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PL Club Power Rankings: Week 17

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Some housekeeping ahead of this week’s club power rankings.

1) We’ve made a universal “up next” instead of labeling the next match, because the festive fixture season is nuts. We may squeeze in some CPRs before the end of the fortnight. Here’s the full list.

2) Never let ’em see you perturbed, they say, but let’s address a scratchy run of comments that come every time we roll out our latest litmus test of Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

We call them power rankings, and it’s become the norm for someone to load up their snark cannon and fire off a “Just look at the table!” or something along those lines.

To you, we say two things:

  1. The fixture list is not even close to balanced until at least Week 19
  2. A fifth place team on a four-match losing streak might not rate as highly as rising 10th place team who just beat them.
  3. Why do you hate fun, Mr. and Mrs. Serious Jones of Dullorado?

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

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Watford — They’re taking shots, but the Hornets aren’t getting them on goal. The 3.2 shots on target per game is tied with Palace for lowest in the league.
Last week: 20
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Liverpool
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

19. Norwich City — Nice point at Leicester City, but it will be surprising if it can get another one versus a stung Wolves. If they do, it’s because Emiliano Buendia is looking like a proverbial canary in a coal mine (with all due respect to Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell).
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Leicester City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

18. Aston Villa — Okay, yeah, we’re worried now (and honestly seeing it in the immediate rear view of being outshot at home by a bunch of Liverpool kids isn’t helping).
Last week: 16
Season high: 8
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

17. Southampton — The finishing was just so bad against West Ham.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. West Ham United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

16. West Ham United — Moving forward while only accruing a modicum of momentum is possible. Sebastien Haller scoring could be huge, though, and he looked great in combination with Michail Antonio. Two powerful presences.
Last week: 18
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Southampton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

15. Bournemouth — The losing streak is over, and Eddie Howe celebrated like a madman, but the performance really wasn’t there.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 1-0 at Chelsea
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Everton — Got a lucky goal and a fortunate point, and no Blue on Merseyside is saying anything but, “Yeah, and?”
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Manchester United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Arsenal — I’ll say it. The Mikel Arteta hire is good if you’re going to “do a United” and give him Ole level patience. Like at least three windows. That said, there are 3-0 losses to Man City that look a lot worse than Sunday.
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Man City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

12. Newcastle United — Needs a dynamic, committed center midfielder in a bad way. Then again, most clubs do…
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Burnley
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

11. Burnley — Three points are three points, but we’re still worried about a side that relies way too much on a big target man putting away scant few chances. Where is their Lys Mousset, their Emiliano Buendia?
Last week: 13
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

10. Crystal Palace — Injuries are gonna test the Eagles, but Newcastle will give them the ball and that might help a team which is the only PL club averaging under 10 shot attempts per game.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Brighton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

9. Brighton and Hove Albion — Another quality point to extend their unbeaten M23 Derby run. Saturday’s visit from the Blades is sneaky intriguing in the 10 a.m. ET window.
Last week: 8
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Palace
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

8. Chelsea — Sometimes you out-perform the opponent and lose because Dan Gosling has a moment. Okay, rarely… but sometimes.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

7. Sheffield United — Nice defeat of Villa, and a tangle with Brighton should provide plenty of entertainment.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Aston Villa
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

6. Manchester United — Wanted more out of a visit from Everton, but it’s easy to forget they’re still without one of the top attack-minded midfielders in the world.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Everton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

5. Wolves — Somehow, we came away from a home loss feeling more confident in Wolves chances of crashing the Top Four party.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Spurs
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

4. Manchester City — Kevin De Bruyne didn’t have a league assist for over a month, then got one in London. Checking the leaderboard… yep, still leads the league.
Last week: 6
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 3-0 at Arsenal
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

3. Tottenham Hotspur — An extremely impressive win at the Molineux, and Spurs have a chance to really do some damage over the festive period if they claim fourth place with a defeat of Chelsea this weekend.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-1 at Wolves
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

2. Leicester City — Duds happen, and the xG analysis says James Maddison‘s new club probably should’ve lost to its old one. Also, Kelechi… dude.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

1. Liverpool — If the Reds come back from Qatar and wax the Foxes, there will only be one more fixture on the schedule that truly seems a threat to a loss-free league season.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

CCL wrap: Atlanta United, Cruz Azul advance

CONCACAF Champions League
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The underdogs did not have their days on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

MLS side Atlanta United and Liga MX mainstays Cruz Azul cruised to second legs win at home to clinch places in the quarterfinals.

Cruz Azul 4-0 (6-1 agg.) Portmore United

Bringing a pair of away goals from Jamaica, the Liga MX hosts just needed to put this one on ice early.

Orbelin Pineda did that in the 22nd minute, and Cruz Azul struck thrice in the second half to win in a landslide.

Atlanta United 3-0 (4-1 agg.) Montagua

It was all about the Martinezes in Georgia, as Pity sandwiched a pair of goals around Josef’s 61st minute tally to send the Five Stripes into the next stage.

All the goals showed calm under pressure, but Pity’s first was gorgeous football. He also assisted Josef’s goal in Honduras during the first leg.

Remaining Round of 16 second legs

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

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

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

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…