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.

Champions League score picks – Week 2

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The UEFA Champions League group stage kicks off Week 2 on Tuesday, so let’s have some fun and try to predict the scores.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Feel free to join in down in the comments section, as I’m predicting another unbeaten week for all five Premier League teams in action.

[ MORE: Group stage predictions ] 

Below you will find score predictions for all 16 UCL games across the next two days.


Tuesday

Group E
Sevilla 3-1 Maribor
Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool

Group F
Man City 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli 3-1 Feyenoord

Group G
Besiktas 0-2 RB Leipzig
Monaco 2-1 FC Porto

Group H
Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid
APOEL 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday

Group A
CSKA Moscow 1-2 Manchester United
Basel 0-2 Benfica

Group B
Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Bayern Munich
Anderlecht 2-1 Celtic

Group C
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Chelsea
Qarabag 1-3 Roma

Group D
Sporting Lisbon 1-3 Barcelona
Juventus 2-1 Olympiacos

Court hearing opens into spectators attacking referees

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Witnesses in Uruguay’s capital testified before a judge on Monday about an attack on two referees by spectators at a soccer match.

A male and a female referee were attacked on Saturday during a second division under-19 game between Basanez and Platense.

The next day, the Uruguay Football Association cancelled all organized football as referees protested the violence by refusing to officiate. Officials are expected to meet on Wednesday to decide if they will lift the stoppage.

Witnesses told Judge Julia Staricco it started after a kid threw rocks on the field with encouragement from his father. The female referee’s partner asked the kid to stop, leading to an argument with other spectators who punched and kicked the referees.

An attorney representing the country’s referees union, Fernando de Los Santos, says the officials suffered bruises to their bodies.

“There are several people responsible here: The players, especially who are all young in the under-19 category; their parents, and their families,” de Los Santos said.

“This is not new. We’ve seen this kind of violence in the lower divisions. But this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Basanez and Platense clubs have issued statements condemning the violence. Basanez also said it fired one of its players who was part of the attack.

The case is being handled by the same local judge who recently charged three people for violent acts during the Penarol-Nacional derby.

Morata has a warning for Chelsea’s Premier League rivals

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Alvaro Morata believes his fast start to life in the Premier League at Chelsea is only a taster of what is to come.

[ MORE: Who is the PL’s most complete striker? ]

After scoring a hat trick at Stoke City on Saturday in Chelsea’s 4-0 win, Morata spoke to reporters about the chances he missed and admitted he could have had five goals to his name.

The Spanish striker, 24, is clearly not content with simply replacing Diego Costa at Chelsea.

“I am happy with my start in the Premier League but I can do better,” Morata said. “I had two chances at the end of the game against Stoke [but didn’t take them]. I also need to improve my physical condition to be as good as possible.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Can do better. Six goals in your first six Premier League games is a pretty decent return, Alvaro.

Still, you can see what he’s saying. Morata has looked good in fits and starts so far this season but his undeniable quality is there for all to see. He scored three goals and added two assists with his head before Saturday’s breakout where he proved he can also score with his feet.

Morata struggled against Arsenal 10 days ago as he seemed isolated up top and the physicality of the Premier League seems to still surprise him at times.

It is still early days for the Spanish international who joined for $77.8 million (which could rise to $93.9 million) but the way in which he accelerated past Stoke’s defense on his first and second goals, then finished coolly reminded us all that of his schooling at Real Madrid and Juventus.

Morata is now undeniably a contender for the Golden Boot and looks like a more refined, agile replacement for Costa. His quickness of thought and elegance has replaced the brute force and desire of Costa and it seems like it will work out just fine.

Jose Mourinho on Man United’s midfield injury crisis

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Jose Mourinho has been speaking in Moscow ahead of Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

[ MORE: UCL team news for PL clubs ]

The Man United boss has had a positive start to the new season with seven wins from nine games in all competitions as his side are second in the Premier League table only on goal difference.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

That said, injuries are mounting up for the Red Devils, particularly in central midfield as Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick are all missing for United’s trip to CSKA.

“We don’t have Fellaini. We don’t have Pogba. We don’t have Carrick. All three midfield players that we lose for this match. The solutions are not many,” Mourinho said. “We are trying not to focus on individual battles in specific areas on the pitch. We are going to have a team with quality and balance to try to win the match. That’s our objective.”

What are Mourinho’s solutions to plug these gaps?

Ander Herrera will likely start in central midfield alongside Nemanja Matic which should be enough but given the extent of the injuries to both Pogba and Fellaini they will also have to play against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Fellaini was injured by Southampton’s Shane Long on Saturday and Mourinho confirmed the Belgian midfielder would not play again before the international break.

“Fellaini was lucky. It could be a much worse situation but in a moment where we don’t have Pogba and Carrick he becomes even more important than he always is. I expect Fellaini not to be out for a long time,” Mourinho added.

As for Mourinho, he was asked about the decision by the English Football Association to take no further action after he was sent to the stands late on in United’s 1-0 victory at Southampton on Saturday.

“If I am not punished it is because there are no reasons for the sending off,” Mourinho said. “I am happy that it is recognized and I can do my work normally against Crystal Palace. That’s enough for me.”