Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool have never achieved four straight-wins to start a Premier League season
  • The two sides have met 32 times, Liverpool have the edge with a 16-9-7 record
  • Swansea haven’t won any of their last six home PL games

After having to wait until Monday night to play their fourth game of the Premier League season, Liverpool have momentarily been knocked out of top spot by Arsenal.

But a win against Swansea (3pm ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) will see Brendan Rodgers’ side go back to the top of the table and boast the only 100 percent record in the Premier League.

However the Reds face a tricky trip down to the Liberty Stadium to play a resurgent Swansea side who comfortably beat West Brom 2-0 away from home in their last game, as Michael Laudrup’s men recovered from two-straight defeats to start the season.

As for Liverpool, manager Rodgers will be returning to the club he got promoted to the Premier League and steered to safety before leaving the Swans for Liverpool. Despite that, Rodgers is sure to get a warm reception from the home fans in South Wales who have a lot to thank him for as Rodgers put the wheels in motion for Laudrup’s side to flourish and finish ninth and win the League Cup last season.

The last time these two sides met at Anfield last February, Liverpool ran out 5-0 winners after a rousing second half display from the Merseyside outfit. Monday’s game will be a much closer affair with both teams trying to play attractive soccer.

Injury-wise, Neil Taylor is the only player to miss out for Swansea, while Liverpool are still missing defender Kolo Toure but new signings Mamadou Sakho and Victor Moses are in the squad, while Daniel Sturridge should be fit to start.

Can Liverpool keep their sensational start to the season going against a free-flowing Swansea side?

What they’re saying

Brendan Rodgers on Liverpool’s good start to the season: “We haven’t always been at our best throughout the 90 minutes of games this season but we certainly have resilience and a way to win games. In this league, it is so tough, you need that. We’re not worried. Our perception is what we think about ourselves. Football is very much about opinion. All we try to do here is work well, work honestly and work hard.”

Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey on playing with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool: “I’ve always looked up to him, ever since I was a kid. I watched him when I was growing up and he was the one that my dad singled out. It’s just ridiculous how good he is, and in my opinion he’s the best English midfielder that this country has ever seen. I always said that I wanted to play both with him and against him by the time I finished my career – that way you can judge yourself on how good you are.”

Michael Laudrup on Sturridge missing out for England but being fit for Monday: “Everyone is talking about England needing its young players and the importance of the game. I am sure he would have played the other day in a crucial game but he didn’t as he was injured. But just 48 hours later and he is already fit to play against us. I was a little surprised about that. I thought there were some rules that if you were injured you couldn’t play for your team three or four days later.”

Prediction

This is going to be a tight game down in South Wales. The home side will be desperate to get a first win of the season in front of their own fans and get one over former manager Brendan Rodgers. But Liverpool are flying and that 1-0 win over Manchester United will have seen confidence levels soar through the roof. However, that old boy ‘Mr. Complacency’ has a knack of creeping in when things are going well. I can see an upset on the cards here. Swansea City to win this game with Michu and Wilfried Bony creating havoc.

Chivas Guadalajara wins 12th Liga MX title

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A nail-biting finish saw Chivas Guadalajara lift the 2016/17 Liga MX title, beating Apertura champions Tigres to earn the club’s 12th Liga MX title.

The title makes Guadalajara the joint-most successful club in Mexican top flight history, even with Club America on titles.

With the aggregate score at 2-2 coming into the second leg at Chivas Stadium, the home side took the lead on an 18th minute expert finish by former Tigres youth product Alan Pulido. Oswaldo Alanís delivered a brilliant deep, looping ball to the far post, and under one-on-one pressure with a defender, Pulido struck it first-time and buried the ball into the far corner.

The game waited until midway through the second half for the next strike, as the eventual winner would fall to Jose Vazquez. The 29-year-old charged down a bounding ball that Tigres failed to clear, and his effort on net took a sizeable deflection off the midsection of a visiting defender, leaving the ball to trickle in uncontested.

Despite a 4-2 aggregate lead, it was by no means comfortable down the stretch for Chivas. Tigres pulled one back in the 88th minute on a fabulous strike by Ismael Sosa from just outside the top of the box. The visitors pressed for a stunning late equalizer, but it wasn’t to be.

The title is sweet for Chivas, who has endured a decade of struggles since winning its last championship, even coming close to relegation at times. In addition, the starting lineup for the second leg was fully domestic from top to bottom, with all 11 players from Mexico. On that same note, Pulido outdueled expensive Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, putting in on of the most impressive shifts of the match.

MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 0-0 Houston Dynamo

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The game in 100 words (or less): The goalkeepers starred as the first Texas derby of the season ended goalless in Frisco, leaving both teams winless for at least three matches. A relatively slow start to the match gave way to an electric pace before halftime, as both goalkeepers made incredible saves, and FC Dallas had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. The second half saw two more fantastic stops, and each team had little else to offer the game.

