Salah “on his way” to Messi’s level

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Mohamed Salah scored four goals on Saturday and grabbed an assist as Liverpool beat Watford 5-0 in the Premier League.

It was special. But it was almost as if we’d come to expect this. He is one of those players you pay the entrance fee alone to watch and most PL defenders spend the 90 minutes watching him run by them.

Following the stunning display from the Egyptian winger, Jurgen Klopp was asked about the current level Salah is at as he now leads the PL scoring charts with 28 goals and is the highest scoring Liverpool player ever in a debut season at Anfield with 36 in all competitions.

“I don’t think Mo wants to be compared with Lionel Messi,” Klopp said. “Messi has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona. But Mo is in a fantastic way, that’s for sure. As it always is in life, if you have to have the skills you have to show that constantly and consistently, and he is very good.”

Salah’s rise to prominence has been hugely unexpected with the $50 million Liverpool paid to Roma for his services last summer raising plenty of eyebrows.

That transfer fee now seems like a bargain.

The 25-year-old who struggled to break through at Chelsea after arriving from Basel as a youngster is now, like Messi, a genuine global superstar. Everyone knew he was quick and nimble around the box as a winger but nobody expected these gaudy numbers and this kind of output in his debut season at Liverpool.

With Liverpool facing Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last eight, plenty of City’s defenders will already be having sleepless nights as to how to stop Salah.

Sitting in third place in the table with seven games to go and in the latter stages of the UCL, Liverpool have a hugely talented squad with the likes of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino consistently delivering goals and assists and Klopp’s project is kicking on.

But like Messi at Barcelona, one man helps Liverpool climb above the rest: Salah.

On this form Kevin De Bruyne will have a serious run for his money when it comes to the player of the year awards in England this season.

Salah is still some way off Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of consistent excellence as his subdued display at Manchester United showed last weekend. However, he is getting towards that level and the Egyptian wizard is in the perfect team for his talents to flourish.

Chelsea vs Aston Villa, live! Score, updates, stream link, video highlights

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Chelsea and Aston Villa clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and a win for the visitors will move them above Chelsea in the table.

STREAM LIVE CHELSEA v ASTON VILLA

Graham Potter’s Chelsea were pinned back before the international break as they drew 2-2 at home against Everton after leading twice. However, they are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions and have reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Things are looking a bit better for the Blues in their 3-4-3 formation and the pressure has eased on Potter slightly as players continue to return from injury. A win against Villa this weekend will keep their slim hopes of a top four finish alive but a top six finish is probably as good as it will get for them this season.

Unai Emery has done a phenomenal job at Villa with the Spanish coach leading them from a relegation scrap to a quest for European qualification within just a few months. Villa are resolute defensively and have a clear playing style as they love to catch opponents out on the counter and they did that brilliantly in their 3-0 win against Bournemouth last time out. With three wins in their last four, can Villa continue their surge and push for a top six finish?

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Here’s everything you need for Chelsea vs Aston Villa.


Chelsea vs Aston Villa live score: 0-1


Ollie Watkins goal video: Villa’s in-form striker feasts on Chelsea error


How to watch Chelsea vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Chelsea have so many players stepping up in recent weeks but Joao Felix and Kai Havertz have really got going in attack. The duo are scoring goals, creating chances and Chelsea look much more confident when they get into the final third. Enzo Fernandez and Benoit Badiashile have both slotted in seamlessly following their January moves. Yes, Chelsea are still a long way back when it comes to the top four but they are they kind of team who can go on a long unbeaten run and they certainly have so many options with a massive squad of players all pushing to start in this new fluid 3-4-3 system.

Villa’s recent success has been built on solid defense and Emiliano Martinez in goal and Tyrone Mings at center back have been back to their best. Ollie Watkins leading the line always causes problems and midfield creators and wingers always seem to be ready to counter and cause a surprise. Emery has done a remarkable job at Villa and it will be a lot of fun to see how close they can get to a top six finish this season.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Thiago Silva (knee), Armando Broja (knee), Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back), Cesar Azpilicueta (head), Wesley Fofana (thigh)

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Philippe Coutinho (thigh), Matty Cash (calf).



Brighton comes back thrice in head-spinning thriller with Brentford

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David Raya and Brentford frustrated forward-firing but defensively-leaky Brighton in a head-spinning 3-3 draw at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

The Bees were out-shot 33-7 but led 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 through Pontus Jansson, Ivan Toney, and Ethan Pinnock.

