Premier League player Power Rankings: Week 16

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With Liverpool the only unbeaten team left in the Premier League, plus Arsenal on a great run of form and the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham snapping away at the heels of Man City and Liverpool, there is a very good mixture of players in our top 20.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

A positive 10 days for Wolves and West Ham also sees their stars feature, as many players are now starting to become regulars as we are nearly halfway through the season.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Up 13
  2. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) –  Up 2
  3. Felipe Anderson (West Ham) – New entry
  4. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
  5. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Down 4
  6. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – New entry
  7. Fernandinho (Man City) – Up 1
  8. David Luiz (Chelsea) – New entry
  9. Ben Foster (Watford) – New entry
  10. Alisson (Liverpool) – New entry
  11. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Down 2
  12. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 6
  13. Raheem Sterling (Man City –  Down 7
  14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 2
  15. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) – New entry
  16. Bernd Leno (Arsenal) – Down 6
  17. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Down 6
  18. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – New entry
  19. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
  20. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) – New entry

Man City admit title race wide-open after Chelsea defeat

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LONDON — Manchester City and Pep Guardiola have admitted that the Premier League title race has been blow wide-open after their defeat at Chelsea on Saturday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Speaking after the 2-0 defeat, their first of the season, Guardiola lauded the “incredible” display of his team and although he admitted that he would love to have had Benjamin Mendy, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero fit, he believes his team played extremely well and stuck to their gameplan throughout.

They did, but Chelsea found a way to beat them through N'Golo Kante finishing off a counter in the first half and David Luiz flicking home a header late on. Saturday marked just the fourth time in the past two seasons that City have failed to score in a game, while they also had less shots on target than an opponent for the first time this season.

With Liverpool now top of the league, City sit in second and have the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea breathing down their necks. Are Liverpool now the title favorites?

“Because they are one point in front? Yesterday we were the favorites but it changed. Why?” Guardiola laughed. “Yesterday we were the favorites and unbeaten. I knew from the beginning. I didn’t tell you in the media but I told my players ‘it will be tougher, that’s normal.’ We are in a similar level to last season. We have four or five points less but our level is quite similar. Our opponents are stronger. The teams want to compete. They want to try. That is normal. We are in December.”

“If you tell me Liverpool can win the Premier League I would say yes. If you tell me right now in the position Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea can win the Premier League I would say yes. Everybody can win the Premier League. The people judge what happened last season and last season, I’m sorry, we were the best. We did it so far? Yeah. That is my feeling. But of course when we lose, I am sitting here and I am trying to tell you what I saw. And what I saw, it was quite good we we have done today.”

Chelsea’s manager admitted that his side were a little lucky to be level after a slow start, but he was pleased with the determination and aggression of his players who were filled with confidence after Kante’s opener right on half time.

That said, Chelsea’s manager doesn’t believe they can challenge for the title this season and pointed to a lack of motivation in the smaller games

“As I’ve said always, I think the gap is impossible to cover only in one season,” Sarri said. “You can play one match of course but in a competition of 10 months it is very difficult to cover the gap. They are, at the moment, the best team in Europe. We won today but we have to say we were a bit lucky in the first 25 minutes because they could score. A little bit lucky in the first half and a very good second half. I think we have a team with some difficulties to be motivated. In this kind of match it is very easy to have great motivation, the right level of aggression. But then during the season you have to also play against the small teams. The next match we have to go to Brighton. At Brighton there will be three points on the pitch, like today. We need continuity in motivation, determination. Otherwise we can win this kind of match and then we can lose points in other matches.”

Even though Guardiola beamed that he was happy with City’s play and said that Chelsea “beat us on one counter attack and one set piece” it was clear City missed key players and lacked a cutting edge after their early flurry of chances. Before this defeat they had trailed just 12 minutes all season long. Guardiola now needs a response.

