Soccer Premier League

English Premier League Power Rankings: Week 23

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EPL Power Rankings

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With only 16 games remaining in the current season, the EPL power rankings continue to shift around each week as teams ebb and flow through the year.

While the majority of the league is shifting and swapping spots, 19-time league champions Manchester United have stood strong at the top of table. With a record of 18-1-3, the Red Devils currently hold the No. 1 spot with 55 points, leading No. 2 Manchester City by seven points as they attempt to defend their 2012 EPL title.

Meanwhile, there are several teams sitting at the bottom of the table that could fall victim to relegation at the end of the year. Among the most likely to be headed down at season’s end are No. 20 Queens Park Rangers (14 points), No. 19 Reading (16 points) and No. 18 Aston Villa (19 points). Late-season surges from one or all of those three teams, though, could force other struggling clubs like Wigan Athletic (19 points) or Newcastle United (21 points) into relegation. Either way, three have to go.

With the January transfer window nearing a close, finding points every weekend will be critical for each one of the aforementioned clubs. Certain teams have gone out to land key acquisitions in hopes of giving themselves the boost they need to make a push up the table. Others, however, have stood by idly, hoping that their current talent pool would be enough.

There’s still plenty of time left for teams to make a move up or down the table. The difference between wins and losses will be as critical as ever. In the meantime, here are this week’s power rankings.

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20. Aston Villa (19 points)

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Plain and simple, Aston Villa needs to start scoring goals. They’re tied for last in the EPL in goals scored with 17 and can’t seem to get any sort of solid goaltending on the other side of the field. Not many expected relegation for the Lions at the beginning of the season, but fate apparently had other plans. They need a turnaround in a big hurry before it’s too late.

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19. Queens Park Rangers (14 points)

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They didn’t win, but a draw against a tough Spurs team was enough to get QPR out of the bottom of the EPL power rankings. They showed some fight and kept Tottenham from netting a single goal despite their No. 4 standing. The Hoops are likely headed for relegation, but at least they aren’t going down without a fight.

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18. Newcastle United (21 points)

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The loss of Demba Ba is only going to do even more damage to this team as they continue to attempt a massive revival following their horrendous start to the season. Even with several transfer acquisitions, Newcastle is in a bad spot and will need a big late-season push to stay avoid relegation.

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17. Wigan Athletic (19 points)

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Despite their struggles and placement near the bottom of the EPL table, Wigan is definitely better than their record has shown so far this season. They continue to put up impressive performances, but can’t manage to land themselves in the win column consistently. The Latics have won only one of their last nine games, which could punch their ticket to relegation at season’s end.

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16. Fulham (25 points)

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With the help of Dimitar Berbatov, the Cottagers have fully found a way to start scoring consistent goals. They’re the top scorers throughout the bottom half of the table, and have the firepower to land in the win column more often than they are. If only they could find a way to play defense, too.

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15. Southampton (22 points)

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After a tough, hard-fought outing against Chelsea, Southampton is showing some late-season spunk and appears ready to do what it takes to keep themselves away from relegation. Considering how tough their season started, it’s promising to see that they’ve notched four straight draws. Wins are what will save them, though.

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14. Reading (16 points)

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Reading scored a much-needed 3-2 victory last weekend over West Brom as they attempt to keep themselves alive and away from relegation. They might still be three points away from 17th place on the EPL table, but the Royals are now on the right path and have a little bit of confidence heading into the latter part of the season.

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13. Norwich City (26 points)

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The other half of last weekend’s biggest disappointment, Norwich is limping towards the finish line after an outstanding start that included wins against Arsenal and Manchester United. Their biggest issue at this point in the season is a lack of scoring, which isn’t helped by the fact that they appear uninterested in making a transfer window acquisition. It seems like they’ve settled for mediocrity.

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12. West Ham United (26 points)

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Injuries and rough patches have been real sore thumbs for the Hammers this season. They ended a four-game winless streak with a victory on New Year’s Day, but followed that up with a recent 3-0 slaughter at the hands of a surging Sunderland team. It hasn’t been an easy year for West Ham, and it likely won’t get any easier.

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11. Stoke City (29 points)

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Imagine if Jon Walters could score for his own team the way he scores for others. After he scored two own goals on the way to a 4-0 thrashing courtesy of Chelsea, Stoke City is wondering whether they’ll ever find some sort of offensive production this season. They’ve scored the second-least amount of goals this season and are headed for a disappointing finish on the year.

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10. West Bromwich Albion (33 points)

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A surprising loss to Reading has West Brom wondering where their headed as the end of season comes into their line of sight. Despite sitting in a good spot at No. 7 on the EPL table, injuries are wearing this team thin, which could keep them from making a legitimate push for the Top 4.

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9. Liverpool (31 points)

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It’s already bad enough that one of the EPL’s top clubs is so far outside of the Top 4. To make matters worse, they just lost a completely winnable game against Manchester United and are now that much closer to watching this season go to waste.

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8. Sunderland (25 points)

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On top of pulling off a dominant 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday, Sunderland is finally playing like a team and appears ready to make a late-season run. Not that they have a legitimate chance at making the Top 4, but at least they’re landing Abdou Mangane on loan to bring a certain physicality to the defense.

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7. Arsenal (34 points)

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The long-term signing of Theo Walcott is a huge get for the Gunners, who need an extra surge as the end of the season draws near. It’ll be even bigger if the club can land someone like Edinson Cavani via the transfer window. Arsenal has been having some mid-season struggles, but could easily push for a Top 4 finish if they can string together some wins.

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6. Swansea City (30 points)

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It’s been quite a while since Swansea has seen the losing end of a match, having ending four of their five last games in a draw. Since Michu’s return, everything seems to be clicking as they continue to move up the table and towards a stronger finish in the final EPL standings.

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5. Tottenham Hotspur (40 points)

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At this point, the Spurs are still in the Top 4. That, however, could change soon if this slump continues much longer. Coming off of a disappointing draw with QPR, Tottenham needs to get the ball rolling before Everton takes over that final coveted spot near the top of the EPL table.

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4. Everton (37 points)

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Everton put up a strong fight against Swansea City this past weekend, but couldn’t muster a goal as the match ended in a draw. Only three points behind the slumping Spurs, this could be a golden opportunity for the Toffees to get into the Top 4. The biggest concern at this point is getting actual wins, seeing as Everton has more draws (10) than wins (nine) on the season.

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3. Chelsea (42 points)

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After picking up a huge 4-0 victory over Stoke City last weekend, Chelsea is riding a huge wave of momentum as the season surges on. Frank Lampard is taking care of business amidst transfer rumors and is making the most of his time with the Blues. Albeit being against a middle-of-the-road team like Stoke, it was another big win for Chelsea that should keep them in the hunt for the title.

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2. Manchester City (48 points)

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The other Manchester team and reigning champions aren’t willing to let the EPL powerhouse run away with yet another league title. They’ve only been a step or two behind Manchester United all season long and kept themselves in the running with a resounding victory over Arsenal this past weekend.

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1. Manchester United (55 points)

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Another notch in the win column and another three points keeps the Red Devils atop the EPL standings – shocking right? Sir Alex Ferguson has his players running on all cylinders and plenty of things in the works as we get into the meat of the January transfer window. With the way this team is playing, I don’t see anyone putting together a strong enough run to steal the league title in 2013.

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