Three things we learned after Liverpool’s latest defeat, this time vs. Basel

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Liverpool are now without a win in four games and all is not well at Anfield.

[RELATED: Arsenal win, Real Madrid survive]

In their opening two Champions League games they’ve now struggled against two teams who many thought they’d breeze past. Yeah, not so much.

After failing to create any clear-cut chances against FC Basel in their 1-0 defeat in Switzerland on Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers slammed his team for basic defensive errors which continue to exemplify their offensive ineptitude.

[RELATED: Champions League standings]

Some fans are already hurling abuse at Rodgers following four defeats from their opening season games of the season, as life after Luis Suarez isn’t going well. Here’s three things we learned from their latest defeat.

Brendan Rodgers is blaming the defense

Following the defeat to Basel, Rodgers slammed Liverpool’s defense as their inability to defend set pieces continues to cost them points. In the 52nd minute a corner was swung in from the right which Martin Skrtel somehow headed towards his own goal instead of away. Simon Mignolet saved well but the rebound was prodded home by Marco Streller for the game-winner. Against Aston Villa in September, Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a very similar goal in another 1-0 defeat for the Reds.

[RELATED: Latest Champions League news]

New center back Dejan Lovren, who arrived from Southampton for a whopping $40 million this summer, had another shaky evening and the same mistakes which saw Liverpool concede so many goals during the 2013-14 season keep cropping up. The difference last season was that they had so many threats going forward with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge scoring goals for fun that it cancelled out their poor defending. They didn’t have that offensive threat in Basel on Wednesday and haven’t had it over the past few weeks with Sturridge injured and Suarez sold to Barcelona. Here is Rodgers’ assessment on the latest defeat.

“We didn’t start great and were not technically good early on but when we started to combine and create chances I thought we did enough to take something from the game,” Rodgers said. “But we defended badly from the corner and it is not for the first time. It is something that we continue to talk about in training but you need to deal with it on the field. You have to win your first contact and if you don’t do that then you can be punished. Mario Balotelli worked hard but needs to do more. He will be judged on what he creates and what he scored and he didn’t do that, but he is trying hard.”

Mario Balotelli’s barren spell is worrying

Rodgers touched on it there, you can’t fault Balotelli’s effort but it just hasn’t happened for him so far in a Liverpool shirt. Skewing a shot horrible wrong in the second half, Balotelli looked to the heavens and would have been okay with the ground swallowing him up there and then. Right now, he looks devoid of confidence and that edge to his game which we saw explode negatively at Manchester City in the past is missing.

[RELATED: Champions League schedule]

With Balotelli keen to convert to a team-first ethos at Anfield when that hasn’t always been the case in the past, are we seeing his individuality and unpredictability seeping away from his game? So far, one goal in seven outings in the red of Liverpool certainly suggests so. So does the image below, as Balotelli didn’t have a single touch in Basel’s penalty box in the first 45 minutes and looked completely isolated up top for most of the game.

Daniel Sturridge can’t return soon enough

Going off that last point, Balotelli needs a partner in crime and Daniel Sturridge’s thigh injury has come at a really bad time for Liverpool. Sturridge scored the winner in the opening game of the season against Saints and was crucial as Liverpool beat Spurs 3-1 away before the last international break. However, his injury when on England duty has gone hand-in-hand with Liverpool’s poor run of form as new attackers such as Balotelli, Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert have one goal between them. Sturridge’s dynamism has been badly missed and his absence over the past three weeks has further reinforced how important his is to Liverpool’s success this season.

With Luis Suarez gone, many were hoping Sturridge could kick on and score more than the 21 PL goals he bagged last term to help a more defensive Liverpool side edge games. As they continue to concede goals cheaply, they now need Sturridge on hand to score at the other end. Good news: the 25-year-old is set to return on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion.

Leeds – Fulham: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Leeds – Fulham: A battle between two Premier League new boys on Saturday (Watch live at 10am ET, online via Peacock) is the first top-flight game at Elland Road for over 16 years.

