These two managers faced off plenty in Bundesliga action, but for the first time in the English top flight, they square off with expectations at an apex as Manchester City visits Anfield on New Year’s Eve to take on Liverpool (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
From a team perspective, these two teams both need a win here to be true title challengers to the unstoppable Chelsea machine. From an individual angle, this match has more than just title aspirations on the line. For Klopp, a win against one of the Premier League’s most talented teams would prove they are worthy contenders to the title race and that the rebuild is nearly complete. For a previously embattled Guardiola, a victory over the 2nd placed team would put the early-season struggles well and truly in the rear-view mirror.
The two squads are relatively healthy, but the Reds will be without Philippe Coutinho, while Manchester City misses youngster Leroy Sane.
What they’re saying
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “The advantage is that it’s at Anfield. We must try to use this. It will be really difficult for both teams. I’m really looking forward to it. We love playing against the best.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: “I was lucky enough to play against Jurgen Klopp, we know each other well. We have to equal their intensity – Anfield will play a big role.”
This has the potential to be a fantastic match, with both teams in great form. Often when that happens, these matches tend to cage up and provide a boring product, but that hasn’t happened in this fixture in the past. We expect goals from this one, and hopefully it delivers. Liverpool’s defense is the deciding factor of this game, and unfortunately it’s hard to see them holding up against a fresh Sergio Aguero, who returns to this one after suspension. Obviously, these top matches are nearly impossible to predict, but the best bet is Aguero scores and Manchester City wins at Anfield 3-1.
Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.
Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).
Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).
While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.
Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:
The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.
“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”
Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.
Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.
Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.
As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it ispeak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:
“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.
“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”
But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:
Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.
Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.
Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.
In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).