Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 8

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Heading into the international break, it is time to unveil our latest batch of Premier League Power Rankings.

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Plenty of clubs are heading in opposite directions, as the break has come at both a good and bad time for many PL teams.

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20. Huddersfield Town — Eight games without a win and despite an improved display at Burnley, things are looking bleak.
Last week: 20
Season high: 18
Season low: 20

19. Cardiff City — See above. No wins yet for Cardiff, but Neil Warnock‘s men made Tottenham work hard for their win. Tough run of games coming up.
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20

18. Fulham — Defensively a shambles and although the Cottagers are good to watch, there’s no substance to their obvious style. Worrying start to life back in the PL. How long will Slavisa Jokanovic get?
Last week: 16
Season high: 11
Season low: 18

17. Newcastle United — Just when it seemed like the Magpies had bagged their first win of the season, they crumbled like a Jenga set. Rafael Benitez’s men squandering a 2-0 lead at Man United was painful to watch as you could see the belief being sucked out of them. Massive games coming up.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 18

16. Southampton — Mark Hughes‘ men actually created plenty of chances against Chelsea but they’ve now failed to score in three-straight games and it looks like another season of relegation struggles for Saints.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 17

15. Crystal Palace — Only one win so far for Palace and Roy Hodgson‘s men continue to look lackluster in attack with Wilfried Zaha out of sorts. A tight loss at home to Wolves suggests finishing in midtable would be a great season for the Eagles.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 15

14. Watford — A 4-0 spanking at the hands of Bournemouth underlined Watford’s rapid decline and silly defensive errors are costing the Hornets dear. Once again a fine start is evaporating quickly.
Last week: 12
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

13. Burnley — The Clarets only drew at home against Huddersfield but Sean Dyche‘s men are now three games unbeaten and looking back to their old selves. Solid and dependable.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

12. West Ham United — The Hammers were second best at Brighton but could have grabbed an equalizer but missed some glorious chances. Manuel Pellegrini will be annoyed with West Ham’s latest display.  
Last week: 9
Season high: 9
Season low: 20

11. Leicester City — I think we can label the Foxes a Jekyll and Hyde team. Wes Morgan‘s red card didn’t help matters, but they were second best in the home defeat to Everton. Four wins and four defeats so far this season.
Last week: 7
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — The Seagulls delivered a much-improved display and grabbed a valuable three points against West Ham. Glenn Murray‘s fine form continues as the veteran finished off one of several incisive moves.
Last week: 14
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

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9. Manchester United — Well, what can we say? They looked dead and buried at 2-0 down at home against Newcastle with Jose Mourinho facing the sack. United then roared back to win 3-2 with a last-gasp goal from Alexis Sanchez. Hardly vintage play, but they stood tall when their manager needed them to. So many defensive issues to sort out. But a win is a win.
Last week: 10
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

8. Everton — A fine win away at Leicester and Marco Silva‘s attacking unit finally looks dangerous. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a stunner to win it, while Walcott, Richarlison and Bernard caused plenty of problems. Toffees shoring things up defensively too.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Tottenham — A weird season for Spurs so far, as they’ve failed to hit top gear but are just two points off top spot and they’ve equalled their best-ever start to a season. Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t been impressed with their displays, but they’ve been winning. That is the sign of a good team.
Last week: 6
Season high: 3
Season low: 8

6. Bournemouth — The fairytale continues for Eddie Howe‘s side who are showing they can truly be the “best of the rest” and mount a challenge to qualify for Europe. The quartet of King, Wilson, Brooks and Fraser ripped Watford apart in a 4-0 win and there is so much to admire about Bournemouth’s attacking play with young talent. Fantastic start as they’re just five points off the top.
Last week: 8

Season high: 6
Season low: 12

5. Wolves — Talking of fairytales, my word, Wolves are flying. The newly-promoted team won at Crystal Palace and Nuno Espirito Santo has named eight unchanged lineups for their eight PL games. Continuity is key and the backing from their Chinese owners suggests this is only the start. Alongside Bournemouth, they will fight to finish in the top six. They sit in seventh heading into the break.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

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4. Liverpool — Disappointing display against Man City and they should have lost late on. That said, still unbeaten after eight games and Jurgen Klopp is delighted with that given all of the big Champions League and League Cup games rolled into the past few weeks. Solid start, even if Salah and Co. aren’t firing on all cylinders up top.
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

3. Arsenal — Wow. Here come the Gunners. Nine wins on the spin in all competitions and six in a row in the league means that Unai Emery is having to calm everyone down. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are on fire and scored twice each in the 5-1 win at Fulham, while defensively there is still room for improvement but they look better at the back.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4
Season low: 9

2. Man City — A mature display away at Liverpool where they controlled the attacking trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino with ease and should have won late on had Riyad Mahrez not skied the penalty kick. The reigning champs are top of the table on goal difference but know they’ll have a much tougher fight this season to win it all.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

1. Chelsea — Maurizio Sarri‘s men are looking imperious right now. They have yet to lose any of his 11 games in charge in all competitions and they are joint-top of the table while playing the most attractive football in the PL. With Eden Hazard in the form of his life, Sarri’s first few months have been scintillating. Remember: he only arrived in mid-July but it already seems like he’s been at Stamford Bridge for years. The Blues look set to muscle in on a title battle between Man City and Liverpool.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 4

Robertson signs new long-term Liverpool contract

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Andrew Robertson will remain a hero at Anfield for a very long time.

The Scottish left back, 24, committed his future to Liverpool Thursday, as he signed a new long-term deal which will reportedly run until 2024.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Robertson arrived from Hull City in the summer of 2017 and was expected to be the back-up left back behind Alberto Moreno. Instead he has become one of the top left backs in Europe, with his marauding runs down the flank a focal point of Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

Speaking about his new contract, the captain of the Scottish national team revealed how easy a decision it was to make.

“As soon as the club came to me, it was a no-brainer for me – I want to stay here, so as soon as they put an offer on the table it was signed as quickly as that,” Robertson said. “It was a pretty easy contract for me and I’m sure for the club as well. We both agreed very quickly, that’s why it’s been done so quickly. Getting to know the lads and working with all the staff at Melwood has been a pleasure. The best thing about work is when you love coming in every day – and that’s what I do here. I am glad I have extended my stay and hopefully we have a lot of good days ahead.”

Robertson’s rise to the top of the game has been quite sensational.

He started off in the lower leagues of Scottish soccer before landing at Hull and then having a decent season in the Premier League in 2016-17, although the Tigers were relegated.

Liverpool snapped him up for $10 million and he has gone from strength to strength with his incredible energy down the left making him a firm fans favorite. Off the pitch he does a lot in the community and he just seems like one of the good guys.

Klopp added that “he might be from Glasgow originally, but everything about him screams Liverpool” and hailed Robertson’s quality on the pitch as well as off it.

“Everyone knows about his personality, on and off the pitch, but maybe we are guilty at times of overlooking his quality,” Klopp said. “Ask those who play against him – be it matchday or training – and they speak about his technical and tactical qualities, just as much as his character and heart. Our supporters have fallen in love with him, he has fallen in love with them – and both he and his amazing young family are very much at home in Liverpool.

Robertson’s rise deserved to be rewarded as he was a regular at Liverpool for most of last season and his performances in Europe helped the Reds reach the UEFA Champions League final.

His target is clear: to win trophies at Liverpool.

“I hope to achieve success as a team over the course of this new deal,” Robertson added. “This club demands trophies and too long has probably passed without trophies. So I hope to help bring another couple of trophies to this club and help push in that direction because the fans demand it and the club demands it, so that’s what we aim to give. We came close, of course we have with the Champions League and things like that, but it’s about taking that next step and hopefully getting a winner’s medal around your neck, whatever competition it is. That is the main aim for us.”

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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Week 23 of the Premier League season is almost here as a big London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea takes center stage.

MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Leicester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Liverpool v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Brighton – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle United v. Cardiff City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM
12:30 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Chelsea – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
9:15 a.m. ET: Huddersfield v. Man City – NBCSN [STREAM]
11 a.m. ET: Fulham v. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]

Madrid enduring its worst struggles in decades

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MADRID (AP) The first season without Cristiano Ronaldo is proving to be a difficult one for Real Madrid.

The Spanish powerhouse hasn’t been this bad in more than two decades.

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Not since 1996 had Madrid lost 10 matches at this point of the season. That team, led by Raul Gonzalez, lost 12 times by the end of January. Madrid’s team coached by Guus Hiddink three years later also struggled, losing 10 of its first 32 matches in all competitions, exactly like this season.

But all had gone mostly well for Madrid since then, especially after Ronaldo arrived in 2009 and led the club to a trove of trophies.

“The last few years have been some of the best in the history of Real Madrid,” defender Nacho Fernandez says. “It’s going to be difficult to match or surpass that.”

