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Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 3

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What a mess.

Half of the Premier League’s teams — yes, 10 of them — have 1-1-1 records after three match days, though not all are created equal.

For example, baffling VAR decisions. Manchester United can feel righteously aggrieved to not have at least six points. Spurs got huge VAR help to draw Man City but could’ve snared a point from Newcastle (yeah, that happened) should a penalty decision have went their way.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

Sheffield United and Bournemouth drew each other and beat poor sides at home.

And what in the world do you make of Wolves, who have three draws but have been clobbered by early season qualifying rounds of the Europa League.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low


20. Watford — The Pozzo family doesn’t mind changing bosses and, fair or not (it isn’t), Javi Gracia may find himself unemployed without a win at Newcastle next week. Fortunately, they are playing Newcastle.
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-3 v. West Ham
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle United

19. Newcastle United — Beat Tottenham and only move up one spot? Unfortunately, while the Magpies were gritty against Spurs and the win should not be discounted entirely, they hemorrhaged possession aside from the 15-pass sequence that led to Joelinton‘s first goal for the Toon. A fine moment for embattled Steve Bruce, but still so much work to do.
Last week: 20
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

18. Crystal Palace — Credit that wonderful play at the end of the match for a remarkable and historic win over Manchester United, but Palace is still getting little out of Wilfried Zaha and probably should’ve lost by 3 or 4 goals before David De Gea fumbled away a point for the hosts. And we can’t jump them above a Sheffield United side which dominated them in Week 2.
Last week: 18
Season high: 18
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Aston Villa

17. Bournemouth — Probably better than their 17th place status, but the Cherries have a draw against Sheffield United and a win over Aston Villa in which they were controlled after a wobbly opening. Too good to stay this low, but justifiably 17th.
Last week: 14
Season high: 14
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Leicester City

Joshua King  (Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

16. Sheffield United — The scrappy Blades are following the Sean Dyche at Burnley model, and weren’t able to get a point at home despite a brave effort against Leicester.
Last week: 13
Season high: 13
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-2 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

15. Norwich City — Daniel Farke‘s men are going to bring us entertainment, and we’ll get another clue of their place in the league when they visit dangerous but another dangerous attack in West Ham.
Last week: 12
Season high: 12
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-3 v. Chelsea
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at West Ham United

14. Brighton and Hove Albion — We gave the Seagulls a mulligan for the West Ham draw, but cannot look past this week’s loss to Southampton. Saints are a good side, but a 2-0 loss at home and a reckless red card do not make friends amongst the power rankers.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5

Season low: 14
Last match: Lost 0-2 v. Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Man City

13. Southampton — A Danny Ings flick away from giving us 11 teams with a 1-1-1-1 record, Saints earned this week’s win and will relish it coming via a nice showing from Moussa Djenepo.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13

Season low: 19
Last match: Won 2-0 at Brighton
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Manchester United

12. West Ham United — Sebastien Haller looked every bit the versatile star center forward, able to set-up, hold-up, and finish. We already knew Felipe Anderson was the truth. Now can Manuel Pellegrini find consistency in this bunch?
Last week: 17
Season high: 12

Season low: 18
Last match: Won 3-1 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Norwich City

11. Everton — The performance at Villa is the kind that has been taking Everton out of the Top Six discussion during the Marco Silva era (and well before it, really). Huge test Sunday before an international break which could find Silva feeling plenty hot under the collar.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8

Season low: 11
Last match: Lost 0-2 at Aston Villa
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

10. Aston Villa — The Villans are looking more like a side which never left the Premier League than a newly-promoted one. Dean Smith deserves PL Manager of the Month honors if he’s able to get a result at Palace and skate into the break at a mid table pace.
Last week: 15
Season high: 8

Season low: 15
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Crystal Palace

Aston Villa’s Wesley (center) with Trezeguet (left) and John McGinn  (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

9. Chelsea — Just not buying it yet, are we? Mason Mount looks a legit force, Tammy Abraham is showing flashes, and Christian Pulisic is doing well enough, but who is the star that will consistently make the difference, let alone against the big boys?
Last week: 12
Season high: 9

Season low: 12
Last match: Won 3-2 at Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United

8. Wolves — Three draws from three matches, and just barely got a point off of Burnley, but the performances have come while waylaid with Europa League duties including an unfriendly match against Torino on Thursday (Who they absolutely handled). Nuno’s got it simmering.
Last week: 7
Season high: 7

Season low: 9
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Burnley
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Everton

7. Spurs — Dominant again against Newcastle despite an injury to key man Tanguy Ndombele, and simply unfortunate to not get a point, but there are so many questions for Mauricio Pochettino. If you’re going to risk Christian Eriksen, why not start him? If you don’t have an answer at right back, why not play a back three instead of keeping Jan flipping Vertonghen on the bench?
Last week: 2
Season high: 2

