Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 4

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Everyone knows you can look at the table to see where clubs stand in a given season, but we do power rankings because we like to have fun with our beloved games and aren’t a wet paper towel on the shoe of sports.

A few grains of salt — or 300 — are always recommended when dealing with power rankings, and our Premier League club power rankings are intended to be a show of how the clubs look in both form and forecast at a moment in time.

[ MORE: No more away goals rule? ]

20. West Ham United — This is a bit ceremonial, as West Ham United is too talented to finish this low on the table or, probably, even in the Bottom Three. But right now, the Irons are 0-4 and have found unusual ways to lose games (WYD, Carlos Sanchez?!?). Manuel Pellegrini is reportedly safe, which is wise.
Last week: 18
Season high: 17
Season low: 20

19. Cardiff City — Plenty of spunk from Neil Warnock‘s men this week and a pair of goals against Arsenal, but there are so many questions regarding how the Bluebirds will stack up when they need … that … goal. Two total shots on target both producing goals won’t happen every week.
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20

18. Huddersfield Town — The gutsy draw against Everton is a step in the right direction, but there’s still so little danger coming out of David Wagner‘s Terriers.
Last week: 19
Season high: 18
Season low: 20

17. Newcastle United — Rafa Benitez‘s men probably would’ve been justified with a point against either Chelsea or Man City, but one-goal losses limited plenty of damage. If they can escape this awful run to start the season by getting a point against Arsenal, life will feel better.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 17

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

16. Burnley — The excuses are over now that Europa League congestion has finished for the season, and Burnley’s lack of threat against 10-man Manchester United was a real cry for help.
Last week: 15
Season high: 15
Season low: 16

15. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha was out last week, so Palace lost. It’s been that simple in the last 10 matches without the Ivorian, and three losses in four is moving toward alarm.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 13

14. Fulham — The Cottagers need to settle into a groove and find consistency in defense, but my goodness are they a fun team to watch.
Last week: 12
Season high: 11
Season low: 17

13. Southampton — Danny Ings‘ return to regular playing time and the score sheet is one of the solid early stories of the season.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 17

12. Bournemouth — Weren’t poor against Chelsea in a 2-0 loss, and will get a true litmus test after the international break when Leicester City visits the Vitality Stadium.
Last week: 10
Season high: 10
Season low: 12

11. Brighton and Hove Albion — Chris Hughton‘s men came back from a late 2-0 deficit thanks to wily Glenn Murray‘s two goals in 17 minutes. The Gulls have looked decent after an Opening Day stumble.
Last week: 9
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

10. Leicester City — Probably deserved a point against Liverpool, but paid for allowing Roberto Firmino to double the Reds advantage just before halftime of a 2-1 loss.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8
Season low: 11

9. Manchester United — A convincing win against Burnley with style in spades.
Last week: 14
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

8. Wolves — Ruben Neves is a star, and his turning over of Carlos Sanchez to cue the stoppage time goal that beat West Ham was a moment that showed his complete repertoire.
Last week: 11
Season high: 8
Season low: 13

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

7. Arsenal — A visit to Newcastle could provide three wins in-a-row for Unai Emery after his 0-2 start as Arsenal boss.
Last week: 7
Season high: 7
Season low: 9

6. Everton — Still unbeaten, but the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town leaves the Toffees with no one to blame but themselves.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 8

5. Spurs — Watford is going really well, but Sunday’s loss to the Hornets felt a whole lot more like a Spurs loss we’ve seen five times a year for three seasons.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 5

4. Watford — Give manager Javi Gracia his due — and Abdoulaye Doucoure, too — Watford looks very much like a Top Seven contender in opening the season 4-0. A visit from Manchester United is next.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 7

3. Chelsea — Enjoying a down run on the fixture list ahead of a circled Sept. 29 date against Liverpool.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 4

2. Man City — Handled Newcastle without Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane (what’s going on there?) but need to find their finishing boots with only one more match to go before Liverpool.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

1. Liverpool — Chelsea (Sept. 29) and Man City (Oct. 7) in back-to-back weeks will give us a true reading on whether the Reds are simply skating on early season scheduling or a true threat to the throne, but Spurs are first and just as dangerous.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

Top Premier League storylines: Matchweek 16

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Matchweek 16 is upon us.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on when this weekend’s fixtures kick off Saturday morning…


Manchester derby, perhaps you’ve heard of it 

Manchester City might not take home their third straight PL title, given Liverpool’s 11-point lead after 15 games, but they can still maintain their superiority in Manchester. They’re well on their way to doing so in the table, now they can get (another0 one over the Red Devils on Saturday. At what point do they take over the title of “bigger club?” Asking for a friend…


The start of something big for Chelsea?

