Premier League Playback: Liverpool can’t get rid of Luis Suarez hangover

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LIVERPOOL GET OUT OF JAIL, BUT THIS CAN’T CONTINUE

With Luis Suarez set to return to soccer later this week following his four month ban, how Liverpool wish he was still theirs. Suarez now belongs to Barcelona but despite the $128 million Liverpool sold the Uruguayan superstar for this summer, the hangover from his departure remains.

That was clear for everyone to see as Liverpool struggled to victory at QPR on Sunday, as they somehow left Loftus Road with all three points after four goals were scored in a frantic final eight minutes. I was at the game and took in the incredible finale as QPR deserved more and Liverpool’s fans, players and manager knew they got out of jail. Relief was the overriding emotion of those wearing red as Liverpool produced another display devoid of dynamism and fluidity.

[Related: Watch full match replays]

source:
Click to enlarge – Sterling’s heatmap vs. QPR

Speaking to reporters after the match, Rodgers admitted his side were “nowhere near what I would expect from a team of mine” and pointed to Suarez’s absence, four months on from his departure, as one of the main reasons for the Reds’ struggles early in the campaign.

“I think it’s been most of the season, to be honest,” Rodgers said. “It’s not something that’s new. It’s not rocket science. If you look over the core of the team, we scored 101 goals last year and the dynamic of the team has changed. We’ve lost over 75 percent of that. That just takes time. There’s no magic wand to make it work instantly… I’ve said it before, Luis [Suarez] is irreplaceable.”

[Related: Three things we learned in Liverpool’s pulsating win over QPR]

It’s not all doom and gloom. Liverpool ground out the win and are now in fifth spot with 13 points from their opening eight games. Hardly a disaster, but their form is nowhere near where it was last season. One player who is doing his best to turn that around and potentially replace Suarez is Raheem Sterling. The 19-year-old winger was sublime on Sunday, having a hand in all three of Liverpool’s goals after a week of turmoil following his very public admission of tiredness while on international duty with England. Steven Gerrard said Sterling will become the best player in England, while Rodgers lauded his starlet as his pace and tenacity led the Reds to victory despite a lackluster display, especially defensively.

source: Getty Images
Rodgers and Liverpool performed poorly, as life after Luis is hitting the Reds hard.

“I thought he [Sterling] was outstanding today” Rodgers beamed. “His cleverness on the first goal… I always say to the players that ‘the best players come alive when the game goes dead.’ The bright players come alive. The breakaways for the other two was just all about his speed, technique, courage to run with the ball. I thought he was excellent.”

Sterling, 19, has a lot of pressure on his shoulders right now. With Daniel Sturridge out injured for at least another three to four weeks after coming so close to returning this weekend, and Suarez one, Sterling is Liverpool’s main man with Mario Balotelli’s poor start to his Anfield career continuing. Defensively, Liverpool were bullied by Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin, especially aerially, while Gerrard started in an advanced role supporting Balotelli but was placed back in his ‘quarterback role’ in front of the back four for the second half as the Reds struggled to get any rhythm going.

[Related: Liverpool must improve, and they know it, despite late win]

Liverpool face Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday in a massive UEFA Champions League clash. If they have any chance of shocking the reigning European Champions, Sterling must shine bright. That will be the case for most of this season, as the young English winger continues to suggest there might just be life after Luis Suarez for Liverpool.

Premier League Schedule – Week 8

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 2-2 Hull City Recap and watch here
Burnley 1-3 West Ham Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea Recap and watch here
Everton 3-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Man City 4-1 Tottenham Recap and watch here
Newcastle 1-0 Leicester Recap and watch here
QPR 2-3 Liverpool Recap and watch here
Southampton 8-0 Sunderland Recap and watch here
Stoke 2-1 Swansea Recap and watch here
WBA-Man United (Mon, 3pm ET) Recap and watch here

IS AGUERO ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST?

After scoring all four of Manchester City’s goals again Tottenham on Saturday, plus missing a penalty kick, is Sergio Aguero one of the best strikers in the world?

