Diego Rico

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 11

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A new last place side and the potential for movement at the top, of course, as the Premier League anticipates a weekend with swing matches all over the fixture list.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

It starts with a relegation swinger between Norwich City and Watford, and ends with Sunday’s hotly-anticipated visit of Manchester City to Liverpool.

Let’s say where they all sit right now.

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


20. Norwich City — Two goals in six matches since beating Man City, both in the 87th minute or later of blowout losses. Battle stations for Friday against an improved Hornets side.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Brighton
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday v. Watford

19. Southampton — Impressive enough while under duress, and a decent bounce back after the Leicester humiliation.
Last week: 20
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Everton

18. Watford — Moral victories aren’t worth three points, and the improved Hornets are six points back of safety. Friday is a must.
Last week: 20
Season high: 18
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday at Norwich City

17. West Ham United — Is this an institutional issue? Because Manuel Pellegrini is a heck of a coach and the talent here is deep. Lukasz Fabianski can’t come back soon enough.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

16. Burnley — Three-straight losses heading into an all-Claret visit to West Ham.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham United

15. Newcastle United — Over-performing their talent, yeah, and Allan Saint-Maximin is worth the price of admission. A win at home over Bournemouth would ease a lot of concerns.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-2 at West Ham United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

14. Tottenham Hotspur — Their display versus Everton was the definition of underwhelming.
Last week: 10
Season high: 2
Season low: 14
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United

13. Everton — So much better than their record. We’re all pulling for Andre Gomes, who might be a big loss in addition to the emotions involved.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Saints

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — Graham Potter is getting results, and some buys in January might make the Seagulls a good bet for midtable.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

11. Aston Villa — Dean Smith will be furious with his men for another late capitulation, even if it was against Liverpool.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Liverpool
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Wolves

10. Arsenal — Free Nicolas Pepe.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Leicester City

9. Manchester United — This team badly needs Paul Pogba back. And he’s not coming any time soon.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Brighton and Hove Albion

8. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha‘s goal-scoring drought sure could use ending, but how about a nod to James McArthur‘s exceptional early season?
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

7. Bournemouth —  Diego Rico and Philip Billing have been very impressive when the Cherries are at their best.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Man Utd
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle United

6. Wolves — Four points from the Europa League places despite a highly-suspect start to the season. No one wants Wolves on their schedule. Now if they could get back to playing well against teams that are not the big boys.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Aston Villa

5. Sheffield United — The advanced stats say the Blades are riding their luck, but we’re enjoying the journey.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Spurs

4. Leicester City — Those same advanced stats say Leicester has been really fortunate, but like Steve McQueen in “Papillon,” they are still here.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Arsenal

3. Chelsea — A forgiving run of schedules opened the door to Christian Pulisic and Co., and they’ve taken the door off its hinges and set it on fire. City in two weeks.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-1 at Watford
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

2. Manchester City — No pressure, Pep, but Liverpool can take the title off you with all three points on Sunday.
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Southampton
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Liverpool

1. Liverpool — Showtime, Jurgen.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Man City

Arsenal moves third with blanking of Bournemouth

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David Luiz‘s first half goal was all Arsenal needed thanks to a fine defensive day in a 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal moves into third place, a point behind Man City’s 16, while Bournemouth dips 10th with 11 points.


Three things we learned

1. Pepe’s back in form: There have been fits and starts for the Ivorian at the Emirates Stadium, but Pepe’s industry, vision, and creativity were all on display on Sunday. That doesn’t mention his accuracy, with Pepe’s corner kick serving as the assist on David Luiz’s first half goal. Gabriel Martinelli replaced him on the hour mark.

