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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

Guardiola credits Gundogan for “outstanding” match in Ukraine

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Manchester City bounced back from its weekend loss to Norwich City by dominating Shakhtar Donestk, collecting a 3-0 win in Ukraine to start life in this UEFA Champions League season.

Ilkay Gundogan, a scapegoat for some in the weekend’s loss to Norwich City, came back to form, too, chipping in a goal and an assist in the win.

[ RECAP: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Man City ]

City manager Pep Guardiola was asked whether the German midfielder flies under the radar.

“He gets the credit from all of us, not just myself,” Guardiola said, via The Manchester Evening News. “He’s an exceptional player. Also he knows how good he has to play, as there are many others in that position.”

Guardiola also credited Gundogan for his work last season. Just like Fernandinho is playing out-of-position now, Gundogan was filling in for the Brazilian last season.

“People are starting to look at what he’s done. Without him last season when Fernanindho was out we couldn’t have won the Premier League in the way we did. He can play in two or three different positions and against Shakhtar he made an outstanding performance.”

As for Fernandinho, the Brazilian said that he’s been training at center back plenty this season, even before injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.

Fernandinho said “everyone should be ready” for any role under Guardiola.

He was good enough on the day, partnering with Nicolas Otamendi in a move that has many making comparisons to what Guardiola did with midfielder Javier Mascherano at Barcelona.

That’s one of the things for which Guardiola, perhaps, has not received enough credit. Center midfielders Fabian Delph or Oleksandr Zinchenko have been serviceable left backs in two of the best seasons in Premier League history (The latter did get some minutes in the middle when Benjamin Mendy subbed in on Wednesday). And Gundogan is playing a more defensive role than usual, while Fernandinho is a center back.

If that works out, and City claims a UCL crown or PL three-peat, how could you not call this man the clear-cut best of the modern era?

UCL wrap: PSG runs over Real; Atalanta clobbered on debut

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Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League goals, and Angel Di Maria go together pretty well.

[ MORE: Man Utd extends Lindelof ]

The man who scored a decisive goal for Real in a UCL Final scored two as Paris Saint-Germain throttled the 10-time champions in France without Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, and Neymar.

PSG 3-0 Real Madrid

If it’s possible for Zinedine Zidane to feel heat under his seat, it’s probably happening right about now.

Real Madrid was absolutely cooked by a clinical PSG missing its trident, with Di Maria scoring two goals in the win.

Juan Bernat was exceptional in the win, and set up two goals including Thomas Meunier’s late insurance tally.

Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 Atalanta

The Serie A visitors made their UEFA Champions League debut, and boy did it fall flat.

Down 1-0 early on a Marin Leovac opener, Atalanta surrendered a hat trick to Mislav Orsic in the loss. The 26-year-old midfielder is fresh off his first cap for Croatia. More seem on the horizon, yeah?

Considering their group includes Man City and Shakhtar Donetsk, La Dea won’t appreciate losing four goals in the differential column against a perceived bottom dweller for the group.

Elsewhere

Olympiacos 2-2 Tottenham — RECAP, Pochettino reaction
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Man City — RECAP
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Juventus — RECAP
Club Brugge 0-0 Galatasaray
Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayern Munich 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Atletico Madrid erases 2-goal deficit in Juventus draw

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s going to like Diego Simeone a little bit less today — if possible — as the Argentine manager engineered a come-from-behind draw to get a measure of revenge for last season’s knockout round ouster.

[ RELATED: Shakhtar 0-3 Man City ]

And Ronaldo won’t be too happy with himself, either, as the Juve star missed a chance to win it in stoppage time, moments after Atletico Madrid had scored the final goal of 2-2 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

That left Mexican star Hector Herrera the unabashed hero, as he headed home in stoppage time.

Juve scored a beauty to open it, with Juan Cuadrado spinning a left-footed wonder strike that painted the side netting.

Blaise Matuidi had Juve up 2-0, but Atleti pulled one back via a Stefan Savic header off a set piece in the 70th minute.

That’s when Herrera nodded his goal home.

But Ronaldo… how often has he scored this kind of goal in this competition?

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Man City midfield controls Shakhtar in Ukraine

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Manchester City got its UEFA Champions League run off to a convincing start, easing some nerves from the weekend with a 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan set each other up for goals, Gabriel Jesus also scored, and Fernandinho partnered with Nicolas Otamendi at center back to earn the clean sheet.


Three things we learned

1. Midfield runs the match: Center backs aren’t all that vital if the ball never gets to them, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri were exceptional (even with the latter taking an early yellow card). Rodri completed every single one of his 82 passes in helping City control the park, departing with less than a quarter-hour to play. Pep Guardiola had a lot of love for Gundogan’s day.

2. De Bruyne dangerous on an off day: Kevin De Bruyne just couldn’t find that final ball, constantly in dangerous areas but unable to execute that moment. Credited with three key passes including th, his shooting was the glaring difference between 3-0 and 5-0.

3. Shakhtar shows creative flair: Taison and Marlos both showed a knack for taking on defenders, each credited with four dribbles on the day. It was Shakhtar’s best chance to break down a disciplined City, and the closest the hosts came to succeeding on the day.

Man of the Match: Rodri


A Kevin De Bruyne free kick provided an early threat, but Rodri’s header was a bit off and unable to open the scoring in Ukraine.

Shakhtar then had a nice spell of possession, but City was up to the task. Rodri led a chance in the other direction and sent a ball back De Bruyne for a header, which was wide like the first.

Mahrez put City ahead on a rebound after Ilkay Gundogan took a Gabriel Jesus feed and pushed the ball off the post.

The Algerian didn’t need a post to return the favor, sending a delightful pass into the path of Gundogan for a smooth finish an 2-0.

De Bruyne finally got his assist when he took care of a bounding ball to Jesus for a chop into the goal.