Liverpool 0-1 Southampton: Lovren’s header gives Saints shock win (video)

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In the biggest shock of the day, Southampton won 1-0 against the current league leaders to hand Brendan Rodgers’ team their first loss of the 2013-14 campaign.

Following a lackluster display from Liverpool, the Saints grabbed all three points at Anfield courtesy of a second half header from defender Dejan Lovren. The Croatian international headed home Adam Lallana‘s corner in the 54th minute to send the away fans into dreamland.

After the game’s opener, Liverpool tried to force the issue and get in behind Southampton’s defense, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men held firm to seal the biggest win of his managerial career in the Premier League so far. It was Liverpool’s first defeat in 13, since they lost 3-1 to Southampton at St. Mary’s back in March.

Early on, Liverpool pushed Saints back and controlled proceedings without really testing Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc, as an early shot from Jordan Henderson went straight at Saints’ ‘keeper after a good move down Liverpool’s right hand side.

But soon after Boruc was forced into making a tremendous sprawling save to his right, from Steven Gerrard’s free kick in the 20th minute, to keep the score levels. Gerrard bent the ball up and over the wall and Bourc got a strong hand to it to keep out the Liverpool captain.

Southampton impressed as half time arrived, but Rickie Lambert’s left-foot volley went horribly wrong and Liverpool’s makeshift defense of Mamadou Sakho at left back was struggling to control a lively Saints attack.

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It was a hugely disappointing defeat for Steven Gerrard and Liverpool.

Moments later came another terrific save from Boruc on 36 minutes, as the Polish ‘keeper managed to throw himself at the feet of the onrushing Victor Moses and tipped the ball wide for a corner.

As half time approached, the home side began to assert their dominance but it was 0-0 at the break, with both teams yet to have any clear cut chances. At the interval Liverpool brought on Raheem Sterling for Iago Aspas, as they aimed to score in the second half for the first time this season.

But it was the visitors who looked most likely to do that, and on 47 minutes Southampton pressed high up the field and forced Simon Mignolet into several mistakes that almost proved costly. And soon after the pivotal moment came, as Lovren headed home. The Croatian defender did superbly to hold off his marker and head towards goal, and Gerrard’s despairing dive on the goal line couldn’t stop the ball going in.

Southampton came so close to adding a second goal soon after, as Luke Shaw surged forward from left back and took on three players before Mignolet somehow smothered his shot, and clawed away the rebound from the onrushing Steven Davis.

And as the game closed out, Liverpool were frustrated by Southampton and hardly looked like grabbing an equalizer, in what was an off day for Rodgers’ side.

The win sees the Saints move up to fifth, while Liverpool remain top but could lose their place at the summit if any of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City or Manchester United win on Sunday.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Toure, Sakho, Skrtel, (Alberto 72) Agger (Jose Enrique 57), Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard (c), Aspas, (Sterling 46), Sturridge, Moses. Subs not used: Jonse, Kelly, Wisdom, Ibe.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ward-Prowse 76), Rodriguez (Cork 89), Lambert (S. Davis 66), Osvaldo. Subs not used: K. Davis, Hooiveld, Ramirez, Chambers.

Errors down, penalty kicks up after introduction of VAR in Italy

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The implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Italy has been controversial, but according to a look at the statistics, it has for the most part done its job to fix clear and obvious errors.

Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport compiled all the times VAR has been used through 346 matches, 330 in Serie A and 16 in the Coppa Italia. There were 1,736 checks (916 goals, 464 penalties and 356 red cards) with 105 corrections and just 17 errors where the referee and assistant made the wrong decision. Eight of those errors did affect the result, which is an issue that will surely be addressed by the Italian officiating organization.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But overall, Gazzetta found that in the VAR era, referee errors only amounted to 0.98 percent during a match, as opposed to 6.03 percent in the past. In addition, fouls are down 8.8 percent, red cards are down 6.4 percent, and yellow cards are down 14.7 percent. On the flip side, penalty kicks are called 4.3 more percent of the time.

The Premier League voted recently not to add VAR to its league matches next season, while top leagues in Germany, Italy and in Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League continue to use it.

Report: New Arsenal manager will have small budget to re-shape squad

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Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.

[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]

That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.

For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.

Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.

A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.

Tunisian player who collapsed in Spain regains consciousness

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MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.

The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.

Nouioui collapsed on April 14.

The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.