Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EPL Power Rankings

This is a new weekly column covering the Barclays Premier League. Every Tuesday, we'll go through the table (standings) and talk about each team's current form and projected finish as well as next week's matchups. If you are new to soccer, the Premier League is the easiest and most popular league to follow. If you want to pick a team, any of the top 7 are safe bets. If you want to root for a team with some Americans, Fulham (Clint Dempsey) and Everton (Tim Howard, Landon Donovan was just there on loan) are also good picks. We'll be running this column until the end of the season!

"The Race for Top Four (Painstakingly Relevant)"
(1) Manchester City – 63 pts – Crushed Rovers last week and are straight-up cruising at the moment. Tevez rumored to be on the reserve team and will improve an already scary striker corps. Beating up on Bolton this Saturday will help their confidence for the homestretch as the Citizens look to claim their first league title.
(2) Manchester United – 61 pts More like a 1b than a 2. Breathing down the neck of their in-town rival, but it took an extra time goal against Norwich to keep their title hopes alive. A tough matchup looms on Sunday against the Spurs, but the Red Devils have not lost to Tottenham in over 10 years.
(3) Tottenham Hotspur – 53 pts – Heartbreaking defeat to rival Arsenal on Sunday after going up 2-0 ends any title aspirations. Not much time to recover as United rolls into White Hart Lane on Sunday. Spurs will look to take out their frustrations against one of the weakest XI that United has fielded in the last 5 years.
(4) Chelsea – 46 pts – Currently tied for 4th with Arsenal, even after a recent string of poor outings. If Mata, Sturridge, and Drogba start rolling, this team is capable of pushing for 3rd. Clinical win over Bolton last Saturday means that AVB’s job is safe, at least for another week.
(5) Arsenal – 46 pts – What a difference one game makes. Thought to be dead after a stunning loss to Milan in the Champions League and then bowing out of the FA Cup against lowly Sunderland, all is right at Emirates right now as Wenger and Co. ride a galvanizing win over the rival Spurs. A trip to Anfield on Saturday to play Carling Cup champs Liverpool will be a litmus test for how far the Gunners go.
(6) Liverpool – 40 pts – League match versus Everton was postponed for the Carling Cup final, which was decided on penalties. Liverpool was very happy to take home some hardware and will face a revitalized Arsenal in an important match that could decide who competes for top 4. Look for King Kenny to play attacking football.
(7) Newcastle United – 43 pts Blowing a 2-0 lead against lowly Wolves is not what the doctor ordered after a 5-0 drubbing by Spurs the week before. Although they still came away with a draw, the Magpies cannot be dropping points if they are serious about contending for a Champions League spot.

"Meh-table (Sadly Irrelevant)"
(8) Sunderland – 33 pts – New coach Martin O’Neill has the Black Cats playing some excellent football recently, but the 4-0 beating sustained at the hands of West Brom Albion last Saturday was not pleasant. Claiming Newcastle’s scalp this week will go a long way in building confidence for their FA Cup run.
(9) Norwich City – 35 pts – Who? The Canaries might have just come up this past season, but no one is taking them lightly anymore. They took United the distance and almost came away with a point. Will look to build on that with a trip to Stoke on Saturday.
(10) Everton – 33 pts – Very sad to see Landon Donovan go back to the Galaxy, but he was instrumental in Everton’s recent form and resurgence up the table. Tim Howard is still an incredibly capable keeper, and the addition of Steven Pienaar will help. Will match up against Queens Park this Saturday.
(11) Stoke City – 33 pts – No one likes to play the Potters at dirthole Brittania Stadium, as Norwich comes into town. Stoke will look to build on a convincing 2-0 result versus Swansea and move up the table.
(12) Fulham – 33 pts – Clint Dempsey has been lights out recently as the Cottagers take on a reeling Wolverhamption squad.
(13) West Brom Albion – 32 pts – No one thought WBA was going to be hanging around, but coach Roy Hodgson has this team playing some great football. Big matchup as Chelsea comes to town on Saturday, and the Baggies would like nothing more than to take down the Blues.
(14) Swansea City – 30 pts – The league’s only Welsh team, the Swans have claimed some major scalps so far as they are 9 points clear of relegation. They are looking to stick around and play last place Wigan this weekend.
(15) Aston Villa – 29 pts – The Lions are clearly the most underperforming team in the league so far this season, and things keep getting worse as key player Darren Bent is stretchered off in their draw against relegation-zone Wigan. Maybe a trip to Ewood Park against Blackburn will help, but maybe not.

"The Relegation Zone (Amusingly Relevant)"
(16) Wolverhamption Wanderers –22 pts – Wolves are in a bit of disarray after dismissing manager Mick McCarthy. A gutsy draw against Newcastle helps, and a win against Fulham at Craven Cottage will restore confidence in this plucky team.
(17) Queens Park Rangers – 21 pts– New owners, but results are still clearly leaving something to be desired. Should do enough to stay out of relegation, but teams here are all so close. Will play a strong Everton squad on Saturday.
(18) Blackburn Rovers – 21 pts –Poor Rovers. New ownership has not invested, as they continue to sell any and all valuable players. Aston Villa is looking very vulnerable, and a win could get them out of the basement. However, more than likely, it looks like relegation is in the cards.
(19) Bolton Wanderers – 20 pts –Nothing to be happy about over at the Reebok. Will not get easier as they travel to Etihad Stadium to take on leader Manchester City this weekend. Hide your kids; this could be a beatdown.
(20) Wigan Athletic – 20 pts – Going nowhere fast, a win against Swansea would take some of the pressure off. The Latics are better than their record suggests, but they just can’t seem to put the ball in the net.

This Week's Match Predictions
Arsenal at Liverpool, 2-3: The big matchup of the week starts early this Saturday. Liverpool takes this one in a hotly contested matchup. RVP will bag the game-tying goal, but Suarez will save the day with minutes to spare.
Aston Villa at Blackburn, 1-1: Both teams not in great form. A poor display of football.
Bolton at Manchester City, 0-3: Bolton is useless. This could be worse, but City will rest their stars in the 2nd half.
Everton at QPR, 2-0: Everton’s recent form has been excellent. QPR, not so much.
Norwich at Stoke, 1-2: Any game at Britannia is ugly, and although Norwich has played well, the Potters will gut this one, like they usually do.
Chelsea at WBA, 3-1: Chelsea will come out and play -- just too talented for WBA.
Swansea at Wigan, 1-2: Upset special! Wigan comes out strong, and Moses and Di Santo each get on the scoresheet.

Sunderland at Newcastle, 1-3: Newcastle needs this result badly, and Ba and Cisse do some dances as the Magpies take 3 points.
Wolves at Fulham, 0-2: Dempsey continues to find the net, and the Wolves continue to disappoint.
United at Spurs, 2-2: In our final match of the week, the Spurs will answer the call and play some good football but once again fall short of beating United. Both teams will be pleased with the result.


Glad to see that Donovan can play at this level. He not only fit in with the team, he excelled for Everton and was their lighting rod in a lot of the games during his loan.

Definitely, Donovan might have saved their season. Dempsey is also doing great for a weak Fulham squad and old man Brad Friedel is still in the league starting for the Spurs! I have a soft spot for the Americans.

7:45 AM this Saturday is going to be quite stressful in my apartment since my roommate is a gunner fan... YNWA go Liverpool!!!

Speaking of Dempsey, what a performance by USMNT yesterday!

RVP. MVP. Wenger needs to shell out the cash to keep him, and support him with a few good midfielders.

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