Man City - Liverpool recap
Photo by DAVE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Man City gives Liverpool guard of honor, 4-star thumping

Leave a comment

Raheem Sterling scored, won a penalty, and forced an own goal out of his former side as Manchester City gave Liverpool a guard of honor and then battered the newly-crowned champions 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

Kevin De Bruyne had a goal and an assist to move within three assists of equalling Thierry Henry’s PL single-season record for assists (20). It would’ve been two but Sterling’s second goal was changed to an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal.

MANCHESTER CITY – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Phil Foden scored City’s other goal and Riyad Mahrez has a stoppage-time fifth chalked off by VAR under questionable circumstances. The runners-up are 20 points back of Liverpool with six matches left each.

The four goals allowed were the most by Liverpool in a Premier League game since an Oct. 2017 loss at Tottenham.


Three things we learned

1. Weirdest… guard of honor… ever:ย Man City gave the new Premier League champions a richly-deserved guard of honor, as the champs walked onto the pitch between two lines of applauding runners-up. The empty stands helped deliver an extremely awkward first welcome for the new kings of England.

2. Sterling cuts up the champs: Ex-Liverpool star Sterling twice got the better of Joe Gomez in the first half. The first time was an unholy battle in the box where the winger didn’t go down after a few legit fouls before hitting the deck under a lesser shove. De Bruyne fooled Alisson Becker and converted his penalty just before the first half water break.

The second goal was class even if his first touch to fool the center back was a little heavy before slotting past Alisson. HIs third went down as Alexander-Arnold own goal but was headed home anyway.

3. Hangover, Pt. IV? Liverpool did not have its finishing boots or foreheads in the first half-hour despite having a good amount of dangerous chances, so their performance coming out of the gates makes it hard to put the blowout down to mentality. Although maybe the club’s perpetual drive to become a title-winner took a that will take a minute to reclaim.

Regardless, when we wrote about the “What now?” of post-title Liverpool, we pointed out that the Reds’ biggest obstacle to boasting the best league season of all-time is what City did two seasons ago.

In 2017-18, City lost twice and drew four times, collecting 100 points while scoring 106 goals with a plus-79 goal differential. The Reds are now at two losses and two draws with six to play, sitting on 70 goals and a plus-46 GD.

Still the champions, though, and you wouldn’t put it past them to score six-a-game for a while.

Man of the Match (and Player of the Year)

De Bruyne. He’s just incredible, one of only five players to score 10-plus goals and 10-plus assists across Europe’s top five leagues (Jadon Sancho, Lionel Messi, Alassane Plea, Serge Gnabry).


Man City – Liverpool recap

Gabriel Jesus was offside when he potted a third-minute breakaway.

Mohamed Salah could’ve had it 1-0 at the other end but his less-than-ideal take was collected by Ederson.

Liverpool put the first two shots on target before Kevin De Bruyne led a charge that finished with a blocked shot in the Reds’ 18.

The Reds countered through Sadio Mane, but the Senegalese sensation’s shot spun wide.

Salah then beat Ederson but not the goal post as Liverpool kept knocking at the door.

De Bruyne might’ve won a penalty off Virgil van Dijk in the 23rd minute, but referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle and gave a foul in the run-up.

Sterling then did win a penalty off Joe Gomez in a minuscule bit of revenge for their early season dust-up(s).

Ederson deployed his best Manuel Neuer in racing well outside the 18 to deny Salah with a slide before clearing the danger with a second touch.

Sterling made it 2-0 on a Phil Foden-led rush, beating Gomez and then Alisson with a cool finish despite a tough first touch.

Foden delivered a goal of his own before halftime to make it 3-0, a tremendous 1-2 with De Bruyne to put the Belgian within three of Thierry Henry’s single-season assist record.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Jesus had a 49th-minute chance to provide City’s fourth but sputtered his shot to a stooping Alisson. Then Sterling drove the middle before taking a shot that was deflected just wide of the far post.

De Bruyne took an incredible first-touch pass and neatly had another assist when he found a shoved Foden for a missed effort.

