Preview: Liverpool host Tottenham in top four battle

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  • 1 win in 10 in 2017 for Liverpool
  • Tottenham unbeaten in 11 in all comps
  • Liverpool unbeaten in last 9 games v Spurs

Out-of-form Liverpool host Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) in a battle between two teams hoping to secure a top four finish.

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Over the past few years there hasn’t been much between these teams with the last three PL games all ending in draws and the high-pressing preferred by both managers somewhat canceling each other out. In terms of form, there’s nothing similar about these two teams at the moment.

Liverpool has yet to win in the Premier League in 2017, securing just one victory in their last 10 games in all competitions as they crashed out of the EFL Cup and the FA Cup to leave the focusing solely on finishing in the top four of the PL.

Jurgen Klopp has still got the backing of most of the home fans but his side have slumped from title contenders to now being 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and sitting in fifth-place. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men appear to be peaking at the right time of the season and Tottenham are in second place, nine points behind Chelsea.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

In team news Liverpool will check on center backs Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan who both missed the defeat at Hull last weekend. Adam Lallana, who is close to signing a new contract, could be a doubt after suffering an Achilles injury.

Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen is making good progress from his ankle injury but won’t feature, meaning Eric Dier could continue in central defense. Danny Rose is still out injured but is making good progress, while Erik Lamela is definitely missing for Spurs.


What they’re saying

Klopp on ambition for the rest of the season: “In my dreams we can 14 games – again, I know how that sounds but I cannot change my dreams. That’s what I’m working for.”

Pochettino on the title race: “We are not the only realistic challengers. We are next after Chelsea and it’s a fact we are a contender today. Then there are a lot of teams who are contenders. Nine points is a massive gap but it is not decisive.”

Prediction

This seems like Spurs’ time to throw down a genuine title challenge. A win at Anfield would momentarily close the gap on leaders Chelsea to six points ahead of their trip to Burnley on Sunday. This is a great chance for Tottenham to put some pressure on Antonio Conte‘s men and I think they may sit back and look to hit Liverpool on the counter. With Harry Kane and Dele Alli in top form, Spurs will grab a vital 2-1 win away from home.

Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the Year award

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) Mohamed Salah has been voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in English football in recognition of an incredible scoring return to the Premier League with Liverpool.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

The Egypt forward collected the Professional Footballers’ Association award at a ceremony in London on Sunday, two days before Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma.

It is a reunion with the Italian club he left in the offseason for 42 million euros (then $47 million). The hefty fee appeared to be a gamble for Liverpool but now represents a real bargain.

The former Chelsea player has scored 41 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool – enabling him to beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in second place to the PFA award.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was third.

[ MORE: Man City thrash Swansea in pursuit of points record ]

“It’s a big honor,” Salah said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it.”

Salah is preparing to lead Egypt into its first World Cup in 28 years and he is the first player from the North African nation to win English football’s top individual prize.

“Hopefully I’m not the last one,” he said. “I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”

Salah’s impact has been more remarkable given his underwhelming 2014-15 season at Chelsea before being offloaded by then-manager Jose Mourinho. He went on loan to Fiorentina in early 2015 and Roma in 2016, and then on a permanent basis to Roma in August 2016.

Scoring 15 goals and setting up 11 more for Roma convinced Liverpool to bring Salah back to a second spell in England.

[ MORE: Liverpool draw West Brom in final tune-up before UCL semis ]

His goal at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was his 31st in the league this season, tying the scoring record in a 38-game campaign held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer and Luis Suarez.

Suarez was the last Liverpool player to be crowned player of the year by the PFA in 2014 before moving to Barcelona.

It’s a sign of his remarkable impact that Salah secured the award with third-place Liverpool and that none of Manchester City’s newly crowned champions won the accolade.

But City winger Leroy Sane was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

The PFA women’s player award went to Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, while Lauren Hemp of Bristol City secured the young player prize.

CONCACAF cancels women’s U-17 tournament due to violence

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) CONCACAF has canceled the rest of its 2018 Women’s Under-17 Championship following violence in Managua, Nicaragua, where the tournament began Thursday.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football made the announcement Sunday. The tournament was to have determined the region’s qualifiers for the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay, which starts Nov. 13.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Wednesday according to the independent Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, though the government had acknowledged only nine dead. Dozens of shops in Managua were looted during protests and disturbances sparked by government social security reforms.

The U.S. opened Friday with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica and had been scheduled to play Bermuda on Sunday and Canada on Tuesday.

The 2 Robbies: “Wenger was the Guardiola of his day”

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss the shock news of Arsene Wenger announcing he will stand down at the end of the season and celebrate the living legend’s career, while also exploring who will take this massive job, then finish up talking about the FA Cup semifinal results.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Juventus 0-1 Napoli: Serie A title race back on… again

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This season’s scudetto race has been very much on, all but over, back on, a mere formality and now, following Sunday’s clash between first- and second-place Juventus and Napoli, on again… all inside the last four or five weeks of this roller-coaster Serie A season.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

Some will say that Juventus have regressed as the majority of their stars are now on the wrong side of 30, while others will say that a young and always-improving Napoli side has closed the gap all on their own and pulled themselves onto level footing with the six-time defending champions. The all-knowing among us will say it’s all of the above.

[ MORE: Barcelona hammer Sevilla to lift 4th straight Copa del Rey ]

For 89 minutes, Saturday’s clash at the Allianz Stadium appeared to be the final nail in Napoli’s coffin, as Maurizio Sarri’s side found themselves hopelessly blunted and unable to break through Juve’s ultra-defensive foundation (4 shots, o on target for Juve over 90 minutes). Kalidou Koulibaly’s thunderous header from Jose Callejon’s corner kick changed all of that, and drew Gli Azzurri to within a single point of Juve with four games left to play.

It’s the first time Juve have lost in league play since Nov. 19 (17 wins in 20 games) and their first league defeat at home since Oct. 14 (10 wins in 11 games, outscoring opponents by a combined 28-3). Napoli are now unbeaten in their last 30 league games away from home (24 wins), dating back to the last time they visited Juventus, Oct. 29, 2016.

Still on Juve’s remaining schedule: trips to take on fifth-place Inter Milan and third-place Roma. As for Napoli, they’ll take on eighth-, ninth- and 10th-place Sampdoria, Fiorentina and Torino, respectively, as well as 16th-place Crotone.

(Ever so slight) Advantage, Napoli?