PL Club Power Rankings: Week 7

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The theme of this week’s power rankings is statistics, and we’ve included some quality nuggets in our descriptions of why teams are rising and falling on our list.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

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


20. Newcastle United — Possibly the least effective midfield, or tactical deployment of one, we’ve seen in some time. Maybe Fabian Schar is the answer, but 37.6 percent possession over the course of a season is abysmal.
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 5-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET v. Manchester United

19. Watford — Moving up only because Newcastle was that bad against Leicester, but look below to see some serious hope for the Hornets. They just aren’t finishing, but are producing more key passes than everyone besides Man City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Those will turn into goals, you’d think.
Last week: 20
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Wolves
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United

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18. Brighton and Hove Albion — Aaron Mooy has looked a lot better in his last two starts. Can the former Huddersfield Town midfielder be the one to unlock the Seagulls attack?
Last week: 18
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Chelsea
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

17. Norwich City — Something to monitor as the weather gets colder and the pitch compacted: The Canaries are only attacking directly through the middle of the pitch on 17 percent of plays.
Last week: 13
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Aston Villa

16. Wolves — And exhale. Wolves finally get their win and not a moment too soon with a Man City trip ahead of them. With two days less rest than the reigning champs, Sunday could be a long day.
Last week: 17
Season high: 7
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Man City

15. Aston Villa — Why do I believe Villa is ultimately going to emerge from the fire into another Premier League season? Dean Smith‘s men lead the league in shots blocked and crosses blocked per game. While that means they are giving up a lot of attempts, that full-blooded desperation is going to pay off (or break an arm).
Last week: 11
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

14. Everton — A much better looking side against City, but that’s kinda the frustrating life for Everton supporters. Sure, you got up for the big boys. Can you get up for a trip to Burnley? Also, to answer trivia from the Palace ranking, Seamus Coleman (!!) is second in the Premier League in successful dribbles this season.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 14
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

13. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men move from a near miss against Spurs to a match with in-form but potentially weary Chelsea. Shock on the cards at St. Mary’s?
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Spurs
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Chelsea

12. Burnley — Completing 64.2 percent of its passes, Burnley continues to defy the laws of logic, statistics, everything. Chris Wood is big.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Everton

11. Sheffield United — We just love that Chris Wilder wasn’t content that his side deserved a point against the leaders. Can likely move two wins clear of the drop zone with a win at Vicarage Road.
Last week: 10
Season high: 10
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Watford

10. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha‘s 32 successful dribbles are the most in the Premier League. Non-Palace fun fact. I’ll give you 50 chances to guess who’s second and like my odds (but the answer is in this post).
Last week: 15
Season high: 10
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at West Ham United

9. Manchester United — Please, for all of our sakes, get Anthony Martial healthy.
Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 15
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Arsenal
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Newcastle United

Martial has been out since Aug. 24 (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

8. Tottenham Hotspur — A team in no man’s land, where several players need to be axed and the manager probably wants a new experience. The fullback corps is a mess.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 8
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Saints
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton

7. Arsenal — How about this stat: Arsenal is spending 33 percent of every match in its own third, the third-highest percentage in the league. That’s not legendary when your defense is so leaky.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4
Season low: 7
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Manchester United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Bournemouth

6. Bournemouth — Six is a good number for the Cherries, who’ve scored half of their 12 goals from set pieces. Probably deserved a win over West Ham, but probably doesn’t move you up the table.
Last week: 6
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. West Ham
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Arsenal

5. West Ham United — The Irons move from week-to-week with different tests of mettle. This week, it’s whether they can go about their business and handle a decent Palace team at home.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Bournemouth
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

4. Chelsea — Is this week the Blues climb back into the Top Four?
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Brighton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Southampton

3. Leicester City — Brendan Rodgers has his men playing on fire (in a good way). Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the Premier League in tackles this season. Ndidi is also leading the league in interceptions (23) and is performing on an N’Golo Kante level so far this season. Huge match on Saturday.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 5-0 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool

Ndidi  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

2. Manchester City — On pace to score 146 Premier League goals this season. Take out the 8-star performance against Watford, and it’s a 120-goal pace. That’s 14 more than their record.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-1 at Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

1. Liverpool — Since the Reds are getting the job done and look a complete team, how about a seemingly ugly stat that shows how important fullbacks are to Liverpool’s attack? Trent Alexander-Arnold has lost possession a league-best 184 times, 28 more than second place Lucas Digne. Andrew Robertson is 7th with 136.

Obviously, this is because they have the ball a lot and are counted on tactically to put the ball into danger areas — look at where they rank in terms of accurate opposition half passes, stunning stuff — but wow.

https://www.sofascore.com/tournament/football/england/premier-league/17

Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 1-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Leicester City

Burning question: What is the best formation?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game and the first one focuses on something we all love to debate: formations.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release a burning question, as now seems like a good time to take stock of where the game is at and take a look at what we love and what we’d like to change as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next question: What is the best formation to use?


Most coaches will tell you when asked that formations do not matter. We all know they do.

3-4-3? 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 4-3-3? 3-5-2? 4-1-4-1? 4-3-2-1? 4-2-2-2?

Which formation do you think is the best? Does a formation depend mostly on the players you have at your disposal or your preferred style of play? Most likely it is a combination of both but coaches often have a preferred formation and stick with it no matter what. Their philosophy and ideas mean everything to them.

