Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 23

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Two Premier League clubs have dipped to new season lows in our Premier League Club Power Rankings.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]


20. Huddersfield Town — If Jan Siewert can save the Terriers this season, he should get an instant statue next to David Wagner‘s whenever the latter is built.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — A fine performance against Spurs ends with another loss.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — It’s difficult to rail against the Bluebirds’ performance at Newcastle given the horrific story involving record signing Emiliano Sala’s plane disappearing en route to Wales.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Newcastle United — Out of the drop zone after a convincing defeat of Cardiff City, the Magpies don’t have much of a chance to build on it. Next up are Man City, Spurs, and Wolves, the latter two away from St. James’ Park. By the time Huddersfield Town visits, will the Magpies be with them in the drop zone?
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

16. Burnley — Given their recent run, a draw at Watford is just fine. The Clarets are just dropping due to the razor-thin margins between the hopeful midtable sides. Burnley is still just three points above the drop zone. Now can Sean Dyche slow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s flying Manchester United at Old Trafford?
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Everton *New season low* — Anything other than a win at Huddersfield Town should legitimately increase the heat under Marco Silva‘s seat to full flame.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

14. Southampton — Back-to-back wins and the chance to put another side in its rear view when 14th place Palace visits in what could be the surprise entertainment of the midweek.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Crystal Palace — Some understandable bumps in the road have hit the Eagles, but they’ll be expected to bounce back and get a point or more at Southampton even if Ralph Hasenhuttl has Saints looking up.
Last week: 16
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — After losses to Liverpool and Manchester United, don’t be surprised if the Seagulls bust out the goals against Fulham.
Last week: 10
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

11. Leicester City — Now losers of three-in-four after a 7-goal thriller with Wolves, which probably shouldn’t be put down to Claude Puel (but will be).
Last week: 11
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Bournemouth — A nice bounce back and win against West Ham sets the Cherries up for another chance to show something against a Top Six side in unimpressive Chelsea. And, so far, the Cherries have been able to hold onto striker Callum Wilson.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

9. West Ham United — Still maddeningly inconsistent. Would be useful if they can flip Marko Arnautovic for a stable and happy striker (Duvan Zapata?).
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

8. Watford — A four-match unbeaten run has asked a lot of questions about Javi Gracia‘s Hornets, who sit seventh but could have a stranglehold on it with any sort of consistency in anything other than inconsistency.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. Wolves — A riot of a win versus Leicester City snaps a two-match skid and sets Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men up to claim pole position in the race for seventh and a Europa League berth.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

6. Chelsea *New season low* Maurizio Sarri is correct. As was Antonio Conte. And Jose Mourinho. Chelsea is incredibly talented, and just as entitled.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 6

5. Arsenal — A nice win over struggling Chelsea, sure, but Manchester United in the FA Cup and Man City in the league stretch across their next three outings.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Manchester United — Getting past Friday’s FA Cup match with Arsenal would probably get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the Champions League unbeaten as United boss.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Not really their fault unless you want to explore their summer window a bit more, but Dele Alli and Harry Kane out until March hits their chances hard. A run of home matches against winnable opponents stops them from sinking lower than Chelsea.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — The big question isn’t whether City will win enough points, it’s whether Liverpool will drop four more than the reigning champions.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Kept it interesting against feisty Crystal Palace, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s forthcoming return will only serve to strengthen their chances of outgunning anyone who dares draw on the Reds.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

U-20 WC roundup: Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action at the U-20 World Cup in Poland…

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Man United after Portuguese duo; Spurs want Lo Celso ]

France 2-0 Saudi Arabia

While France enjoyed nearly 70 percent of possession, thanks to playing 78 minutes with a man advantage, they were anything but dominant and overwhelming in their 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia.

Les Bleus‘ opener came just before halftime, when Youssouf Fofana (Strasbourg) volleyed home from the edge of the penalty area. Saudi Arabia went dangerously close to equalizing just seconds later, but Illan Meslier (Lorient) made a stellar save to his left to deny Turki Al-Ammar.

The 1-0 scoreline remained all the way until the 75th minute, when finally Amine Gouiri (Lyon) hit a shot off the hands of the goalkeeper and watched as it bounced over the goal line for a 2-0 lead and to complete the scoring.

France will take on Panama in their next Group E game on Tuesday.

Argentina 5-2 South Africa

Ezequiel Barco might have made himself — and Atlanta United — a few million dollars on Saturday, thanks to an otherworldly golazo in Argentina’s 5-2 victory over South Africa.

The 20-year-old hit the following volley from just inside the penalty area to make it 3-1. All you can do is sit back, watch in awe and count up all the extra dollars Atlanta United are now set to make when Barco inevitably moves to Europe, following in the footsteps of Miguel Almiron and his $30-million move to Newcastle United in January.

Fausto Vera (Argentinos Juniors) opened the in just the 4th minute, followed by Barco’s first of the game — from the penalty spot — in the 63rd. The golazo came eight minutes later, followed by late tallies from Julian Alvarez (River Plate) and Adolfo Gaich (San Lorenzo) in the 78th and 90th minutes, respectively.

Next up, Argentina will face Portugal in a battle for Group F supremacy on Tuesday.

Portugal 1-0 South Korea

Much like France, Portugal were made to work mightily hard for their tournament-opening victory over South Korea.

Trincao (Braga) scored the game’s only goal in the 7th minute, when he timed his run perfectly to get on the end of Jota’s (Benfica) through ball. The counter-attack was lightning quick, and Trincao’s finish cool and precise. Portugal had the ball in the back of the net again in the 19th minute, but a look at video review revealed that Rafael Leao (Lille) was offside during the build-up before he picked out Trincao with his cross.

