Three things we learned from Liverpool’s pulsating win over QPR

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LONDON – QPR should have been 3-0 up at half time against Liverpool on Sunday at Loftus Road, but wasteful finishing meant the R’s were their own worst enemy in a devastating 3-2 defeat at home. They have now lost six of their opening eight games.

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Liverpool left West London with all three points after a less than inspiring performance from the Reds, but what did we learn?

Here’s three things…

Gerrard consigned to life in the holding role

Midway through the first half after Gerrard had hardly seen any of the ball in an advanced role playing underneath the ineffective Mario Balotelli, he dropped into a deeper role and drilled a rasping 30-yard ball towards Balotelli which drifted out for a goal kick amid ironic cheers from the home fans. Just before the break Gerrard received the ball inside the box and wriggled free of two challenges before side footing the ball just wide of the post. It was that kind of day for Liverpool’s captain.

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After re-inventing himself in a deep-lying role last season, the 34-year-old was asked to be the attacking hub of Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers on Sunday. Gerrard looked uncomfortable, as did Liverpool’s entire midfield, as Leroy Fer, Sandro and Karl Henry dominated. Emre Can and Jordan Henderson lost the engine room battle which Gerrard usually patrols with ease.

I understand why Gerrard was pushed forward: to try and get the best out of Mario Balotelli. But it didn’t work and by half time Rodgers swapped Gerrard and Henderson around. Gerrard no longer has the legs to drive Liverpool forward in attack and the Reds looked solid with their skipper anchoring things in midfield. From now until he retires, Gerrard belongs in the holding role. source:

Liverpool’s defense still shaky, Balotelli’s drought continues

After a bright and bold start to the game from the home side, Charlie Austin bulldozed through Liverpool’s defense in the ninth minute leaving two men in a heap before Simon Mignolet blocked his shot and the English striker steered the ball into the side-netting. It was an early warning sign for the Reds which they didn’t take any notice of. Eventually Eduardo Vargas punished Liverpool’s inability to defend aerials balls as the Reds conceded two goals late on in a pulsating clash.

At every opportunity they got, QPR clipped balls into Bobby Zamora and Austin to unnerve Martin Skretl and Dejan Lovren, It worked. Big time. How will the Reds cope with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez next Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League? Austin and Zamora ran the Reds ragged.

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Meanwhile at the other end, Mario Balotelli has now gone six Premier League games without a goal for Liverpool and he had yet another off-day leading the line. Rubbing his head after an aerial duel with Richard Dunne, slipping over in the second half after being called offside, throwing his arms in the air and tame shots from distance was all you got from ‘Super Mario’ on Sunday.

In the 61st minute, the worst moment came as Lallana went clean through and his shot was saved by Alex McCarthy. The rebound fell to Balotelli six-yards out but the Italian sidefooted the ball over the bar with no pressure on him. The jeers from QPR’s fans must have been deafening for Balotelli.His growing pains continue for the Reds.

Poor finishing from R’s the real problem

When Liverpool took the lead in the 67th minute via Richard Dunne’s own goal, there was a collective groan inside Loftus Road. The home fans knew this was coming. QPR were punished for their wasteful nature in front of goal in the 3-2 defeat. Substitute Vargas finally showed his teammates how to finish with two goals from close range. QPR deserved a point, at least, and should have scored four or five on Sunday. Their inability to finish killed them.

In the first half alone Fer hit the crossbar twice, first with a shot and then a header (he should have buried the first), plus Austin put one in the side-netting. QPR could, and probably should, have been 3-0 up at half time. The fact that they weren’t meant anxiety levels grew inside Loftus Road before the game-winning moment arrived for Liverpool deep into stoppage time as Steven Caulker turned Raheem Sterling’s cross into his own net.

Throughout the match Zamora bullied Liverpool’s backline and Fer was reminiscent of Lionel Messi. Seriously. Flick, tricks and powerful running, the Dutch midfielder had it all apart from that Midas touch in front of goal. QPR have scored just six goals this season, the second-lowest total in the PL. If they don’t become more ruthless in front of goal, relegation beckons.

