Preview: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool have won seven of the last 10 meetings (7-2-1)
  • Newcastle’s last 12 league goals have all been scored by Frenchman
  • Steven Gerrard is one away from recording 100 PL goals

On Saturday at St. James’ Park, two sides who’ve produced plenty of memorable Premier League moments over the years will lock horns as Newcastle host Liverpool. (7:30am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra)

Can another PL classic prevail? We certainly hope so.

And following Liverpool’s huge victory over Newcastle last season — the Reds 6-0 win was United’s worst home defeat since 1925 — revenge is in the air for Alan Pardew’s men.

After an up and down start to the season, the Magpies are certainly looking a lot more settled this year after struggling to avoid relegation last time out. But there’s still plenty of unrest surrounding the club, with supporters set to protest against owner Mike Ashley before the game and wave white handkerchiefs to show their displeasure at the way Newcastle is being run.

source: Reuters
S.A.S. have been a mean double act in the past few games. Can they keep it going?

But on the pitch, a 2-1 win away at Cardiff last time out has elevated the Magpies to 11th and a win against Liverpool could take them into the top five. Loic Remy has five PL goals so far this season, and the Frenchman is looking cool and composed up front to wreck havoc. However, Newcastle have only recorded one win in their last 10 league games against Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers’ side are looking fired up this season.

With Luis Suarez returning to form a marvelous forward partnership with Daniel Sturridge, the Reds finally have a duo that can tear the opposition apart in a split second. And with a solid 3-5-2 system suiting the possession-based style Rodgers prefers, Liverpool are looking comfortable and expansive this campaign. Expect an exciting clash, as always, when these two meet. There hasn’t been a goalless draw since 1974 between these two teams, and don’t expect one on Saturday.

In terms of injuries, Newcastle have a few concerns with defenders Steven Taylor and Fabio Coloccini missing out through injury, while Jonas Gutierrez is out due to family issues. For Liverpool, the trio of Joe Allen, Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho could all return and Lucas Leiva is back from a ban.

What they’re saying

Alan Pardew on Newcastle’s demoralizing 6-0 defeat to Liverpool last season: “Psychologically it’s a completely different place to where we were. We’re in a much better place now and we’ll give a better account of ourselves. It was probably my heaviest defeat as a manager. It’s a game you don’t ever want to experience but it happens sometimes in a season. You have to make sure it doesn’t happen again and try to build yourself up.”

Daniel Sturridge on his partnership with Luis Suarez: “It’s a beautiful thing to have the relationship on the field with him. We have a good understanding, have assisted each other on different occasions and it’s a great feeling. We help each other and improve each other and we also get along off the field. At the end of the day, it’s just important that we’re doing the business for the team. And we wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for everyone behind us. Victor [Moses], Jordan [Henderson] and Coutinho when he returns and everyone behind them have been fantastic.”

Prediction

After several 4-3 thrillers across the years and plenty of classic PL encounters, here’s hoping we see another at St. James’ Park on Saturday. With Liverpool looking very solid at the back and relying on Sturridge and Suarez to score the goals, this may be less of an open affair, however you never know with this fixture. Remy and Sturridge are the PL’s top two scorers, so if they’re on fire all hell will break loose. I’m going for another entertaining Liverpool win, but Newcastle will push them all the way. The Reds’ front two will be the difference, once again.

Northern Ireland manager O’Neill banned for DUI

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EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has pleaded guilty to drunk driving and been banned from the road for 16 months.

O’Neill was caught by police on the outskirts of Edinburgh at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 10 and was found to be around three times the legal drink-drive limit.

O’Neill appeared on Thursday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he received the driving ban and fine of 1,300 pounds ($1,700).

O’Neill’s solicitor, James Mulgrew, told the court “this was simply a bad error of judgment.”

Northern Ireland is still in contention for its first World Cup trip since 1986. The team plays Switzerland in a two-leg playoff next month to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Newcastle takeover bid moves closer

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Newcastle United fans are getting very, very excited.

