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.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.