Premier League injuries, 2020-21

Premier League injuries
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Premier League injuries: With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable for the opening weekend.

[ MORE: 2020-21 Premier League season previews, all 20 clubs ]

Prior to every matchweek of the 2020-21 season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (back) | OUT: Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Pablo Mari (ankle), Calum Chambers (knee)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed El Mohamady (thigh)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

QUERSTIONABLE: Ben White (ankle) | OUT: Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee), Christian Walton (ankle)

Burnley injuries

OUT: Jack Cork (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Timo Werner (thigh), Hakim Ziyech (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh), Ben Chilwell (ankle), Thiago Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Mateo Kovacic (suspension)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (thigh), Mamadou Sakho (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Christian Benteke (ankle), Gary Cahill (thigh), Jairo Riedewald (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Jean Michael Seri (undisclosed), Stefan Johansen (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin)

Leicester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Wes Morgan (thigh) | OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Xherdan Shakiri (undisclosed), Konstantinos Tsimikas (COVID-19) | OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee)

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (knee), Bernardo Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Aymeric Laporte (COVID-19), Riyad Mahrez (COVID-19)

Manchester United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (COVID-19) | OUT: Axel Tuanzebe (ankle), Phil Jones (knee)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Matty Longstaff (thigh) | OUT: Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

OUT: Lys Mousset (ankle)

Southampton injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Nathan Redmond (knock) | OUT: Stuart Armstrong (thigh)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Serge Aurier (undisclosed) | OUT: Japhet Tanganga (thigh)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

OUT: Kenneth Zohore (calf)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Jack Wilshere (ankle)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Jonny (knee)

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

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ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way.

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

League Cup fourth round draw results

League Cup draw
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Following the completion of the second round of the League Cup on Thursday, the draw for the fourth round was held prior to the third round, which is set to be played next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

[ MORE: Spurs come from behind to beat 9-man Plovdiv in UEL qualifier ]

The potential gem of the round depends upon Chelsea beating EFL Championship side Barnsley, and Tottenham Hotspur getting past EFL League Two Leyton Orient. Liverpool v Arsenal is another tasty possibility.

The draws for the third and fourth rounds of the 2020-21 League Cup are as follows…

League Cup third round draw

Lincoln City v Liverpool
Bristol City v Aston Villa
Morecambe v Newcastle United
Luton Town v Manchester United
Preston North End v Brighton
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday
Manchester City v Bournemouth
West Ham United v Hull City
Millwall v Burnley
Chelsea v Barnsley
Stoke City v Gillingham
Leicester City v Arsenal
West Brom v Brentford
Newport County v Watford
Fleetwood Town v Everton
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur

League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United

UEL roundup: AC Milan, Rangers reach next qualifying round

Europa League results
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Europa League results: AC Milan and Rangers were victorious in the second round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday, advancing to within two more wins of the group stage.

[ MORE: Spurs come from behind to beat 9-man Plovdiv in UEL qualifier ]

Shamrock Rovers 0-2 AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored early and Hakan Calhanoglu added a second-half insurance goal to secure Milan’s passage into the third qualifying round.

Up next for Milan is a home clash with Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt with a place in the playoff round, the final level of qualification to reach the group stage, on the line.

Lincoln Red Imps 0-5 Rangers

James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Alfredo Morelos (twice) and Jermain Defoe bagged goals for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers side as they cruised to a 5-0 victory over Gibraltarian side Lincoln Red Imps.

Rangers will now be away to Dutch side Willem II in the third qualifying round.

Notable Europa League results

Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (RECAP)
Kekesi 0-4 Wolfsburg
Hibernians 0-1 Fehervar
Coleraine 2-2 *Motherwell
Viking 0-2 Aberdeen
Servette 0-1 Reims
Budapest Honved 0-2 Malmo
Teuta Durres 0-4 Granada
FK Neftchi 1-3 Galatasaray