Three moments that mattered

27′ – A pair of incredible saves, one on each end. In a game that had slogged through the opening half-hour and just seen FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman off injured, the match sprung to life. First, Kellyn Acosta delivered a beautiful free-kick from just off-center to the right. Tyler Deric was there, acrobatically reaching the top-right corner with his fingertips to deny the USMNT youngster. The save was so good, Acosta appeared to be prematurely celebrating a goal before he was forced to pull up after seeing the stop.

Then, immediately down the other end, Alberth Elis charged down a loose ball and ripped a shot on net, but Jesse Gonzalez produced an equally stunning save to keep the game scoreless.

66′ – FC Dallas dominated the opening stages of the second half, but they’d need their goalkeeper again to keep the score level. Alex delivered a dangerous cross from the left flank, and while it went over the head of Cubo Torres, it fell to Mauro Manoutas sliding in at the back post who met it on the slide. Unfortunately for Houston, Gonzalez was in the right place to make an admittedly awkward save.

80′ – In a 0-0 game, with no goals to speak of, the loudest cheer of the night was for Mauro Diaz. The 26-year-old made his return from an Achillies tear, subbing on with 10 minutes remaining for the first time since early August. He received a standing ovation from the FC Dallas home crowd.

Honorable mention – Kellyn Acosta delivered this eye-popping through-ball just before halftime. Feast your eyes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jesse Gonzalez

Goalscorers: None

Championship Playoff Final preview: Huddersfield Town vs. Reading

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These two teams weren’t supposed to be here, at Wembley on Monday at 10:00 a.m. ET playing for a spot in the Premier League.

Everyone talked about how beautiful Fulham played. Everyone talked about how Sheffield kept on winning. Everyone kept talking about the favorites. Everyone wrote off the other guys.

Yet here we are. Reading, owner of a +4 goal differential. Huddersfield Town, owner of a -2 goal differential. Reading, winners over Fulham thanks to a bogus handball. Huddersfield, on to Wembley after a penalty shootout in the rain.

Here we are. The game that will catapult one team to the riches of the Premier League, the game that will send another team back to the depths of the Championship, consigned to progress with the heartbreak of knowing they were so close.

[ MORE: USMNT roster announced for upcoming World Cup qualifiers ]

The Championship playoff final is one of the biggest enigmas in the European soccer landscape. Teams like Reading looking to return to familiar lands of plentiful bounty, others like Huddersfield looking for glory never experienced before.

Huddersfield has not seen top flight action since 1972, and former American international David Wagner has them on the precipice. “There were a lot of statements before the semi-finals about momentum and about form,” Wagner said. “It is another example where we have proven that experience and what has happened in the past is irrelevant. After the 120 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday there were a lot of tired legs, but now after a training camp in Portugal and training on the grass here, everybody is ready to go.”

As far as form goes, Town is struggling. They drew both legs of the Sheffield Wednesday playoff semifinal 0-0, and finished the regular season on a three-match losing streak. They haven’t won a match since April 14th.

Reading, meanwhile, finished the year with wins in seven of their final nine regular season games, and they downed an attacking Fulham side 1-0 at home in the second leg of their semifinal. They’ve been stellar at winning close games all year, winning 18 regular season games by just a single goal, and losing just four, with seven draws. If Jaap Stam can lead his side back to the Premier League, it would mark just a four-year turnaround from their previous relegation from the top flight.

Riches await the winner. The sides couldn’t be more different, and yet on Monday, they both face the same brick wall.

Epic fake injury mars Hungarian league title match

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Sometimes it works out perfectly. Two teams, a title on the line, one match to decide it.

The top two teams in the Hungarian top flight, also known as the NB I, were set to play each other on the final day of the season to decide the title winner.

Budapest Honved hosted Videoton, with the winner set to win the league title. A draw would have given Videoton the victory on goal differential.

With the match 0-0 at halftime, it progressed tensely through the second half. So tense, in fact, that the teams felt they needed to do everything in their power to earn an edge. Even fake injuries. Terribly.

34-year-old Videoton striker Danko Lazovic, a veteran who has been around Europe with Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, and a host of Eredivisie teams,  looked to earn a foul in the attacking half. He put so much effort into selling the foul that, well, he went a little overboard. And by a little overboard, we mean he went berserk on the field, rolling around and flailing on his back.

There are many factors that make this an absolutely epic moment. First, his team had already earned a foul without the dive. The referee had blown the whistle for a shove moments before Lazovic went down. Second, his teammate looks to come over and help him sell the foul a little more realistically, and instead of accept his teammate’s assistance, he shrugs off the help and continues to flail. Third, as karma would have it, Honved would score the title-winning goal six minutes later as they would go on to win 1-0.

Kids, don’t try this at home. It’s not a good look.