Season low: 7
Last match: Lost 0-1 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Arsenal

6. Man Utd — We watched the Palace loss, and still can’t quite believe our eyes. The Red Devils are so much better than 1-1-1, but that and a friendly pour at the pub will give you a headache and a 1-1-1 record. Now start Juan Mata over Jesse Lingard and thank me later.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2

Season low: 6
Last match: Lost 1-2 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Southampton

5. Burnley — They aren’t doing this again, are they? The Clarets struggled last season with Europa League schedule congestion, but finished in the Top Seven the last time they only had to focus on the league. A silly Erik Pieters challenge away from third place in our rankings.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5

Season low: 9
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

4. Arsenal — Don’t give them too much credit for producing three terrific chances against Liverpool — that’s what’s keeping Liverpool out of 1st this week. The questions about the defense remain real, but Nicolas Pepe is going to be a delight once he finds his finishing boots.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4

Season low: 7
Last match: Lost 1-3 at Liverpool
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Tottenham

3. Leicester City — There’s a bit of “by default” to this ranking, but the Foxes have drawn Wolves and picked up a point away to Chelsea. The win at Sheffield United wasn’t a ballot-box stuffer by any means, but Brendan Rodgers‘ men did what Manchester United sand Spurs could not this weekend in beating a probable relegation scrapper.

Last week: 10
Season high: 3

Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-1 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

2. Liverpool — The Reds are 3-0, champions of Europe, and a pleasure for the eyes. Their defense remains a problem, and Jurgen Klopp‘s crew has given up more big chances from open play than anyone would deem functional for a title squad.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2

Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Arsenal
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

  1. Manchester City — The only way to score on City is through set pieces, and the only way to stop them is locking them out of the stadium.
    Last week: 1
    Season high: 1

    Season low: 1
    Last match: Won 3-1 at Bournemouth
    Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton

USMNT’s Arriola likely will miss MLS season, six World Cup qualifiers

Paul Arriola
AP Photo/LM Otero
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WASHINGTON (AP) D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola had major knee surgery Monday and likely will miss the entire Major League Soccer season and the United States’ first six qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup

The operation was to reconstruct his right anterior cruciate ligament. The team said there was no additional cartilage damage.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 25-year-old midfielder injured his knee Feb. 15 during D.C. United’s preseason match against Orlando in Tampa, Florida.

Arriola has been a regular starter for the U.S. national team under coach Gregg Berhalter. Arriola has five goals in 33 international appearances.

After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. starts qualifying for the 2022 tournament this year. The Americans have two matches each in September, October and November, then complete qualifying with two games apiece in March and September 2021.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

State of play in CONCACAF Champions League

CONCACAF Champions League
AP Photo/Carlos Gonzalez
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Four of five Major League Soccer clubs alive in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 are in fine shape to reach the quarterfinals after one leg.

The fifth has a tall hill to climb.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

LAFC trails Club Leon by two and did not collect an away goal in Mexico during first leg play last week.

“It’s 2-0, but we’re going to work hard,” said LAFC attacker Latif Blessing. “We’re going to prepare ourselves to win the next game. … We did good, but we want to win. It couldn’t happen that way but we’re going to prepare next game to win this game. We need to win.”

The second leg in L.A. is one of the last two matches of the round, kicking off at 10 p.m. ET Thursday just as Seattle Sounders square off with Olimpia.

The Honduran side managed a controversial comeback in the 2-2 draw with Jordan Morris-fueled Seattle last week, but the Sounders will be happy to have those two away goals and home field.

Montreal Impact has the same situation for Deportivo Saprissa’s visit at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, while Atlanta United scored an away goal in a draw with Motagua and hosts the visitors from Honduras’ capital at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

That leaves us with NYCFC, who got a Heber hat trick amongst five away goals at Costa Rican side San Carlos in a 5-3 win. The second leg begins at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday at Red Bull Arena (yes, you read that correctly).

Elsewhere, Liga MX sides don’t have it much better. Cruz Azul leads Portmore 2-1 heading back to Mexico, while Club America scored an away goal in a draw with Comunicaciones.

Finally, Tigres UANL trails 2-1 after one leg with Alianza in El Salvador.

CCL second leg schedule
all times ET

Atlanta United v. Motagua (1-1) — 8 p.m. Tuesday
Cruz Azul v. Portmore United (2-1) — 10 p.m. Tuesday
NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday

Eleven to go: Ranking obstacles on Liverpool’s unbeaten path

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Liverpool has won all five of its matches since the last time we evaluated its path to an unbeaten Premier League season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Those matches were ranked 14th, 12th, 11th, 10th, and 4th on our first rankings of obstacles to immortality, so very little of the heavy lifting has been conducted.

