PL Club Power Rankings: Week 18

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We learned a whole heck of a lot about some teams this past weekend as the festive fixtures are now upon us.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola is more malleable than we thought, and reports of Man City’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Conversely, Brendan Rodgers still has some growing to do.  Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta have a LOT of work to do, and so does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because WOOF Manchester United.

Here’s a look at where the clubs rank in relation to one another, because no, you aren’t necessarily what the table says you are at this point in the season.

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

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Aston Villa -Not all four match losing streaks are alike. Losses to Chelsea, Leicester City, and even Sheffield United can be written off in a relegation battle. Losing to Southampton? Not so much. The festive fixtures are very, very kind to Aston Villa, and thus, they are ENORMOUSLY important. Dean Smith must right the ship.
Last week: 18
Season high: 8
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Southampton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

19. Norwich City – Losing on a late Raul Jimenez winner isn’t exactly a bad omen, and following up a draw against Leicester City, things are looking up, but they have one win since mid-September, and that’s not sustainable. Emiliano Buendia’s back is going to start hurting sooner or later.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Wolves
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

18 Watford – What a weird game. Watford probably deserved at least a point, but they actually closed out a victory for the second time this season. It will take far more than that to earn safety, but that’s about as solid a jumping off point as they could have asked for.
Last week: 20
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

17. Bournemouth – Bournemouth produced maybe the worst attacking performance of anyone this entire season against Burnley. Did not see that coming. Gross.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Burnley
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

16. West Ham United – West Ham was scheduled to play Liverpool last weekend, so they got a much-needed rest ahead of the festive fixtures, where they’ll play Crystal Palace, Leicester City, and Bournemouth.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Southampton [off last week]
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

15. Southampton – Just when you’re out on Southampton, they pull you back in. Just in time for a brutal festive fixture stretch.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

14. Everton – We haven’t learned much about Everton over the last few weeks, except that they do have signs of life. A 0-0 draw with Arsenal doesn’t tell us much more. Carlo Ancelotti now takes charge and has a very soft schedule to land on his feet.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Arsenal.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Arsenal – No goals in Arsenal’s last two games. Mikel Arteta has SO much work to do.
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Everton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

12. Crystal Palace – They actually played well against Newcastle and came up just short. Zaha had an off day (4/14 dribbling). It happens. On to the outrageously soft festive fixtures, where they can shoot up the table.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

11. Newcastle United – Miguel Almiron got a goal! That’s cool! Three wins in the last four is even cooler. Now comes the hard part – their next five matches are Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, Wolves, Chelsea. Have fun, Steve Bruce!
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

10. Brighton & Hove Albion – Brighton held nearly 70% possession against Sheffield United and managed two shots on target. They’re 13th in the table, but just five points above the drop. The Seagulls can ill afford slips like that.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Sheffield United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

9. Manchester United – GACKKKKKK. That’s it. That’s the blurb.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Watford.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

8. Burnley – Beating Bournemouth isn’t exactly a world-shifting result, especially with a performance that would get FDA approval to cure insomina, but a pair of clean sheets is exactly what the doctor ordered for the team that gave up 9 goals to Spurs and Man City. Can they sustain it? If so, they’re a threat to any side. This team has moxie on its day.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

7. Sheffield United – Three straight wins against Norwich, Aston Villa, and Brighton. This team has emphatically staked a claim above the bottom sides in the Premier League. What a job Chris Wilder has done.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 1-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion
Up next: Full festive fixture list her

6. Tottenham Hotspur – Not quite sure what Jose Mourinho sees in Eric Dier. Time to give Lo Celso a run in the side. It’ll be nice to have Erik Lamela back too.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

5. Chelsea – The Blues saw that Nick had them at 8 last week, and went about fixing that silly mistake. Pulisic benched in the win. Marcos Alonso had his best performance of the season. Hmmmm.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won at Tottenham 2-0.
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

4. Wolverhampton Wanderers – This team is physically incapable of playing anything other than a close game. Nuno deserves more credit than he’s getting for keeping this team a Premier League force despite a taxing Europa League campaign.
Last week: 5
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 at Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

3. Leicester City – Brendan Rodgers was firmly out-coached by Pep Guardiola; maybe things aren’t always as they seem. Jamie Vardy scored again; maybe things are as they seem. Leicester City will be fine, although seeing Wilfried Ndidi and Caglar Soyuncu humbled more than once was new.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

2. Manchester CityPep Guardiola firmly out-coached Brendan Rodgers, restoring the natural order for now. This team is still a juggernaut.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Leicester City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

1. Liverpool – Even without playing a Premier League fixture, Liverpool remains on top of the world. Literally. They won the Club World Cup. What Jurgen Klopp is doing with a banged up squad will be regarded as one of the great managerial feats of our time years from now – if he can finish the deal. Everyone is all eyes on Boxing Day for Liverpool, and rightly so, but this team has a brutal stretch coming up: Leicester City, Wolves, Sheffield United, Spurs, Manchester United, Wolves. Make it through that, and they just might be in the clear.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford [“off” last week]
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

Newcastle vs West Ham: How to watch, stream link, team news

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Newcastle United can become the third Premier League team this season to cross the 40-point marker when it meets West Ham on Saturday at St. James’ Park (watch live, 12:30pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Magpies have been terrific at home in all competitions, including at midweek where they finished off Southampton to claim a spot in the League Cup Final.

