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PL Preview: Liverpool v. Watford

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  • Liverpool has outscored Watford 25-4 in 7 league games
  • Liverpool owns only 100% home record of any team in top 4 English leagues
  • Watford has 2 clean sheets in 18 road PL games of 2019

The Liverpool train continues to barrel down the tracks, and nobody has yet to stop it. With the Reds look to keep their 33-game unbeaten streak alive as they host Watford at Anfield on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET, live on NBCSN or live online at


Liverpool will take the field fresh off the announcement of a new contract for manager Jurgen Klopp who signed on through 2024 along with his assistants Peter Kraweitz and Pepijn Lijnders. The Reds have the only 100% home winning record of any team in the top four English leagues, and they have collected an astonishing 46 points out of a possible 48 to this point.

The Premier League leaders welcome the basement-dwellers Watford, who have won just once this season and own just a single point from their last four games. Nigel Pearson is set to take charge of his first match as Hornets boss, with each of the last five permanent managers for the Hornets achieving a draw their first time out (including both Quique Sanchez Flores stints).

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Despite the tall task for Watford, are still weaknesses for them to exploit. The Liverpool defense is banged up, with Joel Matip already missing and Dejan Lovren going down midweek in Champions League play. The Reds have not yet held a single clean sheet at home this season in 12 matches across all competitions, despite the pristine win-loss record. Given Klopp’s high-tempo style of play along with the defensive injuries, Watford may be able to find openings here and there, but the bigger question will the Hornets’ attack be able to keep up with how many they concede at the back.


Liverpool – OUT: Dejan Lovren (muscle), Joel Matip (knee), Fabinho (ankle), Nathaniel Clyne (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Adam Lallana (knock).

Watford – OUT: Danny Welbeck (thigh), Tom Cleverley (heel), Jose Holebas (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Roberto Pereyra (muscle), Adam Masina (undisclosed), Sebastian Prodl (knee), Daryl Janmaat (knee).

Projected lineups

Liverpool – Alisson; Robertson, Gomez, van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Salah.

Watford – Foster; Masina, Cathcart, Kabasele, Femenia; Capoue, Doucoure, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Sarr, Deeney.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Klopp on title race: “I have no interest in stats, not in this case. It’s just like it is, we have to play a lot of games. That’s the only way we can do it, we have no idea what is in May. We play tomorrow, that is enough. Watford have a new manager, we can throw our analysis in the bin!”

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Hortets boss Pearson on impressions of Watford: “We know we’ve got to be more clinical in terms of converting opportunities when they come along and the players are aware of that. I saw some good fighting qualities but I’m aware of what our problems are at the moment. It’s important at the moment to try and galvanize the group and we go into games with a very competitive spirit with the intention to do anything to win games.”


No Premier League side has managed to beat Klopp’s Liverpool since a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on January 3 that ultimately ended up sealing the title for Pep Guardiola. Liverpool’s impeccable league record this season matching up against Watford’s new manager and a host of injury problems means it would be unthinkable to imagine anything else than a comprehensive 3-0 Liverpool win for this top vs. bottom clash.

Brighton’s Potter joins Howe in taking voluntary pay cut

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Brighton and Hove Albion boss Graham Potter has joined club chief executive Paul Barber and technical director Dan Ashworth in taking a voluntary pay cut for the next three months.

The trio said the decision was made to support chairman Tony Bloom’s “significant efforts to protect all jobs at our club and charity.”

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Clubs all over the world have been furloughing workers if not laying them off altogether as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on club finances.

On Thursday, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. The clubs were also together in a prior initiative to reward medical workers.

Here’s Potter, via

“I spoke with Tony Bloom a couple of weeks ago, and I just felt like a normal thing to offer him because he has been good to me. I know the pressure he is under as a chairman and the challenges he faces. It is a small thing we can do but I think it was an important offer.

“Tony being Tony said, ‘Thank you very much but, at the moment we are working through things.’ As things have moved forward, I think we have come to the right decision to do what we have done.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola donated $1 million to fight coronavirus in Catalonia. Whether donations or pay cuts, surely more will come.

Brazil, Argentina league soccer players seek full pay amid coronavirus

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SAO PAULO (AP) As soccer players around Europe accept pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, some of their less-well-compensated South American counterparts are fighting for every penny.

In Brazil and Argentina, players aren’t budging during the league shutdown despite forced cuts to staffing and wages in other leagues around the continent.

Negotiations in Brazil between an association of clubs and the players’ union have failed to reach a deal on pay and early vacations. Team captains and executives are now trying to reach individual decisions, but those could end up in court.

