Time for new chapter in Liverpool, Chelsea rivalry

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Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with the Premier League rivals aiming to hunt down runaway leaders Manchester City.

Expect a raucous, fiery atmosphere as these foes lock horns with a changing dynamic to their growing rivalry.

[ VIDEO: PL score predictions, previews ]

Since Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho both landed at English soccer at Liverpool and Chelsea respectively in 2004-05, there’s been an extra edge to games between Liverpool and Chelsea as they often battled for the Premier League and Champions League titles.

Yet in recent years this rivalry has subsided a little, with both clubs enduring roller-coaster seasons with title challenges mixed in with disappointing campaigns and managerial changes.

Now, both teams are challenging in the Champions League (Chelsea are in the last 16, while Liverpool will certainly join them in 10 days time) and both are in a very similar position in the chasing pack behind Man City. With young, exciting squads the future is now looking bright for both teams.

Both also have talented, passionate managers in Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte who are in their second full seasons in the Premier League and both still have similar targets each season: to win major trophies. Heading into Saturday’s clash Chelsea sit in third place with 25 points, while Liverpool are in fifth and three points behind.

The main reason this rivalry has lost some oomph in recent years is because Chelsea have continued to add silverware to their trophy cabinet (the Champions League in 2011-12, plus the Premier League title in 2014-15 and 2016-17) and Liverpool haven’t won anything since the League Cup in 2011-12, while the Champions League triumph under Benitez in 2005 particularly got under Mourinho’s skin after the “ghost goal” from Luis Garcia.

Yet it now feels like both clubs are ready to challenge consistently for the PL title and they’ve moved on from glorious playing eras as legendary figures such as Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.

Will this rivalry reach the heights of Mourinho and Benitez clashing on the sidelines during Champions League semifinals at Anfield, or the former then riling home fans during his second stint at Chelsea as his under-strength side ruined Liverpool’s title hopes back in 2014?

That day on April 27, 2014 (Liverpool fans do not need reminding) reignited this rivalry as a disheveled, unshaven Mourinho — he had been feeling unwell in the lead up to the game and was focusing on a UCL semifinal v Atletico Madrid — ran down the sideline to celebrate the victory, pounding the Chelsea badge on his chest like a madman in his tracksuit. He quickly retreated to the dressing room as vitriol arrived from home supporters who had seen their legendary captain, Gerrard, slip to gift Chelsea a soft goal and deal a hammer blow to Liverpool’s hopes of winning a first league title since 1990.

Getting the train from London to Liverpool, and back, that day, I remember scuffles breaking out between rival fans at Liverpool train station as police intervened. The atmosphere was toxic as this rivalry once again gathered steam. It wasn’t quite the heyday of Benitez vs. Mourinho, but it was getting there. The divide between the London clubs and those in the North West of England in the PL have always had an extra edge with geography and inter-city pride, plus the North-South divide in England, playing a big part.

But since Mourinho left Chelsea (for the second time) this rivalry now has a different feel to it. Last season it was Liverpool trying to play the spoiler for Chelsea’s title bid as they drew at Anfield in January with a wild Diego Costa winning, then failing with a late penalty kick which would’ve grabbed victory for the Blues. The flickers of a fiery rivalry are still very much there.

Sadio Mane vs. Eden Hazard. Mohamed Salah vs. Alvaro Morata. Philippe Coutinho vs. N'Golo Kante. Those are the new heavyweight rivalries in a clash which was one of the main events in the Premier League just over a decade ago. It’s importance is building once again under Klopp and Conte who have so far kept things respectful in their exchanges.

It feels like it is time for a new chapter to be written in this rivalry and Saturday evening under the floodlights at a packed out Anfield seems like the perfect place to do that.


Team news

Liverpool have Joel Matip back in training and he could be available to return in central defense but Emre Can is a major doubt in midfield.

Chelsea’s Victor Moses continues his recovery from a hamstring issue and could be on the bench but Michy Batshuayi will likely remain sidelined.


What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on Chelsea: “If we can create a special atmosphere that would help us. Our job is to stay really consistent. Chelsea, what a team, champions of last year, it will be a really tough job. They lost decisive players with Matic and Costa. With Chelsea last year, everything worked. They didn’t need many chances to win a game. It’s difficult to play the same season again, especially when you lose players.”