2. Unai likes it clean: Stopping Bournemouth from writing a name on the score sheet is a lot more difficult than Arsenal’s only other PL clean sheet this season (Newcastle United). Remarkably, the clean sheet came with struggling center backs David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Sead Kolasinac on the left. But Calum Chambers on the right had a fine day, too, while Matteo “Mr. Second Half” Guendouzi may have been the best player on the pitch

3. Cherries miss only good chance: Bournemouth were flummoxed when they had opportunities, putting only one of their eight shots on target. The most disappointing play came when Dominic Solanke set up Callum Wilson for a dribble through the 18, but the English striker tried to pass rather than side-foot toward the gaping frame. Selfish, Callum! Be selfish!

Man of the Match: Guendouzi — Everything but a goal for the Guendouzi, who was monstrous in possession, tackling, and dribbling. A wonderful day.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal was up for it early, winning a pair of corners through free-flowing football and seeing a vicious effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sail wide of the goal.

Luiz timed his near-post run to perfect in losing Callum Wilson to nod Nicolas Pepe‘s cross past Aaron Ramsdale. 1-0, 9′.

A bid to equalize via a Diego Rico free kick was headed wide by Dominic Solanke in the 18th.

Pepe missed with a curling effort from atop the box soon after the set piece. He then looked set for a VAR-awarded penalty following a collision with Rico, but the men with the screens thought it wasn’t a clear and obvious foul.

Callum Wilson dribbled three Arsenal defenders and goalkeeper Bernd Leno, but opted for a cutback rather than an acute effort on goal. The choice did not pay off.

Bournemouth picks up first-ever win away to Southampton

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Bournemouth picked up its first-ever victory (16 visits – all competitions) away to Southampton in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson got goals for Eddie Howe‘s side during a wonderfully dominant first-half performance before the roles were reversed in the second half. James Ward-Prowse pulled Southampton back to 2-1 not long after halftime and Saints pressed and pressed for an equalizer but ultimately came up empty. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson put the game away on a late Saints howler.


3 things we learned

  1. Slow starts for Saints — Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. For a team that’s built around the idea of defensive solidity and limiting chances, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side appears especially limited once forced to change its plan of attack and… well, attack. In the two games they didn’t concede first, two clean sheets and two wins.
  2. Halftime adjustments — Hasenhuttl certainly got his tactics wrong from the start, but whatever was said at halftime made a noticeable difference in the second half. Given loads more freedom to push forward in attack and to win back possession, Southampton made it a game from 45:01 onward.
  3. Making few chances count a lot — Bournemouth needed just six shots to get their two goals. On the other hand, they managed just six shots in 90 minutes. Highly efficient, or lacking in overall production? Both, perhaps?

Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu


Ake put the Cherries ahead in the 10th minute, rising high above the crowd to get his head to Diego Rico‘s corner kick. It was Bournemouth’s fifth goal (of nine scored) from a set piece this season.

It didn’t take long for Bournemouth to easily cut through Saints’ four-man backline — a tactical change from the three-man operation which secured a victory away to Sheffield United last weekend — and put the ball in the back of the net again. Joshua King finished a devastating counter-attack with a sublime finish, only to have the goal taken off the board for being narrowly offside, via video review.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Once again, Bournemouth met little resistance en route to doubling their lead, only this time the goal stood. Philip Billing got to the endline down the left side of Saints’ penalty area and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Wilson was waiting to sweep it past a helpless Angus Gunn.

Saints were gifted their way back into the game in the 52nd minute, when Steve Cook went straight through Che Adams as Southampton broke down the left side of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to cut the deficit in half.

Saints’ best chance at drawing level came in the 82nd minute, but Ward-Prowse was denied Ramsdale from close range, and though he spilled the rebound in front of goal, Bournemouth were able to clear the ball away in just the nick of time.

Gunn and center back Jannik Vestergaard ran into one another outside the Saints penalty area in the 95th minute, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up and walk it over the end line for the late exclamation point on Bournemouth’s historic night.

Bournemouth’s defensive desperation was such that they attempted just the six shots in the game, including zero between the 38th and 85th minutes. Alas, Saints couldn’t find the equalizer and Bournemouth catapulted all the way up to third in the PL, for the time being.

