Premier League preview: Liverpool v. Wolves

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  • Liverpool has not lost a home PL match since Apr 23, 2017
  • Wolves has secured the best PL finish by a promoted club since 2001
  • LFC is unbeaten in home finales since a famous loss to Arsenal in 1989

As if hoping Brighton achieves a result against the Manchester City juggernaut, an extremely dangerous Wolves side stands in the way of Liverpool and any chance at a Premier League title as the two meet at Anfield on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

In order to win the title, Liverpool must win at all costs, plus see Man City drop points as well. It’s that simple – yet not at all. Wolves has been a thorn in the side of every top team in the league this season, having beaten all four of the Premier League’s representatives in European finals this season. Wolves’ win over the Reds came back in early January in the FA Cup, while Liverpool won the previous league meeting 2-0 just before Christmas.

The Reds are expected to have Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson available in the league finale after both picked up injuries during the midweek Champions League comeback. Mohamed Salah is expected to be in play as well despite his concussion that left him on the sidelines midweek. Roberto Firmino is still not healthy, but should be ready to go for the Champions League final.

For Wolves, who sit in seventh and are locked into that spot in the table, they could have an unchanged side for the 15th time this season, quite a remarkable bill of health in a league where injuries have decimated other squads.

There is one other ending scenario, however unlikely, that bears mentioning: should Liverpool and Wolves draw, and Manchester City is unfathomably beaten by four goals, the two teams would tie atop the Premier League table and there would be a one-match playoff to determine the title. One can dream!

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on their mentality: “It was a week of miracles, of big football moments, and from our point of view if there could be a big football moment on the weekend, that would be nice. The week is not over yet. Sunday still counts, so we still go for it. Nothing changed, we knew it before. The only thing we can do is win the game.”

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santos on playing with nothing on the line: “We don’t think about other things. We prepare ourselves in exactly the same way as we always do. There is no exception. There was no game that we didn’t prepare the same way with the same details and the same approach, so we’re not going to change in the last game of the season.”

Prediction

As much as Liverpool fans want to take their chance at winning a Premier League title seriously, there is also some pragmatism involved here as well. Should the Reds make it halfway through and see Man City is rolling over Brighton, Jurgen Klopp will no doubt take a sensible approach to this match knowing a Champions League final is looming and the squad can’t take any more hits. That seems the most likely scenario, as the two sides play to a relatively uneventful 1-1 draw after Klopp shuts it down with 30 minutes to go and Wolves has little to play for.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).