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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Liverpool

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Liverpool’s 2016-17 season was baffling for neutrals and agonizing for supporters; How did one of the world’s best managers and most talented attacks manage to go unbeaten against the best teams in the Premier League yet lose six matches to non-traditional powers?

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How could the Reds score three or more goals on 12 occasions but not manage a single marker over 180 minutes of the League Cup semifinals against Southampton?

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There’s pressure on Jurgen Klopp, he of the tremendous tactical and motivational reputation, to find the answers to those questions and flip the script this season.

Best, worst case scenarios –  The best scenario is pretty easy; The Reds don’t have the depth right now to compete for a quadruple or anything historically lofty, but on a match-by-match basis they can hang with any team in the Premier League or UEFA Champions League. Winning one is not out of the question, and scooping a pair of trophies from their four competitions is probably their ceiling.*

*This assumes the Reds don’t add Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita, and/or a number of other big name targets.

The worst case scenario is Klopp’s fire burns his players, whose defensive depth fails the test of a congested schedule and falls in all four pursuits and also manages to finish short of the Top Four. A season in the Europa League then hampers their 2018-19 preparations and life begins, probably with a new manager.


Best possible XI is… 

Mignolet

Milner — Matip — Lovren — Clyne

Henderson — Can

Salah — Coutinho — Mane

Firmino


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Mohamed Salah (Roma, $48 million), Dominic Solanke (Chelsea, tribunal), Andrew Robertson (Hull City, $11 million).

Transfers Out: Lucas Leiva (Lazio, $7 million), Kevin Stewart (Hull City, $5 million).

Last season:

— 4th place in Premier League
League Cup semifinalists
FA Cup fourth round loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers

Star player: Sadio ManePhilippe Coutinho is better, but as long as his future remains in even minimal doubt, let’s wax about another player. Mane arrived from Southampton with a bit of hype, probably not as much as he deserved, and totally delivered when healthy. The Senegalese 25-year-old scored 13 goals and added 8 assists in his first year at Anfield, one that stuttered thanks to the Africa Cup of Nations and was stopped early by a knee injury. His star could rise even higher this season.

Coaches’ Corner:  Jurgen Klopp — The German is claiming Liverpool can win the Premier League. In order to do that, he’ll have to overcome a penchant for losing to lesser lights in both England and his previous stint at Borussia Dortmund. The fiery players’ manager and tactician oversaw a team that the casual viewer would figure won the league based solely on performances against top sides, but falling short against lower half sides (Crystal Palace, Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea City, Hull City, Leicester City) cannot be the name of the game again this season.

PST predicts:  Depending on additions before the August transfer window closes, a prolonged European run will test the Reds defense and depth in ways last season did not. The ceiling is high for the Reds, who could win any competition or fall flat. It’s a massive year for Klopp, who needs a trophy of some sort. We predict he’ll get one via the FA or League Cup.

LIVE – Everton, AC Milan, Ajax in Europa League action

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Everton, AC Milan and Ajax, three of the bigger sides fighting for passage into the Europa League proper, find themselves 180 minutes from the group stage as the final round of qualifying kicks off on Thursday.

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Everton have Croatian side Hajduk Split at Goodison Park for the first leg (3:05 p.m. ET), while Milan host Macedonian side KF Shkendija (2:45 p.m. ET) and Ajax are home to Rosenborg of Norway (2:45 p.m. ET).

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

Thursday’s notable Europa League fixtures

Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m. ET
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET

Previewing all 10 Premier League games – Week 2 (Video)

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Week 2 of the 2017-18 Premier League season is here. Ready?

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Below you will find 10 preview videos on each of the Premier League games this weekend with team news, score predictions and more on each encounter.

Enjoy.


Chelsea v. Tottenham

Everton v. Man City 

Newcastle v. Huddersfield 

Arsenal v. Stoke City

Liverpool v. Crystal Palace

Burnley v. West Brom

Southampton v. West Ham 

Leicester City v. Brighton

Watford v. Bournemouth

Swansea City v. Man United

From Madrid, to Paris, to Las Palmas, to Stoke: Jese loaned again

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Spanish forward Jese will attempt to relaunch his stuttering career in England after leaving Paris Saint-Germain to become the latest Champions League winner at Stoke.

The 24-year-old Jese joined Stoke on a season-long loan after failing to settle at PSG following his move from Real Madrid for a reported $29 million in August 2016. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Spanish team Las Palmas.

