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Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 26

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It’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate sides bunched together in the top-four race, in the middle of the table, and just above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Man City marvelous in 10-man comeback win (video) ]

We’ll give it our best shot anyway, in this week’s edition of Premier League power rankings…

20. Huddersfield Town — 87 days have passed since the Terriers last won a league game (Nov. 25), and they’re now 14 points adrift of safety with just 12 games left to play.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — The win over Brighton appears to have been nothing more than a blip on the radar, as the Cottagers have since lost twice by a combined score of 5-0.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Brighton and Hove Albion — If not for their strong start, Brighton would be battling with Huddersfield and Fulham. Fortunately for the Seagulls, their current six-game winless skid (four losses) has only seem them slip to 14th.
Last week: 15
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

17. Southampton — Here’s where things start to get very interesting: the next three teams in the table are separated by just one point. The three above them are just three points higher. Of their first three, Saints are the longest without a victory (three games).
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Newcastle United — Holding on to beat Wolves would have drastically changed the outlook on Newcastle’s chances of staying up. Alas, the last-second equalizer has them just one point clear of the drop.
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

15. Cardiff City — Finally outside the relegation zone after back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and Southampton. The latter was of utmost importance, for obvious reasons.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Burnley — Seven games unbeaten (four wins), yet still only 15th in the table thanks to their putrid start.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Everton — Three straight losses, and the Toffees are sliding the wrong way quickly. Just one point separates them in 9th place and Leicester in 12th.
Last week: 13
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

12. Leicester City — Five games without a win (four losses) means another mid-table finish is where the Foxes will top out this season, with the outside chance of still slipping into the relegation battle.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

11. West Ham United — Speaking of sliding down the table, the 10th-place Hammers are winless in four (two losses) and are also just one point from falling to 12th.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

10. Crystal Palace — Thanks to the struggles of those around them in the table, 13th-place Palace crack the top-half of the power rankings on the back of their current three-game unbeaten run.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

9. Bournemouth — Losing to Cardiff? Not a great look. Losing to Liverpool? Understandable. Drop all three points to Wolves this weekend, and the Cherries can expect to tumble next week.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

8. Watford — Comfortably (four points clear) in 8th in the real table, and the Hornets piled the misery on Marco Silva and Everton last time out. Life’s not bad for Watford these days.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. Chelsea — Not only have the results been bad (three losses from their last four games), but the fans have all but turned on Maurizio Sarri. It could be a long final three months of the season.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

6. Wolves — When you’re a newly promoted side sitting 7th in the table in February, and your three-game winning streak is snapped by snatching a stoppage-time equalizer, you can’t have too many complaints.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

5. Arsenal — Still 5th in the table, only now they’re looking up at a resurgent Man United who appear unlikely to be caught in the top-four race.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Manchester United — Nine games unbeaten (eight wins) in the league since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over. They’re easily the fourth- (or third-) best team in the league.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Tottenham — How Mauricio Pochettino has managed to keep Spurs afloat in the top-three all season, despite the crippling injury crisis, the lack of a home stadium and making no new signings, is the great mystery wonder of 2018-19..
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Liverpool — Back to winning ways last time out, but now the pressure is on the Reds to convert their upcoming game in hand into a victory and reclaim the lead in the title race.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Man City — City’s season appeared all but over in December, but it now appears Pep Guardiola‘s side set itself up to peak at the perfect time.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

Chelsea issue injury update on Christian Pulisic

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Christian Pulisic is in contention to play against Manchester City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard spoke to the media and was asked about Pulisic’s availability.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to the Etihad Stadium, Lampard confirmed he has been back in training.

“He didn’t go and we had full on communication with the States, manager Gregg Berhalter and their medical team,” Lampard said. “They want their players for top games. He [Pulisic] had a problem going into Palace. He has trained again this midweek. He is in contention to play.”

Pulisic, 21, injured his right hip when scoring Chelsea’s second goal in the 2-0 win against Crystal Palace before the international break.

The American winger missed the international break as the USMNT’s two wins against Canada and Cuba, as they reached the CONCACAF Nations League finals without him.