I’m torn between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 but I’d probably just about go for 4-3-3 because it is so well balanced. In an attacking team like Man City or Liverpool it works really well because essentially it gives you four defenders back at all times with one deeper central midfielder, two center backs and one full back sitting back.

When teams are under pressure the 4-3-3 then turns into more of a 4-5-1 formation with one central striker saying high and the two wingers tracking back and providing cover. Speaking about cover, 3-4-3 allows one center back to push forward and always have two center backs in defense, while full backs are able to push forward which is particularly important in the modern game. My main problem with 3-4-3 is that often you don’t need three center backs if teams sit back.

4-4-1-1 is solid and flexible as the player in the No. 10 position essentially becomes a striker but there just seems to be more danger from wide players when teams are set up in a 4-3-3 system because their first thought is to attack and they have the added cover of a central midfielder tucked in halfway behind them.

Simply put, I love 4-3-3. You may love something totally different, so let us know in the comments section below which formation is your favorite.

Chelsea’s Willian eager to stay in Premier League

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Chelsea and Brazil star Willian has revealed he is eager to stay in the Premier League, even if that’s not with Chelsea.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Willian, 31, has revealed that contract talks have stopped for now during the suspension for the coronavirus pandemic, and his future is uncertain as his current deal at Chelsea expires this summer.

The likes of Tottenham and Arsenal have been linked with a move for Willian, who almost joined Spurs in 2013 but instead joined Chelsea in a last-second change of heart.

Willian told ESPN Brazil  that he wants to stay in the Premier League and he feels he is now at his peak.

“My wish is to stay in the Premier League, but I’m not ruling out playing in other leagues,” Willian said. “I’m going to play until the end of the season and then see what happens. I’m very used to life in England. I’m not thinking about going back to Corinthians at the moment. My aim is to stay in Europe. I feel that I’m at my peak at the moment. Players improve throughout their careers and I think I’m currently at my peak.”

It is not secret that Mourinho and Willian get on very well, which will intrigue Tottenham’s fans…

“I got on very well with Mourinho, learnt a lot under him and we’ve remained friends,” Willian said. “We still message each other a lot, but I don’t see him often. I haven’t managed to meet up with him since he came back to London.”

His form for Chelsea has been a little erratic this season but Frank Lampard has spoken fondly about Willian time and time again and it is quite clear Chelsea would like to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge for at least another season.

With so many young wingers around (Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount to name a few), Willian can help ease them into the first team but there’s no doubting plenty of Premier League clubs will be eager to snap him up on a free transfer this summer, or whenever the transfer window reopens.

Tottenham would seem like a particularly good fit for Willian. He would link up with Jose Mourinho, the manage who bought him to Chelsea, and his experience would be vital at Spurs as they aim to finally secure some silverware. Tottenham need to prioritize buying new defenders but if Willian is available for free, you can’t turn that deal down, even if he turned Spurs and Daniel Levy down in 2013…

Arsenal would make sense too but you’d have to say Tottenham are the frontrunners given the connection between Willian and Mourinho. Of course, he could stay at Chelsea, but with Pedro also out of contract it does feel like a changing of the guard as Lampard will put his faith totally in new signing Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi next season.

With $2.7 billion reserves, FIFA has ‘duty’ to aid virus-hit soccer

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FIFA says it has a “duty” to use its vast financial reserves to assist a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the wealthiest clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking wage cuts; those in smaller countries, with Slovakian champion Zilina entering bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay furloughing hundreds of staff.

Having amassed reserves it last reported at $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to give much-needed financial help to the game at many levels. Now the organization has provided more details around the need agreed two weeks ago by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents to explore a “support fund” for the sport.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there is an announcement “in the near future.”

“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.

“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”

FIFA already operates a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations. In the 2015-18 cycle, investment dedicated to the scheme was $1.079 billion, of which $832 million had been approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the last published financial results.

Premier League TV schedule: April 4-5

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We have 16 hours of Premier League programming coming your way this weekend and here is your TV schedule for April 4-5

This Saturday and Sunday we will have eight hours of programming coming your way each morning from 6 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN on your TV.

With the current 2019-20 Premier League season suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of programming treats planned for you in the coming weeks and will keep up fully updated with a TV schedule posted every single week.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Remember, during the season you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Below is your full Premier League TV schedule and stream links for Saturday and Sunday as we have classic matches, Goal of the Season, Behind the Badge, a focus on Liverpool v. Man City and much more coming up.


FULL TV SCHEDULE FOR NBCSN

Saturday, April 4
6-6:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Matt Le Tissier [STREAM]
6:30-7 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – John Barnes [STREAM]
7-7:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Sol Campbell [STREAM]
7:30-8 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Ryan Giggs [STREAM]
8-9 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2001-02 [STREAM]
9-10 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2002-03 [STREAM]
10-10:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Liverpool v. Tottenham, Feb. 2015 [STREAM]
10:30-11 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Chelsea v. Man United, Feb. 2012 [STREAM]
11-11:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Jan.  2015 [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Classic Match: Man United v. Arsenal, Aug., 2011 [STREAM]
12-12:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 1 [STREAM]
12:30-  p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 2 [STREAM]
1-1:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 3 [STREAM]
1:30-2 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 4 [STREAM]

Sunday, April 5
6-7 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1998-99 [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1999-00 [STREAM]
8-10 a.m. ET: Match of the Week, Man City v. QPR, May 2012 [STREAM]
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Everton v. Liverpool, Nov. 2013 [STREAM]
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Chelsea v. Arsenal, Oct. 2014 [STREAM]