Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League Thanks to one unbelievable Wayne Rooney bicycle kick, the Premier League title race is now a two-team competition as March looms less than one week away.

As usual, the most compelling competitions aren't at the very top of the table, but for the fourth, sixth and 17th places in the table.

In fact, what that Rooney strike took away from the title race, it added to the chase for fourth, as Manchester City has now joined Chelsea and Spurs in a precarious position as far as the 2011-12 Champions League is concerned.

Liverpool, of course, also looms within striking distance, but just below the Reds in the table sit Sunderland and Bolton, two sides that could legitimately threaten for a Europa League berth.

At the bottom, the recent struggles of West Brom and Blackpool have given new hope to West Ham, Wolves and Wigan, and each has shown signs of life, accordingly.

After 27 match days, the power rankings in the Premier League are as follows:

Premier League Power Rankings
1 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 1
Record: 57 points, 16-9-1
Manchester United
The Manchester United reserves looked their usual mediocre selves in Saturday's unconvincing 1-0 FA Cup win against non-league Crawley Town, but that only matters so much. Whether or not Bebe, Darron Gibson or Gabriel Obertain are part of the future at Old Trafford won't remotely matter when it comes to the title race, whereas Wayne Rooney's goal of the season to crush Manchester City's championship aspirations will.
2 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 3
Record: 53 points, 16-5-5
Arsenal
Arsenal's victory over Barcelona at The Emirates last week was definitive proof that this season's Gunners have actually grown up, refusing to wilt under pressure as in year's past. Furthermore, along with Spurs' win over AC Milan, it was a striking statement about the strength of the Premier League. Then, on Sunday, Arsenal reminded us why they blew a four-goal lead at home just a couple of weeks ago. In a moment of abysmal defending and goalkeeping, Arsenal allowed League One's Leyton Orient to force an FA Cup replay, spawning a team trip to Las Vegas for the East London minnows.
3 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 4
Record: 47 points, 13-8-5
Tottenham Hotspur
Given the divergent form of the two sides, you'd actually have to favor Spurs to crack the top four at the expense of Chelsea. The sudden resurgence of Niko Kranjcar will help Tottenham mightily as the depth of the squad is tested with a packed schedule upcoming. The one factor going against them: Chelsea's goal-differential advantage is pretty much insurmountable, meaning finishing level with the giants wouldn't be good enough.
4 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 2
Record: 49 points, 14-7-6
Manchester City
A 5-0 FA Cup thrashing against Notts County couldn't make up for what was a pretty dire week for the Citizens. City perhaps outplayed United in the Manchester Derby, but following a multitude of blown chances and Wayne Rooney's greatest goal, they now find themselves in the race for fourth, not first. Then, there was the squad's Europe League performance in Greece, in which Roberto Mancini played his strongest side, but couldn't crack Aris Salonika.
5 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 5
Record: 39 points, 11-6-10
Liverpool
While it's hard to be too negative in the midst of a seven-match unbeaten run, Liverpool remaining above Chelsea in the rankings isn't as much a reward for the Reds' current run of form as it is an indictment of how Chelsea has continued to play. In truth, the Reds have had a minor dip in quality in their past two matches — a home draw against relegation-zone Wigan and a 0-0 tie in Prague in which the Reds didn't register a shot on goal. The good news, however, is that Andy Carroll's debut is growing nearer, and Sunderland's three consecutive losses have made Europa League qualification less tenuous.
6 Liverpool Still Above Chelsea in Power Rankings While Wayne Rooney's Strike Alters Complexion of Premier League
Last week: No. 6
Record: 45 points, 13-6-7
Chelsea
The pressure on Carlo Ancelotti has to be at an all-time high after Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but the reality is that the team hasn't nearly played up to its potential, and it'd be difficult not to give the manager a large portion of the blame. Recent history, however, could be so different for the Blues. Thanks to Ashley Cole's miss, they've now lost seven penalty shootouts in a row.
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