Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 21

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It’s been just 16 days since our last check-in with the Premier League club power rankings, but three more matches have been played and the title race is open again (which technically means it was never closed, but whatever).

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All this ahead of a weekend which could see big shake-ups at the bottom of the PL table and our power rankings, as Burnley hosts Fulham and Huddersfield Town heads to Cardiff City.


20. Huddersfield Town — Steve Mounie scored his first goal of the season in the 2-1 loss to Burnley, which is not good considering he’s their $15 million striker, had played almost 1000 minutes at that point, and the season started in August.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Flunked its Arsenal test to the tune of 4-1 (it wasn’t that bad), but all will be forgiven with a win at Burnley.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — If owner Mike Ashley doesn’t give spend significant money this month, he’s going to lose Rafa Benitez and his spot in the Premier League. That’ll make a club’s price tag on the takeover market sink something fierce.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Burnley — Sean Dyche has his men bag above the red line, and will be looking to truly exhale by beating Fulham at Turf Moor.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Getting a point at Leicester on Saturday would say something big about manager Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Saints revolution.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Cardiff City — The Bluebirds can essentially vanquish a relegation rival from their rear view mirrors by handling miserable Huddersfield Town this weekend.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20

14. Bournemouth — Cherries versus the Top Six? 0-7, 0 points. Cherries versus everyone else? 8-3-3. This, perhaps, is why Eddie Howe is always linked with clubs that have a bigger budget; He doesn’t quite have the ponies to run with the best, even for 90 minutes.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

13. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson‘s men are back in time for another second half run. This is what they do.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

12. Everton — They’ll have to be addressed in a longer post, but I have serious questions about Marco Silva that I’d ask loudly if I wasn’t terrified for Evertonians sake that it would mean Big Sam or some other demon of bad football would be back. Richarlison needs to bail out his benefactor, and soon.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Watford — I kinda hate this team — not the club, Watford supporters — for clearly being capable of contending for the Top Seven but not putting in consistent performances. Just one win from its last three matches would’ve had them in seventh.
Last week: 9
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

10. West Ham United — Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have hit a rough patch, but are showing heart and you wouldn’t bet against them getting something from Arsenal this weekend.
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

9. Brighton and Hove Albion — Unbeaten in three and a sexy pick to steal a point from Liverpool?
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

8. Wolves — Has there ever been a team to have a winning record against the Top Six but a losing record against the rest of the field? Their results are the Moussa Sissoko of results. That’s really unfair to Raul Jimenez, who runs his shorts off, but we’re talking about results not performances.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Leicester City — They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

6. Arsenal — Just eh. A 4-1 win over Fulham flattered the Gunners, and the club’s clear focus on the future is healthy but uninspiring when it comes to the season.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Manchester United — Still haven’t played much of anyone in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, but that changes this week with Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

4. Chelsea — A new center forward or fully functioning Alvaro Morata could inspire a charge, but right now the Blues look an Eden Hazard injury from dropping out of the Top Four and needing to lean on the Europa League for UCL qualification.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

3. Spurs — Tottenham still has all five of its Top Six rivals left on its schedule, with three of those away from Wembley/White Hart Lane. It will be difficult to rise above third.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — More games like the 2-1 win over Liverpool please. Not because City won, but because it was so much fun. Now can they run through the final 17 matches without dropping more than a point or two?
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Even with the loss to City, the schedule says Liverpool would need to choke in a big way in order to fail in its bid for a first top-flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

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  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

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Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.