Brendan Rodgers throws down the gauntlet to Chelsea and Manchester City

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Brendan Rodgers had that glint in his eye again on Sunday — that sparkle we’ve seen so many times this season when discussing Liverpool’s aspirations with reporters in post-match interviews.

It’s a look that is typically combined with carefully chosen words, no doubt rehearsed in front of the mirror the night before. On Sunday, however, the glint was accompanied by a bit more than mere quiet confidence.

The Reds flat-out embarrassed Tottenham yesterday, cruising to a 4-0 victory at Anfield. It was the second shellacking Spurs suffered at the hands of Rodgers this season, having lost 5-0 at White Hart Lane on December 15th. Those are the exact kind of results that epitomize the season for Liverpool: they score goals in buckets and are all to happy to do it against other top sides (Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United) in the league.

Rodgers’ knew this earlier in the season when he would answer questions about Liverpool’s Champions League ambitions and he knew it yesterday when he responded to inquiries of Liverpool’s title chances.

“There is no doubt they [City and Chelsea] understand this is going to be a real tough place to come,” the 41-year-old said when asked about the two most difficult matches left in Liverpool’s schedule.

“We love playing here and the support [against Spurs] was incredible – that’s as good as I’ve heard at Anfield since I’ve been here – and it’s only going to intensify,” Rodgers said keeping his poise with his eyes flashing wildly.

Then, seemingly unable to contain his excitement over the fact that if the Reds win out their remaining games the title is theirs, Rodgers dropped the hammer: “We respect Chelsea, they have a world-class manager and top players, and City are one of the new superpowers of European football, but we feel we can win any game. We have a lot of hunger and our confidence and belief is high.”

In the world of Premier League managers, the honesty and force of Rodgers’ words should not be undervalued. While Manuel Pellegrini will bore us with aloof answers spoken through bloodshot eyes and Jose Mourinho will cover up reality with mind games until the cows come home, it’s refreshing to see that Rodgers has the testicular fortitude to come correct.

Consider the gauntlet thrown.


Alexis Sanchez says he “expected better” from himself at Manchester United

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Alexis Sanchez isn’t happy with his performance so far at Manchester United.

The Chilean superstar has scored just one goal for the Red Devils in 10 appearances since joining from Arsenal, and the club has lost three of those games and has been knocked out of the Champions League by Sevilla.

Speaking with Chilean media on national team duty in Sweden, Sanchez said he expects more of himself and that he’s so far let himself down. “As I am self-demanding, I expected something better,” Sanchez said. “After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here [to join the national team].”

Chile missed out on World Cup qualification, and has friendlies with Sweden and Denmark scheduled over the next week. With so little at stake, Sanchez was poised to take time off from the national team, but says he was convinced by Manchester City goalkeeper and Chilean captain Claudio Bravo to stick it out.

“The change of club was something that was very abrupt – it was the first time I’ve changed clubs in January – but many things have happened in my life that are difficult,” Sanchez said. “I had asked permission to miss these games, but then I thought better and spoke with Claudio and told him that we should all be united.”

Once the international break is over, Manchester United resumes Premier League play against Swansea at the end of March before an April 7th derby meeting with Manchester City.

James Collins injured in West Ham friendly

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West Ham defender James Collins hobbled off the field in the 29th minute of the Hammers’ friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday, a big blow to the club’s already paper-thin back line.

With the league on an international break, West Ham agreed to play a friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge to help raise money for National League club that could be in serious financial trouble. However, it could be detrimental to the short-term future of the Hammers, who are hoping to stave off relegation, sitting just two points above the drop.

The 34-year-old defender has missed significant time this season due to injury, with an ankle injury keeping Collins out for nearly three months in 2017. West Ham has lost just four of the 12 Premier League matches Collins has appeared in this season, with three clean sheets. However, two of those have come in the club’s last three games, thrashed by a combined 7-1 scoreline between 90 minutes against Liverpool and Burnley.

The injury comes at the worst possible time, with West Ham set to play Southampton in a critical relegation matchup between teams in the in 17th and 18th in the Premier League table. The Hammers are already without defender Winston Reid who remains out for the season with a knee injury, while the club sold center-back Jose Fonte to Chinese club Dalian Yifang F.C. in late February.

West Ham was hoping to do its part to help save the London club. Former director Glyn Hopkin abruptly resigned and pulled all financial backing in early February, leaving the club fearing for its immediate future. They reportedly need $353,000 just to stay afloat the rest of the season, even with zero club debt.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.