Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 8

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Maybe it was mid-week European action — don’t tell Wolves — but a wild weekend of results have shook up our Premier League Club Power Rankings.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

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


20. Watford — On an 189-minute league goal drought after managing just two shots on target against Sheffield United. Still fourth in the league in shots-per-game and mid-table in passing and possession, but the moral victories are almost meaningless after eight weeks

Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Sheffield United
Up next: Oct. 19 at Spurs

19. Norwich City — Now allowing a league-worst 17.9 shots per match after allowing Villa to put 12 of its 22 attempts on frame in a 5-1 loss that could’ve easily been 7-2.

Last week: 17
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 5-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: Oct. 19 at Bournemouth

18. Southampton — Are long-time servants Maya Yoshida and Ryan Bertrand pull out of early season slumps? Stats say Yoshida may, but that Bertrand’s decline has been steady.

Last week: 13
Season high: 13
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 4-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: Oct. 19 at Wolves

17. Brighton and Hove Albion — Lewis Dunk gets all the plaudits, but Dan Burn has been very good alongside him and is keeping Shane Duffy on the bench (which is wild, considering the quality of the Irishman).

Last week: 18
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Spurs
Up next: Oct. 19 at Aston Villa

Also, allow us to get excited about 19-year-old Aaron Connolly, who took his first Premier League start and looked the real thing.

16. Manchester United — I say this without reservation: This is the worst edition of Manchester United I have ever seen. Forget the injuries for a moment, they had no plan to deal with a struggling Newcastle and were bossed by a center midfield pair with a combined age of 40. Additionally, Allan Saint-Maximin is a wonderful dribbler, but the Red Devils’ bids to stop him will have pretty much anyone on Liverpool licking their chops. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are needed so badly, and one of them would be thrilled to skip town.

It’s difficult to put them below Newcastle, but hey, a result is a result. Next time head it home, Harry.

That said, as much as I wouldn’t bet anything on the Red Devils to get a result versus Liverpool, you wouldn’t be stunned if Pogba pulled one of his world-beater games out at Old Trafford against the best team in the league now, would you?

Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: Oct. 20 v. Liverpool

15. Newcastle United — This team looks far too wide open to stay above the line for too long, but let’s be real: The Longstaff brothers’ day against Manchester United was the best example of why we follow sports. A club which has been buried in controversy for the better part of a decade sees a 19-year-old hometown kid star in his first PL appearance next to his brother, aged just 21, and returning hometown star Andy Carroll. And that post-match presser? Brilliant.

Plus, if we told you before the season, in a vacuum, that the Magpies would beat Spurs and Man Utd in the first 8 matches of the season while hanging with Liverpool? Also, that they’d do it with 37.6 season possession? What a weird side.

Last week: 19
Season high: 15
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: Oct. 19 at Chelsea

14. Everton — How did the Toffees respond to their promising show against Man City? By going right back to their disappointing ways. Seemingly, Everton can only be bothered to get up for the high visibility games. Fortunately for their supporters, a visit from West Ham gets the 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday treatment coming out of the international break.

Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 14
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Burnley
Up next: Oct. 19 v. West Ham

13. Tottenham Hotspur — What a mess. Mauricio Pochettino needs to be doing better with this bunch, but let’s be clear about something: The fault likes with the players and in the board room far more than the boss. I heard someone compare this Spurs’ team to Jurgen Klopp‘s last season at Borussia Dortmund and that’s ringing pretty true.

Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 13
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Brighton
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Watford

12. Sheffield United — Someone tell the Blades they were just promoted. A week after a hard-luck 1-0 loss to Liverpool, Chris Wilder‘s men couldn’t get the job done but held 61 percent possession on the road and really should’ve scored an easy away win to Watford. Arsenal and West Ham are next, and you fear that this “should be” three points counting as a mere one could sting for a few weeks.

Last week: 10
Season high: 10
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Watford
Up next: Oct. 21 v. Arsenal

11. Aston Villa — Dean Smith‘s men had been so much better than their record indicates, so it felt good to see them deliver a 5-star showing against Norwich City. Stacking another three points from Brighton’s impending visit is imperative, with Man City, Liverpool, and Wolves next on the PL docket.