“The first eight, 10 minutes of the second half they [Chelsea] were better than us, but after that and in the first half we were fantastic. It’s a joy for me as a manager to watch my players,” Guardiola said. “We stayed high, regained a lot of balls, attacked and created enough chances to score one or two in the first half, unfortunately it didn’t happen. But that is a good lesson. That is the level of the Champions League. People say Manchester City is favourite for the Champions League but this is the [level of the] Champions League – they [Chelsea] had one chance and scored one goal. The opponents are so good, so clever. That is what’s going to happen in the future in the bigger stages.”

City’s manager revealed that playing with no central striker was a plan which didn’t quite work as Chelsea played slightly deeper than normal and that could give other teams a blueprint to follow. Guardiola also joked about Sarri also playing with a false nine with the superb Eden Hazard supported by workhorse Pedro and Willian.

“We wanted to find some space in the middle for a one against one. Gabriel [Jesus] is more a guy in the box. I knew they would stay high in the press. In the end they didn’t make a high press. They waited a little bit lower. I didn’t expect that,” Guardiola said. “We needed a guy we could find like Riyad or especially Raheem, make an action one-on-one against David Luiz and the other ones, that was our idea. That is why we decided to play today with Raheem more in central than wider… Yesterday I called Maurizio, we decided to play in the same way! It wasn’t a surprise. Against Tottenham for 15-20 minutes Hazard played like a striker. He can play there. I think with Hazard, Pedro and Willian closed the sides better than Hazard. Hazard is an incredible talent but the effort to work backwards, Pedro and Willian are exceptional in that way.”

Man City were far from exceptional on Saturday and their first defeat of the season has given the other contenders hope they won’t canter to another title this season.

The race is on.

Three things we learned: Chelsea v. Man City

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LONDON — Maybe Manchester City aren’t going to stroll to the title again this season…

Chelsea beat Man City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to not only blow the title race open but also breath new life into their own campaign. Pep Guardiola‘s injury hit City were blown away by Chelsea’s press, as the reigning champs had only trailed for 12 minutes all season long before this defeat.

Goals in each half from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz did the damage, as City were left stunned. They now trail Liverpool, who are top of the Premier League table by a point.

Here’s what we learned from a wild encounter in west London.


FIRED UP CHELSEA KEEP TITLE HOPES ALIVE

Maurizio Sarri said he was “very worried” after Chelsea’s midweek defeat to Wolves. Don’t worry, Maurizio. Things are much better now. Chelsea became the first team to defeat Manchester City in the PL this season, as the Blues beat the reigning champs at their own game on Saturday. Sarri’s men hunted in packs and showed the same hunger they had at the start of the season, as well as the clinical edge. Marcos Alonso recovered from a poor first half, Kante was back on form and so too was Jorginho.

Having Eden Hazard back to his best was a big reason why they defeated City, but Sarri slightly altering his approach paid huge dividends. Choosing to start without a recognized center forward was a masterstroke from the Italian coach, as Hazard, Willian and Pedro pushed high on City’s defenders whenever they could, aided by Kante not far behind them and often in front of them. Chelsea’s bite returned, especially in the second half, and so did their faint hopes of winning the title this season. They are still seven points behind City and eight behind leaders Liverpool, but Chelsea needed this win to prove that Sarri’s project is still moving in the right direction after two defeats from their previous three games. With this victory they also gave Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool hope that City can be stopped this season.


WASTEFUL CITY LOSE UNBEATEN RUN

When Guardiola decided to not start Gabriel Jesus on Saturday it sent out a message to Chelsea: we are going to toy with you. They did just that in the first half, and Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez saw plenty of the ball and created plenty of chances. They failed to take them. Sane, Sterling and Mahrez were all denied in the first half as they tried to pick the perfect pass or finish. Had Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne been on the pitch, it may well have been a different story. For just the second time this season they fired a blank (the other was at Liverpool) and it was only the fourth time in the last two seasons that City have failed to score in a game.

Yes, injuries are mounting up for Pep all over the pitch and City didn’t have a cutting edge on Saturday which shows just how important Aguero is to them. Gabriel Jesus came on early in the second half, but it was more in desperation than anything else as the goal on half time gave Chelsea all of the momentum and inspired their victory. City’s first defeat of the season came after 23 games last season. They only lost once after that on their way to a record-breaking title win. Guardiola will be hoping this defeat has the same galvanizing effect on his players this season.


