Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp predicts a Liverpool title charge

Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp had been a little coy about Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes ahead of the new season, but the German coach soon let his optimism levels rise.

[ MORE: Morata warned about fitness ]

Following a fourth-place finish in the PL in his first full season in charge at Anfield, Klopp has led the Reds back to the UEFA Champions League as they will take part in the two-legged playoff later this month to try and reach the group stage.

Although qualifying for the UCL group stage is a huge, and frankly easily achievable, target for Liverpool, they also have their minds focused on bigger prizes.

Speaking to the media ahead of Liverpool’s involvement in the Audi Cup (alongside Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Napoli) on Tuesday and Wednesday, Klopp revealed that winning the PL is at the forefront of his mind.

“We’ll be playing for the championship. We don’t start a season by not having any ambitions,” Klopp said. “We have to have our goals and I think we have a very good team now. We did have a bit of bad luck last season. I think we can play a little bit better. Let’s hope everything will work very well and that there isn’t much more to improve.”

Of course, all 20 teams in the Premier League can focus on winning the title ahead of the new season and after Leicester City’s success in 2015-16, why not?

Yet, is it really feasible for Liverpool to be among the title contenders?

Last season the Reds were phenomenal in attack but left plenty to be desired in defense and so far they’ve yet to drastically improve their defensive unit. Klopp has added Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke this summer, with Andrew Robertson coming in at left back from Hull City. Can Robertson usurp James Milner at left back? It’s unlikely, at least to start with.

On their day Liverpool can beat any team in the Premier League. We saw that last season against all of the big boys as they had a superb record against the rest of the top six, but it was silly defensive errors against teams outside of the perennial giants which really cost them. Klopp is right, Liverpool were unlucky last season with injuries as Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson all went down with injuries, while Dan Sturridge could never catch a break.

But unless Virgil Van Dijk — or a center back of similar ilk — arrives later this month, Liverpool’s defense will once again be their Achilles heel. Especially with the added pressure of UCL action to deal with.

Klopp’s optimism is infectious for Liverpool fans and neutrals alike but talk of a title push does seem a little off the mark given the huge amount of strengthening for both Manchester clubs, plus Tottenham keeping all of their stars, Arsenal adding more firepower and Chelsea strengthening their starting lineup.

Champions League: Six-goal thriller in Norway; Marsch’s Salzburg lead

Champions League qualifying
Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round is delivering entertainment, with six first legs dotting the European landscape over the past 27 hours.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

American coach Jesse Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg take a first leg advantage home from Israel, while U.S. right back Henry Wingo and Molde played the game of the round so far against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.


Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg

The Austrian visitors were heavy favorites, especially with the hosts dealing with positive COVID-19 tests, but Maccabi took a ninth-minute lead through Dan Biton.

But young Dominik Szoboszlai’s Man of the Match showing began with a goal in the 49th minute and Masaya Okugawan gave Salzburg the lead eight minutes later ahead of next week’s second leg in Austria.

Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros

A thriller in Norway saw the hosts erase a 2-0 deficit only to hand a big away goals advantage to the Hungarian visitors with minutes to play.

Ferencvaros scored early in each half through Franck Boli and Myrto Uzuni. Both goals were set up by Endre Botka and Ferencvaros looked set to cruise through the first leg.

Molde snapped awake through former Manchester United, Cardiff City, and Seattle Sounders man Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who set up Leke James in the 55th minute before scoring a classy goal that was started on the right flank by fellow ex-Sounder and American export Henry Wingo.

Martin Ellingsen gave Molde its first lead in the 83rd, but Ihor Kharatin made it 3-3 four minutes later to send Ferencvaros back to Hungary with three away goals. A draw any less insane would be enough for them to head to the group stage.

Elsewhere

Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia Nicosia
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland

Second legs

Sept. 29
Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30 
Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv

League Cup: Havertz hat trick as Chelsea scores 6, Newcastle hits 7

League Cup scores
Photo by Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

There were few surprises to be found in the League Cup, one day after several eyebrow-raising results in the tournament’s third round.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]


Morecambe 0-7 Newcastle United

The League Two side was absolutely hammered by a Newcastle team who must’ve been read the riot act after a sleepy home loss to Brighton in weekend Premier League action.

It was already 4-0 when Morecambe’s Toumani Diagouraga was sent off. Joelinton scored twice and three players had a goal and an assist (Jamaal Lascelles, Jacob Murphy, and Miguel Almiron).

USMNT defender DeAndre Yedlin started at left back and set up an Isaac Hayden goal, with Matt Ritchie picking up an assist on Newcastle’s sixth of the game. An own goal rounded out the scoring.

A visit to League Two’s Newport County is next, and Steve Bruce’s men would be expected to win and find a spot in December’s quarterfinals. Halcyon days, or something.

Leicester City 0-2 Arsenal

A Christian Fuchs own goal finally helped Arsenal onto the scoreboard, though the Gunners were good money for the win.

The Foxes had an excellent goal mouth clearance from Wes Morgan with about 20 minutes to play, but could not find the equalizer.

Eddie Nketiah grimaced that he didn’t get to tap in the pass that Fuchs directed into his own goal, but got his marker in the 90th.

If Liverpool handles its business against Lincoln City this weekend, the Reds and Gunners will square off twice in four days (or less)

Chelsea 6-0 Barnsley

Kai Havertz scored his first Chelsea goal and hat trick, all assisted by Tammy Abraham, as the Blues made short work of their Championship visitors.

Havertz’s first Chelsea goal was one of two first-half markers and his second iced the contest.

Abraham scored in the 19th minute. Eight minutes later, he let Mount’s pass set Havertz up for a classy snap finish.

Ross Barkley scored in the 49th and Abraham got his second assist of Havertz six minutes later. His third came in the 65th minute and was followed by Havertz leaving the pitch to hand Ben Chilwell a Blues debut.

Chilwell didn’t disappoint, setting up Olivier Giroud for the match’s final goal.

Preston North End 0-2 Brighton

Graham Potter’s rotation allowed some talented players to showcase themselves away to a Championship side.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Alexis Mac Allister were the goal scorers as the Seagulls outshot PNE 11-4 to set up a match next week with Manchester United, who they meet this weekend in the PL.

Millwall 0-2 Burnley

As cagey as you’d expect from these two, with the Premier League visitors’ class a bit too much for the Championship’s Lions.

Josh Brownhill and Matej Vydra scored for Sean Dyche’s men with Matthew Lowton and Chris Wood collecting assists.

Burnley will face Man City or Bournemouth in the fourth round.

Fulham 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

It was as tight as you’d expect from two sides who shared Championship scraps last season.

Aboubakar Kamara and Bobby Reid scored in the first 32 minutes to supply the Cottagers a fourth-round date at West London rivals Brentford in a rematch of the promotion playoff final.

Americans Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both went the distance in the win.

Stoke City 1-0 Gillingham

The Championship side had all of the ball and the only goal, as Tyrese Campbell’s 37th-minute marker was enough to clinch a visit to either Bristol City or Aston Villa.

Fleetwood Town 2-5 Everton

Carlo Ancelotti’s dominant Toffees suffered a brief scare after building a 2-0 lead through a Richalrison double.

Mark Duffy scored in the 48th before Alex Iwobi restored the two-goal lead.

That’s when Jordan Pickford, well, he messed up.

Fortunately for the Toffees, who out-attempted Joey Barton’s Fisherman by a healthy margin, Bernard scored with 17 minutes left to ease any frayed nerves. Moise Kean finished the scoring off a Niels Nkounkou feed.

Everton faces West Ham at Goodison Park in the fourth round.


Next League Cup third round fixtures

All times ET

Thursday
Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm


Previous third round results

Luton Town 0-3 Manchester United
West Ham United 5-1 Hull City
Newport County 3-1 Watford
West Bromwich Albion 2-2 (4-5 pens) Brentford
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur — postponed


League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Arsenal
Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
Brentford v Fulham
EvertonWest Ham United
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea
Newport County v Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester United

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

Leave a comment

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 ProSoccerTalk writers 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 and maybe a beer or two…

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.

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

UEFA Champions League qualifying
Photo by Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 12 clubs remaining in the race for the final UEFA Champions League group stage slots will be pared down to six in the next eight days.

There are American connections to two of the six ties.

Former USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch manages Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg toward the next round, while Molde right back Henry Wingo came up with the Seattle Sounders.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salzburg are significant favorites to advance over two legs, odds accentuated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s seven players absent due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Marsch had previously said he did not want to go to Israel due to COVID-19 concerns, calling it “dangerous,” but has accepted the task at hand.

From Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung:

“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”

At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.

Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.

Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.


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.

Tuesday

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK

Wednesday

Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia

Sept. 29

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30

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