Liverpool beats Chelsea in 8-goal thriller

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Liverpool – Chelsea: Christian Pulisic’s super sub magic wasn’t enough to clinch a place for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The Blues fell 5-3 to Liverpool at Anfield, their hosts putting on an offensive show before lifting the Premier League Trophy.

[ VIDEO: Klopp goes off | Liverpool lifts trophy ]

Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Roberto Firmino scored for Liverpool, who moves onto 96 points for their incredible season, 18 more than Man City.

Pulisic had a goal and an assist to Tammy Abraham off the bench for Chelsea, and Olivier Giroud also scored in the loss.

Chelsea will have to wait until Sunday to have a chance to clinch a place in the Champions League. The fourth-place Blues have 63 points, level with third-place Manchester United and one more than Leicester City.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

A point or more for Chelsea at home to Wolves on Sunday will keep them in the top four regardless of what happens between Manchester United and Leicester City. A loss and Leicester result boots Chelsea to fifth.


Three things we learned

1. Reds take their trophy in style: Forget the goals conceded and focus on Liverpool’s flood on attacking fire that rolled over Chelsea in the first half. Liverpool didn’t defend well on the day but didn’t need to thanks to fireworks from Trent Alexander-Arnold and others. By the time Jordan Henderson lifted the trophy, there was no doubt Liverpool had earned the win as much as they earned their title.

2. Pulisic Watch (Watch video here): We don’t know if the American was fit for more than his half-hour appearance but if he is, well, then shame on Frank Lampard (we mostly kid).

Pulisic had been on the field forset up Chelsea’s second goal with a stunning dribble that embarrassed a trio of Liverpool defenders before sliding across for Abraham to tap home for 4-2.

He dragged a shot wide moments later as he was a clear upgrade over struggling Mason Mount.

Pulisic then scored a simply sensational and composed goal in the 73rd by settling a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross and working over Alexander-Arnold en route to the upper reaches of the goal. Former boss Jurgen Klopp just kinda marveled at it.

[ MORE: Full Pulisic Watch v. Liverpool ]

3. When will TAA go into the midfield? Alexander-Arnold is a marvel with the ball and in possession and he would be just as capable of spraying the ball around the pitch central. He’s simply not a very good defensive fullback (yet) and right backs are a lot easier to find than elite tempo-holding, deep-lying midfielders. It’s nitpicking on a day he had a goal and an assist but definitely worth the discussion.

Man of the Match

Alexander-Arnold was an absolute force with the ball but part-responsible for two of Chelsea’s goals. So we’ll go with Keita, who had four tackles to go with his goal.

Liverpool – Chelsea recap

The Reds went ahead with the first proper bid of the game and it took nearly 23 minutes.

The wait was worth it, Naby Keita latching onto a Willian turnover and smashing off the bottom of the bar and into the goal from 20 yards.

Alexander-Arnold continued his free kick artistry to double Liverpool’s lead before the break.

The young right back curled a — my goodness make sure you see the behind the wall angle — marvelous free kick into the upper 90.

Whether it should’ve been a free kick is another question altogether. It wouldn’t have been 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 30, as Mateo Kovacic made a splendid sliding intervention and caught Mane with his follow-through.

Wijnaldum would make it 3-0 before halftime before Giroud slid in a rebound after Alisson Becker stopped Willian’s close-range hit.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Salah should’ve put it to bed in the 50th but he butchered a 1v1 chance, and Kepa Arrizabalaga denied the onrushing Egyptian one minute later with a run out to claim a through ball.

Firmino broke his long scoring drought in the 55th off an Alexander-Arnold feed.

Super sub Pulisic did the day right, coming into the game and providing an assist. He feasted on Fabinho and Alexander-Arnold on a dribble that saw him nutmeg Joe Gomez before feeding Abraham for 4-2.

He made it 4-3 in absolute style, taking down a popped Hudson-Odoi pass and maneuvering into space to finish.

But Oxlade-Chamberlain rounded out the scoring late and salted away Liverpool’s points.

Transfer news: Thiago to Liverpool; Gabriel to Man United

Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool
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In transfer news there’s an update on Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool, while Gabriel to Manchester United seems to be moving to the next stage.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in Liverpool, talk of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool has been gathering steam over the last few weeks and a new report states that Jurgen Klopp’s men are now the favorites to sign him.

Bayern Munich expect the 29-year-old Spanish international to leave this summer and according to Mundo Deportivo Liverpool have jumped ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and are ‘very likely’ to sign the former Barcelona star.

Bayern want $35 million for Thiago who has one year left on his current contract.

The deep-lying playmaker is a totally different central midfielder to what Liverpool currently have as Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are all hard-working more defensive minded players. And then there’s Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who provide a bit more attacking intent with forward runs from central midfield.

Thiago Alcantara would help Liverpool control games better when opponents sit back and don’t allow them space to operate in-behind. He is a silky pass-master who is wanted by PSG, Liverpool, Manchester United and others, but it appears he will be heading to Anfield to give Liverpool a totally new dimension to their play. If this happens, it will make an already strong Liverpool side stronger.

Gabriel to Manchester United
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Switching to Manchester, a report in France states that Gabriel Magalhaes could be heading to Manchester United.

The Brazilian defender, 22, has been a star for Lille over the past few seasons but has been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea, Napoli, Everton and Man United consistently in recent months.

A report from French outlet RMC states that Man United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has met with Gabriel’s agents about his availability.

Lille want $35 million for Gabriel and although the report says that Man United haven’t made an offer directly to the Ligue 1 club, it is believed talks are ongoing.

Man United are said to be in the market for a winger, center back and central midfielder this summer and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to be given cash to spend after securing Champions League qualification for next season.

It is believed Solskjaer wants a left-footed center back, which Gabriel is, as Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire are often too similar at center back. Those two have developed a decent enough partnership but it appears that Solskjaer wants to replace Lindelof and adding Gabriel will also give him an option to switch to a 3-4-3 system which he likes to do to match up against  more attack-minded opponents.

Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are very much on the outside looking in at Man United in terms of their other center back options.

With Jadon Sancho reportedly on his way to Old Trafford, Solskjaer needs to bolster his center back and holding midfield options and then he is good to go for next season.

Gabriel is a young, talented center back and seems ready to make the next step and this is a good price for a player who can develop over the next few seasons.

How long of a break will Premier League clubs get?

Premier League break
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How long of a break will Premier League clubs get? That is the big question during the significantly shortened offseason between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season.

In short: not long.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

When Premier League clubs all agreed that the 2020-21 season would kick off on September 12, there was an understanding that clubs in European action will be handed extra time off and could start the season late.

Manchester City and Chelsea are in Champions League action and if they reach the quarterfinal stage (Man City are looking a lot more likely to do that than Chelsea) it is expected they will start next season one week late and if they reach the semifinals and final they will start two weeks late.

The same rule is in place for Manchester United and Wolves who are in Europa League and are both in Round of 16 action this week.

If Chelsea lose to Bayern Munich on Saturday, their season will be over and they will have a 35-day break before the 2020-21 season. That is longer than the 30-day limit but Frank Lampard wants longer.

As for the other 16 Premier League teams for the 2020-21 season, the clubs who finished on the final day of the  2019-20 Premier League season on July 26 will have had 47 days off until the new season begins.

So, there you have it.

A staggered start to the 2020-21 season seems likely as the domestic campaign begins in a few weeks with the Community Shield final at Wembley between Liverpool and Arsenal on Aug. 29.

Premier League teams will have shorter, more intense preseason campaigns and are unlikely to travel for friendly games, so it will be interesting to see how much rest players actually get over the summer and if teams who get a 2-3 week longer break benefit compared to those clubs in European action.

Christian Pulisic issues injury update

Pulisic injury news
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‘Pulisic injury news’ is probably trending worldwide at this point, and Chelsea and USMNT star Christian Pulisic has an injury update after he damaged his right hamstring in the FA Cup final against Arsenal on Saturday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb goal early on and was arguably the man of the match even though he pulled up abruptly in the 46th minute when sprinting free (once again) of the Arsenal attack and then hitting a shot wide.

After being helped off the pitch while clearly in pain, Pulisic was seen hanging around the tunnel area after the FA Cup final and was at least walking on his own.

Posting a message on Instagram following the final, here’s what Pulisic had to say:

“Gave it everything we had. Wasn’t our day. Thank you guys for your support I’ll be back in no time,” Pulisic said.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The fact Pulisic went off injured early in the second half of the FA Cup final severely hampered Chelsea and gave Arsenal the impetus to go on and win the final at Wembley. He has become that important to Chelsea.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard previously confirmed that Pulisic would not be fit enough to play at Bayern Munich on Saturday in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg (Chelsea trail 3-0 from the first leg) and would have a scan to assess the damage.

Pulisic’s 2019-20 season is now done and both Chelsea and USMNT fans will be waiting with bated breath for the next injury update as hamstring injuries can be a nasty thing and reoccur easily.

The USMNT star had a few of them at Borussia Dortmund and given his incredible pace it is clear he will be more susceptible to hamstring and upper leg injuries.

Previously Lampard revealed that Pulisic had been working hard with Chelsea’s strength and conditioning coaches in recent months to build up his strength in order to adapt to the Premier League. We’ve certainly seen the results of that work in recent week as he took the Premier League by storm during the restart.

This latest update from Pulisic seems to be very good news as many had feared a lengthy injury layoff for the USMNT star but it seems like he may be ready for the start of the 2020-21 season for Chelsea.

Willian, Chelsea fail to agree new contract terms; Arsenal in talks

Willian to Arsenal
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Willian and Chelsea have failed to agree to terms on a new contract and the Brazilian winger is now in talks with Arsenal over a free transfer.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Willian has rejected a two-year contract offer from Chelsea as he wants a longer deal, as Sky Sports in Italy have more details on the developing situation.

Sky Sport contributor Fabrizio Romano states that Willian’s representatives are now in talks with Arsenal over a contract, while there hasn’t been any contact from Barcelona so far.

Willian, 31, has been a regular for Chelsea this season and Frank Lampard is keen to keep the Brazilian star as his experience will help the younger players develop at Chelsea.

After suffering a small injury, Willian didn’t feature in Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal over the weekend and Lampard had the following to say about his future.

“It’s his decision so I haven’t got that answer,” Lampard said. “He’s been a great servant for Chelsea and he’s been brilliant for me this season with his input and work ethic but if he decides to move on then we obviously will move on as well. I know the situation from the club’s end so it’s his choice and I respect that.”

It appears that Willian will move on this summer as winger Pedro is also moving on a free transfer to AS Roma, although he did look to severely injure his shoulder in his last-ever appearance for Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

With Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount around, Chelsea have plenty of options out wide and Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham give them plenty of options centrally with Kai Havertz also potentially arriving this summer.

As for a potential move to Arsenal, this makes perfect sense.

The Gunners have a small transfer budget this summer and Willian gets to stay in London as well as add extra quality to the Arsenal attack. His arrival may mean one of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave, though, as his wages will not be cheap. That said, if Willian is available on a free, plenty of clubs would love to have him. He is consistent, professional and delivers a steady stream of goals, assist and direct wing play.