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights]

The Argentine forward now has nine goals in eight appearances this season in the PL and became City’s all-time leading PL scored after his explosion on Saturday. Aguero now has 61 PL goals in 95 PL games for City and has the best goals per minute ratio of any player in PL history, with a goal arriving every 108 minutes he’s on the pitch.

[Related: Where does Aguero rank?]

Aguero, 26, is finally fully fit after hamstring issues last season and over the summer for Argentina during the World Cup. He is now top of the scoring charts in the PL alongside Chelsea’s Diego Costa and questions are being asked as to just how good Aguero is.

His manager Manuel Pellegrini called him “one of the top four strikers in the world” and on current form, it’s hard to argue with him. With Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and perhaps Gareth Bale ahead of him, a stellar season for Aguero would enter him into the pantheon of the games greatest attacking talents… if he isn’t in it already. His predatory instincts, ability to finish with both foot and bamboozle defenders with his low center of gravity make him one of the toughest players to mark. If Aguero can stay fit this term, he will spearhead City’s title charge.

Watch all the PL goals from Saturday, including Aguero’s four, in the video below.

8-0, yes EIGHT: SOUTHAMPTON SMASH SUNDERLAND IN RECORD WIN

Southampton eight, Sunderland nil. That scoreline sent shock waves through the global soccer community for two reasons. Number one: Southampton were very, very good. Number two: Sunderland were very, very poor.

[Related: Latest Premier League standings]

Following the stunning result at St Mary’s, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet admitted it was his “most embarrassing” moment ever in soccer. While Saints’ fans and players are dreaming of shocking everyone this season, despite Ronald Koeman saying his side “were not perfect” in his teams biggest-ever win in the PL, and their largest victory since 1921.

Dusan Tadic tore Sunderland apart with four assists, while red-hot Graziano Pelle scored another two for Saints. Here’s more on Southampton’s great start (they sit in third place with 16 points on the board) as talk of a top four finish starts to gather momentum.

Tadic addressed that, as the Serbian international winger notched his seventh assist of the season and his first PL goal of the campaign. The form of Tadic and Pelle have Koeman’s side dreaming of bettering their eighth place finish from last year.

“It feels like I’m dreaming. Southampton is the most beautiful city in England and everything is great,” Tadic said. “We have fabulous fans who are with the club 24 hours a day. It is something special to be playing for Southampton. Can we keep up our form for a long time? I hope so. Secretly each one of us hopes that we can finish in a position that leads to the Champions League, but we are all aware that it is going to be extremely hard.”

As for Sunderland… it was shambolic. Their fans made a 700-mile round trip to the South Coast to see their team get slaughtered and down tools midway through the second half. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone made two howling errors, plus Santiago Vergini scored the best own goal you will ever see as he ridiculously hammered into his own net from distance to start the romp. Mannone has issued an apology to Sunderland’s fans and said he and the players are working on reimbursing them for the cost of their ticket and travel. That’s the least they can do after shoddy defending and players simply giving up.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

On a lighter not, this rather cheeky Southampton fan became an overnight celebrity after snapping a picture next to Sunderland’s Vergini outside the stadium after the game. A picture paints a thousand words…

Premier League Star Performers – Week 8

Player Reason
1. Sergio Aguero (Man City) 4 goals, ripped Spurs apart
2. Dusan Tadic (Saints) 4 assists, 1 goal, handful
3. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 1 goal, 1 assist, savior
4. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) 1 goal, another classy display
5. Bobby Zamora (QPR) Didn’t deserve to lose, superb

QPR’S FINISHING THE ISSUE, AS REDKNAPP VENTS

“We were great today, we hit the bar twice and I think we could have been home and gone at half time. We were miles the better team,” Harry Redknapp said postgame. “We never gave up. I thought we were excellent today. You don’t always get what you deserve in life. We didn’t get what we deserved today. To get beat… it was an absolute injustice.”

Leroy Fer hit the crossbar twice in the first half. Austin and Zamora ran Liverpool’s defense ragged all afternoon, but QPR only scored when Eduardo Vargas jumped off the bench to equalize twice in a crazy finale which saw the newly-promoted side lose, once again.

[Related: Premier League schedule]

QPR should have been 3-0 up at half time as they battered Liverpool with their best performance of the season. Instead, they lost, as missed chances cost them dear and naive defending, plus two own goals, succumbed Redknapp’s men to a sixth defeat in their opening eight games.

I was present in the postgame press conference and the QPR manager was visibly agitated as reporters asked him about speculation surrounding his future as QPR boss. Lashing out and swearing at a squeaky advertisement board behind his chair on the podium wasn’t the only thing which irked Redknapp. Asked about Moroccan playmaker Adel Tarabbt’s absence from the matcday squad, here’s what Harry had to say as he exploded.

“He’s not fit to play football unfortunately. He played in a reserve game the other day and I could have run about more than he did. I can’t pick him,” Redknapp ranted. “I can’t keep protecting people, who don’t want to run about and train, and are about three stone overweight. What am I supposed to keep saying? Keep getting your 60, 70 grand a week and don’t train? What’s the game coming to? I pick people who want to try, who deserve to be at a good football club like QPR, who come in every day and want to work, train and show a good attitude. When he starts doing that, if he ever can do it, maybe he’ll get a game.”

If QPR play like they did against Liverpool, things will turn around quickly and Redknapp’s frustration will dissipate. But they have to start finishing chances or relegation beckons.

GARRY MONK BRANDISHES MOSES ‘A CHEAT’ AFTER DIVE… HAS HE GOT A POINT?

Swansea City lost 2-1 to Stoke City on Sunday and their young manager Garry Monk was not a happy man after the defeat. Not because of his teams performance, but because of the decision to hand Stoke a penalty kick just before half time after an apparent foul by Angel Rangel on Stoke’s Victor Moses. Monk was livid. Watch the video above to see his scathing attack on Moses, who he branded a “cheat” and called for him to receive a ban for diving. Monk also laid into the referee and the referees association after failing to get in touch following his previous complaints about officiating.

[Related: Premier League all-access]

Stoke’s manager Mark Hughes slammed Monk for calling Moses a cheat and suggested the young manager should hide his true feelings when standing in front of the camera. Yes, perhaps Monk’s inexperience as a manger showed on Sunday when he vented his frustration at Moses and the referee and an FA charge is surely on the way, but don’t we want honesty from managers?

As for Moses, he went down very easily under the challenge and the diving dilemma reared its ugly head once again. According to reports, Monk fines his players if he sees them diving in training and if they do it in a game he has said he won’t play them in the next match. It’s an admirable stance from the Swansea boss, but will the rest of the PL and soccer in general follow suit? It’s the only way this endless gamesmanship will be eradicated from the beautiful game. Monk’s rant may make divers thinks twice… but probably not.

USMNT UPDATE: HOWARD PREVAILS, CAMERON RETURNS

Tim Howard won the battle of the USMNT ‘keepers on Saturday. Everton hammered Aston Villa 3-0 and Howard’s U.S. teammate Brad Guzan had a day to forget.

Guzan let Romelu Lukaku’s shot squirm underneath him just after half time and looked to the sky in disbelief. Howard, for the third time in 12 months, beat his long-time number two. With Guzan now the USA’s first-choice goalkeeper during Howard’s year-long break from national team duty, he will have to redeem himself for Villa and Jurgen Klinsmann’s side in the coming months. Right now, it seems like Howard will step in as a starter next September when his sabbatical ends.

Elsewhere, USMNT man Geoff Cameron returned to action after six weeks out with a hernia injury. Cameron jumped off the bench and played a key part in the Potters’ game-winner. Playing in midfield, he intercepted the ball, nutmegged Wilfried Bony and then played the ball forward to start the move for Stoke’s winner. As for Jozy Altidore, he didn’t make the bench as Sunderland were hammered 8-0 at Southampton. His situation in the PL continues to worsen.