Antonio Conte on Chelsea not having enough rest before the Liverpool game after playing at Qarabag: “It was a problem to land. I think to get to your house at six o’clock in the morning is not simple to then rest and recover. We’ve only had one day to prepare for a big game and I think this is not right, I must be honest. But we have to do this and today we’ve had a good training session and we’ve tried to prepare for the game against Liverpool very well. I think to only have one day to prepare for a big game, especially to only have one day to rest is not right for all the teams, not only for Chelsea.”


Prediction

I’m expecting big things from this game, and the atmosphere, at Anfield. Both teams are in fine goalscoring form heading and the vast array of attacking talents on display has everything set up for an enthralling battle. With Hazard, Morata and Willian purring for Chelsea, plus Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane on fire for Liverpool, you can expect one thing: goals. I’m going for a 2-2 draw.

NBC Sports Premier League schedule

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The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2019-20 season has been released, with time and dates for the upcoming matchweeks confirmed and here’s how you can watch it all live on TV in the USA and via Peacock online.

[ WATCH: Premier League video ] 

With games spread out across multiple days and many in separate time slots, there are lots of changes to your regular schedule as the league returns on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played in empty stadiums and at home venues.

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The full TV schedule for the games this month are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold and the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Below is the new schedule for the Premier League on NBC Sports from June 17 to July 22 , as we will release the dates and times for the final matchweek of the 2019-20 season when they become available and how to watch them in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch, schedule in USA (all times EST)

Matchday 29

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 17: Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Matchday 30

Friday, June 19: Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Friday, June 19: Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Saturday, June 20: Watford 1-1 Leicester
Saturday, June 20: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Saturday, June 20: West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Saturday, June 20: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 21: Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
Sunday, June 21: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Sunday, June 21: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday, June 22: Man City 5-0 Burnley

Matchday 31

Tuesday, June 23: Leicester 0-0 Brighton
Tuesday, June 23: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
Wednesday, June 24: Man United 3-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 24: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Wednesday, June 24: Norwich 0-1 Everton
Wednesday, June 24: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
Wednesday, June 24: Liverpool 4-0 Palace
Thursday, June 25: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Thursday, June 25: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Thursday, June 25: Chelsea 2-1 Man City

Matchday 32

Saturday, June 27: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Sunday, June 28: Watford 1-3 Southampton
Monday, June 29: Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
Tuesday, June 30: Brighton 0-3 Man United
Wednesday, July 1: Everton 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday, July 1: Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 1: Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 1: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Thursday, July 2: Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham
Thursday, July 2: Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Matchday 33

Saturday, July 4: Norwich City 0-1 Brighton
Saturday, July 4: Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace
Saturday, July 4: Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Saturday, July 4: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal
Saturday, July 4: Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Sunday, July 5: Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
Sunday, July 5: Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham
Sunday, July 5: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5: Southampton 1-0 Man City
Monday, July 6: Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Matchday 34

Tuesday, July 7: Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Tuesday, July 7: Watford 2-1 Norwich City
Tuesday, July 7: Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
Wednesday, July 8: Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 8: Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves
Wednesday, July 8: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Wednesday, July 8: Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Thursday, July 9: Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday, July 9: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Thursday, July 9: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

Matchday 35

Saturday, July 11: Norwich City 0-4 West Ham
Saturday, July 11: Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Saturday, July 11: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Saturday, July 11: Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
Saturday, July 11: Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
Sunday, July 12: Wolves 3-0 Everton
Sunday, July 12: Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace
Sunday, July 12: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Sunday, July 12: Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
Monday, July 13: Man United 2-2 Southampton

Matchday 36

Tuesday, July 14: Chelsea 1-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET, Peacock
Thursday, July 16: Everton v. Aston Villa, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock
Thursday, July 16: Leicester v Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Thursday, July 16: Crystal Palace v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Thursday, July 16: Southampton v. Brighton, 3:15 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock
Friday, July 17: West Ham v. Watford, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Matchday 37

