The Premier League’s Power Rankings are going to look an awful lot like the table this late in the season, but there’s still a few differences to sort out.
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For example, Chelsea is thriving but still not leaping up the table, while Watford and Bournemouth are struggling but have faced tough runs on the docket.
Let’s just get into it.
|1||—||Leicester City: Double dog dare you to put anyone other than the (pretty much) champs here. It’s happening people. Call Walt Disney. Make a sequel to the “The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon” starring Christian Fuchs.|
|2||—||Tottenham Hotspur: You can only play who’s on your schedule, but Spurs have only taken two of nine points from Liverpool, Arsenal and West Ham (with wins over Villa and Bournemouth smushed in between). That’s not going to catch the Foxes.
|3||UP 2||Arsenal: The most infuriating legit team in sports? Elite talent with maddening inconsistency.|
|4||—||Manchester United: Just think: if the Red Devils hadn’t puked against West Brom, they’d be on a five-match win streak and challenging Arsenal for third. Louis van Gaal could be spending again. Third time’s the charm?
|5||UP 3||Manchester City: Haven’t beaten anyone of high consequence in a while, but no one’s rising to greet them in fourth. And they are doing big things in the UEFA Champions League. How will they do against PSG?|
|6||DOWN 2||West Ham United: Still on an unbeaten run in form, but a pair of 2-2 draws against Crystal Palace and Chelsea aren’t the stuff of Top Four runs (even if the Hammers were cheated by a rough red card vs. Palace).|
|7||UP 4||Liverpool: The Saints loss stings, but Jurgen Klopp has the Reds pointed in the right direction. Let’s see what happens Thursday when he meets his old club in Germany.|
|8||UP 1||Chelsea: Quick — which team in the PL is on the best form, besides Leicester? Fourteen of 18 points. And Conte’s in the house (after the Euros).|
|9||DOWN 3||Southampton: Recovered from a poor three-match run to beat decent squads in Stoke and Liverpool, and deserved a point against Leicester. Still, Saints have blown a chance to leap next level.|
|10||DOWN 3||Stoke City: Blew a chance to knock on the door of the Top Five when they lost a 2-0 lead to Swans and settled for a point. That and the draw with Saints drops them below the St. Mary’s set.|
|11||UP 4||Swansea City: Club is looking a lot better, though not at the heights of last season. Ten points clear, the relegation race is a memory.|
|12||UP 1||West Bromwich Albion: Look, Tony Pulis has his sides play about as entertaining as a player piano that only knows “It’s a Small World”. But the Baggies are still in the PL, and will be.
|13||DOWN 3||Bournemouth: Lost its three-match winning streak with decisive losses to Spurs and Man City, showing there’s still quite a gap between haves and have-nots (or have-not-quite-yets. The Cherries have plenty of upside).|
|14||—||Everton: Probably the most disappointing side not in a relegation fight, and that’s saying a lot because Chelsea.|
|15||DOWN 3||Watford: Their four-match losing skid has come against high-flying competiton. Maybe re-read the Bournemouth write-up two boxes up.
|16||—||Norwich City: Credit Alex Neil for saving the season, and Dieumerci Mbokani for having a horrifying week but still rising to the occasion against Newcastle.
|17||—||Sunderland: It’s a shame that Big Sam’s crew was in such a poor spot before they reinforced the side in January, because the Black Cats have some real quality now. Just a tad snakebit.|
|18||UP 1||Crystal Palace: Needed every bit of West Ham’s undeserved red card to pick up a point, but still haven’t won in the PL during 2016. Alan Pardew has been exposed again.|
|19||DOWN 1||Newcastle United: You look at their lineup and wonder how this happens. With a match-in-hand and both Palace and Swansea on the docket, it’s not over, but still an extreme longshot.|
|20||—||Aston Villa: Real bad.|