Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs Newcastle

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  • Newcastle haven’t won in their last 18 league visits to Anfield, a run back to 1994
  • Luis Suarez needs one goal to set the new Premier League single-season player scoring record of 31
  • Liverpool require a win and Manchester City loss to win the Premier League title

Two weeks ago, Liverpool were on top of the world.  Now, it may just slip entirely out of their hands.

Despite what happens with the 2014 title race, the Reds will have completed an unbelievable season when the final whistle blows at Anfield, the final whistle after their 10:00am ET kick against Newcastle, live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

However, Brendan Rodgers will still keep his sights set on the championship trophy when Liverpool take on Newcastle in their season finale.  A win and a Manchester City loss would give the Reds the ultimate prize, no matter how unlikely.

Newcastle dispatched relegated Cardiff City last week, but have six straight prior to that.  It will be an interesting fixture for Liverpool, as Newcastle have more to play for than may meet the eye.

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With Liverpool’s minds possibly preoccupied with the result at the Etihad, the Magpies could be playing for their manager’s future. The ugly finish to the season could doom Alan Pardew, and having been the manager at Newcastle for four seasons now (an eternity in the top flight these days), the players could look to save his job.

The Reds will have some reinforcements returning to their ranks for the final performance. Jordan Henderson will return from a three-match absence due to suspension, and Philippe Coutinho should be fit after coming off the bench in the draw with Crystal Palace last week.

What they’re saying:

Rodgers on Liverpool’s title chances: “The expectancy is – without being disrespectful to West Ham – that Manchester City will win…We can only take care of ourselves and if we do our job I’ll be happy. We need to win our game and then see where we finish up. We have a 5% chance of winning the league on Sunday. That’s the same chance the statistics guys will tell you we had at the beginning of the season. We are somewhere no-one expected us to be. It’s been a huge success for us – an incredible season. We are getting ready to finish the season well and to celebrate putting Liverpool back on the world footballing map.”

Pardew on his job this season: “I haven’t been good enough and the results have followed. I obviously let myself down on the touchline for sure so that’s an area I have looked to improve and I think I have made some strides with that. I think I’ve made some calls this year where I could have been a bit more positive tactically.”

Prediction:

It’s possible Liverpool have already been dealt a deathblow, and they come out flat against Newcastle. But with the Magpies struggling mightily, it will be hard for them to overcome a quality team that simply stumbled – as all teams have this year – at simply the wrong time.  There’s a slight possibility they can still come up with a miracle, but whatever happens Rodgers will have them primed to give the home fans a fantastic send off at Anfield.  Liverpool will win a cool 2-0 and Luis Suarez will take home the Premier League scoring record – by two, with a brace. How’s that for a bold prediction? Ok, I guess it’s not that bold.

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

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The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.

Luis Enrique leaves with feeling of mission accomplished

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique leaves Barcelona with no regrets and the feeling of mission accomplished.

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The coach capped his three-year stint with the Catalan club by winning the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

Now it’s time to enjoy some much-needed time off after three “intense” seasons, and let the club move on under fresh leadership.

“There is no sadness at all, just happiness,” Luis Enrique said. “I’m the one who decided to stop, and I think that it was a wonderful decision for me, for the players and for the team as well. The intensity of this profession demands maximum dedication every single day and there is a natural wear out.”

He said players always need new challenges and will benefit from a change in leadership, and the club will certainly keep winning despite his departure.

After missing out on the league this season, the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s second title of the campaign to go along with the Spanish Super Cup, but Luis Enrique has won nearly everything since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014. The former midfielder led Barcelona to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015. He also managed the league-Copa double in 2016, and also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2015.

He said he was “proud” to have helped Barcelona fans celebrate so many accomplishments during his time at the helm.

“If someone had told me when I arrived that I would have the opportunity to help my team win nine titles out of 13 that we played, I’d say that these would be good numbers,” he said. “It would have been nice to have won La Liga and contended for the Champions League title this season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that the fans recognized the effort and the sacrifice of all the players throughout the season. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.”

Luis Enrique said he was also lucky to have had the chance to coach a player like Lionel Messi.

“He is extraordinary, extraterrestrial,” Luis Enrique said about the Argentina forward, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Messi at his best, performing at the highest level. He is the very best, without a doubt.”

Neymar and Paco Alcacer also scored at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to help Barcelona win its third straight Copa del Rey title, and 29th all-time.

Luis Enrique celebrated with his seven-year-old daughter by his side, waving his winner’s trophy and singing the club’s anthem in front of the Barcelona fans who traveled to Madrid.

Barcelona is expected to announce this week that its new coach will be Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao a few days ago.

Luis Enrique’s future remains up in the air.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, really. I’m open to every possibility, including changing sports,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said, with a smile on his face. “I do know that I’m very competitive and it’s been like this since I was born. Right now I’m looking forward to the opportunity of enjoying my friends and my family.”

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Report: Reus could miss six months after sustaining knee damage

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Marco Reus missed much of the 2016/17 season with injuries, and the Borussia Dortmund attacker had that unfortunate spell continue on Saturday.

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The 27-year-old exited the club’s DFB Pokal final win against Eintracht Frankfurt at halftime after suffering a knee injury.

According to German outlet Bild, Reus will miss at least six months as he rehabs and prepares to make a comeback.

Despite the bad news for Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel’s men captured the title behind goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.