Stoke, a team from central England that is a perennial mid-table finisher in the Premier League, has become a haven for former high-profile players or one-time prodigies whose careers have stalled.

Since 2014, forwards Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay have joined from Barcelona while ex-Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri has arrived from Inter Milan. They all have Champions League winners’ medals, as does ex-Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, who was an offseason signing from West Bromwich Albion.

Most were back-ups for their clubs in their Champions League-winning campaigns, with Jese an unused substitute for Real in its victory over Atletico Madrid in the 2016 final.

“Jese was a man in demand when PSG made it clear they would allow him to leave on loan and we’re delighted he has chosen to join us,” Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said. “He hasn’t had the happiest of periods in his career in Paris, but he’s still only a young man and is hungry to make a big impression in the Premier League.”

Jese will play out wide and is viewed as a replacement for Marko Arnautovic, who left Stoke this offseason to join West Ham. Stoke also sold Spanish striker Joselu to Newcastle for an undisclosed fee on Wednesday.

Stoke announced the arrival of Jese in a tweet that included audio clips from pundits in the British media saying the club lacked ambition and would struggle in the Premier League this season.

The team managed by Mark Hughes lost 1-0 at Everton in its opening league game of the season on Saturday.

Jese was a highly rated youngster at Real Madrid and made his La Liga debut under coach Jose Mourinho in 2012. He mostly played for Real’s reserve team and sustained a serious knee injury in March 2014, ruling him out for nine months.

He signed a five-year deal with PSG last summer but started only one league game, with another eight appearances as substitute.

Although technically skilled, Jese has not played so far this season and does not figure in coach Unai Emery’s plans — although the deal with Stoke does not include an option to buy him. At Las Palmas, Jese scored three goals in 13 games.

Jese is Stoke’s sixth signing of the summer transfer window.

First female ref set to take charge in Bundesliga

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BERLIN (AP) After a decade in Germany’s second division, Bibiana Steinhaus will make Bundesliga history this season by becoming the first woman to referee in the country’s top flight.

The 38-year-old police officer is among four referees to have been promoted by the German football federation (DFB) into the league’s elite group of 24.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

“For every referee, whether man or woman, the dream is to be able to referee in the Bundesliga. I worked very hard toward that goal and had some setbacks over the past few years, so I’m very happy about the referees’ commission’s confidence,” Steinhaus said when her promotion was announced in May. “It shows that the performance-principle also applies in the field of referees.”

The daughter of a referee, she began by officiating women’s games for the DFB in 1999. Steinhaus then became a FIFA referee in 2005 and earned her place in the second division in 2007, as the first female referee in German professional football, before securing her latest promotion.

During that time, Steinhaus has handled women’s World Cups and European Championships, along with the gold medal match between the United States and Japan at the 2012 Olympics in London. Last June, she took charge of the women’s Champions League final between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]

Of her 80 matches in Germany’s second tier, all but one went off without a hitch for Steinhaus. After sending off Kerem Demirbay in 2015, the then-Fortuna Duesseldorf midfielder reportedly told her: “Women have no place in men’s football.”

Demirbay was roundly criticized for the remark and handed a three-game ban with two further games suspended. Duesseldorf also made Demirbay referee a girls’ game to ensure he understood the message.

Demirbay apologized both publicly and to Steinhaus directly for his comment, and said he was “very happy that she accepted my apology.” The 24-year-old player is likely to meet Steinhaus again this season if she takes charge of any games involving his current club, Hoffenheim.

However, Steinhaus is already aware that she may be treated differently to other referees. During Bayern Munich’s game against Chemnitzer FC in the German Cup last Saturday, she had one of her bootlaces untied by Bayern winger Franck Ribery as he pretended to put the ball in place for a free kick.

[ MORE: Luis Suarez out for a month with knee injury ]

She laughed it off by giving Ribery a couple of playful punches in response, but it is debatable whether the France winger would have untied the bootlace if he had been dealing with a male referee.

“She laughed, that’s positive,” Ribery told broadcaster ARD afterward. “It was a joke, but you always have to respect the other.”

It wasn’t Steinhaus’ first run-in with someone from Bayern. As the fourth official during a league game in 2014, she shrugged off Pep Guardiola‘s hand from her shoulder as the then-Bayern coach got animated over a decision.