PCP Capital Partners, led by Amanda Staveley, have signed a confidentiality agreement with the club’s owners after Mike Ashley put the club up for sale earlier this week

Ashley is said to value Newcastle at over $520 million, while Staveley is said to believe the club is worth close to $395 million, so there is plenty of negotiating still to happen but things are heading in the right direction.

In a statement on Monday Ashley said he would allow any potential buyer to pay the overall transaction fee in installments, while he also wants a buy to be completed by the end of December.

Who is Staveley?

She was seen at a Newcastle vs. Liverpool game at St James’ Park earlier this month as speculation was rife that a new owner was being lined up to buy Newcastle. That is indeed the case and Staveley, 44, is now able to look over the finances of the club exclusively.

Staveley oversaw the purchase of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United and also lined up a deal for Liverpool to be bought by Dubai International Captial which fell through in the past.

Her close links to the Middle East has seen her become one of the most prominent British businesswomen in recent years and she currently manages over $34 billion of wealth globally. Staveley and her investors are said to be interested in buying several Premier League clubs.

Ashley’s lawyer, Andrew Henderson, released a statement on Thursday stating several other parties have inquired about buying the club since the announcement came that they were up for sale.

“Since Monday, a number of additional parties have come forward which we believe to be credible. We are also continuing to engage with a number of parties with whom we had entered into negotiations prior to Monday’s announcement.”

Things are moving very quickly for Newcastle’s fans as they thought they’d never get rid of much-maligned owner Ashley who is a lifelong fan of the club and bought them in 2007.

After two relegations from the Premier League (followed by instant returns to the PL on both occasions) Ashley has been accused of failing to spend money on the playing squad and realize Newcastle’s full potential as they challenged for the Premier League title on numerous occasions during the 1990s.

With Rafael Benitez getting the most of his squad and the Magpies sitting in the top 10 of the PL as things stand, the future is looking bright for Newcastle with plenty of investment expected if this sale does go through to Staveley or those she is closely connected with.

VIDEO: Man United ooze class after consoling teenage goalkeeper

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Wednesday was a big night for Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his debut in the UEFA Champions League and in doing so he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in the competition, jumping ahead of the likes of Iker Casillas to set a new, hugely impressive, record.

Still, the night did not end well for the Belgian youngster.

[ MORE: United targeted Benfica’s goalkeeper ]

With Marcus Rashford‘s free kick floating into the box from out wide, he caught the ball but then stepped back over his own goal line… taking the ball with him.

Goal-line technology showed the ball had gone over and United were awarded the goal and won 1-0.

At the final whistle the teenager was stunned but Romelu Lukaku was one of the many United players who took time to console the distraught teenager.

Classy from Lukaku.

Even if Jose Mourinho did admit afterwards that United had targeted the teenager…

FIFA probe: Al-Khelaifi confirms his presence in Switzerland

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says he will go to Switzerland next Wednesday to answer questions from Swiss prosecutors investigating the suspected bribery of a top FIFA executive for World Cup broadcasting rights.

Criminal proceedings against Al-Khelaifi, who is also CEO of Qatar-owned BeIN Media Group, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and an unnamed businessman working in sports rights were announced by the office of Switzerland’s attorney general last week.

The case involves the award of broadcast rights for the next four World Cups from 2018 through 2030.

Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have offered advantages to Valcke – FIFA’s CEO-like secretary general from 2007 until his firing in January 2016 – for the award of media rights in certain countries for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup.

Speaking Wednesday night on Canal Plus television, after PSG’s 4-0 win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League, Al-Khelaifi confirmed his trip to Switzerland.

“I have an appointment on the 25th. I will go there to speak with them, the Swiss (authorities),” said Khelaifi, who attended Wednesday’s match in Belgium. “That’s all.”

The proceeding against Al-Khelaifi is one of the first direct links to Qatar in sweeping investigations by federal law enforcement authorities in Switzerland, the United States, and France concerning FIFA, international soccer, and the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Last week, the Paris offices of BeIN Sports were searched. Properties were searched in Greece, Italy, and Spain while Valcke was questioned in Switzerland.