Elsewhere in the U-20 World Cup

Panama 1-1 Mali 0 [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s U-20 World Cup schedule

Mexico v. Japan — 9:30 a.m. ET
Ecuador v. Italy — 12 p.m. ET
Senegal v. Colombia — 12 p.m. ET
Poland v. Tahiti — 2:30 p.m. ET

De Rossi pens emotional farewell to Roma fans before final match

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After 18 years with the club, Daniele de Rossi is playing in his final AS Roma match on Sunday before his contract expires.

Ahead of the game, the 35-year-old midfielder wrote a detailed thank you to fans, team employees, and teammates before his sendoff. “Please, let me say thank you to everyone at Roma that I came to know,” he said before beginning his list of appreciation.

First, Rossi credited his playing mentor Damiano Tommasi, who was at the club from 1996-2006 and made 262 appearances for Roma. The midfielder suffered a knee injury in 2004 which saw Rossi break into the team full-time after making his professional debut in 2002. “[to] Damiano, without whom I would certainly have made fewer appearances for this club,” de Rossi wrote.

He also thanks former captain Francesco Totti by saying, “Thank you to Francesco. The captain’s armband I wore was inherited from the arm of a brother, a great captain and the most incredible footballer I have ever seen wear this shirt. Not everyone gets to play alongside their idol for 16 years. Now, with respect, I will pass this armband on to Alessandro [Florenzi]. Another brother, one that I know is equally worthy of the honor.”

De Rossi mentions Davide Astori, the Fiorentina player who passed away tragically in March of last year, saying, “Thank you Davide, I know you will be alongside me for the rest of my life too.” He also thanks Roma academy director Bruno Conti, saying, “[to] Bruno, who saw something special in me and brought me into this club’s fantastic academy.”

Finally, he thanks the Roma supporters, saying, “Thank you to every Roma fan, my fans. Today, at least, I’ll allow myself to call you ‘my fans’ – because I was one of you, out there on the pitch, and the love you have always shown me helped me to keep on doing that. You are all the reason why I chose this city, this life, time and time again. Sunday will be the 616th time I make that choice, the right choice.”

The emotion poured out in the final paragraph of his letter, referencing a tough time in Roma history where the club finished outside the top four for the third straight season and lost in the Coppa Italia final to Lazio. “A few years ago, May 26 became a day where we all thought we would never be able to smile again. I thought that too, at least until I saw a tattoo one fan had inked that read, ’27 May 2013, and yet the wind continues to blow’. I don’t know the owner of that particular tattoo, but I do know that the wind will still blow again on this May 27. I have never felt your affection like I have done in these last few days, it has truly overwhelmed me and touched me to my core.”

“Never have I seen you all united for a cause like you have been for this. But now, the greatest gift you can possibly give me is to leave that pain and anger to one side, and start again in full support of the only thing we all care about, the one thing that comes before everyone and everything – Roma.”

What a legend this man is. Roma sure knows how to produce a type of player not seen much around the rest of the world.

Celtic win Scottish Cup to secure unprecedented domestic treble-treble

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Celtic came from behind to top Hearts 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final, completing an unprecedented “treble-treble.” They are the first team in Scottish top flight history to win each of the league title, Scottish Cup, and League Cup in three straight seasons.

After a scoreless first half, Ryan Edwards put Hearts in front in the 52nd minute, pouncing on a messy backheel from Sean Clare and scoring the first goal Celtic had conceded all competition.

That jumpstarted the Glasgow giants, with an Odsonne Edouard double leading the way. His first came from the spot in the 62nd minute, just sneaking his penalty past Zdenek Zlamal for the equalizer before he won it with eight minutes to go. The moment came off a powerful Mikael Lustig header from near the halfway line that sprung Edouard free on goal, and the 21-year-old buried the one-on-one.

The victory gave Celtic its third major domestic trophy of the campaign for the third consecutive season, marking the historic achievement. Earlier in the season they had secured the league title by an eight-point margin and beaten Aberdeen 1-0 in the League Cup final, all despite losing manager Brendan Rodgers midway through the year to Leicester City, with Neil Lennon taking over and leading the finish.

Celtic has now won the Scottish Cup a record 39 times, with 50 league titles and 18 League Cups to go along with it.

Derby sued by Middlesbrough over alleged financial transgressions

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Middlesbrough has opened legal proceedings against playoff finalists Derby County over what they allege to be a breach in the Football League’s financial rules.

Boro owner Steve Gibson is taking action over what he believes to be Derby County’s intentional circumvention of financial sustainability regulations by posting an $18.6 million profit last season despite Derby owner Mel Morris selling the club’s ground Pride Park and then leasing it back.

Derby, however, has maintained its innocence, with the club even providing a written offer to all other clubs to review their books, an offer which Derby alleges Middlesbrough declined to take advantage of. “Middlesbrough were offered by us in writing to come with their advisors to go through our submissions for profitability and sustainability, [but] they declined.”

Gibson also attempted to force Derby to submit their financials to an independent inquiry, but all other Championship clubs voted it down. The Middlesbrough owner went after Aston Villa in late April, with Tony Pulis confirming the owner is “not happy” over “rules being broken.” Gibson attempted the same maneuver, hoping to force Villa to submit to an independent financial inquiry, but the other Championship clubs also turned that motion down.

Reports of Morris’s financial troubles with the club came to a head around that time in March when a report suggested Morris wanted out of the club, looking for a buyer after suffering losses of nearly $3.8 million per month as Derby owner. At that point Derby sat seventh in the Championship table and fell to ninth by the end of the month. Now, having recovered to earn a playoff position at the death, they now sit in the playoff final, set to play Aston Villa on Sunday for a spot in the Premier League.