AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Three things from Liverpool-Man City in ICC

1 Comment

The Premier League season is just a few weeks away, and we got a slight glimpse of two of England’s heavyweights on Wednesday night in the International Champions Cup.

[ MORE: Mahrez, Sane eager for Man City glory ]

Liverpool topped Manchester City, 2-1, behind a late Sadio Mane penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, and there was a clear difference in the two sides after each manager made adjustments at halftime.

While both sides were without many of their notable players, Jurgen Klopp and the Reds fielded several familiar faces behind their front line, including defensively with Andrew Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk.

Meanwhile, the attention on the City side was drawn towards summer signing Riyad Mahrez, who looks to bring the reigning PL champions yet another threat heading into 2018/19.

Here are three key talking points from the Man City-Liverpool clash:


Klopp has treasures up front in Salah, Mane

Liverpool struggled to break down the City back line for much of the first half, which wasn’t entirely unexpected with many of the team’s reserves up front.

However, the brilliance of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shone through in the second stanza.

Salah, who didn’t have the World Cup he had hoped for after returning from a shoulder injury, showed no ill effects from a long 2017/18 season at MetLife Stadium.

Just a minute after coming into the match, the Egyptian nodded home a header inside the six-yard box, before nearly scoring another header and striking post from distance on a third effort.

Meanwhile, Mane’s pace and vision continue to make Liverpool one of the biggest PL threats, and his combination play with Salah is something of pure genius.

While it’s unfair to assess Man City on the night due to its lack of many stars being in the team, Liverpool’s front men lived up to their end of the bargain as they prepare to dethrone the Citizens come next May.


Mahrez gives the Citizens another dimension

As if a team that scored 106 goals last season in England’s top flight needed another attacking figure, right?

Pep Guardiola‘s decision to go out and add Riyad Mahrez this summer has given Man City yet another key attacker to throw into his mixing bowl of talent, which already features Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.

Albeit without much help offensively on Wednesday, Mahrez gave City a glimpse of just how dangerous he can be when linked up with the club’s first team.

The Algeria international found himself in several positions going forward that had Liverpool shaking in its boots, including an early first-half ball into Lukas Nmecha, that was nearly finished.


A glimpse of the title race

It’s difficult to ever take stock in preseason matches, but there’s little doubting the quality in both Man City and Liverpool’s squads heading into August.

While City’s move to acquire Mahrez dominated recent headlines, Liverpool made several great transfers of its own, bringing in Fabinho and Naby Keita to create an even more forceful midfield in 2018 and beyond.

Both clubs possess the best attacks in England, and possibly Europe, making them the heavy favorites to contend for the PL.

The various meetings between the sides last season in PL and Champions League play provided significant enjoyment for onlookers, and it’s hard to imagine this season will be any different.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’MattReedFutbol’ show_count=’yes’]

Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

Ljungberg hails ‘amazing’ teen Saka after game-changing performance

Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal phenom Bukayo Saka‘s big day spurred the Gunners to a top seed in the Europa League knockout rounds.

Arsenal went behind on two deflected goals in the second half’s first 25 minutes, but Saka answered with a goal and an assist in three minutes to take a point from Belgium in a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege.

[ RECAP, VIDEO: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal ]

Saka was at the heart of it of all good things Arsenal, the 18-year-old handed plenty of responsibility. despite his tender age.

“He was amazing,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. “He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Saka had four key passes to go with his goal and assist, winning six of eight duels while producing two tackles and an interception.

Ljungberg said Arsenal hasn’t sent its young players on loan enough, though that hardly applies to Saka given he was 17 until September.

The injured Gunners used Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson in the Starting XI, and brought Gabriel Martinelli off the bench.

“I feel sorry for our young players,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again.”

Smith-Rowe was loaned to RB Leipzig last season and Nelson starred on loan at Hoffenheim. Mavropanos played first team football for Greek Super League side PAS Giannina in his late teens.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

Leave a comment

Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Matchweek 17 is here in the Premier League as the games continue to come thick and fast during the festive season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Liverpool 3-1 Watford – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 3-1 Brighton – (Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Leicester 3-0 Norwich – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Southampton 1-1 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Sheffield United 2-1 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Man United 2-1 Everton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Arsenal 3-3 Man City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Wolves 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM