Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 4

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One of the long-held maxims in sport is that you cannot lose your job to injury, but can you lose your spot in our power rankings?

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

Spoiler alert: Yeah. Yeah you can.

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

20. Watford — A better class of performance in drawing at St. James’ Park, but it’s not like Newcastle didn’t have more of the danger. Also, the opponent was Newcastle.
Last week: 20
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Newcastle United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sept. 15 v. Arsenal

19. Newcastle United — Probably deserved all three points from Watford, but most Magpies supporters would’ve signed up for four points through four matches
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Watford
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Liverpool

18. Norwich City — Injuries, injuries, injuries (and VAR?). Someone send Daniel Farke some elixirs and potions over the international break, and encase Teemu Pukki in something special.
Last week: 15
Season high: 12
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 at West Ham United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Man City

(Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

17. Bournemouth — In last year’s hot start, Bournemouth handled itself well against most teams outside the Power Six. This year, well, the Cherries aren’t doing that (though Leicester’s been in our Top Three for a couple of weeks now).
Last week: 17
Season high: 14
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 3-1 at Leicester City
Up next: 9 a.m. Sept. 15 v. Everton

16. Brighton and Hove Albion — No shame in getting pumped 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium, but the Gulls were punchless. Rough two weeks after a solid first two matches.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 4-0 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Burnley

15. Manchester United — What’s going on here? Well, the absence of Anthony Martial for one. But United’s subs bench was as uninspiring as ever: Romero, Rojo, Tuanzebe, Chong, Matic, Lingard, Greenwood. A lot of blind hope there.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2 
Season low: 15
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Leicester City

14. Crystal Palace — Improving, but it’s difficult to bump them up too much when their three points earned come almost exclusively through a terrible refereeing decision. However, we reserve the right to move them way up the rankings via a strong performance against Spurs (even if it doesn’t lead to a result).
Last week: 18
Season high: 14
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Spurs

13. Southampton — Saints are… pretty good. If the season-opening blowout loss at Turf Moor was a blip, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men way well be mid-table this season. The performances have been that good in a narrow defeat to Liverpool and a draw with Manchester United.
Last week: 13
Season high: 13
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Sheffield United

12. Aston Villa — Deserved a point from Crystal Palace, but got de-Friended. Woof.
Last week: 10
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: “Lost” 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 3 p.m. Sept. 16 v. West Ham United

11. Sheffield United — I want to go out on the town with Chris Wilder‘s crew, who are scrappy, not taking anything for granted, and loving life in the top flight. Or maybe just go out with Chris Wilder. Not sure I could hang.
Last week: 16
Season high: 11
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Chelsea
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Saints

(Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

10. Wolves — Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have points in three of four matches, but all have been draws. Europa League congestion can be blamed for that, but will it also short-circuit Wolves’ charge for another berth in European competition? Big first match after the break.
Last week: 8
Season high: 7 
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 3-2 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Chelsea

9. Chelsea — Frank Lampard showed his inexperience with the subs in a come-from-ahead 2-2 draw against the Blades. You can’t simply forget your experienced players down the homestretch of games simply because the kids are flying.
Last week: 9
Season high: 9 
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Wolves

8. Burnley — Just obliterated by Liverpool. That happens, but the Clarets rarely look as easy to beat as they did at the weekend.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 9
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Brighton

7. Tottenham Hotspur — Christian Eriksen is staying, and that’s great, but if Spurs’ last two matches taught us anything, it’s that Tanguy (pronounced Ton-guy) Ndombele is as indispensable as any Spur not named Harry Kane.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2 
Season low: 7
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Crystal Palace

6. West Ham United — Has allowed two goals in three matches since getting sand-blasted by Manchester City on opening day. A tough test with Villa awaits before a visit from Manchester United.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 3 p.m. Sept. 16 at Aston Villa

5. Everton — The wobble at Villa. The red card draw with Palace. Everton failed to get what should’ve been a minimum 10 points from its first four matches, but will be happy to be within a point of the Top Four.
Last week: 11
Season high: 8
Season low: 11
Last match: Won 3-2 v. Wolves
Up next: 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at Bournemouth

(Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images)

4. Arsenal — That the Gunners were down 2-0 at home to Spurs was an issue, but only because they had been so dominant. The comeback delivered a richly deserved point to Unai Emery‘s men, who have two matches before a trip to wobbly Manchester United.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4 
Season low: 7
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Spurs
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sept. 15 at Watford

3. Leicester City — It felt like the visit from Bournemouth had speed bump written all over it, but Brendan Rodgers‘ men limited the tumult to a Callum Wilson first half equalizer in a fairly comfortable win.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3 
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sept. 14 at Manchester United

2. Manchester City — The Laporte injury is a big set back to their title hopes; One more injury could really sting the reigning champs.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1 
Season low: 2
Last match: Won 4-0 v. Brighton
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sept. 14 at Norwich City

1. Liverpool — Jurgen Klopp wasn’t wrong: The demolition of Burnley was complete, and included a much-sought clean sheet. With Laporte out for a while, the Reds’ runway to the title looks clearer today.
Last week: 2 
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-0 at Burnley
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Sept. 14 v. Newcastle United

USL adds new team in Queens, David Villa involved

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David Villa is heading back to New York City.

This time as a club owner.

A second-tier side called Queensboro FC will begin play in the USL Championship in 2021 with Villa, 37, heading up a ownership group who are bringing the team to Queens.

In a statement to ESPN, the former NYCFC and Major League Soccer star is delighted to be part of setting up the new team which will play at York College in Queens.

“Bringing professional football to Queens’ diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can’t think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I’m proud to be part of this project.”

Villa spent four seasons with New York City FC and the Spanish national team legend was one of the best Designated Players in MLS history as he scored 82 goals in 130 appearances across all competitions. Villa is now heading back to the Big Apple to head up QBFC and you have to think there will be some kind of link-up with his former club in the future when it comes to giving NYCFC academy products playing minutes in a professional environment.

Jonathan Krane, CEO of New York City-based asset management company KraneShares, is leading the ownership group and Villa will be retired by 2021 (he currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan) when the team begins play, so he can take up a leading role.

Villa lived in Queens during his time playing for NYCFC and was heavily involved in the local community, setting up his own soccer academies and trying to help youngsters in Queens realize their dreams.

Queensboro FC will now be his next project as Villa’s strong connection with NYC continues.

Liverpool’s move for Ryan Fraser makes perfect sense

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Liverpool are said to be in talks with Bournemouth about signing Ryan Fraser in January.

The Scottish winger is out of contract next summer and talks over a new deal at Bournemouth have so far failed.

Fraser, 25, was a star for the Cherries last season but has only been a bit-part player so far this campaign (adding one goal and two assists) as Eddie Howe plans for a future without him and the tension surrounding his future hasn’t helped matters.

Per a report from talkSPORT in the UK, Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, who is currently on loan at Bournemouth, could make a permanent switch to the South Coast club in January in exchange for the Reds being able to sign Fraser. Per the report, it is expected Bournemouth would also want around $15 million from Liverpool, plus Wilson, for Fraser.

Does this move make sense for Liverpool? Absolutely.

The speedy winger was an assist machine last season, racking up 14 which was the second-highest in the Premier League. Fraser wouldn’t start ahead of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, but he would be a great option off the bench and to play in cup competitions. His style of play is also perfectly suited to Liverpool’s high-tempo and pacy counter attacking.

With Xherdan Shaqiri currently out injured and failing to break in as a regular for Liverpool last season, Fraser would jump ahead of him in the queue for minutes after Liverpool’s attacking trio.

If this move to Liverpool doesn’t work out then Fraser can of course ‘do an Aaron Ramsey‘ and start talking to non-English clubs in January about a free transfer next summer. That’s not something Bournemouth would want, so you can understand their eagerness to at least get a little cash and a promising young player to replace Fraser.

From Liverpool’s point of view, Fraser would be a great addition on the cheap and he still has the prime years of his career ahead of him.