LEEDS – FULHAM STREAM LIVE

Marcelo Bielsa and Scott Parker both delivered promotion from the Championship last season and both were expected to, even though Bielsa is the revered master of coaching and Parker is only in his second full season as a head coach. These new boys have very different styles of play but ultimately they are both much better going forward than they are at the back.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Leeds – Fulham this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Fulham – Leeds (INJURY REPORT)

Leeds could welcome back captain and center back Liam Cooper who is pushing back from injury, while Adam Forshaw will not be available.

Fulham could have a host of new players back ready, as Alphonse Areola, Kenny Tete, Mario Lemina and Antonee Robinson all made their Fulham debuts in the League Cup in midweek.


What they’re saying

Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds’ start to life back in the Premier League: “Every game is a new story. We will try to correct all the things we did badly against Liverpool and we will try to maintain all the good things. A positive performance always gives a certain amount of optimism and a defeat generates sadness. This week the two of those things combined. The season is very new and the adaptation of the new players is going to take a while, which is the same for everybody.”

Scott Parker on facing Leeds and if it will give him a better idea of where they’re at compared to playing v. Arsenal: “Yeah, definitely, [but] saying that, we want to be competitive in those games [too]. Every game we go into we want to be competitive and get something out of the game. Of course, this weekend we go to another promoted team, a team that won the division last year, very handsomely, who have spent a lot of money to improve the team even more. The challenge for us is we want to go in and try and get a result in this game, like we will do every game this year, so we’ll try and do that and plan accordingly to get a result.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Leeds (-160) are the heavy favorites but Fulham (+450) are worth a pop at these huge odds. The draw (+290) is intriguing as the bookies were obviously impressed by Leeds’ opening day display at Liverpool, but were they too impressed?

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

I’m going to go for a draw here. I know people are well on board the Leeds bandwagon, and rightly so, but I still think there’s a lot for them to improve on before they start pushing for a top 10 finish in the Premier League. Fulham were a bit unlucky with the first two goals in their opening day loss to Arsenal and if Aleksandar Mitrovic is fit to play, he will have plenty of joy up top. 2-2.


How to watch Leeds – Fulham stream and start time

Kickoff: 10 am ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Transfer news: Jota to Liverpool; Yedlin to Besiktas

Jota to Liverpool
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The transfer news just keeps on coming a Diogo Jota to Liverpool and DeAndre Yedlin to Besiktas are just a few of the deals developing.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Let’s start in the north west of England.

Jota to Liverpool close?

Diogo Jota to Liverpool is moving fast, with a report from Sky Sport in Italy stating that talks are ongoing between the clubs and Jota’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is ironing out the details. It is claimed that Portuguese international Jota is close to agreeing a four-year contract at Liverpool.

A separate report from The Athletic states that Liverpool will pay Wolves over $45 million for Jota, 23, who has been incredibly consistent over the last two seasons in the Premier League.

This could be the extra winger Liverpool were looking for as they’ve been linked with Ismaila Sarr and are clearly looking for extra options to try and ease the burden on Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Why would Wolves let Jota leave? They have just signed Portuguese whizkid Fabio Silva and Nuno Espirito Santo did rotate Jota in and out of his lineup last season, as Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore were the main men in attack and the likes of Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence picked up regular minutes as the season progressed.

Jota has scored 44 goals in 116 appearances for Wolves as he joined them initially on loan from Atletico Madrid when they were in the Championship and was a key part of them getting promoted to the Premier League and then qualifying for the Europa League and sealing back-to-back seventh place finishes.

This signing, off the back of signing Thiago Alcantara, would be another big boost for Liverpool and could mean the likes of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri or Takumi Minamino may be looking at loan moves away from Anfield this season.

USMNT right back Yedlin to leave Newcastle?

DeAndre Yedlin, 27, is said to be close to joining Turkish giants Besiktas on a free transfer.

Yedlin has one year left on his current contract at Newcastle United but became a squad player last season under Steve Bruce. It appears that will be the case once again this season and the USMNT defender is apparently heading to Turkey where he will link up with fellow U.S. international Tyler Boyd.

This would be a good move for Yedlin, who are currently in Europa League qualifying. The speedy right back has always been a threat out wide but his defending has sometimes been a little suspect, especially at the Premier League level.

A fresh start in Turkey would be interesting and with as host of MLS clubs said to be interested in the former Seattle Sounders star, maybe he will head home in a few years’ time?