Let’s get something out of the way: If Liverpool is unable to overturn their first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, you can probably etch that zero in the league loss column into stone.

That said, many expect the Reds to overcome that 1-0 disadvantage from Madrid, so here’s where we slot the difficulties moving forward.

Unranked — Crystal Palace at home (March 21) and Brighton away (April 18) — Both of these dates are very easy on the eyes, but will be moved if Liverpool is alive in the FA Cup.

9. Newcastle away, time TBD May 17 — We’re now calling this the easiest date left. Klopp’s men aren’t going to lose an unbeaten season at the altar just because Steve Bruce bunkers down. St. James’ Park is a hassle, but

8. Watford away, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday Klopp probably feels like he’s already playing with house money in the FA Cup, so there’s no reason to think he’ll hand any priority at all to the following FA Cup meeting with Chelsea.

7. Bournemouth home, 7:30 a.m. ET March 7 Situated between Chelsea in the FA Cup and the home UCL second leg versus Atleti, it’s not easy…  but the Cherries have given us less reason to believe they’ll threaten the Reds than any other team besides Newcastle.

6. Aston Villa home, 11:30 a.m. ET April 12Dean Smith‘s desperate Villans will have Villa Park rocking before Liverpool’s possible UCL quarterfinals 2nd leg days later.

5. Burnley home, 7:30 a.m. ET April 25 — Taking place just before a possible UCL quarterfinal first leg, Burnley will try to trouble the Reds in a similar manner to West Ham.

4. Chelsea home, time TBD May 9 — Both the Blues and Reds could be coming off UCL semifinal second legs. Don’t forget that Chelsea took the Reds to the wire in the UEFA Super Cup despite it being very early in Frank Lampard‘s tenure.

3. Arsenal away, time TBD May 2 — Both sides may be days away from needing a result to qualify for the UCL or UEL final.

2. Everton away, 4 p.m. ET March 16 — This may as well be the only match left on the Toffees’ docket that matters more than another, as Carlo Ancelotti and his men know the message they could send regarding the building up of Everton.

Not only that, but Everton has nothing else left to circle, no other competitions, nothing.

1. Man City away, 11:30 a.m. ET April 5 — Taking place 3-4 days before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and on the heels of an international break, it’s the lone date on the calendar that Liverpool won’t be heavy favorites to win.

Champions League: Chelsea, Napoli aim to slow Lewandowski, Messi

UEFA Champions League preview
Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images
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Four of the most dangerous attacks in Europe begin their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

For Chelsea that means trying to find a way to limit the damage of away goals when Bayern Munich visits Stamford Bridge.

Of course, that means trying to slow lethal Robert Lewandowski. The 31-year-old Polish striker has scored 38 times in 32 appearances this season.

Here’s Frank Lampard, via Football.London:

Form of his life means something special with Lewandowski because of how well he’s been consistently in Europe for the last, how many years, I don’t know,” Lampard said. “Everything about him, from a distance, from afar, is just top class. Having the opportunity to watch a lot of Bayern in build-up to this game, that shines through. Of course, he’s going to be a huge threat. He’s not the only threat but he is a spearhead.”

Lampard points to the Blues work without the ball and away from it that will determine whether they can limit Lewandowski and Bayern.

“We traveled to Ajax and had a fantastic game off the ball,” he said. “We’ve had games like that this year in the league as well. But the levels have to go up.”

The Blues won’t have Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and N’Golo Kante, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is finally available after a long injury absence. Pedro may play.

[ MORE: JPW’s score predictions ]

Tuesday’s other first leg sees Napoli hosting Barcelona, which means Gennaro Gattuso trying to find a way to cool down Lionel Messi.

The world’s top player scored four goals at the weekend and had six assists in his three previous La Liga outings.

Another player who’s helped Barcelona reclaim the league lead will be critical to controlling the midfield against Napoli, and that’s Frenkie de Jong.

The 22-year-old has had fits and starts at Barca, especially this month. He admits that he’s had an odd time adjusting to Messi, the teammate, though it hasn’t been part of the problem. From FCBarcelona.com:

“When I began training with him it was strange, because when I was 12, still in secondary school, I used to watch a lot of football. He was already the best in the world. He won the Ballon d’Or back then, so I was a fan, or whatever you want to call it.”

Napoli boss Gattuso was a bit more effusive when addressing Messi, via Football.Espana:

“I have read whether to make a cage or not, but we need the collective game to combat someone like him, and it is not just him,” Gattuso said. “He is the best in the world, for how he has lived his entire career. He is always perfect, never a misplaced word, he is an example for everyone. He does things that I only see on the PlayStation. He has an incredible quality and for years he has been the best of all-time.”

Both matches kick off at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.