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Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Swansea City

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  • Swansea has only won once at Anfield in PL play – last year
  • The last 9 PL matches between Liverpool and Swansea has seen 35 goals
  • Liverpool has not lost on Boxing Day since 1982 vs. Manchester United

Liverpool is one of three teams in a dogfight for the fourth spot in the Premier League table, and things are heating up on Boxing Day. The Reds host 20th-placed Swansea City at Anfield (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) with a chance to at the least keep pace with Tottenham and Arsenal.

The Reds are coming off a wild 3-3 draw against Arsenal which, following a pair of clean sheets against Bournemouth and West Brom, the defense reverted back to old habits despite dominating the game for long spells. Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool has “obvious problems” in defense, ones that Swansea will look to capitalize on. However, Liverpool has fared much better this campaign against the bottom half of the table than they did last season.

Swansea, meanwhile, plays three of its next four matches away from home (four of its next five if you count the FA Cup match at Wolves) and will need to pick up points wherever possible to close the gap towards safety – currently four points. Leon Britton, who took charge of Swansea’s draw with Crystal Palace, will remain as interim manager for the trip to Anfield.

Team news

Liverpool: Out – Jordan Henderson (hamstring), Alberto Moreno (ankle), Marko Grujic (finger), Joel Matip (muscle), Nathaniel Clyne (back), Adam Bogdan (knee).

Swansea City: Out – Kyle Naughton (groin), Wilfried Bony (hamstring), Ki Sung-Yueng (calf), Kyle Bartley (knee). QuestionableLeroy Fer (back).

What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on drawing matches this year: “The draw [against Arsenal] is really not good, but it’s good because again we were the better side in draw number eight, and we should have won like all the other draws we had. So that’s…in development, even though nobody wants to hear that, it’s a very important thing, that’s a very important thing. In a very difficult league, performance-wise we are very consistent so far.”

Leon Britton on the permanent managerial position: “The fans have been great with me, as player or manager, you could hear them being very vocal which I appreciate, but in terms of the job, nothing has changed and I’m not looking for the job full time. [Management] need[s] to make the right decision, make sure it’s clear what they want, whether that’s before Liverpool, after Liverpool or in January. They have to make sure they take their time and get the right man.”

Prediction

As mentioned earlier, Liverpool has been quite good against the bottom half of the table, most recently holding Bournemouth and West Brom both goalless, plus beating Brighton 5-1 and Stoke City 3-0. It’s hard to look past a free-flowing Liverpool in this game, by a 4-1 scoreline in a game that could get out of hand late.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Dybala leads Juve back with stunner

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While a pair of Premier League sides were thumping visitors, two other UEFA Champions League mainstays had to work harder for their results on Tuesday.

Bayern Munich and Juventus overcame poor starts to record wins, while Real Madrid struggled to a win at stingy Turkish powers Galatasaray.

PSG, however, had zero problems in Belgium.


 [ MORE: Man City 5-1 Atalanta | Spurs 5-0 Red Star ]


Juventus 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Dominayed Lokomotiv took the lead against all odds when Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage, but Paulo Dybala scored twice in three minutes to send the visitors home sad.

And this one was absurd:

Olympiacos 2-3 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line and it was mostly Bayern after that (Olympiacos’ second goal came quite late). Lewandowski added another, his 18th, while Corentin Tolisso also scored for Bayern.

Club Brugge 0-5 PSG

Kylian Mbappe is unfair, scoring a hat trick as PSG waxed Simon Mignolet and the Belgian hosts.

Elsewhere
Shakhtarr Donetsk 2-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Five-star Spurs thump Red Star Belgrade

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Erik Lamela set up two early goals and later scored as Tottenham Hotspur broke out of its funk to record a 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Heung-Min Son scored twice and Harry Kane also scored as Spurs earned their first win of the group stage. Tanguy Ndombele joined Lamela with two assists.

Red Star is now 1W-12L ahead of the return fixture in Serbia.


Three things

1. Sweet release for Harry Kane: Tottenham’s talisman was ready from the first minute, and delivered a perfect header off a ninth minute corner kick for 1-0. There wasn’t much to worry about the rest of the way as Kane scored twice while taking six shots against a team which won’t be pleased to have to do it again come two weeks time in Serbia.

2. Well, actually, for almost everyone: Considering Spurs were an absolute shambles against Bayern Munich and have not impressed in domestic play, the win could be a welcome and positive kick in the pants for many Tottenham men. Serge Aurier‘s day against Bayern was possibly the worst performance of any Spurs player this year, and the Frenchman had an assist and was better versus Red Star (the right opponent at the right time, we might add). Dele Alli had one of his better games in a while, and Tanguy Ndombele hasn’t been poor but his two-assist night is a welcome sign.

3. Lamela helps pulls the strings: The Argentine was simply sensational early (and pretty good late, as he scored in the second half). Kane will get the love for the corner kick goal. but the second assist was all about Lamela.

Look…

at this…

ball.