CHELSEA DO NOT NEED A NO.9

For Chelsea much of the talk this season has been about whether or not they need to start Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud. Morata wasn’t in the 18-man squad on Saturday, while Giroud came off the bench late on. Hazard was frustrated for most of the first half in a false nine position, throwing his arms in the air when passes didn’t go his way, but with Pedro and Willian buzzing around him they gave City’s defense all kinds of problems and denied them time to play out from the back. Hazard may not enjoy playing in a central striking role, but this performance and the balance it gave Sarri suggests that Chelsea no longer need a No. 9. Playing a 4-3-3 with a false nine in certain games, especially against the top six, is the way forward for the Blues.

Chelsea ends Man City’s unbeaten season

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  • Man City sinks second
  • Chelsea moves third
  • City’s first PL loss in 22 games

Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season and 21-match unbeaten league run is over following a 2-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

N'Golo Kante and David Luiz scored goals to move Chelsea third on the table with 34 points.

Liverpool is the new Premier League leader, a point clear of City.

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Man City again rested Sergio Aguero, and his absence along with the lack of Kevin De Bruyne playmaking was evident in the proceedings.

It was Man City counter attacking for a ninth minute opportunity that Raheem Sterling hit to Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizbalaga.

Leroy Sane was particularly dangerous for City, darting in and out of traffic to create chance and force blocks from the Chelsea back line.

But Sane couldn’t keep track of Kante for Chelsea’s opener, with the French midfielder outracing Man City’s German youngster to an Eden Hazard cutback pass in the 45th minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Willian drew a free kick a few yards outside the arc when Fernandinho chopped him down in the 48th minute. Ederson flew left to palm away Willian’s effort on goal.

Willian had another chance, cued up by Kante in the 52nd minute, but Ederson stooped to collect the shot.

Arrizabalaga made a flying stop on a Kyle Walker effort in the 57th as City searched for an equalizer.

But it was Chelsea who’d next score, Luiz out-leaping Fernandinho in the 78th minute.

PL Preview: Chelsea vs Manchester City

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  • Man City has won the last 3 meetings 4-0
  • Chelsea has won 2 of its last 5 PL matches
  • Eden Hazard on an 11-match scoreless streak

Maurizio Sarri has problems to solve for the first time this season, and any lingering issues will be under siege as Chelsea hosts Manchester City on Saturday. (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues need Eden Hazard to return to his best, now without a goal in 11 straight matches for club and country. Hazard does have three assists in his last five Premier League matches, but has not found the back of the net since early October in a 3-0 win over Southampton. In addition, it’s likely that Jorginho and David Luiz will both return to the Blues starting lineup, as they were rested in the midweek match against Wolves, which led to a second loss in three matches.

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On the other side, Leroy Sane is rounding into form after a tumultuous offseason. The 22-year-old has four goals in his last five matches, and has re-emerged as a starting option for Pep Guardiola. He’s likely to retain his starting spot as Kevin De Bruyne is not expected to return from injury.

Man City sits two points above Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table, while Chelsea is level with Arsenal on points, but sits in fourth, ahead of the Gunners on goal differential.

What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on facing recent difficulties“I knew very well that sooner or later we have to face difficulties. When you change the way of playing, the way of football, you need to change the mentality. We have a problem to manage the match at the moment. In the last two matches we played well for 55, 60 minutes, then the first difficulty we went in blackout. We didn’t react as a team, but as 11 players – in 11 different ways. So it’s a big problem.”

Man City boss Pep Guardiola on beating Chelsea last season: “Last season, winning there was more than three points. It showed we could do it. It was an important step for last season, the first important game away against the last champion. In that moment, it was important to say, ‘We can go anywhere and deliver a good performance – winning and with a good performance.”

Prediction

If any team can smell fear in an opponent, it’s Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has trained his side to take advantage of any slight imperfection in the opposition, and with Chelsea in a bad way of late, the pre-match narrative carries weight here. Manchester City pulls off a 3-1 win over the Blues, leaving Chelsea with another reminder that Sarri needs time to truly turn them into title contenders.