Ham live on NBC.(2-0-2)
source:  8 UP 4 Leicester CityThe Foxes bagged their first PL win in a decade! They beat Stoke 1-0 with a gritty away display and Esteban Cambiasso came off the bench to do the business. Nigel Pearson’s men have adapted to life back in the PL very well. (1-2-1)
source:  9   Tottenham: Mauricio Pochettino will be annoyed with some basic defensive errors as Spurs let two leads slip away at Sunderland. A work in progress at White Hart Lane. On Sunday they should beat West Brom. (2-1-1)
source:  10  UP 3 Everton: The Toffees finally bagged their first clean sheet of the season as Tim Howard’s boys beat West Brom 2-0. Watch this beauty from Romelu Lukaku who is now up and running. Everton host Crystal Palace on Sunday. (1-2-1)
source:  11 UP 6 Manchester United: That’s better boys. Louis van Gaal grabbed his first win as United boss with a resounding 4-0 success over QPR. The Red Devils looked incredible going forward but their opponents were poor. Winnable game away at Leicester on Sunday. (1-2-1)
source:  12 DOWN 6 Stoke City: The Potters followed up beating Man City away by… losing to Leicester at home. Mark Hughes will be pulling his hair out after a frustarting display. He needs to get the best out of Bojan. In other news, Stoke are setting up academies in North America. QPR away this week. (1-1-2)
source:  13 DOWN 3 Sunderland: Poyet’s men battled back bravely to draw with Spurs but I still worry about where the goals will come from. They were handed that draw due to a calamitous own goal. Is Jozy Altidore ready to start a game? Tough trip down to Burnley. (0-3-1)
source:  14 Hull City: The Tigers twice blew a lead at home to West Ham but new signings Abel Hernandez and Mo Diame both scored in an entertaining game. Steve Bruce has been linked with Newcastle but he’s done a good job at the KC. The Tigers head north to play Newcastle this week. (1-2-1)
source:  15  – Crystal Palace: Still without a win this season but two draws from two for new Palace boss Neil Warnock. They were lucky to escape with a point at home to Burnley, as Julian Speroni saved a late PK. Can they stun Everton this Sunday? (0-2-2)
source:  16 UP 3 West Ham: The Hammers fought back admirably away at Hull on Monday with Enner Valencia scoring this beauty. Sam Allardyce’s side looked good going forward but suspect at the back. They will have to tighten things up as Liverpool come to Upton Park on Saturday. (1-1-2)
source:  17  DOWN 6 Newcastle: You have to feel for Newcastle’s fans. They drove 7 hours down to Southampton and saw their team get spanked 4-0. They are calling for Alan Pardew to be fired, and who can blame them with no win in four? If they don’t beat Hull on Saturday, it could be the end for Pardew. (0-2-2)
source:  18 Burnley: Two unbeaten for Sean Dyche’s side but they have only scored once all season. They should have beaten Palace away but will fancy their chances as Sunderland come to Turf Moor. Will the Clarets bag their first win of the season? (0-2-2)
 source:  19 DOWN 2 QPR:  Harry Redknapp’s side were battered by Manchester United and looked completely out of their league. New signings Leroy Fer, Sandro and Vargas looked decent. Stoke at home is one of those games they must win. (1-0-3)
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20 West Brom: The Baggies lost again and were their own worst enemies against Everton. Bad mistakes from Jonas Olsson and Ben Forster saw the home fans unhappy as new boss Alan Irvine is still searching for his first win. Will that arrive at Spurs on Sunday? (0-2-2)

VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo scores stunning goal for Juventus v. Lyon

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Cristiano Ronaldo amazing goal video? Cristiano Ronaldo amazing goal video.

Yep, we’ve all been here before.

Ronaldo, 35, smashed home an unstoppable shot to put Juventus ahead on the night and level on aggregate against Lyon ini the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg, as the Portuguese superstar scored his second of the game in style.

Season after season, Ronaldo does this time and time again as he’s now scored 37 goals in all competitions for Juventus this season. He’s 35. This just isn’t normal and all of those who doubted Ronaldo’s move to Juventus should watch him deliver week in, week out and be made to eat their words.

As for this game, he turned it on its head as things did not start well for Juventus at all.

After Memphis Depay scored an early penalty kick to put Lyon ahead in Turin, that meant Juventus had to win at least 3-1 on the night to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.

Ronaldo scored a penalty just before half time to make it 1-1 and the comeback was on, then this stunning strike made it 2-1 on the night to Juventus and set up a grand finale.

Watch on in awe as Ronaldo cut in from the right and smashed home with his ‘weaker’ left foot. Safe to say that Ronaldo will have a sore back after carrying Juventus.

LIVE, Man City-Real Madrid, Juventus-Lyon: How to watch, team news, updates

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Manchester City – Real Madrid should be an absolute classic in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) at the Etihad Stadium, while Juventus – Lyon should be a beauty too as the Italian giants must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in France.

Both games are locked at 1-1 at half time and set up for classic second halves.