Last week: 15
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 5-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Brighton

10. Burnley — If Sean Dyche‘s teams were a vehicle, they’d be a pair of tractor trailers on a two-lane highway. It doesn’t really matter what you’re driving if they won’t get out of the way. Burnley is 7th on the table and unbeaten in four matches despite completing an absolutely putrid 64.4 percent of their passes. That’s as bad as it gets, and they are 7th. If I ever have an inoperable and fatal disease, I’m going to shrug, call Sean Dyche, and start planning my next decade on Earth.

Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Everton
Up next: Oct. 19 at Leicester City

9. West Ham United — Vicente Guaita was very good for Palace, but it still feels like Manuel Pellegrini‘s men should be a step above taking one point from Bournemouth and the Eagles. Instead, they feel stuck in the same rut they’ve been for ages.

Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: Oct. 19 at Everton

8. Bournemouth — Respectable score lines against West Ham and Arsenal, to be sure, but Eddie Howe and Co. will feel aggrieved not to take advantage of the wide open table with a banner result or two. There’s a good chance to stack points in the next four outings: Norwich, Watford, Man Utd, and Newcastle, but here’s a worry: Half of their 12 goals have come off set pieces. Obviously that’s a nice thing, but is it even half-sustainable?

Last week: 6
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Arsenal
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Norwich City

7. Wolves — The rest of the perceived contenders’ inability to rise to the occasion means Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are just two points back of a Top Seven place after back-to-back defeats of Watford and Man City.

Last week: 16
Season high: 7
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 at Man City.
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Saints

6. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson should get a knighthood. Is he knighted already? How do these things work? Anyway, the Eagles have bounced back from a moribund performance at Spurs to claim seven of nine points. Given the status of the league, getting to the January window with a mid-table place and sight of the Top Seven would given decent reason to dream of something special.

Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at West Ham
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Man City

5. Leicester City — Yes, Sadio Mane’s embellishment was embarrassing and, yes, the Foxes came within a breath of a point at Anfield, but it’s alarming how statistically bossed Leicester City was by a Liverpool team who played at midweek. Kasper Schmeichel was outstanding as the Foxes were out-attempted 18-2 and gave away a number of dangerous free kicks. That’ll happen against Liverpool, but we expected better from Brendan Rodgers in his return to Anfield.

Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Liverpool
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Burnley

4. Arsenal — The clean sheet against Bournemouth was a very nice thing, and Unai Emery will love that some of his bad actors from early in the season — namely David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos — were very steady at the Emirates Stadium. Calum Chambers at right back and Matteo Guendouzi at center mid were fantastic. It’s not implausible to peg either Arsenal or Chelsea as the third-best team in the league.

Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 7
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: Oct. 21 at Sheffield United

3. Manchester City — Failed to channel any semblance of last season’s SDB — sans de Bruyne — form in a loss to Wolves. And, with the wisdom of last season in his noggin, why didn’t Pep Guardiola start Bernardo Silva? Still a wonderful team by the numbers, it’s Palace away, Villa home, Southampton home before a trip to Anfield. Nine points are necessary, even if Palace has been a challenging side for Guardiola through the years.

Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Wolves
Up next: Oct. 19 at Crystal Palace

2. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is able to bring Christian Pulisic and Michy Batshuayi off the bench, and has not even been able to deploy Ruben Loftus-Cheek yet. The Blues will be favored to win almost every league match between now and then end of the UCL group stage, and the Nov. 23 visit to Man City carries intrigue given Chelsea deserved a point at Liverpool and we’re pretty sure that Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi may be ground into dust from overuse.

Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 4-1 at Southampton
Up next: Oct. 19 v. Newcastle United

1. Liverpool — Look: Liverpool has to win the league this year. Almost everyone else is performing at a substandard level while the Reds sit eight points clear despite not really finding their top gear yet. If Virgil Van Dijk stays healthy for most of the year and Liverpool doesn’t end its drought well, maybe there’s some sort of curse at play here.

Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Leicester City
Up next: Oct. 20 at Manchester United

Emery pleased as youth helps Arsenal outlast Bournemouth, keep clean sheet

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery says it’s more than the clean sheet his side kept in a 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth, but how they looked in keeping it.

The Gunners copped just their second Premier League clean sheet of the season on Sunday. The first coming against sterile Newcastle, this one against lively Bournemouth felt a lot better.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth ]

That Arsenal did it after playing Thursday, and with four young players getting big minutes, means a lot to Emery.

“For me it’s one step more for the young players, for us,” he said. “We didn’t feel fear with that moment when the opposition was pushing us. Really I think the second half we can analyze and improve, we will do. In 90 minutes we deserved to win.”

