Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Sunderland

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  • Liverpool is PL-unbeaten in 2014
  • Sunderland winless at Anfield since Oct. 1983
  • Reds have won six straight in Premier League

Sunderland’s quest for Premier League survival hits a potential huge bump in the road with a Wednesday visit to Anfield to take on Liverpool, which is hoping to pull within a point of table-topping Chelsea with a win (Watch live 4p.m. ET Wednesday on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

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The Black Cats have played just two Premier League fixtures in March thanks to extended Cup runs, and have taken one point from those matches. Today’s match marks the playing of another invaluable match-in-hand for Sunderland, with the 18th-place club having played two less matches than West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace and three points back of both.

Meanwhile, the Reds have outscored opponents 38-15 since their last Premier League loss, Dec. 29 against Chelsea, and still get to host the Blues they are chasing.

What they’re saying

Reds midfielder Jordan Henderson on playing his boyhood club: “At first it was a little bit strange because I was at Sunderland from I was young, but I’ve been at Liverpool for a few years now and I feel like it is sort of like home for me, so it doesn’t really matter who me or the team play against – I just want to win every game. I’m sure it’ll be very difficult because they’re another team fighting for their lives. They’ve got some very good players and I’m sure they’ll be right up for it coming to Anfield. We’ll need to make sure we’re right at it from the start, get the crowd with us and play with a lot of energy and tempo. High tempo is the key, I think, and I’m sure if we do that we can get the win.”

Sunderland’s Adam Johnson on springing the upset: “We know it’s going to be difficult, but we just have to go there and try to play with freedom and do our thing,” he said. We can’t just sit back and let them attack us and defend for our lives – we have to go there with a nothing-to-lose attitude. We’ve got try and put a performance on that is better that the one at Norwich but we aren’t just going there to roll over – there are teams that have gone there this season and caused them a few problems and hopefully we can do that.”

Prediction

The last times these two clubs met was the return of Luis Suarez from suspension, and he scored twice to key Liverpool to a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light. That match showed the world the beginnings of what SAS could mean, as Daniel Sturridge set up both goals. Sadly for Sunderland, there’s no reason not to expect that to continue today. There’s no replacement for desperation, but perhaps chasing glory is the closest thing to it. Give Liverpool another 3-1 win.

Report: Morata sale allows Madrid to pursue Mbappe

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For months rumors have claimed that Real Madrid had been priced out of a move for Kylian Mbappe.

Now, they may have the cash, and a way throught.

After selling Alvaro Morata to Chelsea for $75 million, the club may have the funds – and enough offsetting cashflow to appease Financial Fair Play – to make a serious play for the 18-year-old superstar. In addition, the club has almost completed the slale of Danilo to Manchester City for $35 million, and James Rodriguez to Bayern Munich, although they see little return from that immediately, as the deal is a two-year loan with an obligation to buy at the end.

[ MORE: Man City bid for Mendy rejected ]

According to a Goal.com report, Mbappe is now Madrid’s top transfer target, although it seems there is little chance of prying him away from Monaco this late. According to the same report, Mbappe has been advised by unnamed parties that staying at Monaco gives him the highest likelihood of making the French squad for the 2018 World Cup.

“Mbappe is very good,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “He’s a very good player and he has shown that all year, but he is not my player. I can’t say anything else.”

PSG is also reportedly in for Mbappe, but it’s understandable that Monaco would be hesitant to sell to a chief league rival.

Follow Live: Jamaica and Canada battle for semifinal spot

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Jamaica and Canada are looking ahead to a possible semifinal spot as they match up at 7:30 p.m. ET in Glendale to mark their beginning of the 2017 Gold Cup knockout round.

Both clubs make up the majority of their rosters from MLS clubs, with Cyle Larin heading the line for Canada and Andre Blake manning the backstop for Jamaica. Nonetheless, it’s Larin’s fellow attacker Alphonso Davies who’s picked up three of Canada’s five goals thus far.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Both teams are putting heavy importance on this match with each already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Jamaica has only allowed one goal all tournament, shutting out both Mexico and Curacao. The Reggae Boyz made the final last time around, but will find that same result much more difficult this time around.

LINEUPS

Jamaica: Blake, Taylor, Lowe, Lawrence, Powell, Watson, Lambert, Francis, Gordon, Mattocks, Williams.

Canada: Borjan, Vitoria, Jakovic, Davies, Petrasso, Piette, Tiebert, Arfield, Larin, De Jong, Hoilett.

US Soccer shares bite-mark photo with CONCACAF

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U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman told the Washington Post that the Federation has shared a photograph of a bite mark on the back of Omar Gonzalez with the CONCACAF disciplinary committee.

Cameras caught El Salvador defender Henry Romero bite Jozy Altidore and pinch his nipple in the scrum prior to a corner kick in the second half of the 2-0 USA victory over El Salvador. However, Gonzalez said after the match that he was also bitten, and had the mark to prove it.

According to the Washington Post report, the CONCACAF disciplinary committee approached U.S. Soccer asking for any further information they could provide on the incidents. Thus, they shared the photograph of Gonzalez’s shoulder taken immediately after the game. There was reportedly no visible bite mark on Altidore that could be shared.

CONCACAF spokesman Brent Latham refused to confirm an investigation into the incidents.

After Gonzalez’s post-match comments, a review of footage showed that there did indeed appear to be a bite in the 81st minute by El Salvador midfielder Darwin Ceren.

Neither incident was witnessed by the referee, and thus no punishment was dished out in the form of penalties or cards. Altidore admitted he “barely” kept his composure after he was assaulted, saying, “You’ve got to keep your cool because these things happen. I shouldn’t be saying these things happen, but they do.”

Altidore joked about the incident, saying his significant other was angry at him.

Report: Man City bid for Mendy rejected

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According to a report by Sky Sports, Manchester City has seen a bid for Monaco full-back Benjamin Mendy rejected, and will have to significantly increase their offer for the transfer to be completed.

The report states that Manchester City bid $58 million for the 23-year-old French international, but Monaco values Mendy at the $65 million level Man City paid for Kyle Walker, a world record for a defender.

[ MORE: Barcelona president warns PSG over Neymar move ]

Monaco is in an advantageous position in this situation, with Manchester City desperate for full-backs and Monaco not obligated to sell. Mendy’s current contract with the defending Ligue 1 champions runs through the summer of 2021.

City has already purchased Walker, but with the departure of aging full-backs Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, and Bacary Sagna, the club is almost completely devoid at the position, with just Walker and Aleksandr Kolarov on the roster.

Mendy has shown blistering pace and great crossing ability, racking up 11 assists last season across all competitions, including four in seven Champions League appearances. His tackling numbers are also surprisingly competent for such a young defender, completing just about 50% of his attempted tackles during league play last season, and sporting a 64% completion rate in Champions League play.