Mane won a free kick on the edge of the 18 in the 56th as Liverpool hoped for a penalty.

Instead, City scored again when De Bruyne cued up Sterling for a shot that was slid into the Liverpool goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It should’ve been 5-0 when Mahrez beat Alisson in stoppage time, but the ball hit Foden’s arm in the build-up when Fabinho dragged the City man to the turf.

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Brentford - Fulham
Photo byJacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fulham – Brentford: Team news is in with the two West London sides set to do battle for a place in the Premier League in the Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

We can hardly wait to find out who’ll claim the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season in the richest game on earth.

[ MORE:ย Predictions, Odds for Europeย ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.

Team news


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+

Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

Pulisic injury
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christian Pulisic had both a dream and nightmare outing in the FA Cup final, as he became the first USMNT player in history to score in the FA Cup final but looked to have severely injured his hamstring.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]ย 

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but appeared to injure his right hamstring badly before he took a shot.

Injury update, latest news on Pulisic

Frank Lampard gave a Pulisic injury update after the game and said that the USMNT star would not be fit to play in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich next Saturday. Lampard also confirmed that Pulisic will have a scan on his injured hamstring to determine the severity of the damage.

Here’s a close look at a superb display for Pulisic which ended in injury.


2nd minute: Found on the ball and plays it back to Rudiger. Chelsea looking to play the ball direct early on.

7th minute: GOALLL! Finds Giroud centrally, then surges forward and finds Mount on the left.ย  A cross from Mount is flicked to Pulisic by Giroud and he dinks home over Emiliano Martinez. Pulisic becomes the first USMNT player in history to score in an FA Cup final.

9th minute: Man, is he up for this. Pulisic puts Bellerin under pressure and wins the ball back for Chelsea.

11th minute: Lovely feet from Pulisic as he ran past two Arsenal defenders and at another two, before hitting a shot right at Emiliano Martinez.

14th minute: A nice flick to Giroud who didn’t quite read it. Lovely creativity.

20th minute: Picks up the ball on the left and is calm and composed on the ball. Always looking to drift inside.

31st minute: Cuts in from the right and flies past two players but Alonso fouls and the attack is over. Chelsea struggling after Arsenal’s equalizer.

38th minute: Found by Kovacic and plays it wide as Chelsea try and possess the ball after losing captain Azpilcueta to injury, who had given away the penalty kick Arsenal equalized from.

41st minute: Almost gets away but Arsenal stop him. A real nuisance.

45th minute: Tackled by Kieran Tierney, as Arsenal win a free kick right on the edge of the box but it is flashed wide.

47th minute: Right at the start of the second half he accelerates towards goal and is away from the Arsenal defense, but he pulls up in agony with a right hamstring injury before getting a shot away which is just wide. Somehow he still had a shot despite being in agony.

48th minute: Pulisic is in agony as he is helped off the pitch and Pedro replaces him. A dream start to the FA Cup final ends in agony for the American. Chelsea and USMNT fans everywhere will be waiting anxiously to hear the latest Pulisic injury update.

UPDATE: Pulisic went straight down the tunnel and was seen late in the second half as the other Chelsea players sat in the stand and watched their team.

Ranking new Premier League kits for 2020-21

Premier League kit rankings
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Premier League kit rankings are absolutely one of our favorite things to do each summer.

New kits have been dropped by plenty of Premier League clubs ahead of the new 2020-21 season, with fresh looks galore.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]ย 

Some teams have kept it simple, while others have gone for something very different.

With big name kit suppliers arriving on new deals at clubs, there will be some very different looks for next season and beyond.

Check out our 2020-21 Premier League kit rankings from the shirts released, so far.


1 – Sheffield United: Absolutely stunning design. Simple and striking at the same time. Love it.

2 – Southampton: Classy retro kits to celebrate their 135th anniversary, as Saints return to their original look.

Southampton

3 – Aston Villa: Clean, sharp look and you can’t go wrong with claret and blue. Love the larger badge too.

 

4 – Arsenal: Loving the retro vibes and yet another fine Arsenal kit.

