Three Good Questions: U.S. international/FC Kansas City midfielder Lauren Cheney

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Earlier this week, FC Kansas City playmaker Lauren Cheney talked to ProSoccerTalk about the Blues’ impending trip to Rochester, their Saturday match featured as ProSoccerTalk’s NWSL Game of the Week. While much of that conversation was featured in today’s profile, there were enough telling leftovers to dust off an old PST favorite: Three Good Questions.

Through one month of the NWSL season, FC Kansas City’s undefeated, with Cheney serving as the focal point of a team that’s deployed her in a somewhat new role. At UCLA and in Women’s Professional Soccer, the U.S. international was predominantly a striker, while a wealth of forward talent at the national team level has seen the versatile Cheney slowly pushed into a midfield role.

Kansas City, however, has taken advantage of Cheney’s versatility by making her into the playmaker in a 4-2-3-1 formation – playing behind Renae Cueller, in line with midfielders Sinead Farrelly and Kristie Mewis. Given the freedom to move as she sees fit in the attacking phase, Cheney’s been one of the league’s best conductors.

Here are three good questions for the U.S. international. We start by talking about the team’s performance in Tukwila, where Kansas City improved to 2-0-1 thanks to a 1-0 win over Reign FC:

1.) As a team, you had so much possession over the first 30 minutes against Seattle (last Saturday). You in particular, watching your movement, sometimes you’ll come back and show for the ball, if a marker trails you, you’ll peel off and go back upfield. How do you see your role within that attack?

I always want the ball, no matter what position I’m playing. If that’s forward or midfield, I’m always going to check back for the ball sometimes just because I like to get touches. Having a Sinead or a Kristie around me makes it so much easier because I can read off their movement. I’m able to get open more often and keep possession – just have those small touches. I think my movement has been pretty good, and I love it. I’m able to run at the back line if I want to or sometimes just pay a one-touch ball off.

2a.) When did it become apparent to you that you were going to play this role? When you got allocated, some people naturally assumed you would go back to being a number nine.

[FCKC head coach Vlatko Andonovski] did a great job of picking his team. I think the whole time his idea of me was playing a little bit behind the forward and running at players. The whole time I’ve been here in Kansas City, I’ve known this was going to be my role. He’s given us a little bit of freedom. Our ideas and our creativity – he’s given us the freedom to do that. He’s made that apparent from the beginning.

(follow-up on Andonovski, the 36-year-old Macedonian who was brought in from the Missouri Comets indoor team to serve as FCKC’s head coach)

2b.) I just met Vlatko for the first time on Saturday. He was so happy after that performance – his smile was so big. How would you describe him as a coach? What is his style like?

I like what you said there: Vladko had a big smile. You can tell Vladko’s passion for the game. His style is definitely the way that we play. He wants us to play out of the back. He doesn’t want to play long ball. He wants us to have heart and be creative.

Vlatko’s a nice, genuine person off the field, but he demands a lot of us. He wants us to be the hardest workers. He expects us to work hard. He expects us to string together passes and create things, and create opportunities. He’s not scared to let us know when it’s not good enough, but he also is very excited when it is good. He’s sure to let us know that, too.

It’s been awesome playing for Vlatko. He’s really helped our team develop to having a style. I hope that continues the rest of the season.

3.) There is this perception, and it started at the beginning of the year, that there was going to be a big two in this league – your team and Portland. Through one month of the season, there’s been little to prove otherwise. What is your perception of the overall power structure in the league?

I had heard always Portland: top of the line. We had garnered some good press, I would say, but you look at a Boston with Sydney Leroux scoring three goals, Heather O’Reilly scoring two. There are obviously teams that are going to threaten that.

It’s not until every team plays each other will we really know the drop off or who’s were. Right now, Portland’s done well, we’ve done well, but I think Boston’s done well, too. I think those gaps will continue to close the longer teams get to play together.

West Ham holds Newcastle 1-1 at St. James’ Park

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David Moyes and West Ham did what few have done this year, taking a point away from St. James’ Park following a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.

The hosts led very early through Callum Wilson but West Ham got a reply from Lucas Paqueta, whose backflip celebration was the last goal of the match but not the last chance.

WATCH NEWCASTLE vs WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Both teams missed goalmouth headers from Nayef Aguerd and Wilson, and either team could’ve come away with a win as the Magpies could not keep their energy and a midweek League Cup semifinal win over Saints while West Ham was off longer could’ve played its part.