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Week 2

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League Week 2 have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right and there is plenty of cash to be made up there.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League 2020-21 season is here and the EPL betting odds all over the place with new signings galore, some teams having more of a preseason than others and injuries already having an impact early in the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games during Week 2 of the new season, as Manchester City and Manchester United both begin their season after being given an extended break over the summer following their European exploits.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below, plus the betting odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham – (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 2-0 West Brom – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Newcastle 2-1 Brighton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Leicester 2-1 Burnley – (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Wolves 2-3 Man City – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Leeds United 2-2 Fulham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Chelsea 3-3 Liverpool – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 2-1 Sheffield United – (Monday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


ODDS – full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet

Saturday, September 19: (-195) Everton v. West Brom (+540), Tie: +320
Saturday, September 19: (-160) Leeds v. Fulham (+450), Tie: +290
Saturday, September 19: (-325) Man United v. Crystal Palace (+850), Tie: +440
Saturday, September 19: (-195) Arsenal v. West Ham (+500), Tie: +340
Sunday, September 20: (+215) Southampton v. Tottenham (+130), Tie: +235
Sunday, September 20: (+160) Newcastle v. Brighton (+185), Tie: +210
Sunday, September 20: (+220) Chelsea v. Liverpool (+110), Tie: +270
Sunday, September 20: (-165) Leicester v. Burnley (+460), Tie: +290
Monday, September 21: (+170) Aston Villa v. Sheffield United (+170), Tie: +215
Monday, September 21: (+520) Wolves v. Man City (-195), Tie: +325

Thiago to Liverpool confirmed: How big of a deal is this?

Thiago to Liverpool
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Thiago to Liverpool has finally been confirmed as the worst kept secret in the transfer world has reached its end game with a transfer deal which could rise to $36 million reached.

What does Thiago Alcantara signing for Liverpool actually mean though?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

First up, Liverpool have themselves a ‘baller with a capital B who was influential in Bayern winning the treble and sealing the UEFA Champions League trophy in the 2019-20 season.

Thiago, 29, has been instrumental at Bayern Munich and is the deep-lying playmaker Liverpool didn’t have. Speaking about his arrival at Anfield, his excitement is clear and so is one other thing: he’s a born winner.

“I think it’s an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here,” Thiago said. “When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible. It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.”

Thiago is exactly the type of signing Liverpool needed to make to back up their hopes of being back-to-back Premier League champions. That sound you can hear is Pep Guardiola’s heart breaking, as the current Manchester City boss brought Thiago from Barcelona to Bayern Munich in 2013 and knows how key of a cog he can be in this well-oiled Liverpool machine.

The Spanish international is exactly the type of player the reigning Premier League champions needed to reach the next level. He gives them that Plan B they haven’t previously had. If Thiago had played for Liverpool against Atletico Madrid in the 2019-20 season, they would not have lost that game. He would have slowed things down, picked passes to rip apart Atleti’s watertight midfield and defense.

His skills are special and will complement the hard-working players Liverpool primarily have in their midfield. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum were a formidable trio but the latter may now leave for Barcelona and both Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have struggled with injuries. Thiago gives this Liverpool midfield a new dimension and his arrival likely means Fabinho and Henderson will line up alongside him in a three-man central midfield.

He will have to settle in, though, and playing in England and for Klopp’s Liverpool is very different to what he was used to at Bayern Munich. That said, he oozes class and will be given the license to dictate the tempo of Liverpool’s play and sit in alongside Fabinho and spray passes and snap into tackles. In many ways, just like at Bayern, his role will be to allow the full backs to attack. His presence will allow Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to bomb on just as Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich did at Bayern.

Simply put, he allows Liverpool to play a different way in comparison to their full-throttle, high-press style which isn’t always possible when teams sit back and defend deep. Now they have Thiago, Liverpool can do it all. If you sit back, Thiago can thread a ball through the eye of a needle to open up defenses. If you push up, one ball over the top will see Salah and Mane set free.

The son of a former World Cup winner with Brazil (Mazinho) who was born in Italy to Brazilian parents and made his name in Spain, Thiago Alcantara is a high quality player, professional and human. This signing is a big statement by Liverpool and for many, including myself, it means they are now the favorites to win the Premier League title this season ahead of Manchester City.

That is how big of a deal it is.