Brendan Rodgers slams Cesc Fabregas as Liverpool’s top four hopes all but over

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LONDON – On Sunday Liverpool’s hopes of finishing in the top four were all but ended after a battling 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

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Brendan Rodgers’ side took the game to Chelsea in the second half after a slow start which saw John Terry head Chelsea into the lead, but the Reds squandered numerous chances as Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho went close. Rodgers was pleased with his teams display but a challenge from Cesc Fabregas on Sterling in the first minute enraged the Liverpool boss, as he felt Chelsea’s Spanish midfielder should have been shown a straight-red card.

“He [Sterling] recovered exceptionally well. It was a poor challenge by Fabregas. He should have been sent off,” Rodgers said. “Out of control. Diving. Stretching. It was a poor challenge and Raheem has done well to stay on the field and play ever so well in the second half.”

[ VIDEO: Gerrard equalizes for Liverpool ]

That lunging tackle from Fabregas aside, Liverpool’s failure to win on Sunday means they now sit six points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with two games to go. Liverpool also have a inferior goal difference of 14 goals and Rodgers admitted his side are already building towards next season and getting back into the top four. Rodgers admitted it will be tough, like always, to attract the right type of players but he is looking at a summer of heavy recruitment to get Liverpool back in the race for Champions League action.

“Our lack of goals has really hurt us this season but the players have done everything, we want to finish it well but for us, it is pretty clear the areas we need to improve in,” Rodgers said. “If we can do that over the course of the summer, which will be a big summer for us, then hopefully it will set us back on the track again.”

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Gerrard did battle against Chelsea for one last time in his illustrious PL career.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard continued his superb swansong as he scored for the second-straight PL game running to grab a point for the Reds as his departure to Major League Soccer looms. The ovation he received at the Bridge was warm when he was substituted 10 minutes from the end, despite some derogatory chanting from the home fans throughout the years, and Gerrard was hailed by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho as a “dear enemy” for the Blues over the years.

“It was brilliant, he has taken a lot of stick here over the years but I think the Chelsea supporters knew deep down, it is only because he is a superstar player who has been a thorn in their side for many years. They showed a great appreciation when we took him off,” said Gerrard’s manager, Rodgers.

Gerrard also appreciated the ovation from Chelsea’s fans but also remembered plenty of times he has been lambasted by fans of the west London club after his costly slip against the Blues last season all but ended Liverpool’s title hopes, and after he turned down a move to Chelsea in 2005.

“It was a nice touch [from the Chelsea fans]. I know they’ve absolutely murdered me for years because I never signed here,” Gerrard said. “It was nice touch but I’m well aware it was only a moment. I’ve had great support from the Liverpool fans, that’s all that matters to me.”

As Gerrard’s time at Liverpool is coming to a close, Rodgers still isn’t sure how, or if, they can replace their legendary captain.

“I’ve said before, he is irreplaceable really,” Rodgers said. “One way or the other whether that is players coming in or players that are here taking a step forward. It is going to be crucial. He is a player who makes the big contributions when needed and has done for many years.”

Rodgers finished up by answering a question on what he thinks of the 2014-15 PL champions Chelsea, and then discussed where Liverpool is at as they look back at a season of struggled which will end without a top four finish.

“I’m not so worried about Chelsea. I am  more worried about my own team. Chelsea are the deserved winners and they brought in three quality players that made a difference for them this year. Simple as that,” Rodgers said. “They have been the best team consistently. For us, we have fought for everything. We sit in fifth place and that’s probably where we are at. If we are going to make the next steps we need to find some acquisitions in the summer that will help us do that but the players I’ve worked with all season have been brilliant. They have given everything and like today, we were very unfortunate.”

As for the boss of the current champions, Mourinho believes that although Liverpool finished outside of the top four this season, the Reds will be challenging for the title once again next season.

“Last season they were almost there, they finished second and this season they finish fifth. Somebody else will finish fifth next season. This is the Premier League. Last year it was Manchester United out of the top four, this season it is Liverpool and next season it will be somebody else. We have to make sure that Chelsea is not the one.”

Transfer news: Werner to Chelsea; Sanchez to Inter

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In the latest transfer news Timo Werner is reportedly being chased by Chelsea, while Alexis Sanchez could be staying at Inter Milan instead of returning to Man United.

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First up, a juicy report from Bild says that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is trying to convince his Germany teammate and close friend Timo Werner to join hm at Stamford Bridge.

Werner, 24, has dazzled at RB Leipzig this season (31 goals in 40 games in all competitions) and is widely expected to leave with Liverpool, Man United and many others clubs across Europe chasing his signature. Per the report, Chelsea have Rudiger working hard to convince his friend and former Stuttgart teammate that west London is the place for him.

The release clause on Werner’s current contract is said to be $60 million and Chelsea are one of the few clubs who have a healthy transfer budget as they had a transfer ban for a whole year and Frank Lampard has just spent $44 million on one new signing so far, bringing in Hakim Ziyech who will not arrive until later this summer.

Werner is exactly what Chelsea need. They have created so many golden goalscoring opportunities and although Tammy Abraham was putting them away at the start of the season, his form and fitness was a concern in the last few months before the suspension.

Olivier Giroud is their only other forward option and Werner would be perfect to finish off the chances this attack-minded Chelsea team create. Even better for him, he would actually play at Chelsea which may not be the case at Liverpool and Man United given their stacked attacking lineups.

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Heading to Manchester, it appears Alexis Sanchez may not be going back to his parent club next season.

Sanchez, 31, is on loan at Inter Milan for the 2019-20 season and the Daily Express claim that he could stay at Inter rather than heading back to Old Trafford despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer previously saying he was open to the idea. Per the report, Man United are keen to loan Sanchez out to Inter once again on a similar arrangement and the Serie A side are willing to see how Sanchez does when the season restarts in a few weeks. With Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and others around at Man United, he may struggle for minutes at Man United.

Would another loan be a good move for Inter?

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have been their main strikers this season under Antonio Conte, with Sanchez out injured for large chunks of the campaign and then doing okay when he did play. However, with Martinez chased by Barcelona, if they do sell the Argentine forward for over $115 million, having Sanchez around on loan would soften the blow.

The main problem with Sanchez is that over the last three years he has picked up consistent injury problems. If he can shake those issues off, we all know he is capable of scoring goals and creating havoc. Given this recent track record though, that’s a big if, as he’s scored just one goal and added three assists in 15 outings for Inter this season.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that zero out of 1130 COVID-19 tests taken on Thursday and Friday have come back positive.

Zero.

The fourth round of testing is the first time that no positive tests have come back, as a total of 3,882 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 12 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as full contact training is now up and running and a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full:


The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.


This is more good news for the Premier League as the UK government gave the green light for elite sport in the UK to return from June 1 in empty stadiums, as the top-flight of English soccer continues to clear each hurdle in its way to finishing the final 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

With just over two weeks to go until the action returns, Premier League clubs will have to keep these test results low for the restart to take place.

Bayern Munich batter Fortuna, go 10 points clear at the top (video)

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Bayern Munich are waltzing their way to an eight-straight Bundesliga title as they battered Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday at the Allianz Arena to record an eight-straight win in the German top-flight.

[ MORE: Schalke lose again; Saturday recap ]

An own goal, two from Robert Lewandowsk and a goal each from Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies did the damage to Fortuna as Bayern Munich are now just three wins away from securing the title, as they have five games left in the season.

Hansi Flick has now won 22 of his 25 games in charge of Bayern Munich after he took charge in November with the German giants struggling under Niko Kovac. Now, they are rampant and are one of the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League.

The Bavarian giants dominated early on as USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales made an important clearance but Mathias Jorgensen was so lucky a few moments later.

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A ball into the box found Benjamin Pavard and his scuffed effort was going wide before it hit Jorgensen and went into his own goal.

Bayern then doubled their lead as Thomas Muller’s shot was pushed wide and from the resulting corner Pavard nodded home to make it 2-0.

Lewandowski made it 3-0 before the break as he has now scored against all of the current Bundesliga clubs and had previously gone without a goal in five outings against Fortuna.

Kimmich’s surging round saw the loose ball find Muller and his pass to Lewandowski was perfect as he swept home to an empty net.

Lewandowski was at it again just a few minutes after the break as he finished off a slick Bayern move as the Bavarian giants put their foot on the accelerator.

Alphonso Davies made it 5-0 as he bulldozed his way through the Fortuna defense and slotted home, while Muller and Pavard went close to adding a sixth and Fortuna had the odd chance on the break.

In the end, the victory was as routine as possible for Bayern Munich who have more than one hand on the Bundesliga title.

USMNT’s Weston McKennie honors George Floyd with armband

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Schalke and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie has released a statement after he wore a personalized armband with the message ‘Justice for George’ on it to honor George Floyd.

McKennie, an American international who has played in the Bundesliga for the last four seasons at Schalke, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He wore the armband in Schalke’s defeat at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN on Monday there have been widespread protests across the USA. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Weston McKennie released the following statement after wearing the armband at the weekend to honor George Floyd:

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!! We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism

Here is a photo of McKennie wearing the armband which he put on before the game kicked off and wore on his left arm.