Newcastle finishes the day fourth with 40 points, 10 back of Arsenal, while West Ham’s 19 points are one more than 18th-place Everton.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Stars of the Show

Nayef Aguerd

Anthony Gordon

Lucas Paqueta

Sven Botman

Kieran Trippier

Declan Rice


What’s next?

Newcastle goes to Bournemouth in what will be an emotional day for Eddie Howe and Callum Wilson as former Cherries. That kicks off 12:30pm ET on Feb. 11.

West Ham gets Chelsea at home on Saturday before going to Tottenham for another big London derby on Feb. 19.


Newcastle vs West Ham score: Mad start at St. James’ Park has it 1-1

Callum Wilson goal video

Lucas Paqueta goal video


How to watch Newcastle vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

The Magpies won’t have their best all-around player in influential Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, and center forward Alexander Isak will miss out following a head injury suffered against Saints. Sean Longstaff will need to shine again after scoring twice against Saints.

As for West Ham, they have three attackers out but can look to Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen to continue upturns in form.


Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Bruno Guimaraes (suspension), Alexander Isak (concussion), Javier Manquillo (undisclosed), Matt Targett (foot), Emil Krafth (knee)

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee), Maxwel Cornet (calf), Kurt Zouma (thigh), Danny Ings (knee)

Wolves fire three past Liverpool as top-four miles away from Reds

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Liverpool can’t worry about its European positioning when it’s currently getting outfinished by relegation-threatened Wolves in a 3-0 affair at the Molineux on Saturday,

It’s the third meeting since early January between the sides following a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup and a 1-0 Liverpool win in the replay, and Wolves will feel they deserved the full three points in several ways.

WATCH WOLVES vs LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

A Joel Matip own goal after six minutes was worsened by Craig Dawson’s goal on debut for Wolves in the 12th minute, and Liverpool could not break down Julen Lopetegui’s defense despite Mohamed Salah’s best efforts.

Adama Traore tortured Liverpool’s lifeless defense to set up Ruben Neves’s 71st-minute goal, and the Molineux crowd was Ole-ing every last touch of a stoppage-time possession in utterly unpredictable fashion.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

The expected goals total was kinder to Liverpool, but that and the club’s current situation count for little more than a handshake; The Reds now sit 10 points outside the top four, the 10 next to their name wild given their status under Jurgen Klopp (even considered their terrible injury list).

Wolves entered the day in the bottom three and exits it in 15th with 20 points. That’s two points clear of the bottom three but the upward trajectory is real.


Lopetegui’s Wolves feast on wounded Reds

Injuries definitely start the story of this one, a 3-0 that was much closer on the xG scoreboard but just as divided in spirit.

Jurgen Klopp’s one-time mentality monsters looked mentality defeated, especially in front of either goal, as the boss exclaimed after the game — full comments below — that the club was lined up as directed but “passive, not active.”

Wolves, meanwhile, were very active, and Klopp would’ve wondered what might’ve been when Neves lashed in the third goal by darting between a collection of lined-up Liverpool backs to snap home the end product of Adama Traore’s robust work breaking the lines and conducting a trademark dribble.

The Reds have big holes by Darwin Nunez is snakebit in front of goal and Cody Gakpo may get there. At the moment, Liverpool’s entire attack seems to be, “Let’s hope Mo Salah cooks today.”

The Egyptian has been fine this year but nowhere near an even average day on Saturday. Thiago Alcantara was one of only a few to really show up in a loss that leaves the Reds fodder for Europa League qualification and not much else. Maybe the UCL route can open up for them.


Stars of the Show

Ruben Neves

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Matheus Nunes

Thiago Alcantara

Max Kilman

Wolves vs Liverpool
fotmob.com

Jurgen Klopp reaction: ‘I have no words for it’ (231 words later)

“Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable. When you see the whole game, throughout the game in moments we played an outstanding game without scoring and a good away game without scoring, the third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half. The other two goals, going into a game with all the things we said during the week and before the game then this is the start is horrible,” Klopp told BBC Match of the Day.

“You do yourself no favors in these moments, giving easy balls away. We were passive in the two goals, everything we wanted to do was be compact and active but we were compact and passive. I can’t explain it, I think why would you do that? But they did it anyway.

“The leadership [defensively] is missing but this is not my first explanation, I really think in the specific situation we could have and should have done better. We have to do better in these moments by not coming to this situation in the game so not chasing the game. We didn’t finish things off properly, we missed the last pass, the intensity we played at times was good but we have put ourselves in a really average position for the two goals.

