Getty Images

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Bournemouth

Leave a comment
  • Liverpool is on a club-record 33-game home unbeaten run
  • 2 goals for Salah in the next 4 games would make him the quickest to 50 PL goals
  • Bournemouth has lost 7 PL away games in a row

With four points dropped over their last two Premier League matches and Manchester City capitalizing, all eyes will be on Liverpool on Saturday as they host Bournemouth at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

With a win over Everton on Wednesday, Man City took over the top spot in the Premier League on goal differential, but Liverpool can wrestle back the lead with any result this weekend. Still, fans will be looking for all three points in the hopes of keeping City and Tottenham at arms length.

Mohamed Salah in particular will be watched intently, with the Egyptian on a nine-goal burst over an eight-match span before Liverpool’s two game skid, in which he has not found the back of the net. Salah has not gone three league matches without a goal in his entire Liverpool career, and you have to track all the way back to his Roma career to find his last three-match stretch of league play without a goal, spanning the turn of the 2015/16 calendar year, a spell that was interrupted by both injury and international duty.

On the flip side, Salah can write Premier League history if he gets back on the scoresheet. Salah needs just two goals in his next four matches to become the quickest player to 50 goals with one club in Premier League history, topping Alan Shearer’s 66 games. He currently stands on 48 goals in 61 matches.

Liverpool has dealt with injuries aplenty over the last month, but they could return a core of players that have missed significant time. Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all returned to training and are in contention to play on Saturday. Dejan Lovren, however, is not healed yet from his hamstring injury, while Joe Gomez is still missing with his broken leg, unsure of his return.

For Bournemouth, Callum Wilson and David Brooks are still missing with injuries, leaving 17 goals this season on the sidelines. Still, the Cherries are playing for European positioning in the Premier League table and could be motivated by the chance to jump as high as eighth with a win.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the title race: “It’s getting exciting now. The only chance to improve our position, even though it is a good position, is by winning football games. I know that with each fibre of our bodies we will be ready to fight for everything. The only thing I want to say after the season is we gave our everything.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe on a potential season-defining win: “In the Premier League every game when we first came into the league was a case of rewriting history and proving we could do things for the first time. I think we tend to look at these things as a nice thing to do, to try and write new history for the club all the time.”

Video Preview

Prediction

Too much is on the line for Liverpool, at home, against a banged up offense and a porous defense on poor away form. It would be against all notions to pick against Liverpool in this match, and the Reds will come home with a convincing 3-0 win to put fans at ease before a key run of matches against Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Anything less than all three points in this match will instill serious doubt into their title chase.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.

Lampard: Chelsea first leg loss ‘quite sobering,’ ‘harsh lesson’

Frank Lampard
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Leave a comment

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard isn’t sugarcoating his side’s 3-0 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

“Sometimes you have to be brutally honest about it,” he said in televised remarks after the loss. “It’s quite sobering.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Lampard admitted that Bayern was firing on all cylinders at Stamford Bridge, and proffered tepid support for the idea of an unlikely comeback in Germany next month.

“The level of team they showed that they are, hence why they challenge in the Bundesliga and the Champions League,” he said, via Football.London. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t do better against them. It’s a reality check. Don’t look at anyone else apart from yourself.”

“We should never say the door is closed because our fans would never accept that. I’m more concerned with the bigger picture here. There’s a lot to be done.”

Sure is.

Chelsea leads fifth-place Manchester United by three points in the top four race and has a four-point edge on sixth-place Spurs in the scenario that fifth is enough for Champions League football.

That’s important because the UCL path back to the tournament looks like a massive ask. And Lampard said the players need to use Tuesday’s blowout loss at home “as a positive effect” moving forward.

But he also put it pretty plainly during his post-match comments.

“It was a harsh lesson,” Lampard said. “This is Champions League football.”

Griezmann gives Barcelona first leg draw with Napoli (video)

Napoli v. Barcelona recap and video highlights
Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Antoine Griezmann scored in the second half to earn Barcelona a 1-1 draw with Napoli in a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg at the San Paulo Stadium on Tuesday.

Dries Mertens scored a beautiful opener for Napoli, who heads to the Camp Nou for a March 18 second leg.

Arturo Vidal was sent off in the 89th minute for a second yellow card, and Sergio Busquets picked up a yellow which will cost him the second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Gennaro Gattuso’s plan was to limit Barcelona’s shots, and it worked well in the first half.

Mertens got his goal on one of only five shots in the half, the only two on target coming via Napoli.

How a tale can turn on a moment, though, as Nelson Semedo set up Griezmann’s second-half marker to give Barca a useful away goal.

Barca was much better in the second half but could not find a second away goal.

Here’s the goal of the day, and it belongs to Mertens.