Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 29

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Can anyone stop Man City besides its schedule? The quadruple is still in play and Pep Guardiola isn’t exactly shying away from his desire to win everything.

[ MORE: Spurs aiming high in UCL ]

City’s back atop our rankings and the Premier League table. Here are the 19 clubs staring up at the reigning champions.

20. Huddersfield Town — Thirteen points back means any hope of a miracle run to safety needs to include a win over Bournemouth this weekend.
Last week: 19
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Can Scott Parker lead a surprise defeat of Leicester? It’s looking like this has to be a win.
Last week: 20
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — Will the Bluebirds catch West Ham sleeping? Points need to come quickly to Wales, who will then face Brighton before two Top Four tests.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Burnley — A trip to wounded Liverpool seems… not ideal.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Have to be hoping Spurs are tired from their trip to Germany at midweek.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Brighton and Hove Albion — Chris Hughton‘s men would love to take another step toward safety by winning away in the M23 Derby.
Last week: 17
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

14. Newcastle United — West Ham is a quality club and Rafa Benitez will be wondering what he might’ve done had he the resources of Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons.
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

13. Leicester City — So it turns out that win with Brendan Rodgers in the stands gave way to a loss with him planning a trip to Watford. Baby steps this week would be nice.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

12. Bournemouth — Didn’t really challenge Man City in a 1-0 loss; Anything less than a decisive win over Huddersfield may see the Cherries dip to a season low.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

11. Crystal Palace — Using the M23 Derby to more or less clinch Premier League safety would be so sweet for Roy Hodgson and Co. given the past two seasons’ ups and downs.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

10. Everton — Will a fine performance in the Merseyside Derby fade into disappointment at Newcastle United? That’s kinda been Everton under Marco Silva, but this late in the season may see the Toffees straighten out the boat.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

9. Wolves — Nuno Espirito Santo has instilled a battler’s mentality in his men, but consistency has evaded the Midlands bunch. Now comes Chelsea, but fortunately Watford will tangle with Man City.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

8. West Ham United — A 1-0 loss to Man City from sitting a point back of seventh. Look out Cardiff City.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

7. Watford — Still maddeningly inconsistent, yet you wouldn’t bet against them pushing City to the brink this weekend.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

6. Spurs — It’s hard to see this six knowing that Tottenham has thrived in the Champions League, but Spurs have taken one point of nine to throw their Top Four credentials into the frying pan.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

5. Arsenal — If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang makes his late penalty, the Gunners are knocking on the door of third-place Spurs.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Chelsea — On balance of talent, you’d peg Chelsea to finish Top Four. Will the Blues pass a stiff test from capable visitors Wolves on Sunday?
Last week: 6
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

3. Manchester United — The Red Devils may have a chance to climb level on points with Spurs by beating Arsenal, but a loss at the Emirates may see United as low as sixth. This race for the Top Four is going to be intense.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

2. Liverpool — Believe it or not, the reality that Liverpool should still be able to win the Premier League will be taxed more by its manager’s ability to find the right mentality than its players; The Reds will possibly play a half-dozen more matches than Man City.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Manchester City — “No excuses,” says Pep Guardiola. City will have them if they fail to win the Premier League, but its boss is striking a pre-emptive note.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images
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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

More AP soccer: and