Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 22

Leave a comment

The individual spots on the PL club power rankings feel like they are teetering, prepared for some big moves.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

The table says that Arsenal and Spurs are comfortable in their top spots, but the power rankings see a loss to West Ham and injury to Harry Kane as reason for concern.

We are just a result or two from some serious tumult, but here’s where we sit today.


20. Huddersfield Town — Putting aside the idea of a new manager bounce against Manchester City or some other surprising results, the Terriers would need an unbelievable finish to the season to survive the drop; Huddersfield only faces three relegation candidates in the final 16 match days. Climbing out of the Bottom Three would be one of the greatest escapes of all-time.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Losing to Burnley was a killer. But, hey, at least your strikers aren’t fighting during a yoga class. Wait, what’s that? They are?!? Oh.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — Owner Mike Ashley doesn’t look prepared to invest anything ever in January, and Rafa Benitez is heading into a crucial home game against Cardiff City down a number of starters. So this is going well, especially considering Newcastle is hardly even being linked with transfer targets. Even the rumor mongers know better than to expect people to latch onto clickbait when it says Newcastle might buy big. And FWIW: We had Newcastle in our Bottom Three before last week’s results dropped them there on the table.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Cardiff City — The good news for Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds is the three teams below them look quite poor. A win at Newcastle on Saturday would be a huge step to safety.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Crystal Palace — Not quite as maddening as Wolves and Watford, but the team that beat Man City has now drawn Cardiff City 0-0 and lost at home to the Hornets.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

16. Southampton — The Leicester City win is another fine moment for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men, who have been aided just as much by the Bottom Three as their own results.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Burnley — A third-straight league win has Sean Dyche‘s unit on the rise. The fixture list has helped, but the hardened English boss has done a fine job focusing his men on the task at hand.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Bournemouth — Only being stopped by a new season low by the clubs underneath it. Next up for the Cherries: West Ham and Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

12. Everton — Will be relieved to have handled Bournemouth, and will be eyeing a table run with fixtures ahead with Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Wolves, and Watford.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Leicester City — Here’s what I wrote last week, before the Foxes went and lost to Southampton, They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.”
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Flustered Liverpool, and it wouldn’t have been a crime had the Seagulls lifted a point from the leaders.
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

9. Wolves — Losing to Man City is all but certain when you go down a man at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

8. Watford — How many years do you think have been taken off Javi Gracia‘s life by this team’s unpredictable form? Do you think he’s going to have a presidential downtown in looks by the time this is through? After dramatically drawing Newcastle and Bournemouth, the Hornets are back into seventh via a win at Palace.
Last week: 11
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. West Ham United — We cannot overlook recent form and 10 points on the table, but the Irons are looking decent money against any club that dares to overlook them. Just ask Arsenal.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

6. Arsenal — It’s not wild to call Saturday’s match against Chelsea a season-defining one, especially with the Top Four door opened by an injury to Harry Kane at Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Chelsea — Ten points from 12 has rarely looked so meh.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

4. Manchester United — Took three points off Spurs as a team, then perhaps even more thanks to Phil Jones‘ tackle on Harry Kane.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Spurs — Seven is the number. That’s Spurs’ advantage on Chelsea and Arsenal heading into this prolonged Harry Kane absence.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — Could sleepwalk through next four fixtures to get to Chelsea and Arsenal on consecutive match days. And both of those are at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Sadio Mane has joined Dejan Lovren in publicly claiming they’ll win their first top flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Newcastle

Leave a comment
  • Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is unavailable but Alvaro Morata (hamstring) is expected to be fit to face Newcastle.
  • Chelsea have only lost one of its 23 Premier League home matches against Newcastle
  • Salomon Rondon has scored Newcastle’s last three away goals in the Premier League.

The last in a full day of matches comes Saturday afternoon as Chelsea hosts former coach Rafa Benitez and Newcastle (12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com).

The Blues are coming off a surprise scoreless draw with Southampton while Newcastle are winless in their last four. The winds are swirling at Chelsea as Cesc Fabregas departed and Callum Hudson-Odoi is a big transfer target of Bayern Munich, though Chelsea has so far refused to accept any bids for the talented 18-year-old.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Alvaro Morata could be fit to play, but one wonders if Maurizio Sarri will go with Eden Hazard in the false nine role again. At the same time, Newcastle has plenty of injuries to deal with, and three players just coming back off the sidelines. It will be a big loss to replace Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto.


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on his team’s scoring problems: “We need to score. We need to solve this problem. In the last match we played very well, with continuity and with a very good offensive and defensive phase, and with a great performance from a physical point of view – the best of the season – but we didn’t score. We have to work and try to solve it as soon as possible.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on focusing his team against Chelsea: ”We have to realize where we are and we have to realize the only way forward is to stay united. We can’t waste too much energy. The idea last year when we were back in the Premier League was to be united. You have to realize that this is a big city and massive club.”