Pep Guardiola and Man City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid back in late February before the coronavirus pandemic paused play, as Kevin de Bruyne put in a masterful display in the Santiago Bernabeu to give City the edge. Since then Man City have had their Champions League ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Real have won La Liga as Zinedine Zidane’s side were in imperious form after the restart.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

With midfield and attacking stars set to dazzle on both teams, this is not a game you want to miss as the quarterfinal stage onwards will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. Man City are favorites to win the Champions League, their holy grail, but the most successful team in the history of the competition stands in their way.

Check out the latest Manchester City – Real Madrid team news, betting odds, how to watch and stream, score prediction and more below, as live updates on both games will be available by clicking on the link above.


Team news

Man City are without the injured Sergio Aguero and the suspended Benjamin Mendy is suspended, as Fernandinho starts at center back with Phil Foden starting ahead of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and David Silva.

 

Real Madrid are without Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez who are in Madrid, while captain and legendary center back Sergio Ramos is suspended from the first leg and is replaced at center back by Militao.


What they’re saying

Man City midfielder Rodri is full of confidence ahead of facing Real: “I am really confident. They are a great team and they can beat you, because they are Real Madrid, but we have to show them we are a better team. We showed them at their home, but we need to be ready because you never know what is going to happen. We have to be focused. They are the greatest team in La Liga and they have shown that this year. We need to do our best to get to the next round.”

Raphael Varane on Real’s big-game experience being key: “We’re aware of the excellent work we’ve done over the past few years. It doesn’t happen often. We try to remember those days to keep working hard and try to take something out of that experience. We know that little things can make a difference in games like this. We’ve got a lot of experience in these big matches, so we can feel confident. We’re just as determined as before. Our goal is to win, and that’s partly due to the DNA of this club. We always want to put the past aside, move on and win.”


Odds and ends (full Champions League odds)

The bookies believe hosts Manchester City (-139) are the favorites but beware of a Real Madrid side (+320) with nothing to lose and everything to gain, especially with Hazard, Benzema and Rodrygo looking so good in recent weeks. The tie at +340 looks like the best bet here.


Prediction

This is a really tough one to call. Man City were superb after the restart in the Premier League but lost to Southampton and Chelsea, plus lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. Defensive issues remain the key problem for Guardiola and Real’s star attacking lineup could expose that weakness. Real Madrid have been better defensively and ground out wins galore on their way to winning La Liga, but Zidane’s boys have to go for this and that will leave plenty of gaps at the back, especially without Ramos. I’m going to go for a 2-2 draw which will just see Man City squeeze through.


How to watch, stream Manchester City – Real Madrid

Date: August 7
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester – Round of 16 second leg (Man City lead 2-1 from first leg)
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

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.

Fulham’s U.S. owner reveals plan for Premier League return

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Fulham are back in the Premier League and their US owner, Shahid Khan, has discussed his plan for the Cottagers being back in the big-time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Due to travel restrictions American billionaire Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL, wasn’t present in the UK for Fulham’s 2-1 Championship playoff final win against Brentford earlier this week.

However, he released an open letter on Fulham’s website outlining his delight, as well as the plan for transfers and how the west London club will look for the 2020-21 season.

“Be assured that we will be a team, in its truest sense, moving forward,” Khan said. “We will be unafraid to improve and add pieces to our lineup, but not at the expense of the spirit and soul of a squad that bled, battled and sacrificed to return Fulham to the Premier League. Building a squad can be a tricky proposition for a newly promoted club, and that is especially true this year with the start of the season already nearly upon us. Turnover in football is inevitable. But, this club has Premier League experience and our players, as well as our young and promising head coach, love Fulham Football Club. There is a lot to like in this team today, and just as much to like in our future.”

That seems like Khan will not be sanctioning big-money transfers like he did two summers ago when Fulham were promoted to the Premier League. His son, Tony, oversaw a huge squad overhaul as the Cottagers reportedly spent close to $150 million on new players.

Fulham brought in 15 new players (nine permanently and six on loan) ahead of the 2018-19 season and gutted their promotion-winning team. They were relegated after having three managers in charge during the campaign, as Scott Parker became the caretaker head coach for the final few months and then took over permanently and led them to promotion straight back to the Premier League in his first full season as a manager.

It’s safe to say Fulham will do things a little differently this time around and add a few key players here and there, while try make the loan deals for Harrison Reed and maybe Harry Arter permanent ones. The main area they need to strengthen is in defense and if they can do that, they will be much better equipped to take on the Premier League than they were in 2018-19.

As for possible funds to spend this time around: Remember, Craven Cottage is currently being renovated and it will be spectacular when finished, but given the money spent to do that and the financial uncertainty around the game right now, very few clubs will be splashing huge sums of cash this summer. Fulham are better off adding extra quality where they can to a stable, committed squad of players, instead of wholesale changes.

Given the shorter turnaround time between winning promotion and kicking off in the Premier League, staying in the top-flight will be even tougher than last time. But ahead of the 2018-19 season you had a ‘this big spending could go one of two ways’ feeling about Fulham. Now, it is more predictable. They will likely be competitive and it is easy to see them staying up, although a top 10 push would probably be out of the question.

It will be fun to see if Fulham have learned from their last spell in the Premier League and this message from their owner seems like they have.