For Chelsea he will be keen to pick up his sensational form over the last month as he’s scored five goals in his last three Premier League games for the Blues.

With Callum Hudson-Odoi picking up a hamstring issue over the international break, it seems highly likely that Pulisic will start once again for Chelsea in their biggest game of the season so far.

They travel to Man City looking for a seventh-straight Premier League win as they currently sit one place and one point ahead of Pep Guardiola‘s side.

Mohamed Salah an injury doubt for Liverpool

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Mohamed Salah is an injury doubt for Liverpool’s trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

Salah, 27, has been struggling with a right ankle injury over the last six weeks and he has been subbed off in his last three Premier League appearances for Liverpool as well as missing their draw at Man United last month.

“Yesterday he trained,” Klopp revealed. “He trained the whole time since he was here, but only the things we wanted him to do. Today is another important session to see how it looks and we can make the decision. It’s not that it got worse but it’s still kind of there, that’s the problem. We have to be sensible with things like this. But I didn’t make the decision. If I would have made a decision, I probably wouldn’t have told you now, but it’s true I have to see the session today.”

Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez are also injury doubts and late calls will be made on the duo, while Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Alisson and Georginio Wijnaldum were all in international action and have only just returned to Liverpool’s Melwood training base.

“From the others, I cannot say 100 per cent, I don’t know 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “Today is a very important session to judge that, especially with the players who came back late.”

When it comes to Salah, he didn’t feature for Egypt during the international break and Liverpool have given him a special program to follow to build up the strength in his ankle.

The Egyptian winger has scored in recent home wins against Tottenham and Man City but his performance levels haven’t been as explosive as last season and that’s because he’s nursing this ankle injury. At some point Klopp needs to give him a rest, and with the busy festive season creeping ever closer, it seems like Liverpool’s boss is ready to rotate his squad a little more as they play in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday against Napoli.

Main takeaways from MLS contract deadline day

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Major League Soccer saw a lot of big names in the news as “Contract Deadline Day” played out across the U.S. and Canada.

— The New York Red Bulls watched two all-timers walk out the door, as Bradley Wright-Phillips did not get a new contract and the club declined its option on Luis Robles (STORY).

— Not a player move, but Austin FC announced the hiring of former NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna to the same position.

[ MORE: PST’s talk 1v1 with Reyna earlier this season ]

— Toronto FC is yet to reach a deal to keep Michael Bradley in town, but remains in contract talks with its captain. The same is true for Nicolas Benezet, while Drew Moor is out-of-contract.

— And that’s also what’s happening in Portland with Diego Valeri, the longtime star in talks with the team despite not having his option picked up.

Chicago Fire announced a new branding initiative, changing its logo from a classic crest to something else and dropping the SC for an FC. Like Columbus before them, everyone will still call them the fire and ignore the SC, FC, or whatever see. It’s what happens when you take a formal nickname.

The club also cut ties with playmakers Nico Gaitan and Aleksandar Katai.

— Minnesota United remains in talks to bring back Reading loanee and reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winner Vito Mannone, and that means longtime backstop Bobby Shuttleworth will hit the open market.

— Orlando declined its option on Dillon Powers, and also let the clock run out on the contract of one-time megastar Sacha Kljestan.

— Real Salt Lake did not reach an agreement with Kyle Beckerman on a new deal, though MLSSoccer.com thinks he’s still in the mix.

— New England is letting Juan Agudelo walk into free agency.

— Atlanta United exercised the contract option for Julian Gressel, but he’s being badly underpaid and the club needs to find salary room for a proper new deal.

— Thierry Henry is keeping his two brightest attacker, with Ignacio Piatti getting another year at the club and Saphir Taider seeing his loan from Bologna made permanent.

— The Philadelphia Union did not exercise their option on Marco Fabian, and are letting Haris Medunjanin leave without a new deal.

— Roman Torres did not see his option exercised by the Sounders, and Kim Kee-hee is also leaving the club.

— Sporting KC waves goodbye to Seth Sinovic, Krisztian Nemeth, Benny Feilhaber, and Gedion Zelalem.

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

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