Saturday, July 18: Norwich City v. Burnley, 12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Bournemouth v. Southampton, 9 a.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Tottenham v. Leicester, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Brighton v. Newcastle, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Sheffield United v. Everton, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Wolves v. Crystal Palace, 3:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Watford v. Man City, 1 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Aston Villa v. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Man United v. West Ham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Liverpool v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. ET

Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

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The news every Pulisic and USMNT fan wants to hear: Daniel Farke believes Christian Pulisic is well on his way to being a ‘world-class’ player as the Norwich City manager marvelled at the display the USMNT star put on during Chelsea’s win against the Canaries.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Christian Pulisic, 21, provided the assist for Olivier Giroud to score the only goal of the game and the American winger hit the bar and went close on several occasions in another standout display for Chelsea since the Premier League restart.

Farke watched Pulisic closely as a coach of Borussia Dortmund II from 2015-17 and ProSoccerTalk asked him via Zoom after the game what he makes of how the Chelsea star is progressing.

“I would value and appreciate it if Christian would be in my team, without a doubt!” Farke laughed. “Chelsea spent 60 million pounds or something like this, of course I know him out of my time with Borussia Dortmund. He’s a brilliant lad. Always humble. Always with both feet on the ground. Always works unbelievably hard on the pitch. A player full of potential. He will have a bright future and it was a lot of money [to spend on him] but he is definitely worth each and every pound because he’s a top class player. He proved that today with a great cross and I would have preferred he was not able to find Giroud, who in this moment is still a top class striker. Christian will have a bright future and will be a world-class player one day and this is the best way to develop in this direction.”

Pulisic went straight over to Farke at the final whistle and the pair had a nice moment on the pitch at Stamford Bridge, catching up and wishing each other well.

“What is said is always under us but there are many players on the Chelsea squad I really value and they are not just great football players but also great characters,” Farke revealed. “Sadly there wasn’t much time at the final whistle to speak with all of them, just a few words. It is always great to see lads like Christian again. I wish him all the best for the future and I think he will have a bright future.”

Farke has seen Pulisic’s development closer than most and if he thinks he will be ‘world class’ then it is time to get pumped.

As for Pulisic’s boss at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, he was very thankful for Pulisic to create the only goal of the game to keep Chelsea in third and extend the gap to fifth-place Man United to four points with two games to go, although Leicester City (fourth) and Man United do have a game in-hand of the Blues now.

[ MORE: Who will finish in the top 4? ]

Lampard praised the growing partnership between the USMNT winger and Olivier Giroud and highlighted Pulisic’s movement in-behind the French striker.

“We clearly saw that with the goal and I was delighted with Christian’s movement to run in-behind on the little angle because that is what we weren’t doing in the early stages of the game,” Lampard said. “Ollie will always be alive and if you’re playing Giroud, you want to get balls in the box. You need to play to his strengths and he gets a really good goal. The link-up is good. Generally it could have been better. But job done.”

Pulisic has now scored three goals and had an assist since the restart, plus won two penalty kicks and a free kick which Willian has scored from, so he’s had a direct hand in over half of the 12 goals Chelsea have scored since the Premier League resumed.

Week after week the USMNT winger is staking his claim as being one of the best players in the world 21 years old or under and there’s no doubt Pulisic is well on his way, if he’s not there already, to being a world-class player.

These ‘world class’ comments aren’t news to USMNT fans but it shows that he’s being talked about on a slightly different level given his form since the restart.

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With three matchweeks remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We now know that fifth is NOT a Champions League place after Man City’s appeal over its European ban was successful That makes things even tighter.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

