Philip Billing

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

Bournemouth stun Man United

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BOURNEMOUTH — The Cherries stunned the Red Devils in the swirling rain on England’s South Coast on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Bournemouth beat Manchester United 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium, as Josh King‘s goal right on the stroke of half time was enough to seal a famous win for Eddie Howe‘s side.

With the win Bournemouth rise to sixth place in the Premier League table on 16 points, jumping above Man United who have 13 points as their run of wins away from home ended. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was once again an unhappy man.


3 things we learned

1. United almost at full strength, no more excuses: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was only missing Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba from what would be his strongest possible starting lineup. United can’t keep blaming injuries for their poor start to the season. United have now lost to Bournemouth, Newcastle West Ham and Crystal Palace this season, so maybe this is their new normal. With players returning to full fitness, things could improve, but right now Solskjaer is under pressure as United could be as much as 10 points off the top four by the end of this weekend. That isn’t good enough.

2. Bournemouth’s newfound defensive solidity promises plenty: Howe’s side have been much-improved defensively in recent weeks and although they’ve struggled to score goals, they created chances against United and looked solid enough at the back. Their two midfielder destroyers were excellent and Cook and Ake have formed a solid partnership. They sat in, soaked up pressure and Bournemouth have a newfound defensive solidity. They’ve never had that since they arrived in the Premier League in 2015.

3. Midfield balance off for United: The Red Devils are missing Pogba’s ability to get them on the front foot, as McTominay, Fred and Pereira played so many sideways and safe passes in central midfield. The balance was off and United had plenty of the ball but did little with it. They had no personality and no driving influence, especially in the second half. They started well but faded badly and there was a surprising lack of creativity in the final third as Rashford, Martial and James made decent runs but weren’t found often enough.

Man of the Match: Philip Billing – Won the ball back time and time again for Bournemouth. A dominant force in midfield who won the battle against Andreas Pereira and Fred on his own. Yet another gem polished by Eddie Howe. Billing and Lerma shielded the back four expertly and Nathan Ake was superb at center back. But Billing held everything together.


Early on United were lively down their right as James raced clear but Andreas Pereira slipped as he looked to apply the finishing touch.

The movement of United’s front three caused Bournemouth so many problems early on, as James linked up with Martial to cross for Fred but he got his effort all wrong as he stretched for it.

Bournemouth’s first big chance of the game arrived via Harry Wilson as his deflected effort flew wide after some clever passes. Moments later David De Gea saved Ryan Fraser‘s cross and the Scottish winger went down in the box but no penalty kick was given despite calls of “VAR! VAR!” from the home fans.

James drilled a shot inches wide after a free kick was only half cleared as United looked dangerous every time they attacked. Fraser hit a shot straight at De Gea on the counter as the home side improved after a slow start. Martial then went down under a challenge from Jefferson Lerma which sparked a huge melee inside the box but no penalty kick was given after VAR was used.

Right on half time Bournemouth took the lead as Adam Smith’s cross was controlled brilliantly from King and he then flicked the ball over Aaron Wan-Bissaka and finished to put the Cherries ahead. It was a sublime solo goal but United should have defended better.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The game opened up after the opening goal as Bournemouth almost grabbed a second but Fraser’s shot was right at De Gea after a lovely move down the right.

De Gea then denied King after a Bournemouth counter caught United out and Harry Wilson went down in the box but nothing was given.

The Liverpool loanee was then denied by De Gea as Bournemouth continued to have chances on the break and although United had plenty of the ball, they struggled to break down the Cherries stubborn defense.

Late on substitute Mason Greenwood hit the post as United chucked everything at Bournemouth with McTominay having a shot saved and Maguire coming close, but the Cherries held on for a famous win.

Goalkeepers star in Watford, Bournemouth stalemate

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Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday as Watford still haven’t won a Premier League game this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

The Hornets and Cherries had their goalkeepers to thank for a point as Ben Foster and Aaron Ramsdale both made superb stops at each end to keep clean sheets.

With the draw Bournemouth have 13 points, while Watford remain bottom and have five points on the board.


3 things we learned

1. Ben Foster could keep Watford up: Foster made several superb stops in the first half and if he plays well for the rest of the season, the Hornets have a chance to stay up. Foster’s experience is key to holding this Watford defense together and it hasn’t been pretty since Quique Sanchez Flores returned, but they are grinding out draws. The mauling at Man City (which can happen to any team) aside, they have drawn 0-0 at home against Sheffield United and Bournemouth and 1-1 away at Tottenham. They are proving to be tougher to break down and they are building a solid defensive foundation ahead of a big relegation battle.

2. Bournemouth improve defensively, but lacking again in attack: The Cherries have now failed to score in four of their last five games in all competitions and they looked severely lackluster in attack once again. Defensively they have always struggled to keep goals out, and that has improved this season. But it has improved at the expense of their usually fluid attack unit and Eddie Howe looked totally frustrated on the sidelines. Bournemouth are always a team neutrals love to watch because they scored and conceded goals but the boatload. They had to get better defensively and they have, and that is largely down to Billing and Lerma shoring things up in midfield. Going forward they miss the injured Brooks and out of form Fraser, and Howe needs to get a better balance back to this team. That said, Bournemouth are maturing and look way less likely to throw away points. Over the course of the season that is very important.

