The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.
There are plenty of them out there – though many are deliberately divisive – but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.
We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues.
It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.
So, who makes the top-10 this week? Check out below.
1. Arsenal (beat Chelsea 2-0)
A most impressive performance from Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Above a tactical triumph for Unai Emery, Arsenal’s intensity, drive and purpose harmonised for their most complete performance of the season. The technique for Alexandre Lacazette’s opener was pure art, the type which needs a piece from Mozart to accompany it, a contrast to Laurent Koscielny’s second which was pure fluke as it was diverted in via his shoulder. They are the clear number one this week after reinvigorating their hopes of surmounting Chelsea and moving into the Premier League top four.
2. Borussia Dortmund (beat RB Leipzig 1-0)
The Bundesliga winter break is finally over yet leaders Dortmund remain hotter than ever. The trip to fourth-placed RB Leipzig provided a real test of their title resistance, but Dortmund stood firm. Indeed, they’ve struggled in their recent travels to the Saxony side, failing to win in their last two away trips. And when mercurial captain Marco Reus added to Lucien Favre’s defensive crisis by pulling out with a minor knock, this fixture demanded their best. The master of tempo, Axel Witsel has been magnificent this season and was the difference, nailing a sweet finish from a first-half corner.
3. Paris Saint-Germain (beat Guingamp 9-0)
Only two teams, across all competitions, have defeated PSG this season. One is Liverpool in the Champions League, the other is Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue. Hard to comprehend then that the runaway Ligue 1 leaders would avenge one of those losses with a 9-0 thrashing. The crime almost doesn’t fit the punishment. Granted, Guingamp are rock bottom and PSG have practically cemented another league success yet scoring nine is absurd. This is going to sound slightly odd, but for many of the goals, the visitors weren’t even really at fault. PSG were just that good, which is no surprise really when Kylian Mbappe (three), Edinson Cavani (three) and Neymar (two) all scored. Thomas Meunier added the ninth if you were wondering.
4. Lyon (beat St Etienne 2-1)
The battle for first in Ligue 1 is currently being contested by one team. Different scenario for second and third though. Lille, Lyon, St Etienne, Strasbourg, Montpellier and Marseille are all in contention for two Champions League qualification spots. Two of those competing sides met in what is French football’s most fierce derby as Lyon travelled to St Etienne. The league gets a bad rep because of PSG’s domination but the battle beneath them always throws up a classic. This was another. Romain Hamouma’s 21st minute header put Saint-Etienne in front only for Nabil Fekir to equalise from the penalty spot after the break. Moussa Dembele then proved the old adage of try and try again, as the substitute atoned for missing an injury-time header by nodding in a 94th-minute winner. As one Lyon fan put it “their silence is the sweetest music”.
5. Napoli (beat Lazio 2-1)
Considering Napoli had virtually their entire spine ripped out of them before even kicking a ball, they showed tremendous backbone to consolidate second in Serie A by edging past Lazio. Carlo Ancelotti was without suspended tower of strength Kalidou Koulibaly, captain Marek Hamsik, the lethal Lorenzo Insigne and midfield metronome Allan. Yet they still managed to overpower Lazio who dropped out of the top four as a result. First-half goals from Jose Callejon and Arkadiusz Milik did the damage. Ciro Immobile pulled one back after the hour, but Francesco Acerbi was dismissed and they struggled through the last 20 with 10 men.
Arkadiusz Milik - 9️⃣9️⃣— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) January 20, 2019
8 games, 8 goals ⚽️🇵🇱 pic.twitter.com/S8TBXAX2eh
6. Real Madrid (beat Sevilla 2-0)
Los Blancos are in the top ten for the second week running and they can count themselves a little fortunate for that considering the performances. Santiago Solari’s side moved above Sevilla and into third with a 2-0 win at the Bernabeu, but it was a victory of persistence as opposed to precision. Although precise is precisely how you would describe Casemiro’s thunderous opener. It was an unforgettable late strike in what was a forgettable fixture as Real tailed off after a promising start. Luka Modric made it two in injury time as Sevilla, who are on a downward spiral, chased an equaliser.
7. Getafe (beat Alaves 4-0)
Getafe and Alaves have emerged as two remarkable revelations in La Liga this season. They both occupy European qualification spots, a scarcely believable feat considering their respective budgets, and are doing tremendously well with a robust style. Getafe have actually been criticised for their full-bodied philosophy under Jose Bordalas and then they went and smashed four past Alaves. Jorge Molina grabbed two of them and the 36-year-old striker is a fine spearhead for this team, a peer into the past with his vintage style of technique and size making him a nightmare to defend against.
8. Strasbourg (beat Monaco 5-1)
Ignore Monaco and the dire situation they are in, just admire Strasbourg for a moment. Down in the fifth tier of French football seven years ago after crippling financial trouble, boss Thierry Laurey is now guiding them in a fight for European football. They’ve only tasted defeat twice since late September and mauled Monaco to add Thierry Henry’s beleaguered outfit to their list of well-resourced victims. Indeed, their take-from-the-rich-to-feed-the-poorer mentality has seen them draw with PSG, knock out Lyon in the Coupe de la Ligue and now destroy Monaco. Ludovic Ajorque scored twice but the real pick was Ibrahim Sissoko’s screamer.
9. Bayern Munich (beat Hoffenheim 3-1)
Leon Goretzka was outstanding as Bayern Munich looked very impressive in swatting aside Hoffenheim to maintain pace with leaders Dortmund. Goretzka will form the fulcrum of future Germany success on the international stage and he gave a clear indication of his talent by dominating the midfield and scoring two clinical goals. Bayern are chasing a seventh straight league title and this performance showed they are in the hunt with the race far from over.
10. Atalanta (beat Frosinone 5-0)
A degree of freshness has been added to the top of Serie A’s goalscoring charts. A 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo and a 35-year-old Fabio Quagliarella have led the way but they are now joined by Atalanta’s giant striker Duvan Zapata. The 27-year-old smashed four past a sorry Frosinone and moved himself onto 14 for the season. The Colombian was the club’s first four-goal scorer in a single since 1952 and it’s easy to see why the likes of Roma, Inter Milan and West Ham are all said to be interested in acquiring his services.
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