Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 8

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Maybe it was mid-week European action — don’t tell Wolves — but a wild weekend of results have shook up our Premier League Club Power Rankings.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

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


20. Watford — On an 189-minute league goal drought after managing just two shots on target against Sheffield United. Still fourth in the league in shots-per-game and mid-table in passing and possession, but the moral victories are almost meaningless after eight weeks

Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Sheffield United
Up next: Oct. 19 at Spurs

19. Norwich City — Now allowing a league-worst 17.9 shots per match after allowing Villa to put 12 of its 22 attempts on frame in a 5-1 loss that could’ve easily been 7-2.

Last week: 17
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 5-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: Oct. 19 at Bournemouth

18. Southampton — Are long-time servants Maya Yoshida and Ryan Bertrand pull out of early season slumps? Stats say Yoshida may, but that Bertrand’s decline has been steady.

Last week: 13
Season high: 13
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 4-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: Oct. 19 at Wolves

17. Brighton and Hove Albion — Lewis Dunk gets all the plaudits, but Dan Burn has been very good alongside him and is keeping Shane Duffy on the bench (which is wild, considering the quality of the Irishman).

Last week: 18
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Spurs
Up next: Oct. 19 at Aston Villa

Also, allow us to get excited about 19-year-old Aaron Connolly, who took his first Premier League start and looked the real thing.

16. Manchester United — I say this without reservation: This is the worst edition of Manchester United I have ever seen. Forget the injuries for a moment, they had no plan to deal with a struggling Newcastle and were bossed by a center midfield pair with a combined age of 40. Additionally, Allan Saint-Maximin is a wonderful dribbler, but the Red Devils’ bids to stop him will have pretty much anyone on Liverpool licking their chops. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are needed so badly, and one of them would be thrilled to skip town.

It’s difficult to put them below Newcastle, but hey, a result is a result. Next time head it home, Harry.

That said, as much as I wouldn’t bet anything on the Red Devils to get a result versus Liverpool, you wouldn’t be stunned if Pogba pulled one of his world-beater games out at Old Trafford against the best team in the league now, would you?

Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: Oct. 20 v. Liverpool

15. Newcastle United — This team looks far too wide open to stay above the line for too long, but let’s be real: The Longstaff brothers’ day against Manchester United was the best example of why we follow sports. A club which has been buried in controversy for the better part of a decade sees a 19-year-old hometown kid star in his first PL appearance next to his brother, aged just 21, and returning hometown star Andy Carroll. And that post-match presser? Brilliant.

Plus, if we told you before the season, in a vacuum, that the Magpies would beat Spurs and Man Utd in the first 8 matches of the season while hanging with Liverpool? Also, that they’d do it with 37.6 season possession? What a weird side.

Last week: 19
Season high: 15
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: Oct. 19 at Chelsea

14. Everton — How did the Toffees respond to their promising show against Man City? By going right back to their disappointing ways. Seemingly, Everton can only be bothered to get up for the high visibility games. Fortunately for their supporters, a visit from West Ham gets the 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday treatment coming out of the international break.

Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 14
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Burnley
Up next: Oct. 19 v. West Ham

13. Tottenham Hotspur — What a mess. Mauricio Pochettino needs to be doing better with this bunch, but let’s be clear about something: The fault likes with the players and in the board room far more than the boss. I heard someone compare this Spurs’ team to Jurgen Klopp‘s last season at Borussia Dortmund and that’s ringing pretty true.

Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 13
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Brighton
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Watford

12. Sheffield United — Someone tell the Blades they were just promoted. A week after a hard-luck 1-0 loss to Liverpool, Chris Wilder‘s men couldn’t get the job done but held 61 percent possession on the road and really should’ve scored an easy away win to Watford. Arsenal and West Ham are next, and you fear that this “should be” three points counting as a mere one could sting for a few weeks.

