Getty Images

Premier League player Power Rankings

1 Comment

Matchweek 30 was a wild one in the Premier League, as plenty of stars shone brightly.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

After big wins for Southampton, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Cardiff, there is plenty of variety in our latest rankings.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

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


  1. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Up 9
  2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 17
  3. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 1
  4. Sokratis (Arsenal) – Even
  5. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) – Up 8
  6. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Up 10
  7. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – New entry
  8. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 7
  9. Bernd Leno (Arsenal) – New entry
  10. Salomon Rondon (Newcastle) – New entry
  11. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) –  New entry
  12. Youri Tielemans (Leicester) – New entry
  13. Luke Shaw (Man United) – Down 4
  14. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry
  15. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) – New entry
  16. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Down 9
  17. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) – New entry
  18. David Silva (Man City) – New entry
  19. Jan Bednarek (Southampton) – New entry
  20. Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City) – New entry

Four things we learned: Arsenal v. Man United

Leave a comment

LONDON — It was a case of unlucky 13 for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as he lost for the first time as Manchester United manager in the Premier League at Arsenal on Sunday.

The Gunners scored in each half through Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to push themselves into the driving seat in the top four battle as they won a ninth-straight home game. United missed numerous glorious chances and hit the woodwork twice as their heroic midweek win at PSG seemed to catch up with them.

Here’s a look at what we learned from a gripping encounter in north London.


EMERY HAS INSTILLED STEEL

It wasn’t pretty from Arsenal, but they got the job done and kept a clean sheet, and it is clear that Unai Emery has instilled a steely resolve into this Gunners team. In recent weeks they’ve held firm against the rampant attacks of Tottenham and Man United in the Premier League, and on Sunday it took a lot of courage to dig deep and fight back after their disappointing midweek defeat at Rennes in the Europa League. By the end of Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal reign, they had become a weak-minded, fragile bunch of players. There is now a fighting spirit and grit to their play which complements their free-flowing attacking prowess. Despite various setbacks along the way this season, one thing that has improved drastically under Emery is their defensive organization. And despite that improved defensive solidity, helped mainly by Sokratis’ arrival, they have also scored more goals (63) than they had at this point last season. With three goals conceded in their last five PL games, if Arsenal’s defense keeps this up it will get them into the top four. Coupled with turning the Emirates into a fortress, the Gunners have finally added some steel to their silky attack.


UNITED’S MIDFIELD MUDDLE COSTS SOLSKJAER

25 minutes into the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had seen enough from his midfield. He switched the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 because Fred and Nemanja Matic were left woefully exposed to Arsenal’s fluid attacks. Young shifted to center back, Diogo Dalot went to right wing-back and all of a sudden United had more control. Pogba was drifting around aimlessly early on, not sure if he was playing in the center or on the left of midfield, and it was all a bit of a muddle. Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay were badly missed alongside Matic, and although Fred gave away a penalty kick, he didn’t play too badly. United’s failure to finish chances was their biggest downfall on Sunday, as Solskjaer’s fine unbeaten run is over. Injuries, constant personnel changes and the PSG win in midweek caught up with them, but there is still plenty of life left in their top four quest.


LUKAKU GOES COLD IN FRONT OF GOAL

After scoring twice in each of his last three outings, Romelu Lukaku was bang on form heading into this game. Moments before Arsenal took the lead he somehow hit the crossbar from close range, and before half time he gave Bernd Leno just enough time to claw the ball away after he rounded him. In the second half Lukaku was clean through again but was denied and it just wasn’t his day in front of goal. The Belgian striker still caused problems with his runs and combination play with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, but he had an off-day in front of goal. Lukaku going stone cold in front of goal was the main reason why Man United failed to get anything from this game. And the fact that only 14 percent of Lukaku’s 113 Premier League goals have come against “big six” opposition (16 in 75 appearances) will add fuel to the fire of those saying Anthony Martial must replace him in the starting lineup.


TOP 4 BATTLE BLOWN WIDE OPEN

The race to finish in the top four of the Premier League got real this weekend. Tottenham lost at Southampton. Chelsea drew at home against Wolves. And Arsenal beat Man United. Arsenal now sit in fourth on 60 points (just one point short of third-place Spurs), Man United are in fifth on 58 points and Chelsea are in sixth on 57 points with a game in hand.

In the matchday programme Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny said that this was a “crucial game” for the Gunners and their season. It’s cliche, but every game between now and May 12 is huge for Emery’s Arsenal project. And the same can be said for Pochettino, Sarri and Solskjaer at their respective clubs.

This race for UEFA Champions League qualification will go down to the wire and you have to say that Arsenal have the edge with an easier remaining schedule than their rivals. Spurs still have to visit Liverpool and Man City, while United have to play City and Chelsea. The latter have to play Liverpool and United, so there are plenty of twists and turns ahead in the top four race. Momentum means a lot at this stage of the season and Arsenal’s big win gives them a spring in their step ahead of the run-in. And that is a run-in where they do not have to play against any of their rivals and can sit back and watch them all take points off one another.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal

Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • North London derby, for the 198th time
  • NLD wins: Arsenal – 82, Spurs – 64, Draws – 51 (all competitions)
  • Arsenal 4-2 Spurs, in December
  • Arsenal 0-2 Spurs, two weeks later (League Cup)

It feels like I write this sentence ahead of the season’s final north London derby every season, and it applies once again in March 2019: no matter the drastically different paths they take to arrive here, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal always seem to come together, both in the Premier League table and on the field, at a crucial crossroads this time of year.

Just a week ago, Tottenham led Arsenal by 10 points, and St. Totteringham’s Day could have just about been canceled for the third straight year. Then, Spurs lost back-to-back PL games for the first time since September, and the gap is now four points and successive places in the table. Up next? Yes, of course, the Gunners visit the new White Hart Lane Wembley Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

If one of these clubs ceased to exist, the other might as well fold and dissolve its assets as well, because what would be the point without its adversary? Good, never great. Top-four, never title winners. Kings of north London, or not.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Harry Kane recently returned from yet another ankle ligament injury, so Spurs should be operating at full-strength and humming right along, right? Try again. Sure, Kane leads his side with 15 goals this season (fourth-most in the PL) and he even bagged one on his return against Burnley last weekend, but Spurs managed to win six of eight games in his absence and scored 18 goals in the process (six from Son Heung-min). Since Kane returned? The aforementioned defeats in succession, and just the lone goal scored.

On the other side, Arsenal have waltzed to three straight PL victories in exceedingly comfortable fashion (a two-goal lead before halftime of each). That said, the difference in the Gunners’ home and away records this season is startling: 12 wins in 15 games at home (38 points), compared to just 5 wins in 13 games away from home (18 points). Their victory over last-place and almost-relegated Huddersfield Town two weeks ago was their first away win since November. It’s unclear if Mesut Ozil is back in the good graces of manager Unai Emery, but the club’s highest-paid player made just his fourth PL start in three months on Wednesday and tallied a goal and an assist.

Injuries

Spurs OUT: Eric Dier (tonsillitis), Dele Alli (hamstring); RETURNING: Jan Vertonghen (hip) | Arsenal — OUT: Hector Bellerin (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Rob Holding (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (knock), Sead Kolasinac (knock)

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pochettino, on NLD lessons: “I’ve learned that every game is completely different and you cannot guess what is going to happen. You need to be ready for different circumstances. It’s always special, always different. I’ve learned that if you have a lot of experience playing this type of game, it shows you the more times you play, you understand that it’s not a plan, it’s to play with your heart, to play with focus and try to deliver your best. One game and another game is never similar. We saw that when we played in the Premier League and then the Carabao Cup, two different results, performances and two completely different games. We need to be ready for all circumstances that can happen in the game.”

Unai Emery, on catching Spurs: “We have been speaking about the opportunity [to finish above Tottenham]. Each match is giving us the opportunity to win three points. There was a 10-point difference between Tottenham and us two weeks ago and now it is four points. … The big opportunity for us is to play with confidence in our moment. They have lost two matches but are having a very big season.”

Prediction

It’s been nearly five years (10 games) since one of these sides last won a league meeting away from home. Thus, advantage Spurs, to get something out of this one. In nine NLD appearances (PL only), Kane has scored nine goals, so it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll bag at least one. Still, it’s hard to look at Spurs’ midfield of Harry Winks and Mousa Sissoko and believe they can keep a clean sheet against Arsenal’s firepower. This one has wholly-unsatisfying-to-both-sides draw written all over it.

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.

Arsenal stay hot, hammer Bournemouth (video)

Leave a comment
  • Arsenal stay fourth
  • Ozil, Mkhitaryan score, grab assists
  • Bournemouth lose fourth-straight away game

Arsenal smashed Bournemouth 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, as the Gunners were dominant from start to finish.