Prediction

Chelsea may be struggling to score goals, but Newcastle are in a relegation fight. Even without much of a striker, Chelsea should still have enough talent and firepower up top to win. Plus, with so many players out injured for Newcastle, the challenge grows even more for the visitors. Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle

Hazard, Van Dijk, Kante named in UEFA’s Team of the Year

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three Premier League players were included in UEFA’s Team of the Year, voted on by more than 1.8 million fans on the confederation’s website.

Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante along with Virgil Van Dijk headlined the group, which included four Real Madrid players and a former one in Cristiano Ronaldo. Luka Modric ran away with the most votes in this year’s Team of the Year, garnering 1.15 million, more than Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Hazard earned 97,000 votes, Kante recorded more than 89,000 and Van Dijk had nearly 78,000.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Of course, it’s a fan vote, but surely there were a few snubs. There’s no place for Mohamad Salah, Harry Kane or Kevin De Bruyne, all stars on the world stage who had great years. Kane and de Bruyne, especially, both led their nations to the World Cup semifinals in addition to success with their club teams.

However, it’s well deserved for someone other than Ronaldo and Messi to take top billing, and also great to see Kante get the recognition he deserves as the destroyer in Chelsea’s midfield. This season, he’s playing a new role and he’s still showing how great of a passer and box-to-box midfielder he is.

Let us know about what you thought of the Team of the Year vote in the comments below.

PSG stunned by Guingamp, out of Coupe de la Ligue

Paris Saint-Germain official Twitter
Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain was knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue after a stunning 2-1 loss to Guingamp, marking the club’s first loss in the competition since November of 2012 when they fell in the quarterfinals to St. Etienne on penalties.

After a scoreless halftime that saw PSG fail to put any of its six shots on target, Neymar put the French giants up in the 62nd minute with a powerful far-post header. They would hold onto that lead until the 81st minute when Guingamp began its comeback.

Juan Bernat was penalized for body-checking Marcus Coco off the ball in the area, allowing Yeni N’Gbakoto to step up and convert the awarded spot-kick. With the game level and nine minutes remaining, PSG pushed for a winner, but it was the visitors who would find the answer at Parc des Princes. Thilo Kehrer was softly penalized for taking down Marcus Thuram at the top of the box, with the 22-year-old German international caught back on his heels, eventually falling over in the path of Thuram who was happy to go down as well.

Thuram – the son the highest-capped French international Lilian Thuram – stepped up and converted his penalty for the lead three minutes into stoppage time, providing Guingamp with a dramatic winner. The loss for PSG comes despite holding a whopping 76% possession throughout the match and rifling off 18 shots, with just two of those on target.

PSG had won the Coupe de la Ligue in each of the last five campaigns, marking further dominance over the French league that sits nicely alongside its five league titles over the last six seasons. Across its five straight Cup victories, PSG had scored 50 goals while conceding just 14.

Guingamp currently sits bottom of the Ligue 1 table, while PSG holds a 13-point lead over the rest of the league.

Man City obliterates Burton Albion 9-0 in Carabao Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City started a strong lineup in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal against League One side Burton Albion, and boy did it pay off.

Pep Guardiola‘s side put on an attacking clinic for the ages as they hammered Burton 9-0 as Gabriel Jesus picked up four goals, while five other blue shirts found the back of the net, including Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, and Riyad Mahrez.

A few Manchester City starters were rested, with Sergio Aguero not in the squad and Ederson, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling all on the bench, but de Bruyne, Walker, and Jesus all found the starting lineup as did David Silva and Ilkay Gundoguan, and the lower league minnows never had a chance.

De Bruyne scored just five minutes in to begin the onslaught, and Manchester City never looked back. Jesus opened his bursting account on the half-hour mark, and doubled his number four minutes later thanks to a great chip from Gundoguan.

Jesus had his hat-trick just before the hour mark, and bagged a fourth five minutes past it. Academy product Phil Foden also got in on the action in the 62nd minute as City scored four goals in a 13-minute second half span. Oleksandr Zinchenko also scored, and Mahrez’s messy effort trickled in with seven minutes remaining to complete the demolition.

After putting seven goals past Rotherham in early FA Cup action last time out, Manchester City becomes the first English club to record at least a combined 16 goals across two consecutive fixtures since they did it back in 1987 (source: Opta). Burton Albion had achieved much just to reach this point of the competition, having already defeated Premier League side Burnley back in the third round and taking down fellow Championship clubs Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, and Middlesbrough on its way to the semifinals.

Manchester City takes its incredible goalscoring form back to the Premier League where they face newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday followed by a Sunday meeting with Huddersfield Town, before the second leg against Burton Albion which will be little more than a formality.