STREAM LIVE NEWCASTLE vs WEST HAM

And while the 40-point marker used to just mean safety, Newcastle would stay within sight of second-place Man City and first-place Arsenal.

Meanwhile, West Ham’s mix of bad luck and substandard performances have them just a point above the drop zone, in 16th. A win here would be huge,

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle vs West Ham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Newcastle vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

The Magpies won’t have their best all-around player in influential Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, and center forward Alexander Isak will miss out following a head injury suffered against Saints. Sean Longstaff will need to shine again after scoring twice against Saints.

As for West Ham, they have three attackers out but can look to Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen to continue upturns in form.


Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Bruno Guimaraes (suspension), Alexander Isak (concussion), Javier Manquillo (undisclosed), Matt Targett (foot), Emil Krafth (knee)

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee), Maxwel Cornet (calf), Kurt Zouma (thigh), Danny Ings (knee)

Wolves vs Liverpool: How to watch, stream link, team news

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Liverpool hopes it can boost its top-four hopes by hurting Wolves’ plans for Premier League safety when the duo meet Saturday at the Molineux (watch live, 10am ET Saturday online via Peacock Premium).

It’s the third meeting since early January between the sides following a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup and a 1-0 Liverpool win in the replay.

STREAM LIVE WOLVES vs LIVERPOOL

Wolves sit 17th with 17 points, only outside of the bottom three due to Bournemouth’s poor goal differential. Last place is just two points away, as there are seven teams within three points between 14th and 20th.

Liverpool, meanwhile, is 10 points off the top four but has played at least one fewer match than all but two of the eight teams ahead of them (Sixth-place Brighton and leaders Arsenal).

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Wolves vs Liverpool.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Wolves vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock


Key storylines & star players

Winning games is about scoring goals and only two Wolves players have more than one. Daniel Podence has collected five, while Ruben Neves has four. Even more surprising, Wolves are still waiting on a goal from Raul Jimenez, Diego Costa, or injured Pedro Neto. Perhaps Matheus Cunha or Pablo Sarabia will chip in soon.

Liverpool has one win from its last three Premier League outings, but there’s a heaping helping of bad luck to their struggles. The Reds have 24 goals from open play and 20 allowed in that same situation. Their expected goals in those spots is 34.6 – 24. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez have been especially unlucky despite combining for 12 goals and six assists on the season.


Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pedro Neto (ankle), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Boubacar Traore (undisclosed), Chiquinho (knee)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Virgil van Dijk (thigh), Roberto Firmino (calf), Ibrahima Konate (hamstring), Luis Diaz (knee), Diogo Jota (thigh), Arthur Melo (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Fabio Carvalho (undisclosed), Nathaniel Phillips (illness)

Manchester United release statement as Mason Greenwood charges dropped

Greenwood
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UPDATE (Feb. 2, 2023): Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood has seen charges of attempted rape and assault against him dropped, just over a year after he was arrested and later suspended indefinitely by the Premier League club.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was no longer realistic to convict Greenwood after the “withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light.”

Greenwood, 21, was arrested in January 2022 after a woman released disturbing photos and audio alleging physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the England national team forward.

[ MORE: Chelsea signs Enzo Fernandez in record deal ]

“We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media,” United said after his arrest in January 2022. “We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.”

Greenwood was then kept in custody into February as police conducted an investigation and released on Feb. 3, 2022. Greenwood has remained suspended by United.

Manchester United statement on Mason Greenwood

United released a statement on Thursday after learning that the charges were dropped:

“Manchester United notes the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service that all charges against Mason Greenwood have been dropped.

“The club will now conduct its own process before determining next steps. We will not make any further comment until that process is complete.”

Greenwood has six goals and two assists in 24 matches for United this season and has 129 senior appearances for the club after coming through its academy. He’s earned one cap for England.

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: How to watch, stream link, team news

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Manchester United looks to keep climbing up the Premier League table when its hosts improving Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Premier League on Peacock).

United has won all three of its cup matches since a Jan. 22 setback at Premier League leaders Arsenal, and now face Palace before two matches with Leeds

STREAM LIVE MANCHESTER UNITED vs CRYSTAL PALACE

Palace hasn’t won in 2023, though the Eagles managed back-to-back draws with Manchester United and Newcastle in their past two matches. Both of those were at Selhurst Park.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester United vs Crystal Palace live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock


Key storylines & star players

Man United’s lost Christian Eriksen through April but acted quick and in impressive fashion with the loan addition of Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich. Desperate for playing time and a more attacking role than what was asked of him by Bayern, the Austrian star may be just what the doctor ordered even before Eriksen went down. This is a hard-edged player with plenty of attcking firepower to boot.

Palace, of course, is still all about their creative players, as Wilfried Zaha, Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, and Odsonne Edouard can deliver the goods with just a half-chance, but look out for Deadline Day adds Albert Sambi Lokonga, on loan from Patrick Vieira’s former team Arsenal, and Naouirou Ahamada, who they hope will add a needed ball progressor in the heart of the pitch.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Jadon Sancho (undisclosed), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (thigh), Luke Shaw (illness), Scott McTominay (undisclosed)

Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Wilfried Zaha (hamstring), Joachim Andersen (calf), Nathan Ferguson (undisclosed), James McArthur (groin)