Britain Soccer Premier League

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Arsenal

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  • Liverpool have only won once in their last 13 PL games against Arsenal
  • Arsenal have tallied 26 points away from home, the joint-best in the PL
  • This fixture has produced more hat tricks (5) than any other rivalry in PL history

On Saturday at Anfield Liverpool host Arsenal (watch live at 7:45am ET on USA and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) with the home side looking to close the gap on the league leaders.

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side have only lost at home once this season and welcome the Gunners to a true fortress. But the away team are looking for a third-straight win at Anfield as Arsene Wenger’s men are in fine-form heading into this massive match.

Arsenal have 11 clean sheets this campaign and have let in just 21 goals, the second best record in the PL. But the central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have a tough task to keep Liverpool’s star duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, known as S.A.S., quiet on Saturday. The Gunners managed to do that in the corresponding fixture back in November, when Arsenal won 2-0 at the Emirates against a below-par Liverpool.

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All season Liverpool have failed to win a point against the three teams above them, and if they are serious about finishing in the top four, Rodgers’ side need to deliver against Arsenal on Saturday. The Reds also welcome Chelsea and Manchester City to Anfield in April, so they will have a big say in the title race even if Suarez and co. aren’t lifting the trophy in May.

In team news Liverpool are again missing defenders Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, while Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho and Jose Enrique are also ruled out.

Arsenal will assess Jack Wilshere before the game, while Mathieu Flamini serves the second game of his four-match ban and Mikel Arteta returns to fitness.

What they’re saying

Brendan Rodgers on the importance of Liverpool’s home support: “It makes a difference. It is genuinely like an extra man for us. That real passion of the supporters, it really has pushed us over the line a lot of times this season. Hopefully we’ve entertained the supporters, particularly at home, but in those so-called big games – the likes of Manchester United and Everton – those supporters have helped us. Hopefully that will be the case on Saturday, I’m sure it will because the support has been absolutely fantastic.”

Arsene Wenger on the threat of Luis Suarez: “The key is for us to dominate the game and leave them as few balls as possible. That will be one of our targets of course. At Liverpool the task might be a bit more difficult but the philosophy on our side has to be the same – to master the ball and to have the ball and to dominate the game. Liverpool have a strong offensive force with Sturridge, with Suarez, with Coutinho, with Sterling behind. All these players can score goals and make a difference. So what you want on our side is a strong defensive performance.”

Prediction

This is so hard to call. Having seen the power of the Anfield crowd in Liverpool’s dominant derby win over Everton last week, this could play a big factor. But Arsenal have been masters of grinding our results all season, especially on the road. And with Oxlade-Chamberlain returning to full-fitness and looking razor sharp, I think Arsenal could nick it. That said, I am going to sit on the fence and go for an entertaining draw. There will be a few goals in this one.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

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[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).