Marco Silva is gone with Everton siting 18th in the table. Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half with the Blues sitting fourth. Could this week get any worse? for Everton? Could it get any better for Chelsea?


Desperation time for Arsenal

Unai Emery was fired, which was supposedly to magically fix all of the problems at Arsenal. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Well, we’re two games into the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era, and the Gunners have just one point to show for their efforts, and they had to come back from a goal down (twice) against 19th-place Norwich City to get it. Every trip to West Ham is a tricky one for Arsenal, and that’s doubly true given their current form (winless in their last nine games – all competitions).


Does Liverpool’s lead grow? Shrink? Hold steady?

From now until the end of the season, it’s Liverpool’s title to lose. No matter how you look at it, it’s theirs to either win or lose. Therefore, every time out presents a chance to grow their lead, or the risk of seeing it shrink should the drop points and one of the chasing sides to take all three. The math behind it is a bit boring, but if they don’t drop more than 10 points the rest of the season, they’ll win the title. Of course, their margin for error is likely to grow with Leicester and City eventually failing to win. Simply put, Liverpool are sitting comfortably.


Good times roll for Newcastle?

Don’t look now, but Newcastle have won three of their last five games and reached mid-table. Steve Bruce‘s side currently sits 11th after wins over West Ham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United in recent weeks. Welcomeing relegation-threatened Southampton to St. James’ Park could very well spell another three points for the Magpies.

Serie A: Leaders Inter Milan open door for Juve by drawing Roma

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MILAN (AP) Italian league leader Inter Milan was held by Roma to 0-0 on Friday, giving second-placed Juventus a chance to return to the top.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

The home draw left Inter only two points ahead of Juventus, which can regain the lead when it visits third-placed Lazio on Saturday.The result also wasn’t good for Roma, which moved from fifth to fourth place in the standings but remained nine points off the lead after 15 matches.

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez had one of the game’s best chances when he got past a defender and entered the area in the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked at the last minute. He called for a handball by the defender but the referee let play continue.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Inter was coming off five straight wins in the league, with its last setback in all competitions last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last league loss was against Juventus in October, nine matches ago.

Roma was seeking its third straight league win. It had won five of its last six matches since last month.

Inter visits Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

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  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

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The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

Premier League Preview: Everton v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea sit 4th, with 29 points
  • Everton sit 18th, with 11 points
  • Last meeting: Everton 2-0 Chelsea

Everton’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League season has been beyond woeful (4W-2D-9L in 15 games) for any club, let alone one that had dreams of breaking into the top-six this season, resulting in manager Marco Silva losing his job on Thursday. Now, fewer than 48 hours later, the Toffees have to pick themselves back up and face a top-four side for the third straight game when Chelsea visit Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Having lost three straight PL games, including defeats to second-place Leicester City and leaders Liverpool this week alone, the next few weeks will go a long way toward seeing Everton leave the relegation zone in the rearview mirror or sink deeper and deeper into the muck of a season-long relegation battle. A piece of potentially positive news for Everton ahead of Saturday’s game: they are currently three games unbeaten against Chelsea (1W-2D-0L).

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As for the Blues, this could turn out to be a decisive week in their season. After losing to West Ham United last weekend, Frank Lampard‘s side bounced back with a win over Aston Villa on Wednesday. Then came the best news of all on Friday: Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half and they will be able to sign players in January, meaning their young, thin squad can be bolstered as the look to solidify their Champions League place for next season.

With a floundering side like Everton next up on the fixtures list, the chance to move further clear of the Champions League chasing pack is perfectly ripe. Tammy Abraham (hip) returned for the game against Villa and scored the opening goal to take is season’s tally to 11 (second, behind Jamie Vardy). The 22-year-old has benefited more than anyone from what turned out to be Chelsea’s one-window transfer ban, doing more than enough to secure his place for the second half of the season, no matter what business they do in January.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee)

Chelsea: OUT – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles), Antonio Rudiger (groin)


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford — Sidibe, Keane, Mina, Digne — Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson — Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Chelsea: Kepa — James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta — Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic — Abraham


What they’re saying

Interim Everton boss Duncan Ferguson: “I’m a coach at the moment so I don’t think that is something I am considering at this time. It is my dream to be Everton manager but I am also realistic. Who wouldn’t want to be manager of Everton? There will be many top managers who want this job.”

Frank Lampard, on the new-manager bounce: “[Marco] Silva tried everything for the club and I’m sure that he will go on to manage well elsewhere. They might have an extra energy tomorrow as they rally.”


Prediction

Chelsea have far too much balance between defense and attack to hand Everton the glaring opportunities they will need to beat a genuine top-four side. That said, there’s far too much talent in that squad to continue to get beaten every time out, and perhaps seeing someone else take the blame will lift the burden off them and allow them to perform. Everton 2-2 Chelsea.