Last week: 10
Season high: 10
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Watford
Up next: Oct. 21 v. Arsenal

11. Aston Villa — Dean Smith‘s men had been so much better than their record indicates, so it felt good to see them deliver a 5-star showing against Norwich City. Stacking another three points from Brighton’s impending visit is imperative, with Man City, Liverpool, and Wolves next on the PL docket.

Last week: 15
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 5-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Brighton

10. Burnley — If Sean Dyche‘s teams were a vehicle, they’d be a pair of tractor trailers on a two-lane highway. It doesn’t really matter what you’re driving if they won’t get out of the way. Burnley is 7th on the table and unbeaten in four matches despite completing an absolutely putrid 64.4 percent of their passes. That’s as bad as it gets, and they are 7th. If I ever have an inoperable and fatal disease, I’m going to shrug, call Sean Dyche, and start planning my next decade on Earth.

Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Everton
Up next: Oct. 19 at Leicester City

9. West Ham United — Vicente Guaita was very good for Palace, but it still feels like Manuel Pellegrini‘s men should be a step above taking one point from Bournemouth and the Eagles. Instead, they feel stuck in the same rut they’ve been for ages.

Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: Oct. 19 at Everton

8. Bournemouth — Respectable score lines against West Ham and Arsenal, to be sure, but Eddie Howe and Co. will feel aggrieved not to take advantage of the wide open table with a banner result or two. There’s a good chance to stack points in the next four outings: Norwich, Watford, Man Utd, and Newcastle, but here’s a worry: Half of their 12 goals have come off set pieces. Obviously that’s a nice thing, but is it even half-sustainable?

Last week: 6
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Arsenal
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Norwich City

7. Wolves — The rest of the perceived contenders’ inability to rise to the occasion means Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are just two points back of a Top Seven place after back-to-back defeats of Watford and Man City.

Last week: 16
Season high: 7
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 at Man City.
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Saints

6. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson should get a knighthood. Is he knighted already? How do these things work? Anyway, the Eagles have bounced back from a moribund performance at Spurs to claim seven of nine points. Given the status of the league, getting to the January window with a mid-table place and sight of the Top Seven would given decent reason to dream of something special.

Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at West Ham
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Man City

5. Leicester City — Yes, Sadio Mane’s embellishment was embarrassing and, yes, the Foxes came within a breath of a point at Anfield, but it’s alarming how statistically bossed Leicester City was by a Liverpool team who played at midweek. Kasper Schmeichel was outstanding as the Foxes were out-attempted 18-2 and gave away a number of dangerous free kicks. That’ll happen against Liverpool, but we expected better from Brendan Rodgers in his return to Anfield.

Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Liverpool
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Burnley

4. Arsenal — The clean sheet against Bournemouth was a very nice thing, and Unai Emery will love that some of his bad actors from early in the season — namely David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos — were very steady at the Emirates Stadium. Calum Chambers at right back and Matteo Guendouzi at center mid were fantastic. It’s not implausible to peg either Arsenal or Chelsea as the third-best team in the league.

Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 7
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: Oct. 21 at Sheffield United

3. Manchester City — Failed to channel any semblance of last season’s SDB — sans de Bruyne — form in a loss to Wolves. And, with the wisdom of last season in his noggin, why didn’t Pep Guardiola start Bernardo Silva? Still a wonderful team by the numbers, it’s Palace away, Villa home, Southampton home before a trip to Anfield. Nine points are necessary, even if Palace has been a challenging side for Guardiola through the years.

Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Wolves
Up next: Oct. 19 at Crystal Palace

2. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is able to bring Christian Pulisic and Michy Batshuayi off the bench, and has not even been able to deploy Ruben Loftus-Cheek yet. The Blues will be favored to win almost every league match between now and then end of the UCL group stage, and the Nov. 23 visit to Man City carries intrigue given Chelsea deserved a point at Liverpool and we’re pretty sure that Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi may be ground into dust from overuse.

Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 4-1 at Southampton
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Newcastle United

1. Liverpool — Look: Liverpool has to win the league this year. Almost everyone else is performing at a substandard level while the Reds sit eight points clear despite not really finding their top gear yet. If Virgil Van Dijk stays healthy for most of the year and Liverpool doesn’t end its drought well, maybe there’s some sort of curse at play here.

Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Leicester City
Up next: Oct. 20 at Manchester United

Petr Cech earns win with 2 penalty saves in hockey debut

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Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper joined English fourth-division hockey team Guildford Phoenix four days ago and made his debut on Sunday.

He did not disappoint.

The 37-year-old saved two penalties in the shootout, earning Man of the Match honors.

Cech is reportedly a fan of the Guilford Flames, the first-division side who use the Phoenix as their developmental side. He was signed to be the team’s third-choice goalkeeper, just a chance for him to get in on the action before his body gives way for good, but he was given a chance to play right away. He wore number 39, a nod to famous Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek. His custom helmet was adorned with Arsenal and Chelsea colors. Regulation finished level at 2-2 before Cech’s shootout heroics.

“I wanted to win, that was the main thing, and I’m glad we did,” Cech said after the match. “I was surprised that I wasn’t more nervous. I didn’t know what to expect so it was nice how quickly my body switched into matchday mode.”

Giroud upset with reserve role at Chelsea

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Olivier Giroud does not look back on his transfer to Chelsea and wish he had done things differently, but that doesn’t mean things are all sunshine and roses for the 33-year-old.

Giroud, who moved to Chelsea from Arsenal in the winter of 2018 after six years with the Gunners, has played just 43 times in the Premier League, averaging just 35 minutes per appearance. That has him frustrated, hoping to prove his loyalty to the club and work harder than the other options up front.

“I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving,” Giroud said. “I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019. Once again, I’m starting the year in a difficult situation. But as my brother says, I have always built myself in the face of adversity.”

Giroud is trying to be smart about how he approaches the competition for time with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi, but he says it is emotionally taxing.

“You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations,” Giroud says about keeping a level head. “I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticize him. But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I’m worth on a pitch.”

The French international has made just three league appearances this season, mostly thanks to Abraham’s scalding form. Abraham, still just 22 years old, has snatched his opportunity for first-team minutes with eight goals in eight games to start the campaign. That has left Giroud on the sidelines for each of the last five league games, missing out on a spot in the matchday squad altogether for the last three.

Despite his struggles at the club level, Giroud has maintained his place in the French national team, missing just five matches of France’s last 64 games, including 37 of the last 39.

James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Kane reflects on Tottenham, England struggles

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Harry Kane keeps finding the back of the net, but his teams keep losing.

The 26-year-old striker has bagged five Premier League goals in eight games for Spurs thus far, plus another seven goals for England in five Euro 2020 qualifiers this cycle. Yet Tottenham sits ninth in the table after three losses already this season, while England slumped to its first Euro defeat last time out, putting its seeding at the Euro finals next summer in jeopardy.

Kane is hoping to be a leader through the tough times for both club and country, wearing the armband for both as it currently stands.

“I think you need to lead by example,” Kane said ahead of England’s visit to Bulgaria on Monday. “Not getting too down when you lose a game, not getting too high when you win games. It is a long, old season for club and country ahead – a lot of games to be played so there are going to be tough periods.”

Kane has taken over the England captaincy on a permanent basis, and is filling in for the injured Hugo Lloris at Tottenham. “I am still the same person,” he said. “I still try and lead by example on and off the pitch and I will continue to do that. I have been in high pressure situations before in my career, whether that is going through goal droughts, playing in high-pressure games or not playing well as a team. It is something I will take in my stride and improve on.”

Leading by example includes finding the back of the net, while also supporting teammates both on and off the pitch. He knows even if he’s in good personal form on the stat sheet, there’s always ways to improve and help the squads through tough times.

“I am scoring goals but can I get more assists, create more chances? So yeah, I always look at little things I can get better at. Yes, the England form has been good but as ever, it can be better. We will see if I can continue scoring. It has been a good campaign but important I do not stop now.”