Bukayo Saka (18) and Matteo Guendouzi (20) both started, with the latter going 90 minutes in a Man of the Match performance. Joe Willock (20) and Gabriel Martinelli (18) came into the game to see it out.

And the defense. David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Sead Kolasinac have been a part of some horror shows this season, but — together with Calum Chambers — they were much better on Sunday.

“I remember the last matches we played here,” Emery said. “We can remember that we can improve with that spirit. The level in the Premier League is more than the cups but we played with one idea and one style. We want to use this way. An objective today was to win and then to take that way. The first half we did that.”

With Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, and Wolves next, the Gunners have winnable matches that will also test their resolve. Let’s see what lies ahead for the Top Four chasing Gunners.

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.

Cleverley: Watford ‘could smell’ Arsenal’s hesitancy in comeback

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Despite Arsenal’s 2-0 lead over winless Watford, there was something in the air at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Just ask Tom Cleverley.

“Arsenal were a bit tentative and we could smell that a bit,” said Cleverley, who scored one of two Watford goals

[ RECAP: Watford 2-2 Arsenal ]

What also stunk was Arsenal’s decision making in the second half.

On a day the Gunners were out shot 31-7 and being held in the match (again) by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, an elementary mistake by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and terrible block by David Luiz allowed Watford a 2-2 in Quique Sanchez Flores’ first match of his second stint as Hornets boss.

“I think the reaction of the players was the most important thing,” said Sanchez Flores. “It’s easy to be down when you are losing 2-0 to a team as good as Arsenal. But we never gave up and we tried to keep the energy. In the second half we played really well.”

Cleverley had a less shielded response to the comeback.

“I would have snatched your hand off for 2-2 at half-time but we should have won it in the end,” Cleverley said. “We can definitely build on this and go forward.”

Comical errors doom Arsenal in draw with inspired Watford

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Watford gave Quique Sanchez Flores a fine “re-debut” for the Hornets in thrilling fashion.

Well, maybe it’d be better said that Arsenal gave the manager his moment.

Arsenal made two silly mistakes in their own box, giving Watford a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford out shot the Gunners 28-7, but needed big help to solve Bernd Leno.

The Gunners led on a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals scored 11 minutes apart in the first half, but Tom Cleverley and Roberto Pereyra had the answers thanks to grave errors from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

Arsenal now sits seventh with eight points, while Watford remains 20th with two.


Three things we learned

1. Fullbacks on parade: Arsenal’s early lead came by their very different attack-minded fullbacks. Sead Kolasinac drove with power down the left to slip a ball to Aubameyang for the opening goal, while flying Ainsley Maitland-Niles found space on the right to cross for Aubameyang’s second. Beautiful stuff.

2. Leno bright early: Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno picked up where he left off in the North London Derby, making a number of key saves or claims as Watford came out the gates with brightness and purpose. He had little chance of stopping either Watford goal, and made a point-salvaging save on Abdoulaye Doucoure in stoppage time.

3. More laughs at the back:  Just when you thought Nicolas Otamendi had the “Worst Giveaway of the Weekend” award on lock down, enter Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The veteran defender couldn’t quite sense the danger in his pass to Guendouzi, could he?

David Luiz’s mistake was nearly as glaring, as he blocked Roberto Pereyra‘s 80th minute dribble into the 18. Pereyra wrong-footed Leno for 2-2.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The first proper chance of the match was produced by Gerard Deulofeu, whose curling shot gave Bernd Leno a little trouble.

Leno then made a fine save on Tom Cleverley in the 11th minute to led to a corner, and had to stop another shot from the same players off the set piece.

The chances kept coming, with Deulofeu cueing up Jose Holebas for a shot that sailed well over the bar.

Arsenal went ahead 1-0 in the 21st minute through a powerful Sead Kolasinac dribble up field to find Aubameyang for a classy turn and finish.

The second goal was electric, with Ozil playing a role in the build-up to Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ perfect cross for Aubameyang.

A bad giveaway by Matteo Guendouzi opened the door for Watford, but the Hornets couldn’t challenge Leno.

A spicy affair saw a touch line skirmish between Holebas and Arsenal duo Matteo Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Watford pulled one back off a terrible giveaway from Sokratis, who gave Cleverley a wide open look at either side of Leno.

Then substitute Ismalia Sarr dragged a shot wide of the frame. Watford was knocking, and David Luiz opened the door with a block on Roberto Pereyra at the top of the 18. Pereyra fooled Leno and got the equalizer.