Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 15

Leave a comment

[ 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

Lukaku working to shed extra muscle he put on for World Cup

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
1 Comment

Romelu Lukaku has found it difficult to replicate his international form at club level since returning to Manchester United from the 2018 World Cup, but Belgium’s superstar no. 9 is confident he’s worked out the main reason why: he came back carrying too much muscle.

[ MORE: Chelsea hand Man City a first loss | Liverpool win to go top of PL ]

After scoring four goals in six appearances in Russia, Lukaku has netted just six times in 15 appearances in the Premier League and has received considerable criticism with the Red Devils slumping to their current sixth-place standing in the league table.

In preparation for the World Cup, the 25-year-old says he packed on a few extra pounds of muscle to better stand up to the international game’s highly physical nature. Once he returned to Manchester, though, he quickly realized that all that extra weight would be hugely detrimental in the fast-paced, end-to-end PL. It’s taken some time and effort, but it sounds like Lukaku is just about where he would like to be again — quotes from the Guardian:

“In the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football. That was something that when I came back I knew straight away — ‘Nah, I cannot play in this style like this.’ I had to lose muscle basically. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and a lot of vegetables and fish, and it helps.”

“After the World Cup, I think I really was a bit tired. But, you know, I had the same thing in 2014 after the World Cup when I came back to Everton, I was really in a slump after the World Cup. So now I think I am in a decent level again and ready to go again. I knew this. Me and the [United] medical staff, we did like a lot of tests to see what was the problem. I had a hamstring injury, which is something that never happens to me.”

“We are doing more prevention in the gym and I am trying to do speed bursts in training and that’s the most essential”

Things are certainly looking up for Lukaku as he’s scored twice in Man United’s last three PL games — the first time he’s managed to do so since tallying in back-to-back fixtures at the start of September.

Burnley’s Mee defends tackle that broke Joe Gomez’s leg

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Joe Gomez is expected to miss the next six weeks after suffering a broken leg during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Burnley on Wednesday, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with the tackle which resulted in the injury, according to Clarets defender Ben Mee.

[ MORE: Chelsea hand Man City a first loss | Liverpool win to go top of PL ]

Mee, who tackled the ball away from the Liverpool defender halfway through the first half, took the opportunity this weekend to defend his tackle, calling it “unfortunate” and saying that strong challenges are “part of the game” — quotes from the BBC:

“I don’t think anything was wrong with my tackle personally. You can’t take tackles out of the game.”

“I’ve seen Liverpool make tackles and get the crowd up and things like that. For me, you can play fair, but you can also play hard as well.

“We’re at the bottom of the table and we need to get out of it, so we’re obviously going to work our socks off to win games. It was just unfortunate and I send my best wishes to him.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp seemed to side with Mee’s version of events following the game earlier this week, calling it “the cleanest” tackle made by a Burnley player all game — a clear reference to what he felt was a highly physical outing by the Clarets. Burnley boss Sean Dyche called it a “fantastic tackle.”

Serie A: AC Milan frustrated by results, missing out on Zlatan

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) AC Milan’s problems in front of goal show no signs of abating and it has been forced to admit defeat in its attempts to bring back Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Milan was held at home to a 0-0 draw by Torino in Serie A on Sunday. The Rossoneri have scored just three goals in their past four league matches, and only three of the other sides in the top 10 in Serie A have scored fewer than Milan’s tally of 24 in 15 rounds.

Milan had been trying to bring back the 37-year-old Ibrahimovic on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy. The former Sweden international scored more than 50 goals for Milan in his two seasons at the club, 2010-12.

“He gave his word to Galaxy that he would stay if they satisfied his conditions and they did so,” sporting director Leonardo said. “It would have been a really lovely story because it would have given a significant weight to the team.

“We can’t deny that both parties thought of it but it will not be possible.”

Patrick Cutrone should have snatched the win for Milan with four minutes remaining on Sunday but he fired wide of the right post when one-on-one with Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

The 20-year-old Cutrone put his head in his hands in dismay, while other Milan players were also visibly shocked at the miss.

Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a stunning save in the fifth minute to keep out Iago Falque’s header from close range.

“I’ve had a really difficult year but I’m much more calm now,” said Donnraumma, who has faced criticism recently following several poor performances.

Milan remained fourth, three points behind Inter Milan, which lost at league leader Juventus on Friday. Milan is a point ahead of Lazio, which drew 2-2 at home to Sampdoria on Saturday.

Torino also remained in the fight for the final Champions League place, and is four points behind Milan.

The 2 Robbies: Chelsea top Man City; Liverpool go top

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss what was perhaps a title-defining weekend which saw Chelsea hand Manchester City their first defeat of the season with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge (4:30) and Liverpool beat up on Bournemouth with a 4-0 win at Vitality Stadium to go top of the Premier League table (22:15). Plus, thoughts on wins for Tottenham Hotspur (31:50), Manchester United (39:25) and Arsenal (47:55) before the midweek Champions League fixtures.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies