Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea

2 Comments
  • Chelsea unbeaten vs Liverpool since 2012
  • Reds boast 64W-30D-48L in all-time series
  • Blues won fixture 2-0 last season

There have only been a dozen or so Premier League matches per team since Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip sent Demba Ba and Chelsea on their way to a win, and pushed Liverpool into second place on the table.

But it feels much longer now that the Reds have stumbled out of the gate to start this season, while the Blues have put together the fourth-best start in Premier League history. The two clubs are reunited on Saturday at Anfield (Watch live at 745am ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

[ WATCH: PL TV schedule, Week 11   |  Every PL game live online ]

Diego Costa is available for Chelsea despite not being called up for Spain due to his health, while Cesar Azpilicueta, John Mikel Obi and Loic Remy are all newly-available to Jose Mourinho, whose side is 8W-2D through 10 matches.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers rested a number of key players during Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League loss at Real Madrid, so it’s fair to expect a fiery start from the Reds. Whether they have the quality to match up with Chelsea is another story altogether (Nemanja Matic doesn’t seem to think so).

WATCH LIVE AT 745PM ET ON NBCSN AND ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Mourinho on Liverpool’s hopes for revenge – “‘They have enough motivation from this season. They don’t need to go to last season and especially not for the bad memories. If I was in their position I would go back to last season for the good memories – for the victories they had and the good things they did – but it’s up to them.”

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson on Chelsea – “I’ve been impressed with Chelsea this season. They have got some outstanding players but they are working well as a team, are defending very well and have scored some good goals. We know the quality they have got and it will be difficult. But we’ve got a lot of quality in the team as well so we’ve got to make sure we’re working as hard as possible. We know the quality will come through in the end.

Prediction

The dream of an undefeated season won’t end at Anfield, with Mourinho’s squad well-motivated by a disappointing midweek draw at Maribor and returning to full-strength. Liverpool will score, but Chelsea will net a few more. Blues, 3-1.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
1 Comment

Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).