 

Man of the Match: Lamela

 


The basics provided Tottenham’s opener, with Kane running off the near post to meet a corner kick and turning a header across goal and inside the far post. Pretty stuff, and good timing. Nerves settled after nine minutes.

Son made it 2-0 seven minutes later, getting on the end of a bouncing Erik Lamela cross to volley home.

Spurs’ third first-half goal was Son again, as the South Korean raced 60 yards to become a back post option after Tanguy Ndombele caused a turnover at midfield.

If anyone deserved Spurs next marker, it was Lamela. The Argentine made it so after Harry Kane’s classy long pass to Serge Aurier was turned onto his path in the 57th.

Sterling runs riot as Man City clobbers Atalanta

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Raheem Sterling scored three goals and set up two others as Manchester City came back from an early deficit to clobber Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Sergio Aguero scored City’s other two goals, but the Premier League champions face an anxious wait after Rodri limped off before halftime.

Phil Foden was sent off in the 82nd minute after picking up his second yellow card.

Ruslan Malinovskiy’s early penalty was all Atalanta could muster, as the Serie A side remains winless in the group stage.


Three things

1. Sterling’s star show: Stymied on an opening dribble, Sterling took over once City went behind on Fernandinho‘s conceded penalty.

He was everywhere.

The English winger set up Aguero’s first goal was a stylish cross from the inside of his boot, then drew a penalty with a quick dribble toward the spot. He then showed clinical finishing in a second-half hat trick which took less than 11 minutes but missed wide with a bid for a fourth goal on a Phil Foden-inspired breakaway in the 75th.

2. Rodri injury breaks up new partnership: Pep Guardiola again deployed Fernandinho and Rodri as his center back pair, the former notably conceding a penalty on the edge of the 18 before the latter left the match after 40 minutes with injury. It looked to be a muscle injury, though there wasn’t a terrible limp from the Spaniard. If he’s out for any long period of time, City’s ambitions will be heavily taxed.

3. One win for an easier December: Man City’s 3-0 start to the group stage means it can be choosy with its lineup for the return fixture in Italy, which comes three days before a massive visit to Liverpool in the Premier League. By the same rationale, City’s visit from Chelsea on Nov. 23 comes four days before Shakhtar Donetsk comes to town. Neither Liverpool nor Chelsea will be in better UCL shape than City in both cases, guaranteed.

Man of the Match: Sterling.


A cutting ball down the left allowed Atalanta a cross to Timothy Castagne, who had an edge on Benjamin Mendy but was bothered enough to head his over the goal.

Ilicic then came from the right to drive a low shot that Ederson collected before it could roll inside the near post.

City found its footing in the second 20 minutes, though Raheem Sterling’s seeing eye pass through the six was a yard behind a stretching Sergio Aguero.

Pierluigi Gollini that made a fantastic save on a longer Aguero drive before the Argentine had another chance and lashed it over the goal. Closer.

Fernandinho conceded a penalty to the Serie A visitors against Ilicic on a dribble into the 18. Ederson went the wrong way as Malinovskiy hammered home from the spot.

Aguero got his breakthrough in the 34th, reaching his right leg out to push a well-chopped Sterling cross past Gollini.

Sterling then won a penalty with a mazy dribble toward the spot, and Aguero beat Gollini to the far post.

Rodri was injured before halftime, and Guardiola brought on John Stones.

The second half started with another injury, as Marten De Roon raked Aguero near his right achilles. The Argentine stayed on.

De Bruyne then tried his luck off another play inspired by Sterling and Aguero, but fired wide from outside the 18.

Sterling wound up with his two goals thanks to sensational team play. The first came when Riyad Mahrez spotted Kevin De Bruyne, who passed to Phil Foden. The youngster took the extra pass and Sterling smashed home.

Then Sterling held up play inside Atalanta’s half before zipping onto an inch-perfect Gundogan through ball and slamming past Gollini.

A missed breakaway, cued by Foden, was the only sour note for Sterling as he missed a bid for four.

UCL AT HALF: Rodri injured; Spurs, Man City lead

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We’ve got goals in the UEFA Champions League!

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All six 3 p.m. ET kickoffs have seen at least one marker, with five between the two Premier League sides in action.

Juventus 0-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Turin has been hushed for the moment, as Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage.

Man City 2-1 Atalanta

Influential midfielder Rodri has left Manchester City’s match against Atalanta with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Partnered with Fernandinho at center back again, Rodri, 23, has played in every match save one for City, and had gone 90 minutes in the last five prior to Tuesday’s 40-minute performance.

City went behind when Fernandinho conceded a penalty, but Raheem Sterling has sent Sergio Aguero up for two goals as the hosts have a lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Spurs 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Tottenham didn’t have any problems dispatching its tepid league form for its Serbian visitors, as Erik Lamela set up Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son for early goals before the South Korean completed a brace before halftime.

Look at the industry on his third:

Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Some nerves settled for Zinedine Zidane as Toni Kroos’ deflected strike gives Real a halftime lead.

Olympiacos 1-1 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line.

Club Brugge 0-1 PSG

Mauro Icardi the lone goal scorer in Belgium.