3. Draw sums up Cherries, Hornets rivalry: Seven of their nine clashes since they were promoted to the Premier League have ended in draws and this is a rivalry with an edge to it. Watford and Bournemouth were promoted to the PL together in 2015 and their trajectory since has been very similar. Both clubs are capable of causing upsets. Both usually (apart from this season, Watford) start the season well and then fade. Both usually finish midtable. It is early in the season but it looks like Bournemouth will finish a lot higher than Watford in 2019-20.

Man of the Match: Ben Foster – In the first half he made a string of fine saves to keep Bournemouth at bay, as Watford held on for a point. Foster has been their star man this season and if the Hornets are going to drag themselves out of trouble, they need him to stay in top form.


Watford had a glorious chance to take the lead early on but Abdoulaye Doucoure somehow smashed over after Aaron Ramsdale spilled the ball.

The Hornets went close again as Gerard Deulofeu‘s corner just missed everyone and hit the post.

Bournemouth then hit the bar as Steve Cook got free of his runner from a corner and the Cherries skipper should have scored with his header.

The Cherries looked dangerous as Philip Billing‘s shot was saved by Ben Foster and then Wilson’s curler went just over. Sergio Rico was then denied by Foster as Watford’s goalkeeper kept them in it.

Josh King then crossed for Danjuma but his low shot was saved superbly by Foster, once again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half it was Ramsdale’s turn to shine as the youngster spread himself to deny Deulofeu.

The second half turned into a feisty encounter as Roberto Pereyra caught Wilson and things boiled over between both sets of players.

Ramsdale then denied substitute Will Hughes, and Harry Wilson then went agonizingly close to a late winner but his free kick clipped the post and then Ryan Fraser was denied by Foster, of course.

The game ended in a stalemate as neither team looked confident in the final third throughout and both goalkeepers stood tall.

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.

Bournemouth punishes sloppy Everton

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Callum Wilson scored twice as Bournemouth stung sloppy Everton 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Ryan Fraser also scored for the Cherries, who rise eighth on 7 points to move ahead of the visitors on goal differential.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s only marker, as the Toffees fail in a bid to join the Top Four.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Three things we learned

1. Marco’s mercurial men: A lot has been made of Marco Silva‘s up-and-down tenure as Everton boss, especially given the club’s wealth of talent. That was again on display, as mistakes overrode Everton’s control of the match for most of the first hour. Keep in mind, though, that the inconsistency has plagued the Toffees since well before Silva came to town. That may not save him.

2. Ramsdale the difference: Eddie Howe trusted 21-year-old Aaron Ramsdale as his No. 1 goalkeeper despite a total of 44 senior appearances in his locker and none above the Championship level (aside from a pair of FA Cup dates). He was calm, decisive, and sturdy. He’s yet to keep a clean sheet, but that’s no matter on the day.

3. Wilson in form:  Callum Wilson’s second and third goals of the season showed his versatility, with a snapped header in a sea of bodies to open the scoring and a long run to beat Pickford on his second. He now has three goals in his last two performances after scoring against Leicester City.

Man of the Match: Ramsdale — Again, this could have easily been 3-1 in the other direction had Ramsdale not mopped up some silly, silly mistakes of his teammates.


Philip Billing fizzed a shot wide of the near post inside of the first 10 minutes, while at the other end Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale raced to beat Dominic Calvert-Lewin to a loose ball.

The 19th minute saw Richarlison smash a dipping effort off the top of the cross bar.

Ex-Toffees man Dominic Solanke ripped a shot that Jordan Pickford poked over the bar in the 22nd, and Bournemouth got on the board off the ensuing corner kick when Wilson snapped his neck to power the ball past Pickford.

Richarlison was at it again in the 37th, but couldn’t head Lucas Digne‘s cross inside the near post.

Everton leveled the score when Seamus Coleman spotted Richarlison’s run down the right side and the Brazilian crossed for a powerful Dominic Calvert-Lewin finish.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Ramsdale made a terrific save after Digne and Iwobi combined to cue up a Gylfi Sigurdsson rip in the 47th minute. And Steve Cook made a terrible back pass that helped Richarlison to a chance, but Ramsdale was up to the challenge.

Fraser’s goal came from a set piece, as he swept a free kick toward goal and Fabian Delph couldn’t get purchase on a chance to clear it. It changed direction a little, but Pickford may not have had a chance to save it either way.

It was 3-1 moments later, as Yerry Mina and/or Michael Keane switched off to allow Wilson to race toward a stunned Pickford, who could not react to the break.

Ramsdale then denied Alex Iwobi with a terrific save from 18 yards, and Richarlison couldn’t put the rebound on goal.