WATCH BRIGHTON vs BRENTFORD FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

But Kaoru Mitoma, Danny Welbeck, and Alexis Mac Allister all scored equalizers — Mac Allister’s coming from the spot in the 90th minute after a VAR review — and Brighton got its point, too.

Brentford’s been the total package and good at finding results, losing just five Premier League matches this season, but their unwillingness to hold onto leads Saturday means their 43 points are six off fourth place having played the same amount of matches as Spurs.

Brighton’s 43 points give it sixth place and the Seagulls have two matches-in-hand on Spurs plus a goal differential advantage of six on their Saturday foes.

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De Zerbi’s Seagulls shining but lacking top-four cutting edge

Credit Brighton for so many things: Its ability to recruit replacements for big name players and coaches, its stylish football, its three (3?!?) equalizers on Saturday.

And credit them and Brentford for giving us a wonderful feast of attacking football on Saturday. It was awesome. Let’s do it again next year, yeah?

But given Liverpool and Chelsea’s relative season failures, the Seagulls are going to waste one of their best chances — if not their best ever chance — to qualify for the UEFA Champions League because of draws like this (and March 11 at Leeds… and Feb. 11 at Palace… and Jan. 21 at Leicester).

Yes those are good points for a team of Brighton’s reputation and expectations, but the reason they’re on the outskirts of the top four battle and not in the catbird seat is the missed opportunities to get three points from teams of, around, and behind their reputation.

Brentford is a very good team and the same criticism can be lobbed at the Bees given recent results with Leicester, Everton, and Palace, but there’s a rub: Thomas Frank’s men will have ultimately understood a point from the Amex as a positive even with three blown leads, especially given the gulf in shot attempts. Brighton needed all three of these points.


Brighton vs Brentford player ratings: Stars of the Show

Alexis Mac Allister

Solly March

David Raya

Bryan Mbeumo

Brighton vs Brentford player ratings
fotmob.com

What’s next?

Brighton has two away matches In five days, traveling to Bournemouth on Tuesday before a Saturday trip to Tottenham.

Brentford will likely determine its top-four hopes this week with a Wednesday trip to Manchester United before hosting Newcastle on Saturday.


Pontus Jansson goal video: Veteran defender thumps header home


Kaoru Mitoma goal video: Brighton’s first equalizer is sweet


Ivan Toney goal video: Quickest of quickfire replies as Mbeumo flicks assist


Danny Welbeck goal video: Brighton back level!


Ethan Pinnock goal video: Third lead for the Bees


Alexis Mac Allister goal video: Third leveler comes from spot


How to watch Brighton vs Brentford live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10apm ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton is driven by Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo, a midfield pairing envied by most teams of their ilk.

And Brentford has had lovely contributions from Mathias Jensen and complete center forward play from Ivan Toney.


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Adam Lallana (thigh), Jakub Moder (knee), Tariq Lamptey (knee)

Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Keane Lewis-Potter (knee), Shandon Baptiste (suspended), Vitaly Janelt (knee), Kristoffer Ajer (calf).

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund, Der Klassiker live! Score, updates

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Can Borussia Dortmund keep its position in the catbird seat with a Klassiker win over reigning champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Saturday?

Or will they former manager land a major blow for his new side, as Thomas Tuchel takes the reins of wounded Bayern. The 10-time defending champions fell out of first with a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen that sent Julian Nagelsmann packing (for North London?).

BVB is in pursuit of its first Meisterschale since the 2011-12 season, its eighth in history. It’s been all Bayern since then, as the Bavarians have claimed 10-consecutive league crowns.

Here’s the thing: If Bayern really had problems between its players and Nagelsmann, they weren’t totally manifesting themselves on the pitch. Bayern’s 72 goals are 17 more than anyone else in the Bundesliga and its 27 conceded are one better than second-place Union Berlin.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund.

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How to watch Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via ESPN+
Updates: Scoreboard, stats, more at Scoreboard.nbcsports.com


Key storylines & star players

Bayern’s all about controlling the game, and it does so with aplomb thanks to Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. The side has pace for days and has also gotten monstrous amounts of creativity from Alphonso Davies and Jamal Musiala. There’s no Robert Lewandowski, but Bayern spreads the goals around through Musiala (11), Choupo-Moting (10), and Serge Gnabry (9). Manuel Neuer’s out, but the club’s quickly filled his space with Yann Sommer.

