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Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 15

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[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

20. Burnley — Since we last ranked ’em, the Clarets have lost to Newcastle and Liverpool at home and Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Only one of those is forgivable given current form. This is getting real dicey for a side which has Brighton, Spurs, Arsenal, and Everton by Boxing Day.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

19. Southampton *New season low* — New boss Ralph Hasenhuttl saw a team that didn’t quit despite hitting the bar thrice in going down 3-0 at Spurs. A visit to Cardiff City is on the verge of “must win” on Saturday.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

18. Huddersfield Town — The Terriers are looking solid, even in defeat, but points have to start coming to the John Smith’s Stadium.
Last week: 19
Season high: 18
Season low: 20

17. Fulham — Claudio Ranieri‘s men have nearly doubled their point total during his three matches in charge, including a draw against his old pals Leicester.
Last week: 20
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

16. Crystal Palace  — Someone besides Wilfried Zaha from open play and Luka Milivojevic from the spot has to produce goals (and Andros Townsend‘s once-in-a-blue-moon wonder strikes don’t count). The Man Utd draw and Burnley wins do help.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 16

15. Cardiff City *New season high* — Two wins from four, and the other matches were respectable. Has Neil Warnock done enough to keep the Bluebirds clear of the Bottom Three with an addition or two in January?
Last week: 16
Season high: 15
Season low: 20

14. Newcastle United — There are few teams as stout at the back as Rafa Benitez‘s Magpies, who can start to consider midtable an option with an easier run of games underway and the January window maybe bringing a takeover and reinforcements (like Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron?).
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

13. Watford — Like Bournemouth, the Hornets have failed a series of tests regarding their chances to contend for something meaningful. But their performance against Man City reminded us that they are capable of finishing comfortably mid-table if they bring their A-game.
Last week: 11
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

12. Wolves — That’s a really nice win over Chelsea to stop the rot, and there’s a chance for Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men to really steady the ship with Newcastle on the docket.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. West Ham — Perhaps a bit lucky that Joe Ralls couldn’t convert his Tuesday penalty, the Irons are steadily collecting the results they should to climb into the Top Seven mix.
Last week: 12
Season high: 9
Season low: 20

10. Bournemouth — And exhale. The Cherries lost four-straight, three against giants and one against Newcastle, before getting their footing against Huddersfield Town. Their reward? Liverpool this weekend.
Last week: 8
Season high: 6
Season low: 12

9. Brighton and Hove Albion  Back on track after some setbacks, Chris Hughton‘s men won the M23 Derby and could climb even higher with Burnley up next.
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

8. Leicester City — Unbeaten in six, though the Foxes would’ve liked to have picked up a few more wins given the competition. Spurs visit this weekend.
Last week: 9
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

7. Manchester United — Think Chelsea’s on a dry run? United has three draws since their loss to Man City, and better hope Claudio Ranieri’s counter attacking ways haven’t fully sunk into Fulham this weekend. Maybe Paul Pogba really is a problem, by the way…
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

6. Everton — Jordan Pickford‘s silly mistake against Liverpool cost the Toffees derby honors and the fifth spot in our rankings, and their lack of finish in a dominant performance against Newcastle nearly set them further back. And the Magpies traveling support was not kind to the former Sunderland man.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

5. Chelsea — Four points from 12, and Man City up next at Stamford Bridge. Could easily go from dueling for first to three points back of the Top Four inside of one month.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

4. Tottenham Hotspur — Rebounded nicely against Saints, but their lack of transfer purchases this summer is about to be put to the festive test.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

3. Arsenal — Don’t worry too much about the mistakes at Old Trafford; The back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and Spurs are impressive, and the latter feels like a milestone for the Unai Emery era.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

2. Liverpool — Got a scare early against Burnley but have won four since drawing Arsenal, and could really kick on should they get past Napoli in the Champions League to really get the good vibes rolling through Anfield.
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Man City — The leaders have conceded in four of five matches, and had to hold on for their Tuesday point at Watford. Some say Liverpool keeping pace with them will annoy them, but remember that Pep’s men are doing this while resting Sergio Aguero and nursing Kevin De Bruyne back to health.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

Vancouver cools off LAFC via Hwang In-beom’s first goal (video)

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Hwang In-beom has added his first MLS goal to his resume, and the 14-times capped South Korean made sure it mattered in a big way.

The 22-year-old midfielder bagged a first-half goal to lead Vancouver past form side LAFC and a first MLS win for his manager, former LA assistant Marc Dos Santos.

[ MORE: Klopp to face Messi for 1st time ]

New-look Vancouver is now 1W-4L-2T on the season, dropping previously-unbeaten LAFC to 6-1-1.

The ‘Caps stopped Carlos Vela despite another five shots, one of which was saved by keeper Maxime Crepeau. Jamaican Peter-Lee Vassell also put two shots on goal.

Seattle now has the best points-per-game in MLS this season, with 2.67.

Pellegrini: Wilshere returning to West Ham lineup soon

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Jack Wilshere has made just five appearances for West Ham United this season, but the number six is coming soon.

The Hammers have very slim hopes for seventh place, but also need to restore some positive vibes at the end of a tough stretch which includes losses to to Everton, Manchester United, and Chelsea.

[ UCL RECAPS: Man City-Spurs | Porto-Liverpool ]

Now it’s Leicester City, a direct rival at mid-table, and Manuel Pellegrini is quick to remind us that West Ham has had plenty of obstacles in the form of injury as he looks to build a European contender. From Sky Sports:

“He’s a midfielder that we need because in that position we have (had) so many times all of them injured. (Andriy) Yarmolenko, Wilshere and Lanzini, so the return for Jack will be a good injection.”

Having played for the U-23s again last week, it sounds like Wilshere may start on Saturday (though Pellegrini says it may take another week).

Liverpool’s Klopp on facing Messi for the first time

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Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool is the only returning club in the UEFA Champions League semifinal, and the manager says that’s worth a bit of celebration.

“I’m happy for all the people in the club that it’s like this, second time in the second year in the semi-final,” Klopp said. “That’s a big statement. However you go there, it’s difficult. Everybody tries it and nobody did it in the last two years.”

[ UCL RECAPS: Man City-Spurs | Porto-Liverpool ]

That also means Klopp’s first “proper game” managing against Barcelona, and Liverpool’s first meeting with the Blaugranas since the 2006-07 UCL knockout rounds. All-time, the Reds are 3W-3D-2L versus Barca in European competition.

It also means an attempt to slow Lionel Messi, who at age 31 is in splendid form with 45 goals and 21 assists in 42 matches. Of those goals, he’s bagged 10 in eight Champions League appearances (two v. Manchester United, two v. Spurs, two v. Lyon, and four against PSV Eindhoven).

From LiverpoolFC.com:

“Thank God I don’t have to think about that tonight and thank God I have a few more nights to think about it! I think everybody tried it so far and nobody can really do it. We still will try it. But we are looking forward to it, but we have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona. So let’s first play these games and then let’s prepare for Barcelona. Then we will see. I have never played Barcelona in a proper game, so [it’s] my first time there and I’m looking forward to it.”

Messi went 90 minutes in his only appearances against Liverpool during that 2006-07 series, though he was 19 years old.

He’s just a bit wiser now, but remember it works both ways; As much as Klopp’s never had to stop Messi, he’s certainly had plenty of opportunity to watch what other managers have tried in bids to slow the Argentine. Could Klopp cement his tactical legacy and make another UCL Final, or will he just hope to outgun the genius of Catalonia?

This Alves stunner wasn’t enough for PSG to seal Ligue 1 (video)

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Paris Saint-Germain again failed to clinch the French league title after losing 3-2 at Nantes on Wednesday.

PSG could have sealed it this past Sunday and the weekend before that but picked up only one point from those two matches. The defending champion leads second-place Lille by 17 points with six games left and can celebrate at the fourth attempt by beating Monaco at home on Sunday, or if Lille fails to win at Toulouse earlier in the day.

[ UCL RECAPS: Man City-Spurs | Porto-Liverpool ]

It looked like the celebrations were on at Nantes when the veteran fullback Dani Alves put PSG ahead with a superb dipping shot from outside the penalty area. But the defense crumbled again, letting in an equalizer within four minutes, another goal just before halftime and a third shortly after the break to make it 10 goals conceded in three games.

PSG needed only a draw on Sunday to to seal the eighth league title in its history, but lost 5-1 at Lille – the biggest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge in 2011. Before that, PSG needed a home win against Strasbourg but drew 2-2.

PSG let in two goals against Lille from set pieces and did so again this time.

Center half Diego Carlos equalized when he headed in a corner from the left.

Then, one minute before halftime, right back Thilo Kehrer was easily knocked off the ball by Kalifa Coulibaly, and unmarked striker Majeed Waris finished at the back post. A corner from the left in the 52nd led to Carlos turning the ball in from close range, even with three PSG players around him.

Nantes, which moved up to 14th place, missed further chances before PSG substitute Metehan Guclu pulled a goal back in the 90th.

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