 

5 – Brighton: Gone for an all blue number with white pinstripes. This is very good and a big chance from the bigger blue and white stripes. Retro, again.

6 – Tottenham Hotspur: Very sleek look and Spurs have kit it simple. Like the away kit, a lot.

7 – Manchester United: Nice little design throughout the kit which adds something extra.

8 – Liverpool: New Nike kits for the first time in history. The teal trim looks smart. Kept it simple and safe.

9 – Wolves: Another team which has gone for the retro look and it works.

10 – West Brom: The barcode stripes are slightly jarring but the colors, badge and design are good.

11 – Man City: A little too much going on with the home and away kits.

12 – West Ham: The Hammers are celebrating their 125th anniversary in style. Very nice. Classic look with a massive badge. Maybe a bit too plain?

13 – Chelsea: The new sponsor logo and the size of it has been ridiculed and it does ruin the very snazzy looking kits.

14 – Similar look for Leicester and this is a nice design. Big fan of the sleeves.

15 – Everton: Hummel are underrated and this has a nice retro look to it.

16 – Newcastle United: Does what it says on the tin. Black and white stripes, and that’s it.

Alexis Sanchez close to permanent Inter move; Ceballos update

Alexis Sanchez
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alexis Sanchez is close to a permanent move to Inter Milan and there’s an interesting update on Dani Ceballos heading to Arsenal on a permanent basis.

[ MORE: Bundesliga plan for fans’ return ]

Starting in Milan, several reports claim that Alexis Sanchez is finally leaving Manchester United and will sign for Inter permanently on a free transfer. Other reports claim that Inter are paying a $17.6 million transfer fee for Sanchez, who still has two years left on his current Man United contract of $730,000 per week.

Sanchez’s departure will allow Man United to wrap up the $140 million signing of Jadon Sancho, with Sanchez’s huge salary finally off their wage bill as they’ve been paying a big chunk of his wages since last summer when he joined Inter on a season-long loan.

As for the details of the permanent deal, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have some more details.

“The Chile international would receive a payout from United for cancelling his contract, which still has two years to run. The details of the payout are unknown but the value of the remaining two years in wages is around ยฃ55m. Sanchez is set to sign a three-year contract with Inter worth ยฃ6.3m a year. A deal should be finalised this week and would mean Sanchez is eligible to play for Inter in this season’s Europa League competition.”ย 

Alexis Sanchez, 31, has been in good form for Inter Milan since the restart (three goals and seven assists says as much) as he finally seems to have shaken off injuries. In 18 months at Man United the Chilean star struggled to make an impact after joining in January 2018 as part of a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he left Arsenal after a lengthy contract saga.

Ceballos to Arsenal
Getty Images

As for another player who could be joining his loan club permanently, there is an intriguing update from Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos.

Ceballos, 23, starred on loan at Arsenal and helped Mikel Arteta’s side win the FA Cup as he put in a man of the match performance in a new deeper role in central midfield.

The Spaniard has been instrumental so far during Arteta’s rebuild of the Gunners and although the Arsenal boss is keen for the club to work out a deal to extend the loan of Ceballos, or even try and sign him permanently, it appears the silky midfielder may not be so keen on staying in London.

Speaking to Spanish outlet El Partidazo de COPE, here’s what Ceballos said about his future as he will chat with Real after their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Man City later this week.

“I haven’t spoken to Real Madrid yet, but anyone who wears that shirt is happy,” Ceballos said. “Madrid are better than any club in the world. We’ll see about my future. I’m not thinking about whether or not I can play for Real Madrid, Arsenal or another club. Now it’s time to disconnect. I have to be calm and think clearly with my family about the coming year.”

Ceballos has also stated his love for his boyhood club, Real Betis, as he could end up back in Spain but not at Real Madrid.

Arsenal and Arteta want Ceballos to remain at the Emirates, badly, and they must do all they can to bring him back to north London for the 2020-21 season. His partnership with Granit Xhaka in the two deeper central midfield roles was a big surprise as they added stability, vision and composure to the engine room.