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.

source: Getty Images
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.

John Cena makes entertaining Premier League predictions

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We do not recommend putting any money on John Cena’s Premier League predictions for this weekend.

The actor and WWE star was the guest picker on the BBC site on Friday, and admitted his soccer knowledge doesn’t extend much further than Cristiano Ronaldo and a tour of Tottenham (he has a fondness for Spurs, it seems).

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

But his actual selections are quite amusing. From picking matches based on species to trying to anger his fiancee’s Arsenal supporting brother, Cena brought the goods.

Our favorites:

Why West Ham will win at Stoke: “Who doesn’t love a good ham? It provides you with nourishment, happiness and a sense of community. It is always served at a big family function gathering. I like West Ham. 0-1.”

Why Southampton will win at Chelsea: “From where I am from, in Massachusetts, Southampton is a pretty cool place, so I am going to have to pick them, only because of how it relates to the States.”

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea leads all-time 41W-28D-28L
  • Saints have points in 3 of 5 at Stamford Bridge
  • Southampton winless in four straight league games

Chelsea returns home following an emphatic away win to meet a Southampton side fresh off embarrassment at home (Watch live Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Saints were battered 4-1 at St. Mary’s by former coach Claude Puel, while Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea rebounded from a loss at West Ham by battering Huddersfield Town 4-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Conte was asked to compare Alvaro Morata to club legend Didier Drogba, as the Spanish striker has reportedly been studying footage of the big Ivorian.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

“They are two different players with different characteristics,” he said. “Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play. He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.”

Chelsea still won’t have David Luiz available, while Southampton has no new injury concerns despite the recent schedule congestion.

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on Southampton premonitions“‘My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.”

Saints’ Mauricio Pellegrino on facing Chelsea: “We want to show our best version. Chelsea is a really difficult side but maybe we can find more space.  We have to do a really good game to have a possibility of winning, but hopefully after a difficult moment we can bounce back. In this club, we want to show we are committed to trying to be competitive, our energy and commitment to the club.”

Prediction

Saints are wounded, but Chelsea has the better depth and form. Charlie Austin or Sofiane Boufal may force a goal past Thibaut Courtois, but look for the Blues to pull out a 2-1 win.

FIFA suspends Brazilian soccer president Marco Polo del Nero

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has suspended Brazilian soccer federation president Marco Polo del Nero for 90 days while he is under an ethics investigation.

Del Nero has remained in power in Brazil despite being charged by American authorities with racketeering and money laundering in 2015.

FIFA says Del Nero has been provisionally banned from all soccer activities as formal ethics investigation proceedings are conducted.

Del Nero fled Zurich in May 2015 when FIFA colleagues were arrested, quit the executive committee of soccer’s governing body after missing meetings and was then indicted in the United States in December 2015. He has not been extradited from Brazil to face the charges.

Preview: How can Tottenham stop Man City?

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Can anyone stop Manchester City? Tottenham Hotspur will try this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aiming to give the chasing pack some hope that City can be caught.

[ LIVE: Stream Man City v. Spurs

Pep Guardiola‘s men have won 15 consecutive Premier League games to stretch their lead atop the PL to 11 points heading into the busy festive season, but a visit from Spurs represents one of their toughest tests of the season so far.

Spurs currently sit in fourth place in the table but are 18 points behind City.

In team news Man City have no fresh injury concerns as Vincent Kompany could return after missing out at Swansea City in midweek, but John Stones remains out injured.

Tottenham will be missing Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld through injury, while Davinson Sanchez serves the final game of his three-match ban.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on Man City going the entire season unbeaten: “It is not going to happen. We are going to lose games, it belongs to Arsene Wenger. Now what happens is an exception, it’s not normal what we’ve done. We’ll try to maintain it but we are going to lose games. It is important is to play better, that’s important. Records are OK but they stay there and one day they will be broken. We focus on the pitch and try to be better, make chances, concede few. I’m happy with the way we play – although I feel we can do much, much better.”

Pochettino on Man City’s incredible run: “They [Manchester City] are showing that they are not only the best in England but in Europe too with the Champions League. They are playing so well and deserve all the praise. It will be so tough. I think Manchester City deserve all the credit with what they are doing.”

Prediction

Spurs will prove a tough test for a rampant Man City squad and I expect Dele Alli and Harry Kane to cause plenty of problems for a threadbare City defense. 2-2.