- Five minutes into the match and Jermaine Jones was already in hot water with the referee. Is there any doubt whatsoever that the volatile midfielder will get himself (and the team) in trouble next summer in Brazil at least once, with a bad card or a careless turnover?
- Other than a three or four minute spell early where things got a little, uh, “loose” in the back, the back line held up OK. That’s significant since the central pairing, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron, were matched up together for the first time.
- The outside backs, Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley are dealing well with Jamaica’s speed.
- Hardly a vintage Tim Howard performance so far. He had four chances to handle the ball under pressure and didn’t do particularly well with two of them. One shot was left in a really, really bad place and a corner kick fell a little too close him.
- Alejandro Bedoya is having a stinker. Bad passes, one poor cross, an inability to read his teammates, little chemistry with right back Evans, one badly missed tackle, etc. Landon Donovan (on the left, opposite Bedoya in a 4-4-2) isn’t doing great, either, but he’s Johann Cruyff compared to Bedoya, who really needed a big game.
- No surprise here considering no Michael Bradley to orchestrate, but the U.S. midfield is somewhere between ineffective and “blek.” Bradley makes things so much easier for everyone with his positioning and ability to play people into the right spots with his passes.
- Mix Diskerud, essentially playing in the “Bradley role,” isn’t having much influence.
- Aron Johannsson is making Jurgen Klinsmann look good for giving that first start. He is finding good spots near goal – just needs to do a little better on the finishing end.
- Plus, Johannsson’s technical work on the transition (hold-up play, that is) has been excellent.
- Jozy Altidore’s passing is off. You have to wonder how the mess at Sunderland is affecting his confidence and ability to generate the kind of quick, decisive action that really makes a player.
After defeat on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal, the Reds looked to get back on track in league play at the Liberty Stadium, as Jurgen Klopp rotated the squad to Liverpool’s youngest ever. Instead, it was the home side celebrating as a young Reds lineup was second best in a 3-1 defeat to Swansea City.
Already more than likely to stay up, Swansea mathematically clinched Premier League safety with the three points, moving above West Brom and Bournemouth into 13th with 43 points.
The two teams began lively but produced little in the opening 10 minutes. The visitors got the first chance on 12 minutes, as Gylfi Sigurdsson had a sliding effort thanks to a wonderful touch from Andre Ayew at the top of the box, but it was saved by Danny Ward.
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The Liverpool defense looked clunky while Swansea maintained control, but it did its job, just keeping the hosts out as the rain came pouring down. Swansea had a break in the 20th minute, but Ayew’s shot was just blocked Dejan Lovren. However, the resulting corner provided a deserved breakthrough, as Ayew lost Daniel Sturridge and skied above Lovren to head home.
Jordan Ibe forced the first save of Lukasz Fabianski on 24 minutes, but it was back down the other end as Jack Cork nearly made it 2-0 but Danny Ward made a fantastic snap save to keep the low, powerful shot out.
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The pressure continued from the hosts as Leon Britton managed to lock down the midfield and give Liverpool hardly a sniff. Just before the half-hour mark, it was Jordi Amat‘s turn to rise above Lovren on a free-kick, but he put the header just over. Moments later there was another break for Swansea, with Jefferson Montero forcing another fine save by Ward. But on 33 minutes, Ward could do nothing about an absolutely wonderful curler from Jack Cork on 33 minutes which made it 2-0.
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Klopp looked to change things up, bringing on Christian Benteke at Lucas at halftime, and the changes worked. The Reds seemed to hold the ball much better after the break, and it paid dividends off a corner as Benteke worked himself away from Sigurdsson in the box and headed home.
It would be short-lived. Just three minutes later, with advantage placed after a foul in midfield, Montero weaved his way to the end line on the left and crossed to Ayew at the top of the box. With Sheyi Ojo and a host of other Reds unable to clear the ball effectively, Ayew poked it home past a frozen Danny Ward for a 3-1 Swansea lead.
With Swansea officially safe, Liverpool remains stuck in 7th, in danger of falling out of a European place sitting just a point above Southampton. Liverpool can still win a place in the Champions League next season by winning the Europa League, but should they fail to do that, a top 7 finish is the only way to return to European competition.
Legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel will be on hand at Old Trafford on Sunday, hoping to witness a title clinched at his old ground.
That title he’ll be rooting for isn’t for Manchester United.
With Schmeichel’s son Kasper leading the way for Leicester City this season in goal as the Foxes chase a historic result, Peter is all-in for his protégée, even at the expense of his old club.
“I live and die by the results of Man Utd, but today I want the other team to win,” Peter told BT Sport. “Blood is thicker than water.”
While Peter said his son has spent many days on the Old Trafford pitch, this will be the first time Kasper has played at his father’s old stomping grounds, having missed out on this fixture last season due to a broken foot.
Kasper said he yearned to have an influence on the game while watching his father play, and now the roles are reversed. “He’s experiencing now what I went through then,” Kasper said before the match. “The helplessness of not being able to have any influence whatsoever on the outcome of a game. It’s quite funny to hear how he’s felt during games.”
The fairytale is nearly complete. Leicester City would clinch the Premier League title with a win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, live on NBCSN at 9:00 a.m. ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Jamie Vardy is still suspended for the Foxes, but he would be on hand for the celebration should they seal the deal. His replacement remains Leonardo Ulloa, who suffered a back injury after scoring a brace against Swansea last weekend, but recovers in time to start at Old Trafford.
The side for the Foxes is unchanged from that win over Swansea, as Claudio Raneiri looks to win his first-ever league title in his managerial career.
For the hosts, the Red Devils make just one change from their win over Everton in the FA Cup semifinals last time out, with Antonio Valencia coming in for 18-year-old Tim Fosu-Mensah, who drops to the bench. Matteo Darmian is out of the lineup for the second straight match, scoring their last time out in league play against Crystal Palace but finding himself replaced on the left by Marcus Rojo.
While the story is well-documented for the visitors, this game is also a must-win for Manchester United, who need three points to stay within striking distance of the top four. Failure to garner any points would leave them in sixth, five points adrift of the top four. A win, meanwhile, jumps West Ham and brings them back within one of Manchester City.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard, Rooney, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Herrera, Mata, Schneiderlin, Memphis.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, Kanté, Drinkwater, Schlupp, Okazaki, Ulloa.
Subs: King, Albrighton, Amartey, Gray, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Schwarzer.
Barcelona’s regular league goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was injured in the 2-0 win over Real Betis on Saturday, substituted with 12 minutes to go. The club confirmed the injury on Sunday, detailing a calf injury for the Chilean, with his status for the stretch run uncertain.
Bravo, who was replaced by Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Betis match, has played nearly every match for Barcelona in La Liga this season, owning full 90’s in every match save four in late September due to injury. Ter Stegen has received the bulk of the work in cup competitions.
With two matches to go in league play, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are even on points atop the La Liga table, with Real Madrid a single point behind. Barcelona holds the tiebreaker on Atletico via head-to-head record, with a pair of wins over Diego Simeone’s squad.
It’s unclear if Bravo will miss any time, or even the rest of the season, with Barcelona claiming, “The extent of the injury will determine how long he will be out for.”
Barcelona finish out the season home against Espanyol and at Granada. They also have the Copa del Rey final to compete in against Sevilla on May 22, but the expected starter for that is ter Stegen either way.