Mesut Ozil started the scoring, then set Henrikh Mkhitaryan up to make it 2-0. After Lys Mousset made it 2-1 in the first half, Laurent Koscielny scored early in the second half to make it 3-1 and late goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette put some extra gloss on the scoreline.

With the win Arsenal remain fourth on 56 points, while Bournemouth sit in 12th on 34 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Gunners took an early lead after dominating the play, as Ozil was played in free on the left side of the box and dinked a lovely finish over Artur Boruc to make it 1-0.

Arsenal kept pouring forward early on but Bournemouth had a rare chance as Josh King headed just over.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Bournemouth had an ever better chance moments later as Josh King played in Ryan Fraser by Bernd Leno saved well. Arsenal doubled their lead before the break as a slick passing move ripped open Bournemouth’s defense and Ozil was on hand to tee up Mkhitaryan to slot home.

But soon after Bournemouth halved the deficit as Arsenal played around with the ball at the back and Matteo Guendouzi ran into Dan Gosling. He played it to Mousset who stroked home to make it 2-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Arsenal sealed the victory with Mkhitaryan free on the inside right channel, then pulling the ball back for Koscielny to slot home and make it 3-1.

Arsenal turned on the tricks and flicks in the closing stages as Ozil hit the post as Boruc made a fine stop, and Emery’s men eased to victory with Bournemouth in damage limitation mode.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Cherries did hit the bar from distance through Dan Gosling, but moments later Arsenal scored their fourth. Mkhitaryan played in Aubameyang who rounded Boruc and finished with ease.

Lacazette scored a fifth late on from a free kick to rub salt into Bournemouth’s wounds, as the Gunners turned on the style to keep their place in the top four.

Premier League preview: Arsenal v. Southampton

Getty Images
1 Comment
  • Arsenal has never lost to Southampton at home in 19 PL matches
  • Southampton is unbeaten in its last four PL away games
  • Arsenal has just four clean sheets this PL season, all at home

Southampton will look to complete the first league double over Arsenal in 31 years when they visit the Emirates on Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET, live on NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The last time Southampton won both league games over Arsenal, 17-year-old Alan Shearer made his debut top-flight start and scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win. They can end that drought tomorrow, following up December’s 3-2 win at St. Mary’s that saw Charlie Austin score an 85th minute winner. The Saints have struggled against the Gunners in London historically, however, as they have not won away to Arsenal in their last 23 attempts.

Despite the history, there’s plenty of reasons for both sides to be up for this match at the Emirates. Arsenal comes into the game just a point back of fourth-placed Manchester United, and with the Red Devils taking on title-contending Liverpool, there’s a big chance for the Gunners to take over a Champions League place should United drop points. Southampton, meanwhile, sits 18th in the Premier League table after losing to now-17th Cardiff City last time out, but would rise back out of the relegation zone with any kind of result.

The Gunners will have reinforcements after the 3-0 midweek win over BATE Borisov in Europa League play, returning Alexandre Lacazette from his European suspension, plus Laurent Koscielny is reportedly healthy despite coming off that midweek win injured. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is the biggest miss for the Gunners after he also was unavailable midweek due to illness.

Southampton could see Michael Obafemi return for the first time since December after finally recovering from his hamstring injury, while Stuart Armstrong could also be back in the lineup after missing the loss to Cardiff with a calf problem.

What they’re saying

Arsenal manager Unai Emery on Mesut Ozil: “My message to him is to carry on. To be available like today [against BATE Borisov] and the last two weeks. Today I am happy, and he was like we want. We’re going to play a lot of matches and sometimes we need him to be in the first XI.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhutl on playing top teams: “We are focusing on the game against a difficult opponent, a very good opponent we beat once already this year in a big game with a fantastic performance and I think we’ll need another one. I’m not afraid about all the big teams because we showed against Chelsea [a 0-0 draw] and Arsenal that we can also play against these teams good matches and we will need to, that’s for sure. Every game is difficult but I think in the first game we showed that we can bring this surprising result.”

Video preview

Prediction

Arsenal has looked shaky in the past against lower-tier sides, and they are coming off a European match that required their full attention and effort. Southampton pulls off a surprising 2-2 draw and leaves Arsenal without the chance to jump Manchester United despite the Red Devils taking on a title contender.

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.