Premier League Preview: Bournemouth v. Tottenham

Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images
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  • Spurs (still) lead the top-three race, somehow
  • Cherries sit 14th, safe from relegation
  • Spurs won 5-0 at Wembley back in December

Tottenham Hotspur continue to lead the top-three and -four race that seemingly no one — not even them — wants to win. Yet, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has two more chances to secure Champions League qualification by a very straightforward formula: they need just three points, beginning when they visit 14th-place Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

With Chelsea (68 points) just two points back in fourth and Arsenal (66) trailing by four, it’s Tottenham’s place to lose. To be certain, they have tried to do so again and again, only to see their London rivals falter immediately thereafter. Take, for instance, last weekend: Spurs lost to West Ham, but Chelsea drew Manchester United and Arsenal were hammered 3-0 by Leicester City. It’s been that kind of month for top-six sides not named Manchester City or Liverpool.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

As for the Cherries, they’re long since clear of the relegation zone and have very little left to play for, and it’s looked that way in recent outings. Eddie Howe‘s men have picked up just nine points from their last 12 games (2W-3D-7L), though they are on something of an upswing with four of the nine points coming in their last three games.

Injuries

Bournemouth OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Junior Stanislas (hamstring), Simon Francis (knee), Charlie Daniels (knee), Andrew Surman (calf), Diego Rico (ankle) | Spurs — OUT: Harry Kane (ankle), Harry Winks (groin), Erik Lamela (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (head)

What they’re saying

Howe, on Bournemouth’s need for continued progression: “People will use ‘established.’ I don’t know if we have ever used that word. For us, it’s not a useful thing to look at, you can then get complacent and lazy,” he said at a press conference. “For us it is about having to prove we deserve to be here first and foremost every season, so that means starting the campaign with a really good mentality to go to achieve and progress.”

Pochettino, on Spurs’ performance this season: “I always remember the first meeting that we had all together, when the World Cup players arrived, and we said, ‘We all start from zero. It’s going to be a difficult season and we need to be open to improve and to fight.’ We’ve always built some spirit inside the dressing room to fight against the reality. It was tough but in the end we are in a very good position. We feel very proud.”

Prediction

Spurs have fared remarkably well against Bournemouth (6W-1D-0L since the Cherries were promoted in 2015), as has Son Heung-min on an individual level (four goals in the last two meetings). It’s all setting up for Spurs to secure a top-four place on Saturday and free their minds for Wednesday’s trip to Amsterdam for the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.

Fans who want to try their hand at predicting PL games can down the NBC Sports Predictor app, with a chance to win up to $50,000 each week. Download it on iOS or Google Play.

Inspired Man Utd outclasses Bournemouth

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  • United with 12 goals in 3 under Solskjaer
  • Rashford wizardry sets up opener (video)
  • Pogba with 2 goals, assist

Paul Pogba scored twice and assisted a Romelu Lukaku effort as Manchester United hammered Bournemouth 4-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford had a goal and an assist for the Red Devils, who saw Eric Bailly sent off late.

United finishes the day three points back of fifth place Arsenal.

Bournemouth’s goal came courtesy Nathan Ake, and the Cherries are 12th with 26 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford was sensational in setting up the opener, working Nathan Ake and Diego Rico before feeding Pogba, who slid into the box to stab it home.

Pogba scored his second in the 34th, nodding an Ander Herrera cross past Begovic.

Rashford got one of his own just before halftime, lunging to get on the end of an outside-of-the-boot pass from Anthony Martial.

But hold on, as there was more time in the half and Ake nodded a David Brooks flick beyond the reach of David De Gea to make it 3-1.

Lukaku came into the match following a two-match absence on compassionate leave, and let the ball take a bounce before poking past Begovic.

Bailly saw red for his 79th minute scissor tackle of Ryan Fraser.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]