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

USMNT’s Sergino Dest in Spain as Barcelona, Ajax sort payment (video)

Sergino Dest to Barcelona
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USMNT fullback Sergino Dest to Barcelona is nearly official, with the 19-year-old is in Spain as Ajax and Barca are reportedly taking time to sort out the payment plan.

The $27 million Dest is one of at least eight Americans in the transfer rumor mill this week and has been at the heart of a transfer scrap between Bayern Munich and Barca.

Dest was a late sub in Saturday’s win over Vitesse and other reports claimed he had been in Spain for a few days.

[ MORE: Thiago tests positive for COVID-19 ]

It wouldn’t have hurt Barca’s odds that U.S. youth teammate Konrad de la Fuente signed a senior contract this summer after impressing for Barca from the U-16 to U-19 levels.

De la Fuente played right wing in front of Dest at right back for Tab Ramos at the 2019 U-20 World Cup, where the Yanks reached the quarterfinals.

Dest was named Ajax Young Talent of the Year last season and a member of the 2020 Golden Boy shortlist.

He was successfully wooed to stay with the U.S. program despite Ronald Koeman recruiting him to play for the Netherlands. Now Koeman will manage the back at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona visits Celta Vigo on Thursday in its second La Liga match of the season. Ansu Fati scored twice and Lionel Messi once as Barca won its league opener 4-0 over Villarreal this weekend.

Tottenham ousts Chelsea from League Cup in penalties

Tottenham - Chelsea
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Tottenham – Chelsea: It took penalties to separate Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea during Tuesday’s League Cup fourth round match in North London, and the first player to miss sealed the result for second-choice Spurs.

Chelsea’s Mason Mount missed the 10th attempt of penalties to send Frank Lampard’s Blues out of the competition.

Erik Lamela’s second-half goal forced the spot kicks after Timo Werner’s first Chelsea goal had given the Blues an early lead at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Edouard Mendy stopped Erik Lamela and Sergio Reguilon on either side of halftime, but Reguilon and Lamela teamed up to level the score in the 83rd minute.

Spurs did not have Heung-min Son due to a hamstring injury and rested several stars to start but called upon Harry Kane, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Lucas Moura off the bench. Chelsea was still without Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.


Three things we learned

1. New boys Mendy, Werner impress: There will be better teams including better Spurs teams, butEdouard Mendy was not bothered by the task at hand on Tuesday as he made his first Chelsea appearance following a long-forming $28 million move from Rennes. He made two strong saves when called upon and was confident with the ball at his feet, only causing distress with a failure to cleanly corral a 69th-minute corner kick. There wasn’t much he could do when Emerson’s mistake allowed Lamela an equalizer and penalties are penalties.

It took 11 shots for Werner to get his first proper goal in a Chelsea shirt but the opening tally of his Blues career was certainly a memorable one. Werner smashed a 19-yard shot through traffic to open the scoring in North London and it’s difficult to find fault in any part of it. Coming against a London rival is a bonus.

2. Spurs’ new signing shows Mourinho’s intent: It was clear when Spurs signed Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon that Jose Mourinho wanted more from his fullbacks and the latter was very good on debut. Serge Aurier was on the right flank of Mourinho’s 3-5-2 and spotted Reguilon for a first-half chance denied by Mendy before Reguilon’s cross led to the equalizer. This “second-choice” lineup came right out of Mourinho’s wheelhouse and delivered a fairly vintage performance. Chelsea had more of the ball but Spurs more of the shots.

3. Tempers flare between old pals (Mou still has it): Frank Lampard is turning out to be a manager who loves a touchline argument and perhaps that’s something he learned from his old boss. Lampard famously traded barbs with Jurgen Klopp last season and Mourinho was happy to take his old midfielder up on the offer on Tuesday. You can imagine it might take a lot for Lampard to be surprised by Mou but also that the latter knows which pushed buttons can activate the Englishman (A report online claimed that Lampard might’ve irked Mourinho by becoming more vocal after Chelsea took the lead). The pair did shake hands before penalties but Spurs and Chelsea were growing a nice rivalry before the North Londoners dropped off a bit last year. We’re ready for it to regain its feistiness.

Man of the Match

Werner is always running and could’ve had two or three with a bit of luck or more sharpness. He edges a bunch of players who were not with their clubs in the summer: Mendy, Reguilon, and Ndombele (Wait? What’s that you say? Ndombele has been with Tottenham for some time?).


Tottenham – Chelsea recap

Werner got hold of a seeing-eye Cesar Azpilicueta cross in the 19th minute to open the scoring, lashing home from outside the 18.

Gedson Fernandes wanted a penalty when Kurt Zouma won a tight challenge in the heart of Chelsea’s 18, but none came for the Spurs man.

Then Jose Mourinho became a psychic, as Eric Dier left with injury a day after the boss said he expected more injuries to come to Spurs due to fixture congestion.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

A silky Erik Lamela turn forced Mendy into the first big save of his Chelsea career as it stayed 1-0 to the visitors in the 35th.

Mendy then made a strong stop when Serge Aurier’s cross through the box was laced by Reguilon in the 50th.

A big tackle from N’Golo Kante allowed Mason Mount to cue up Werner, but the German’s 73rd-minute low drive was smothered by Lloris.

Mourinho comically zipped down the tunnel to check on Eric Dier after the center back ran off the pitch and into the locker room only to return.

Dier was soon busy again, blocking Mount’s bid to set up Werner alone in the 18.

Spurs sub Harry Kane nearly made it 1-1 in the 81st but missed the frame.

But it was Lamela who spent the day as Chelsea’s threat and he was in the catbird seat when Emerson bungled Reguilon’s back-post cross.


Upcomimng League Cup fourth round kickoff times and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Newport County (+560) v Newcastle (-230)  | Draw (+340)— 12:30 pm ET Weds
Burnley (+625) v Manchester City (-275) | Draw (+375) — 2 pm ET Weds
Brighton (+300) v Manchester United (-120) | Draw (+250)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Everton (-145) v West Ham (+350) | Draw (+280)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

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

WATCH: Timo Werner’s first Chelsea goal is a terrific one

Timo Werner first Chelsea goal
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Timo Werner’s 11th shot as a Chelsea player finally yielded his first goal.

The German hit a 19-yard effort past Hugo Lloris to open Tuesday’s League Cup fourth-round match at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho branded Tottenham’s 18-yard box “a special box” this weekend and Werner will certainly agree after crafting this memory.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

Werner picked up a Cesar Azpicilueta cross that found its way through a sea of players to meet him centrally outside the 18 and powered home for 1-0 in the 19th minute.

The 24-year-old has 95 goals in his time with RB Leipzig, 14 with Stuttgart, and has 12 for the German national team.

This is likely the first of a great many for Chelsea. His first assist came in Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Brighton.

UEFA Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

Champions League qualifying
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American defender Henry Wingo and manager Jesse Marsch face big weeks as the second legs of the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoffs take center stage Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wingo’s Molde drew Ferencvaros 3-3 in the first leg but those three away goals loom large as the American and his Norwegian club head to Hungary.

[ MORE: Champions League qualifying scores ]

Meanwhile, Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg come back from an early deficit in Israel to take a 2-1 advantage over Maccabi Tel-Aviv back to Austria.

Salzburg are very heavy favorites to win and advance to the Champions League group stage for another year.

Marsch has also been linked with an impending transfer for USMNT teen Brenden Aaronson, one of at least eight Americans to watch as the European transfer window reaches its conclusion next month.


How to watch the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday
Stream: CBS All-Access (subscription required)


UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.

First legs (Roundup)

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia

Tuesday

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Wednesday

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv


UCL second leg odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Ferencvaros (+108) v Molde (+215) | Draw (+230)
Dynamo Kiev (-118) v Gent (+280) | Draw (+235)
Omonia (+325) v Olympiakos (-130) | Draw (+235)
Midtjylland (+170) v Slavia Prague (+155) | Draw (+195)
PAOK (+105) v Krasnodar (+220) | Draw (+235)
Red Bull Salzburg (-834) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (+1300) | Draw (+600)

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