“We better change it. That’s true, 100%. I have no words for it really, I’m sorry.”


What’s next?

Wolves will feel they can enter a purple patch with a trip to Southampton and a visit from Bournemouth on the next two Saturdays.

Liverpool has to snap to life quick: There’s a Merseyside derby at home to Everton, then Newcastle away followed by the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 vs Real Madrid.


How to watch Wolves vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock


Liverpool own goal video: Wolves 1-0 Liverpool

Craig Dawson goal video: Debutant makes it 2-0 to Wolves with rare goal

Ruben Neves goal video: Adama Traore turns on style as Liverpool goes to sleep


Key storylines & star players

Winning games is about scoring goals and only two Wolves players have more than one. Daniel Podence has collected five, while Ruben Neves has four. Even more surprising, Wolves are still waiting on a goal from Raul Jimenez, Diego Costa, or injured Pedro Neto. Perhaps Matheus Cunha or Pablo Sarabia will chip in soon.

Liverpool has one win from its last three Premier League outings, but there’s a heaping helping of bad luck to their struggles. The Reds have 24 goals from open play and 20 allowed in that same situation. Their expected goals in those spots is 34.6 – 24. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez have been especially unlucky despite combining for 12 goals and six assists on the season.


Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pedro Neto (ankle), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Boubacar Traore (undisclosed), Chiquinho (knee)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Virgil van Dijk (thigh), Roberto Firmino (calf), Ibrahima Konate (hamstring), Luis Diaz (knee), Diogo Jota (thigh), Arthur Melo (thigh)

Tottenham vs Manchester City: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City can gut the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a win over Tottenham in north London on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager. Now level on games played for just over 24 hours, Manchester City (45 points) are once again within striking distance, but Tottenham (36 points – 5th place) have given them fits in recent seasons, when few others could.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham vs Manchester City

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Richarlison (adductor)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Phil Foden (foot)

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Kaoru Mitoma delivers (again) as Brighton breaks Bournemouth

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Kaoru Mitoma’s superstar turn has Brighton looking to the sky as the limit following a 1-0 win over stubborn Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Brighton held more than 70 percent possession and rifled off 20 shots but only one, Mitoma’s 87th-minute header of a Jeremy Sarmiento cross, beat Cherries’ goalkeeper Norberto Neto.

WATCH BRIGHTON vs BOURNEMOUTH FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Mitoma has four goal and an assist in six appearances all competitions since Dec. 31 and four of those games are Brighton wins. The Seagulls are back into sixth place, two points off fifth-place Spurs with a match-in-hand, and give points behind Newcastle before the Magpies meet West Ham.

Bournemouth sits 19th, a point off safety and two points above 20th-place Saints.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Bournemouth shows hope but Brighton keeps class

Kaoru Mitoma certainly looks to be comfortable in the Premier League, and who needs a 20-yard banger or intra-box juggle-and fire every week? This time Mitoma turned up with a late header for his show-stopper.

It was fitting for Brighton in this match with two goalkeepers who looked locked-in for zeroes, as the Seagulls are very much a team that’s kept mojo from Graham Potter to Roberto De Zerbi and is finding new wrinkles under the latter.

But Bournemouth can and should feel renewed optimism after new owner Bill Foley sanctioned moves for some badly needed flair players.

One of those, Dango Ouattara, looks downright dangerous, while Ivorian attacker Hamed Traore and Ghanaian striker Antoine Semenyo are proper alternatives to Kieffer Moore and injured Dominic Solanke.

When the Cherries get Marcus Tavernier back, the puzzle will be much closer to their best. How many pieces remain missing is what will dictate whether Bournemouth keeps its puncher’s chance to stay up.


Stars of the Show

Kaoru Mitoma

Joel Veltman

Norberto Neto

Robert Sanchez

Jordan Zemura


What’s next?

Brighton goes to Palace at 10am ET Saturday before Fulham pays a visit to the Amex one week later.

Bournemouth hosts old friends Eddie Howe, Callum Wilson, and Newcastle United at 12:30pm ET Saturday before going to Wolves a week later.


Kaoru Mitoma goal video: Brighton breaks through


How to watch Brighton vs Bournemouth live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Alexis Mac Allister (suspension), Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (undisclosed), Levi Colwill (undisclosed), Evan Ferguson (ankle)

Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (thigh), Lewis Cook (knee), Neto (thigh), Dominic Solanke (knee), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed)

Follow @AndyEdMLS