Brendan Rodgers

EXCLUSIVE: Rodgers, Kompany preview Manchester City vs. Liverpool

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In the latest edition of Premier League Download, NBC Sports’ Premier League studio host Rebecca Lowe caught up with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (see a clip of that interview, above) to talk about the Reds’ hopes for the season and life without Luis Suarez. Also, lead announcer Arlo White also got the Man City perspective as he caught up with their captain, Vincent Kompany, ahead of the monster clash on Monday.

Below are a few snippets from the interview with both men, which you can see live in full from 12 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon on NBCSN before Liverpool travel to play Manchester City at 3 p.m.  ET. There’s also a chance to see an exclusive interview with Steven Gerrard in full during the latest episode Premier League Download.

Rodgers on Luis Suarez and how they will cope without him… 

It was a great privilege to work with Luis. He is a world class performer. I think he will be the first to tell you that when he first arrived at Liverpool, a lot of people hadn’t heard of Luis Suarez. Then, obviously he left as a world class star. Liverpool was very good for Luis, also. Time will tell [if they can cope without him] but it was time to move on. For us he was a wonderful talent but that part of our story has gone now. We have got other fantastic players. You can never replace like for like, you have to find other ways in which to do it.

Rodgers on last season’s title race coming up just short and how he dealt with it…

Over the course of the season you have to say, the best team won. Manchester City had two more points than us. There were games when we were fantastic but we only draw and other games where we showed spirit and won when we could have lost…. That’s just the job. It can be a lonely place being a manager. When you arrive as a manager at any level you have something in you that makes you a leader. Part of that leadership is the ability to go again.

Kompany on winning the title last season…

It is a dream come true. You can’t realy describe it. No money in the world, no words in the world describe or represent what this feeling is all about. As a kid you dream of lifting trophies, you dream of playing the game you love. You are happy in life. It is a weird description. It is like a wedding or the birth of a child for some people. You have to put those above or on a par. It is as intense.

Kompany on his manager, Manuel Pellergini…

He has his own philosophy, he is a very calm man and he doesn’t really let emotions come too much into play when it is about the game. The only emotions he wants to see is positive, attacking football. That’s why I keep mention the word philosophy because, at times, we could have changed the way we played. We had to be honest, it did make us vulnerable at times because we are looking to score as many goals as we can. We were sometimes playing with eight offensive-minded players, which I don’t see any team in the league doing apart from us.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.