Crystal Palace v. Liverpool: Reds can go top of the league with win

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  • Had the Premier League started on January 1st, Crystal Palace would be seventh in the table on 27 points.
  • Liverpool have scored in 17 of their 18 away league games this season, failing to score only at Arsenal.
  • Three of Liverpool’s last five Premier League defeats have been to London clubs.

Liverpool look to boost their title-hopes with a victory over Crystal Palace today at Selhurst Park (3:00pm ET on NBCSN and streaming on Live Extra).

Brendan Rodgers’ side enters the match on the heels of a devastating 2-0 home loss to Chelsea last Sunday, which ended Liverpool’s 11 match league unbeaten streak.

A victory on Monday will see Liverpool reclaim top spot in the league from Manchester City, who can then come level on Wednesday when they host Aston Villa. Such a scenario would set up a final weekend where both Liverpool and City would be on 83 points, meaning Chelsea (79 points) would be eliminated from contention.

Tony Pulis’ side enter the match 11th in the Premier League table on 43 points, assuring them another season of Premier League football. Before last week’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City, Palace was on a tear having won five straight matches. The sensational run of form earned Pulis the manager of the month award and relaxed all relegation-related tensions.

Last time these two sides met Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 3-1 on October 5th behind goals from Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard before Dwight Gayle got one back late for the Eagles. Both clubs enter the match with a clean bill of health with Sturridge poised to start after overcoming a hamstring injury and Kagisho Dikgacoi returning to health from a knock that kept him out against City.

Also of note is the possibility that Suarez could enter the Premier League record books for goals in a 38-match season. One goal will tie the mark, currently held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo, while a brace will hand the Uruguayan the record.

What They’re Saying

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis: “[Liverpool’s] forward line is exceptional, you only have to look at the two centre forwards and the number of goals they’ve scored between them to know they’ll be a threat. The two of them have formed a great partnership so it will be tough on Monday but it will great for the supporters to see top, top players like that as well.”

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: “All we can control is our remaining two matches. We need to win those and then see where it takes us. We can’t worry about anyone else, we just need to focus on our job. We will keep fighting right to the end.”

Predictions

It will be tight with Palace bringing it early and possibly even opening the scoring, but things will loosen up once Liverpool find the net and eventually open up Palace’s defense. Suarez nets a brace, gets the 38-game record and the Reds win by a two to three goal margin.

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

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La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.