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Brazil’s top clubs, fearing a loss of sponsors and rising debts, wanted to cut player salaries by 25% until the pandemic ends. But some players – including those who have been paid late in the past – have asked for the Brazilian soccer confederation to step in. So far it hasn’t, but the union did give some ground on the issue of vacations.

Former players, executives and coaches said they were inspired by the example set by Lionel Messi, who took a 70% cut in pay to help Barcelona keep its staffers during the pandemic. But the voices in Brazil sound more like that of Atlético Mineiro defender Guilherme Arana.

“I don’t think there is a reason (to cut). We are stopping because we need to,” the 22-year-old Arana told Fox Sports. “It is the world that is stopping.”

Atlético, however, said Sunday it will cut salaries by 25%, except for staff members on lower wages.

In Argentina, which has about 4,000 male and female professional soccer players, clubs have not cut salaries and the country’s national federation has not made any recommendations on the issue.

Players’ union leader Sérgio Marchi was, unsurprisingly, against any cuts. He insisted in a radio interview that “it is fundamental” to respect the salaries of soccer players because it would allow the league to resume “without any sort of conflict after this contingency is over.”

“Some (officials) are seeking excuses or mitigating factors for their bad management or to their flawed behavior at the time they are setting up a budget,” he said.

[ MORE: Serie A could return in late May ]

Players in Colombia asked for full pay, but clubs acted swiftly to start saving money.

Jaguares suspended the contracts of 13 members of its squad, Millionarios reduced wages without much debate and Santa Fé pitched fans against players on Twitter by asking them if salaries should be cut. The query ended with 62% of fans voting yes.

Colombian league organizers are also asking the government to broaden some economic policies to help clubs, including those that have suspended players’ contracts so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

“We don’t want taxpayer money to deal with the financial difficulties during this mandatory stop,” Jorge Enrique Vélez, the head of the league, said in an interview with Radio Caracol. “We are asking for policies that the government has already set for tourism and aviation industries. We also had to stop 100%, and we have no revenues during this time.”

In Uruguay, some players are now claiming unemployment benefits after several clubs, including Montevideo powerhouse Peñarol, suspended their contracts. The country’s soccer association has also cut pay for staff, including 73-year-old national team coach Oscar Tabárez.

The biggest exception is in Peru, where Alianza Lima players openly suggested they should be paid less so the club can afford to keep all its workers. Goalkeeper Leao Butrón said the decision was “easy to make.”

“Yes, the offer actually came from us. We wanted to give the club a break,” Butrón said in a radio interview. “They told us that it is not necessary for now. But we don’t know when this will end. We are still willing. Beyond being an economic problem, it is a liquidity issue. A financial issue. We can give a hand if extreme measures are needed.”

Associated Press writers Debora Rey in Buenos Aires and Eric Nuñez in New York contributed to this report.

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Report: Serie A could resume training May 2, games late in month

Serie A
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Blanket testing for players and a 14-day quarantine for foreign players are on the menu as Serie A reportedly looks to resume in May.

Football Italia cites a report from Italian news outlet Adnkronos that discusses a May 2 return to training with matches resuming late in the month.

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Vincenzo Spadafora is Italy’s minister for sport, and is hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus is behind the country.

According to the report, any player returning to Italy from abroad would be quarantined for two weeks before returning to training.

After an initial round of testing for all players, more would follow:

More tests would be made weekly to maintain that level of certainty all the way to the end of the season. Clubs are believed to be stocking up on COVID-19 tests, in accordance with medical structures in their cities, ensuring everyone has enough to go around.

The plan may be met with resistance, as combustible Brescia owner Massimo Cellino says his club will not play and has accepted that it earned relegation.

European bodies implore member associations to wait to abandon seasons

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UEFA is speaking up regarding its hope to finish club seasons once the environment is safer.

Sky Sports reports that UEFA has sent a letter to its 55 members associations imploring them not to cancel their competitions early and that they exhaust all options “until the last possibility exists.”

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The letter is signed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli and European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson.

The report comes as the Belgian Super League reportedly prepares to award its league title to Club Brugge on April 15. The league would be the first to see its season abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From Sky Sports:

“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

Many leagues, such as the Premier League, continue to suspend their seasons indefinitely as they wait for improvements with the coronavirus pandemic.

Although UEFA have relaxed their previous stance that domestic seasons should be finished by June 30, it is looking more likely that the 2019-20 season would need until August or September.