Sterling issues apology after Gomez row

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Raheem Sterling has been left out of the England team for their EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday after a bust-up with Joe Gomez.

According to multiple reports the Man City winger was sat in the players’ canteen when Gomez, the first of several Liverpool players to arrive, walked in and was laughing.

Sterling then reportedly said “you’re the big man now are you?” and confronted Gomez, trying to grab him around the neck as the two were separated.

This all came after Sterling clashed with Gomez in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday, as the England winger was booed heavily by the home fans, plus also clashed with England teammates Jordan Henderson and Trent-Alexander Arnold during the game.

England manager Gareth Southgate released a statement on Monday saying that Sterling would not be available to play against Montenegro but would remain with the squad.

“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw,” Southgate said as he referenced the fiery Liverpool v. Man City clash. “My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.”

Gomez and Sterling both trained for England at St. George’s Park on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on his Instagram page, Sterling issued a public apology to Gomez and apparently the matter is now sorted between the two.

“First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me. Everyone knows that I am not that way inclined and more to the point, both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,” Sterling said. “We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me. We move, this is why we play this sport because of our love for it. Me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a 5-10 second thing. It’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it is. Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday.”

Sterling will be available to play against Kosovo in England’s final EURO 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

It seems like that is that and Southgate has acted swiftly to punish Sterling for his reaction, everyone has accepted it and they’ve drawn a line under it.

These things happen in sport all the time and this is more about the principle of the matter as Southgate doesn’t want to see anything like this in his squad in the future.

The message is now clear, it isn’t acceptable. No matter if you’re one of England’s best players or a youngster who is a bit-part player, the Three Lions squad must stick together.

Borussia Dortmund hurting after heavy loss in Munich

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BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund is hurting again after another heavy Bundesliga defeat in Munich.

Dortmund lost 4-0 in the “der Klassiker” against rival Bayern Munich on Saturday, being fortunate not to concede more goals.

Dortmund’s lackluster performance has been criticized following sporting director Michael Zorc’s call for a “men’s soccer” type of performance in the buildup for the game. Instead, Dortmund delivered what Kicker magazine called “scaredy-cat soccer.”

“A lot of our players just weren’t there today,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. “That’s the biggest disappointment.”

Zorc was even more critical of the performance.

“That wasn’t football at all, to be honest,” he said. “Bayern were on top and better in every respect. Bayern completely took over after 15 minutes and we were second-best at everything. That’s why Bayern also deserved to win by this score.”

It was Dortmund’s fifth consecutive heavy defeat in Munich. It lost 5-0 in April, 6-0 last year, 4-1 in 2017 and 5-1 in 2015. In its last six games in Munich, Dortmund has been outscored 26-3.

“It was beautiful that the talk before the game was of men’s football,” said Bayern forward Thomas Muller, who set up two goals. “As I’m a bit older now, 30, I know that it gives you a bit extra inspiration. The way I see it, that’s why we are German champions seven times in a row. It’s always wonderful when the Dortmunders come to Munich and we play like we did today.”

Bayern appeared to be in crisis after firing coach Niko Kovac following the team’ 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt – its heaviest league defeat in over 10 years.

But Kovac’s dismissal seems to have come as a relief to some players, and interim coach Hansi Flick has now overseen two wins from two competitive games, with no goals conceded. Bayern reached the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Bayern’s will to win on Saturday contrasted sharply with Dortmund’s, which will be under increased pressure after it appeared to have turned a corner following a series of questionable results.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings ]

Dortmund had strung together three consecutive wins – over league leader Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Cup, previously unbeaten Wolfsburg in the league, and Inter Milan in the Champions League, when the team displayed great morale to come back from two goals down and win 3-2.

But there was none of that in Munich on Saturday, and Favre and his superiors are left wondering how to consistently get the best from the talented but fallible team.

“We expected a lot from this game,” Zorc said. “Then we delivered what is basically a non-performance. I’m disappointed. You can’t even say that it was just a lack of challenges. We were also bad when we had the ball, we gave it away and simply made it too easy for Bayern. That was a huge disappointment.”

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