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

Liverpool kicks off three on the road with big NBCSN test at hard-to-predict Southampton

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  • Liverpool’s last win at St. Mary’s came in 2003
  • Southampton have 1W-2D in last three at home
  • Reds are unbeaten in Premier League during 2014

Liverpool’s race for the Premier League title begins a crucial three-match stretch away from Anfield when it rolls into St. Mary’s for a goal-promising bout with Southampton on Saturday. (Watch live on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET or online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Despite the Reds great mark in 2014 — their only loss was the Cup tie against Arsenal — there’s plenty of work to be done if they want to make believers out of PL viewers. Explosive on offense with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool isn’t exactly defending well. It’s been nearly a month since the Merseyside Derby, which was its last clean sheet.

Meanwhile the Saints continue to be maddening for prognosticators, evidenced by their 3-1 loss to red-hot West Ham. Southampton sits one point behind eighth-place Newcastle despite a three-match losing skid by the Magpies, and five points behind Manchester United and Everton.

There’s no shame in their inability to maintain a hot start to the season, but it’s the manner in which they’ve failed to do it. Looking at the schedule, you can easily pick out head-scratching moments like 2-2 draws against Stoke City and Sunderland. Those missed points are looming large.

Southampton’s nabbed two of three matches against Liverpool since their promotion in 2012, one of those a 3-1 win at St. Mary’s last year. Could it happen again this weekend?

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What They’re Saying

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet: “Every single individual in the squad is very important for us. We’re happy that Dan and Johnno came back into the squad at the weekend. Lucas and Mama are working really hard to get back, with the others as well. I’m sure we’ve got the squad to get through the last games of the season.”

Saints defender Dejan Lovren: “”We are really happy with where we are right now but I think we can do much better and we have a lot of games still. We want to finish in the best position that we can so I hope it will be the sixth place, for the Europa League. That would be an amazing place for us and we can achieve it. We need to win, we need to take every point, every possible point now, for the next games but I think and I believe, like the others, so we can.”

Prediction

Liverpool won’t be caught off guard at St. Mary’s, a building that hasn’t hosted a Reds win in three successive visits (They last won 1-0 in 2003 on a goal by Emile Heskey). The goals could be plentiful in this one, and perhaps the home supporters could swing a point Southampton’s way. We’ll call it Southampton 2, Liverpool 2.

Gerrard urges Liverpool to “try and bid for Van Dijk”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.

[ MORE: Saints wallop Leicester in complete effort ]

Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.

Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.

“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”

The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.

Report: San Diego making push to become future MLS expansion site

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With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win ]

According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.

NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.

MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.

If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).

In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.

Hull’s Ryan Mason hospitalized following collision with Gary Cahill

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Ryan Mason of Hull City lies injured after the collision with Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.

[ MORE: Chelsea goes eight points clear at top of PL ]

The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Xhaka’s red card makes him most sent-off player in Europe ]

It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.

Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.

“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.

“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”

While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.

Watch: Scott Sinclair nets stunning curler in Celtic victory

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Celtic is enjoying another fine campaign in Scotland, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the play of Scott Sinclair.

[ MORE: Burkina Faso, Cameroon progress at AFCON 2017 ]

The Englishman was at it again on Sunday during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Albion Rovers when the 27-year-old curled an absolutely sublime effort into the top corner for the game’s opening goal.

The finish, Sinclair’s 13th of the season in all competitions, came after the winger picked up the ball on the left side of the Albion penalty area. Sinclair then proceeded to slot his dipping shot just under the bar and into the far post.

Celtic now moves on to the fifth round of this season’s tournament, joining the likes of Rangers and Aberdeen. In addition to the team’s success in the competition, the Bhoys have yet to lose a match in the Scottish Premier League this campaign (19 W, 1 D).