Madrid’s latest loss was at Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. It still advanced to the quarterfinals after having won the first leg 3-0, but the defeat again exposed some of the team’s problems since Ronaldo departed to join Juventus:

COACHING WOES

Zinedine Zidane left just before Ronaldo and his absence has been felt just as badly.

Madrid replaced the France great with Julen Lopetegui, but the former Spain coach lasted only about three months before he was sacked.

Former player Santiago Solari arrived as an interim coach and was given the full-time job after a good start, but confidence in him has quickly eroded as the team continues to be inconsistent.

He has struggled to manage some of his players, including Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, who could be on his way out because of his lack of playing minutes. He was substituted in the second half against Leganes on Wednesday.

Calls for another coaching change have been getting louder, adding to the team’s instability on the field.

BETTING ON YOUTH

Madrid did not make any blockbuster signing to try to replace Ronaldo, betting instead on youngsters such as Vinicius Junior, who is only 18.

The Brazilian has shown signs he could be a star, but still lacks the experience to lead the squad.

Mariano Diaz was given the No. 7 jersey when Ronaldo left, but his season has been marred by injuries and he hasn’t been able to contribute much so far.

SLUGGISH VETERANS

Madrid hoped veterans Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema could take over the leadership role that Ronaldo used to carry, but that never happened even though their numbers improved significantly after the Portuguese star left.

They each have scored more goals, but haven’t been consistent enough to also notch victories.

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES

The club has conceded more than 30 goals and has one of the worst defenses among the teams in the top half of the Spanish league standings.

It lost 3-0 to Sevilla, Eibar, and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, and was demoralized by Barcelona 5-1 in the league at Camp Nou Stadium.

“We know that we have to get better,” midfielder Casemiro says.

INJURIES

It hasn’t helped coach Solari that he lost Bale, Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Diaz to lengthy injuries. Benzema is the latest concern for Solari because of a broken hand.

“It’s been an atypical season with all the injuries,” Fernandez says. “We haven’t been playing our best soccer, but there is a lot of season left.”

Madrid’s next match is on Saturday at home against Sevilla in the Spanish league. Madrid is fourth in the standings, 10 points behind leader Barcelona after 19 matches.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Humble Jose Mourinho: “I belong to top level”

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Jose Mourinho is back in the public eye a month after being fired as Manchester United’s manager.

Did he every really leave?

Mourinho is working as a pundit for beIN Sports in the Middle East and will give analysis of the huge Arsenal v. Chelsea clash on Saturday.

Speaking with huge passion to the outlet about a multitude of topics, Mourinho revealed he isn’t considering retirement and has his eyes on a top job.

“I want to coach. I am too young. I am in football for a long, long time but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks. I am too young. Where I am going to stay is where I belong. I belong top level football and that is where I am going to be,” Mourinho said.

We see that Mourinho’s famed confidence hasn’t taken a battering from losing his job at United…

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On a serious note, he did have some interesting things to say about his two-and-half seasons in charge of the Red Devils.

Mourinho said that the second-place finish he achieved at United in 2017-18 was one of his greatest achievements as a manager, and added that “some people don’t know what is going on behind-the-scenes” at the club.

And he added that the structure of the club has to be set up in a way for the manager to not focus on everything the modern day player is involved with, while several times he pointed to the fact that players now have a huge amount of power.

“A club must be very well organised, where the manager is only the manager and not the man that is trying to keep the discipline or educate the players,” Mourinho said.

Hmmm. I wonder who he could have on his mind there…

The former Chelsea, United, Real Madrid and Inter Milan coach also tried to put plenty of wrongs right (his words) about him, as he talked about the results versus style of play debate — he is obviously a fan of the former — and stated that he didn’t sell Mohamed Salah while he was in charge of Chelsea.

“People try to identify me as the coach who sold Salah. I am the coach that bought Salah,” Mourinho said. “It is completely the wrong idea. I played against Basel in the Champions League. Salah was a kid in Basel. When I play against a team I analyze the team and the players for quite a long time and I fell in love with that kid. I bought the kid. I pushed the club to buy him. At that time we already had fantastic attacking players… He was a lost kid in London. He was a lost kid in a new world. When the club decided to sell him, it was not me.”

It safe to say that Mourinho will be absorbing to watch as an analyst, and he plans to do that for a little while as he added that he wants to learn more about what goes on behind the camera in order to learn more about the modern game.

All of this talk taught us one thing: Mourinho really is struggling with how the game has changed and he needs to adapt to the modern game if he’s going to continue to be successful and last longer than a few years at one club.