Dortmund slipped itself a couple of matches ago, a 2-2 draw in the Revierderby, but it bounded back with a 6-1 demolition of Koln. Bundesliga assist hero Raphael Guerreiro scored in that game while Sebastien Haller and Marco Reus both posted braces. Reus remains the heart of the club and has been a boon for Edin Terzic. A wild card is USMNT star Giovanni Reyna, who has posted terrific advanced stats in Bundesliga play but is still mainly just getting 15-20 minute cameos if he plays at all for BVB.


Bayern Munich team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Hernandez (ACL), Manuel Neuer (leg), Paul Wanner (adductor), Mathys Tel (muscular), Arijon Ibrahimovic (virus).

Borussia Dortmund team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Mateu Morey (fitness), Thomas Meunier (back), Giovanni Reyna (illness).

Wolves battle back to frustrate, draw Nottingham Forest

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Brennan Johnson scored once again for Nottingham Forest, but Wolves hit back late to steal a point in a 1-1 draw at the City Ground on Saturday.

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The result will certainly frustrate Nottingham Forest (27 points), who would have climbed four places into 12th and been five points clear of the relegation zone with 10 games left to play, had they held on (instead, 14th, three points clear). Wolves (28 points) take another baby step toward safety, now four points above the drop zone with nine games left.

Forest took the lead in the 38th minute, when Danilo dinked a through ball into the penalty area and found Johnson making a run wide of Jose Sa’s left-hand post. The ball bounced once before Johnson hammered it hard toward the far post, rippling the inside netting and taking the 21-year-old’s season tally to eight goals this season.

WATCH NOTTINGHAM FOREST vs WOLVES FULL MATCH REPLAY

That’s four goals in eight games for Johnson, who scored 18 and had 10 assists in the EFL Championship a season ago. Any questions over whether his production would translate to the top tier, and the best leave in the world, have been answered.

Nottingham Forest vs Wolves
Photo: FotMob.com

Daniel Podence took Wolves’ rare sight of goal and made something out of nothing in the 83rd minute. After an unthreatening shot from outside the box was blocked, the ball fell to Podence on the left side of the penalty area. He cut inside and hooked the ball past Keylor Navas to make it 1-1.


Wolves no longer defend well enough to attack this poorly

Once again this season, Wolves have gone for the “defensively solid, but offensively deficient” approach, only this time their defensive record (42 goals conceded) is just as poor as the goal-scoring output (23 scored). The goal they conceded on Saturday saw too many white shirts standing and watching the ball inside their own penalty area.

Creating scoring chances is like pulling teeth for Julen Lopetegui’s side. Even their late equalizer came as a result of a blocked shot that turned into a through ball, rather than any kind of cohesive build-up.


Stars of the show

Nottingham Forest vs Wolves


What’s next?

Nottingham Forest have another big week coming up, with a trip to Elland Road to face Leeds (26 points – 16th place) on Tuesday (2:45 pm ET) before heading to Villa Park to face Aston Villa (38 points – 11th place) on Saturday (10 am ET). Wolves, meanwhile, will host Chelsea at Molineux Stadium on Saturday (10 am ET).


Nottingham Forest vs Wolves final score: 1-1


How to watch Nottingham Forest vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

No side in the Premier League has scored fewer goals than Forest (or Wolves – 22 each), and only Bournemouth (54) have conceded more than Steve Cooper’s newly promoted side (49). All of which is to say, the Reds are in the thick of the relegation scrap based on merit. Injuries have certainly played their part, though, with as many as 14 players either confirmed out for the weekend, or an injury doubt. 21-year-old Brennan Johnson (7 goals, 2 assists) has been something of a revelation in his first PL season and Taiwo Awoniyi has four goals of his own, but no one else has more than two on the season (Morgan Gibbs-White and Emmanuel Dennis).

Once again this season, Wolves have gone for the “defensively solid, but offensively deficient” approach, only this time their defensive record (41 goals conceded) is just as poor as the goal-scoring output (22 scored). Like Forest, only two players (Daniel Podence and Ruben Neves) have scored more than two goals (Adama Traore) en route to 22 goals scored in 28 games.


Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Scott McKenna (thigh), Willy Boly (thigh), Dean Henderson (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Brennan Johnson (groin), Chris Wood (thigh), Cheickou Kouyate (thigh), Andre Ayew (knee), Serge Aurier (knock), Wayne Hennessey (knee), Ryan Yates (shoulder)

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Hugo Bueno (hamstring), Matheus Nunes (suspension), Diego Costa (knee), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Jonny (suspension), Hee-Chan Hwang (undisclosed), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Boubacar Traore (groin)

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