There are still so many teams fighting for the Champions League and Europa League spot, with plenty of Premier League clubs still have their European hopes in the balance.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 35 30 3 2 76 27 49 17-1-0 13-2-2 93
 Manchester City 35 23 3 9 91 34 57 13-2-2 10-1-7 72
 Chelsea 36 19 6 11 64 49 15 10-3-5 9-3-6 63
 Leicester City 35 17 8 10 65 36 29 10-4-3 7-4-7 59
 Manchester United 35 16 11 8 61 35 26 10-6-2 6-5-6 59
 Wolves 35 14 13 8 48 37 11 7-7-4 7-6-4 55
 Sheffield United 35 14 12 9 38 33 5 10-3-5 4-9-4 54
 Tottenham Hotspur 35 14 10 11 54 45 9 11-3-4 3-7-7 52
 Arsenal 35 12 14 9 51 44 7 8-6-3 4-8-6 50
 Burnley 35 14 8 13 39 47 -8 8-3-6 6-5-7 50
 Everton 35 12 9 14 41 52 -11 8-6-3 4-3-11 45
 Southampton 35 13 6 16 45 58 -13 5-2-10 8-4-6 45
 Newcastle United 35 11 10 14 36 52 -16 6-8-3 5-2-11 43
 Crystal Palace 35 11 9 15 30 45 -15 6-4-7 5-5-8 42
 Brighton & Hove Albion 35 8 12 15 36 52 -16 5-6-7 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 35 9 7 19 44 59 -15 5-3-9 4-4-10 34
 Watford 35 8 10 17 33 54 -21 6-6-6 2-4-11 34

 Bournemouth 35 8 7 20 36 60 -24 5-6-7 3-1-13 31
 Aston Villa 35 8 6 21 38 65 -27 6-3-9 2-3-12 30
 Norwich City 36 5 6 25 26 68 -42 4-3-11 1-3-14 21

Pep responds: ‘I tell Jose and Jurgen that it was a good day for football’

Pep Guardiola lashes out
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola isn’t taking criticism from Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho lying down.

The Liverpool and Tottenham bosses branded the lifting of Man City’s European ban as bad for the game, and Guardiola had answers at the ready.

Klopp called it a “bad day for football” while Mourinho applied the adjective “disgraceful.”

[ MORE: What now for Man City, PL? ]

“I tell Jose and Jurgen that it was a good day for football,” Guardiola said. “A very good day. We played with the same rules as everyone. If we broke them then we would’ve been banned.”

Guardiola was outright preening now that City’s seen its ban rescinded and a massive fine lowered to about $12 million (still plenty of money). The fine was for obstructing the investigation.

He went off. From The Daily Mail:

“All these clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, Wolves, Man Utd, Tottenham, Liverpool — Liverpool — Burnley, I understand they want the five positions. We were with the eight clubs, we wanted a resolution.

“(But) don’t go behind and whisper. Next time before (you) make phone calls, call our chairman and say, ‘Guys, all these clubs we are going to do it all together.’ Manchester City don’t have to apologise because the three independent judges decided we have done everything properly. It’s clear. We were exonerated for something we were accused of.

“In the last decade, we’ve spent more than in the past, yes, but 30 years ago Arsene Wenger (spent). Arsene, the guy who perfectly defends Financial Fair Play… so Arsene, you know that Manchester City was correct with what we have done.”

“United with Sir Alex Ferguson spent a lot of money. When Chelsea started to win Premier Leagues, they invested more than the others. Barcelona and Real Madrid spent a lot of money.”

There should be some fair play to Guardiola, who is right to point out that all of the above managers spent massively to sustain success regardless of academy development. Man City is criticized for where its investment comes from but also can point to similar companies investing in his rivals. Essentially, Guardiola is asking that critics apply their disdain for spending across all clubs.

In other words, everybody spends. Few less than City. Guardiola laid out about $75 million on Rodri and a little less on Joao Cancelo (albeit with a lot going the other way in Danilo). His 2017-18 spend on Ederson, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, and Bernardo Silva was audacious.

Mourinho has worked in some of the biggest spending clubs in the world. Liverpool splashed huge money on Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, Christian Benteke, and Roberto Firmino. These managers and clubs don’t operate in a vacuum and don’t produce beautiful football out of the bargain stores.

Guardiola did not limit his criticism to his critics in England.

The ex-Barcelona boss was happy to issue a stinging rebuke to La Liga chief Javier Tebas.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch versus Norwich City ]

“He’s another one, this guy Senor Tebas must be so jealous of English football. He’s an incredible legal expert from what I see, maybe next time I’ll ask them which court and judges we have to go to.”

Here are some more thoughts relayed by Man City’s Twitter account: